The RedMagic 6R taught me what a gaming phone is and now the RedMagic 6S Pro is turning the concept up to 11.
The gaming nods start with the hardware, which includes a Snapdragon 888+ CPU, up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 165Hz AMOLED display and a 5,050 mAh battery, and extend to the software, which throws the “being a phone” thing out the window in favour of endless in-game tweaking and customization. You’d be right to assume this feels more like a Steam Deck than a smartphone.
Is this a good gaming phone? In short, yes. I mean, just look at that spec sheet! The real question is whether this phone offers enough for the people who normally go for standard flagship slabs to make the jump to gaming? Because if there’s anything we learned from the 6R, it’s that a good gaming system can actually make for a great all-around phone. Let’s see whether the RedMagic 6S Pro has what it takes to appeal to a wider audience.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Price and configurations
The RedMagic 6S Pro comes in two configurations and two finishes.
In black, you can pick one up with 12GB RAM and 128GB of storage for $599 (£519) or beef up the specs to 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage for $699 (£609). The version we tested is the transparent model, which is only available with the top specs for $729 (£629). The phone goes on sale on September 27.
This is aggressive pricing for a gaming phone, significantly undercutting its competition in the Asus ROG Phone 5 ($999).
RedMagic 6S Pro: Design
Let’s be honest about the visual design — the 6S Pro is not for everyone. No matter how much I like the transparent back and its serious Nothing ear (1) vibes, the gamer aesthetic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
From the geometric line pattern on the back and the bright red gaming mode switch to the customizable RGB fan and space age industrial stylings, RedMagic does not shy away from its gaming base.
Whether that’s a benefit or a detriment is up to individual taste, but for what it’s worth, the opinions of my friends were varied. Those who have built PC towers loved the styling whereas one of my mates had a hilarious realization — if you were to ask someone you’re wooing for their number and handed them this phone, they might give you a fake one.
At 6.7 x 3 x 0.37 inches and 7.6 ounces, the 6S Pro is smaller and lighter, but thicker than the Asus ROG Phone 5 (6.8 x 3.1 x 0.36 inches, 8.4 ounces). But when compared to a more traditional flagship phone like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (6.5 x 3 x 0.35 inches, 8.01 ounces), it is lighter but quite a chunky phone to hold.
The size is ideal in landscape gaming mode, with the addition of 450Hz shoulder triggers and a sliding trigger surface on the back of the phone to enhance your performance. That extra height is down to the extended top and bottom bezels eliminating the need for a notch or hole-punch camera distracting you from the gameplay, but because of this, one-handed use of the 6S Pro in a standard portrait mode is nearly impossible.
Keeping things consumer-friendly, RedMagic includes a bumper case in the box to keep your phablet sized beast protected.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Display
The RedMagic 6S Pro sports a gorgeous 6.8-inch AMOLED display with a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 8-bit color depth and a 165Hz refresh rate.
That last spec in particular is essential for nailing gaming performance on a phone, but it also makes for a silky smooth visual experience. What also matters is the touch sampling rate, which on the 6S Pro is up to 720Hz — more than twice the 300Hz touch sampling rate of the Asus ROG Phone 5.
Nubia also added another layer of security to the under-screen fingerprint reader with a heart rate sensor, which isn’t just a nice fitness addition, but quickens the response time.
Putting the display through its paces with the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, Doctor Strange’s spells dazzle with luminosity, and objects explode off the screen with truly vivid colors. Our lab tests back this up with 696 nits of brightness and a DCI-P3 gamut score of 84.6% with standard color, boosted to 121.2% in vivid mode.
Comparing these numbers to the competition, RedMagic falls in just behind the ROG Phone 5 (748 nits and up to 127.6% DCI-P3). While gamers may laud these slight reductions, it’s worth noting that Asus’ competition is $200+ more expensive.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Audio
A great gaming experience doesn’t just stop at a stunning display. You need good sound for full immersion and the RedMagic 6S Pro delivers handily with DTS:X Ultra-certified audio and powerful dual stereo speakers.
Even when put under intense pressure with bass heavy drum and bass, like when playing Pendulum’s “Hold Your Color,” there was no distortion at higher volumes. You can be confident that when you use this phone without headphones, you’re getting a good listening experience.
Plus, huge props for RedMagic’s decision to continue to support traditional headphone standards by adding a 3.5mm jack.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Performance
Now for the category that matters most in a gaming phone. Going into the details, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ chipset with a Kryo 680 CPU clocked at 3GHz and paired with an Adreno 660 GPU. Multitasking is handled by up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and you can configure this with up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage.
