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(Pocket-lint) - With the RedMagic 7 featuring the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, as well as more RAM than ever before, it promises to be one of Nubia's best gaming phones yet.

However, the company does release gaming phones at a staggering rate, and the RedMagic 7 carries many of the same features and styling cues as its predecessors, the RedMagic 6 and RedMagic 6S Pro.

There's also the RedMagic 7 Pro to consider in that mix, which we put head-to-head with the standard model in this article (spoiler alert: it's not as good).

So, just how much of a leap has Nubia made this time around, and should those hunting a game phone consider the RedMagic 7? Let's take a look at how it performs.

Our quick take

If you're looking for tip-top gaming performance, the RedMagic 7 is one of the best phones you can buy today.

It's also a monster when it comes to media consumption, thanks to that gorgeous vibrant and smooth display, and we love the styling, which manages to look edgy and futuristic without being overly garish.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the RedMagic 7 represents fantastic value for money - particularly if you opt for a lower-spec model. Here, you can get performance that matches, or beats, flagship phones at twice the price.

On the other hand, it's big and heavy, which makes it a chore to carry with you all day. The battery life is also acceptable at best, and the cameras aren't likely to impress anyone. For a lot of people, these will be dealbreakers.

Whether the RedMagic 7 is right for you all depends on your priorities. If you're all about gaming and want a performance device that won't break the bank, we think the RedMagic 7 is one of the top options around.

Nubia RedMagic 7 review: A stylish slab of gaming goodness

Nubia RedMagic 7

4.0 stars
For
  • Big bright and fast display
  • Excellent cooling
  • Unobtrusive and functional shoulder buttons
  • Great styling
  • Superb value
Against
  • The battery drains quickly when gaming
  • Ultra-wide and macro cameras are pretty useless
  • Chunky design

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Design

  • Dimensions: 170.57 x 78.33 x 9.5mm
  • Weight: 215g
  • Finish options: Obsidian, Pulsar, Supernova

The RedMagic 7 has a pretty striking design, particularly in the semi-transparent 'Supernova' colourway we've been using. Thankfully, it steers well clear of harsh angles and obnoxious protrusions, instead providing us with a smooth and sleek device that feels great in the hand.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 7

The semi-transparent design was first used on the 6S Pro, but, while the older model only featured transparency on the left-hand side of the device, the RedMagic 7 has the effect around the entire border of the phone. Gold text across the rear of the device points out some key specs and components, complemented by colour matched screws. This gives the phone a very technical, cyberpunk aesthetic. The star of the show is the RGB cooling fan on the left-hand side of the device - very similar to the one on the 6S Pro - that shines through the glass panel when in use.

The power and lock button is found on the right-hand side, the volume rocker and game-mode switch on the left, a 3.5mm headphone socket up top, and a USB-C and nano-SIM port on the base. There are two additional capacitive touch triggers on the right-hand side and sizable cooling vents throughout. The frame is also made from anodised black aluminium, and is largely similar to that which we've seen on Nubia's previous models, seeing only minor tweaks since the last generation.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 4

The device is on the larger and heavier end of the spectrum, but, as we mentioned, it feels great to hold.

Surprisingly, it isn't a total fingerprint magnet for such a glossy finish, either. The only downside is that it's pretty damn slippery - so you'll need to keep a firm grip. It does feel solid enough to take a few hits, though, and there's a protective case included in the box.

The case looks like it would provide ample protection, and is probably worth using to protect your investment. We aren't too keen on its looks, though. It makes a big phone even chunkier, and, with very few options for third party cases, you may be stuck with it.

Display and speakers

  • 6.8-inch AMOLED, 1080x2400 resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio
  • 165Hz refresh rate, 720Hz touch sampling rate
  • Dual stereo speakers with DTS:X Ultra

The screen is a big draw for this device. It's huge, bright and has a zippy 165Hz refresh rate. Comparing the specs, it seems that it could be the exact same panel as the RedMagic 6S Pro, which impressed us in late 2021. In any case, it's fantastic for gaming and media consumption and can be fine-tuned to your specific tastes using RedMagic's comprehensive calibration tools. There are numerous modes to choose from, including Vivid, Natural and sRGB, and you can further refine it using a colour temperature wheel.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 8

This level of control extends to most of the phone's features, so tinkerers will have hours of fun fine-tuning everything. This includes the touch sampling rate that goes up to a blistering 720Hz for the ultimate level of gaming accuracy. In general use though, you'll be best served using a less aggressive profile to conserve battery life - and, thankfully, it's very quick to switch between them.

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The RedMagic 7 has dual stereo speakers with DTS:X Ultra support. These get impressively loud and sound fairly rich, with lots of detail in the high end and mid-range. Positional accuracy is good, too, which is great for gaming and watching Netflix. There's not much in the way of bass, but it's an admirable effort that lends itself well to the core purpose of this phone - gaming.

Performance & software

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 gen 1, 18GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 256GB UFS 3.1 storage, no microSD card slot
  • 4500 mAh battery, 65W GaN fast-charging
  • Integrated Turbo Fan cooling system

The RedMagic 7 runs Android 12 out of the box, with RedMagic OS 5.0 on top. In practice, it's a fairly stock-looking Android experience, complete with a Google Discover page. However, you can configure it to look more extravagant, if you wish, with one of RedMagic's numerous included themes. Out of the box, the most notable difference is the presence of RedMagic's widgets that can control the fan, show you your time spent gaming and check your current heart rate - though we wouldn't expect an intense PUBG match to be any substitute for cardio.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 16

Of course, there's RedMagic's ever-present Game Space, too, which can be quickly accessed with the physical slider on the side of the phone. This works in much the same way that it did on previous RedMagic devices, so those coming from an older model won't be in for too many surprises.

Key features include the ability to quickly access all of your games, as well as set up dedicated profiles for each one. You can overclock the CPU and GPU for extra performance (at the expense of battery life) and configure all manner of granular settings on a per-game basis. This is where you can configure the trigger buttons, too. In our experience, the triggers worked fantastically, giving a measurable competitive advantage when playing shooters like COD Mobile and PUBG.

The biggest change in performance comes from the new and improved Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, alongside a whopping 18GB of RAM. As you might expect, this flagship processing power munches through all manner of games with ease, and rarely sees any throttling due to the active cooling fan and abundance of ventilation. Realistically, though, while it is a provably better performer, we don't think those with a last-generation Snapdragon 888 model would notice a huge difference in the gaming experience.

That said, we enjoyed playing a variety of games on the RedMagic 7, including NFS No Limits, COD Mobile, Elder Scrolls Blades and PUBG. Across all titles, performance was consistently superb, and the device stays fairly cool thanks to the onboard fan. You'll definitely hear it running, however, so those who are irked by such things will probably want to use headphones or crank up the absurdly loud built-in speakers.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 11

Battery life, unfortunately, is one of the more disappointing areas on the RedMagic 7. The battery size has been reduced from 5050 mAh on the 6S Pro down to 4500 mAh. It's enough for most phones, but it's underwhelming on a performance-focused device like this. If you're frequently gaming, which we would assume you are, you're unlikely to make it through a full day on one charge.

Luckily, it charges extremely fast thanks to its 65W fast charging capabilities, and the charger is included in the box, which is becoming more of a rarity. We were able to charge from flat to full in about half an hour, impressive stuff.

Even the charging situation isn't perfect, though - we really wish the port was located on the left-hand side of the device. That way, you could hold the device in landscape mode, with full use of the triggers, to continue gaming while it charges.

Cameras

  • Triple rear system:
    • Main (26mm): 64-megapixel, f/1.75 aperture
    • Wide (13mm): 8MP, f/2.2
    • Macro: 2MP, f2.4
  • Selfie camera: 8MP, f/2.0

The cameras on the RedMagic 7 remain unchanged from the RedMagic 6S Pro, but the software has seen some improvements in the time since. Results from the main camera's 64-megapixel sensor are solid, especially in good lighting, producing sharp vibrant and detailed images. The 8MP selfie camera is decent, too, and picks up all the tiny details when there is sufficient ambient light.

The ultra-wide and macro cameras, on the other hand, are pretty terrible. The macro doesn't focus quite as close as you'd hope, and the measly 2MP resolution means the photos are of little use anyway. The ultra-wide is better than the macro, but, in our testing, it couldn't focus on anything close up, so was only really useful for landscapes. Even in that case, the results were muddy and lacked detail.

Still, if you ignore the two auxiliary lenses, you have a pretty competent main shooter. Video has been improved in the software, as well, with improved digital image stabilisation in shooting modes up to 4K. You can even record in 8K, but there's no stabilisation in that mode and you'll need a tripod. The results are unusable when shot handheld.

Pocket-lintRed Magic 7 review photo 2

Video footage from the RedMagic 7's primary sensor looks great and the stabilisation works well. Our only complaint is that it takes a while to focus, and then loses focus more frequently than a typical flagship. If you try to shoot close up videos of anything, it's going to cause headaches.

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To recap

The RedMagic 7 is an excellent phone for mobile gamers, and, providing you aren't too picky with your photos, it's pretty great for everyone else. It's got a massive amount of power and comes at a very reasonable price. Gaming features are well implemented and performance is strong across the board. You won't get the same camera performance or quality of life features found on mainstream flagships, but you can't go wrong with the RedMagic 7 if gaming is a major priority.

Writing by Luke Baker.