As you’d expect from these monstrous specs, this is a blisteringly fast phone at everyday Android tasks. There was no stuttering or slowdowns no matter what I threw at it. Even under intense workloads, the phone didn’t break a sweat. Plus, with that 165Hz display (set to 90Hz by default, but you can change it manually), everything has a zippy fluidity about it.
These specs put this on the bleeding edge of gaming performance, which means you can max out the settings on any title with the confidence that it will run smoothly with zero hiccups. Whether it’s Call of Duty: Mobile or Fortnite set to Ultra visual fidelity, Dead Trigger 2 or Real Racing 3 with unlocked framerates, you will have no issues running the most intense apps/games out there.
Translating this performance into numbers, the RedMagic 6S Pro beat the Asus ROG Phone 5 across categories that matter to gamers. In CPU testing via Geekbench 5, the 6S Pro got a multi-core score of 3,685 (the Asus’ achieved 3,672).
Testing the graphics with Wild Life Unlimited 3DMark gave us a score of 5,881 and 35.2 frames per second, beating out the ROG Phone 5’s 5,636 and 33.8 fps (with X-Mode turned on). These numbers are so good, they make the $1,799 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 blush by beating out its Geekbench multi-core score of 3,418 and 5,622 in the 3D Mark Wild Life test.
With power like this, you need good cooling. The 6S Pro has a sophisticated answer to this beyond the inclusion of a built-in 20,000 RPM fan (up 2,000 RPM from RedMagic’s previous phone). A combination of a custom vapor chamber, cooling aluminum, graphite and a cooling air duct throughout keeps things from overheating. Unfortunately, this does mean that you don’t get an IP rating for water resistance, so be careful if you’re out in the rain or playing by the sea.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Battery life and charging
The RedMagic 6S Pro is armed with a 5,050 mAh air-cooled battery and support for up to 66W fast charging — charging from 0% to full in around 45 minutes.
Under general daily use, which for me includes hours of podcasts, checking social media and email, some gaming and a fair bit of YouTube, I got to the end of the day with around 35% left. That’s pretty impressive.
But this is not built for average use. This is a gaming phone and, when put through its paces, the power under the hood means you could kill it quickly. Firing up Call of Duty: Mobile with Ultra settings and the 165Hz display turned on drains the battery to in under two hours. But if you balance the power draw, reduce the refresh rate, and fiddle with the in-game settings, you can expand that to five hours of gaming.
RedMagic 6S Pro: Cameras
The camera system is not a focus for the RedMagic 6S Pro, and it certainly showed in my testing.
Pictures taken on the 64MP main camera with its f/1.8 aperture are average — details are crisp, but colors are oversaturated and any slight reduction in light creates a lot of noise. The 8MP 120-degree ultrawide lens with an f/2.2 aperture produces spongey results that have poor detail and are noisey around the edges.
And finally, the 2MP macro lens with f/2.4 is much like other macro phone shooters in that the results are pretty ugly. You may use it once to take a close-up picture of a flower on the first day you own a 6S Pro before making the main camera your go-to.
Turning over to video, you can shoot up to 8K video at 30 fps, which sounds good on paper. Unfortunately, the end results are dull. Auto-focus is slow and the software processing gives everything a compressed, artificial look.
Luckily, for those who are looking for some picture-in-picture streaming action, the 8MP selfie camera snaps decent pictures with good detail, color and contrast. Just make sure you keep that beauty mode turned off.
RedMagic 6S Pro: RedMagic OS 4.5
The RedMagic OS 4.5 skin over Android 11 puts the gamer aesthetic and experience at the core of everything you do. Chief amongst the features is Game Space (easily accessible via the red switch on the left edge), which gives you a horizontal interface to access all your titles in one place.
Alongside this tool, you’ve got handy features like the ability to minimize game windows while using other apps, access to said apps via an overlay tray, picture-in-picture screen recording, settings screens to override the UIs of games themselves, and customization of the 6S Pro’s components.
When you look at the feature set, it’s great solely for the target audience, but the faux metal icons and anime character wallpaper options are cringeworthy for those who prefer a more sophisticated interface.
RedMagic knows its audience, and the 6S Pro makes no apologies for that. This is a gamer phone and a damn good one at that.
Better yet, the performance it offers for gaming makes this a great phone to use in general. You get breakneck speed and silky smooth display to go along with powerful stereo speakers and lengthy battery life.
But the RedMagic 6S Pro is certainly not for everyone. The camera’s not great, there is no IP rating, and the gamer-centric style could embarrass people who prefer their gadgets to have an understated appearance.
So, is the RedMagic 6S Pro for you? To find out, ask yourself one question: do I just want a powerful phone that plays games really well? If your answer is “yes,” you can’t do much better than this device. If this doesn’t appeal to you then, well, there are plenty of other fantastic options on the market.