For the past couple of years, I've reviewed almost every phone that RedMagic puts out. The gaming-focused brand born from nubia has consistently pushed for the highest level of performance, using the latest hardware backed by unique features like a cooling fan to keep things even cooler.
The RedMagic 6 series is the latest effort from the company, and it packs some significant performance improvements thanks to the latest Qualcomm silicon and more RAM. It's the first time RedMagic launches two different phones at the same time - the RedMagic 6 and the 6 Pro - but the only differences are the storage and RAM configurations and the addition of an aluminum backplate on the Pro model for even better cooling.
It's also the first time in a while that RedMagic has increased the amount of RAM in all the configurations, bumping up from 8GB to 12GB in the base RedMagic 6, while the Pro model has 16GB of RAM, up from the 12GB you'd get with a top-tier RedMagic 5S. Pricing has also increased slightly, with the phone now starting at $599 for the base model, or $699 for the 6 Pro.
RedMagic sent me the base model, and it's also the Chinese variant, so my unit isn't exactly the same you'll get when you buy the phone. For example, the Chinese variant doesn't support NFC, but the international release does.
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, octa-core, one Kryo 680 Prime at 2.84GHz, three Kryo 680 Gold at 2.42GHz, four Kryo 680 Silver at 1.8GHz|
|Body||169.86x77.19x9.7mm (6.69x3.04x0.38in), 220g (7.76oz)|
|Display||6.8 inches, 1080x2400, 20:9, 387.5ppi, AMOLED|
|Camera||64MP with Quad Bayer technology + 8MP ultrawide + 2MP macro, Front - 8MP|
|Video||8K - 30fps, 4K - 60fps, 1920fps Slow Motion; Front - 1080p - 30fps|
|Aperture||f/1.79 + f/2.2 + f/2.4, Front - f/2.0|
|Storage||128GB UFS 3.1|
|Battery||5,050mAh, 30W fast charging (66W charger sold separately)|
|Material||Metal and glass|
The design of the RedMagic 6 is strongly rooted in what we've seen from previous RedMagic phones, albeit with some tweaks. It's still a metal and glass sandwich like before, though it feels more dense and sturdier than previous RedMagic phones. I'd say this might have the best build quality out of all the phones I've reviewed from RedMagic, which is certainly nice to see.
A large portion of the back is covered by this angular shape, which is glass on this model, but that's where you'll find the aluminum backplate on the RedMagic 6 Pro. It's very much in line with RedMagic's design lineage. There are some changes, though, like the camera setup now being fully contained in a single rectangular protrusion, and the LED flash now having a triangular shape that makes it fit much better with the rest of the design.
After RGB lighting was removed in the RedMagic 5S, it's now back with the RedMagic 6. This time, it's not in the RedMagic name, but it's actually in two zones - the small stripes on each side of the branding. They still support a handful of colors, which we'll get into later. It's worth noting here that the Tencent Games logo is only on the Chinese version of this phone. Also, the red RedMagic logo near the bottom can still light up just like before.
A major improvement in the design of the RedMagic 6 is around the edges. The left edge of the phone no longer has a pin connector, which was used to attach accessories like the RedMagic Adapter, but on this model, all the accessories connect to the USB Type-C port. Because of that extra space, RedMagic moved the volume rocker to the left side of the phone, away from the power button. The left side also has the usual gaming mode toggle and air intake vent for the phone's internal fan.
Over on the right side, the power button is now much further up, and it's so much easier to access than on previous models. That's been one of my consistent complaints with RedMagic phones, but now that the volume rocker is on the left, all the buttons are easily accessible without having to constantly adjust my hand. Of course, there's also an air expel vent for the fan and the touch-sensitive triggers for gaming, which have been upgraded with a 400Hz touch sampling rate.
RedMagic has been uncompromising with the 3.5mm headphone jack, and you can still find it on the top edge, along with a microphone.
Meanwhile, the bottom edge has a USB Type-C for charging and connecting accessories like the RedMagic Adapter and the Ice Dock, an external fan for those that need even more cooling. The SIM card tray is also here, along with a bottom-firing speaker.
Display and sound
The RedMagic 6 is the first RedMagic phone since 2019 that has increased the size of the display, which is now 6.8 inches diagonally instead of 6.65 inches. That change mostly comes from an increase in height, since the screen now has a 20:9 aspect ratio instead of 19.5:9, for a resolution of 2400x1080. The phone itself is also slightly taller, but the top and bottom bezels still seem to have shrunken a bit, which is a welcome change.
Of course, what's most unique about this display is that it's the first phone in the world to feature a 165Hz refresh rate for even more smoothness. There aren't a ton of games that support this improvement, though the closest I've found is Battlelands Royale. A higher refresh rate means animations look smoother, and everything certainly looks very smooth on this display, but if you have a 144Hz display, the difference shouldn't be all that big.
What I've personally appreciated the most on the RedMagic 6's display is that the colors looks great, at all levels of brightness. After I complained in a few of my reviews about it, RedMagic seems to finally have fixed all the issues with color shifting at low brightness levels, and I haven't had any problems with it.
As for sound, it's a very standard RedMagic experience, and that's a good thing. There's a stereo set of speakers, one firing down and one firing directly at the user, and they get very loud, but they can also get super quiet. They have a pretty wide range of volume, so you can always find a comfortable listening level.
I also want to point out that the haptic engine on the RedMagic 6 is far better than anything RedMagic has used in its previous phones. It's much sharper and stronger than the last generation, which felt loose and was kind of obnoxious.
The camera setup is never the focus of RedMagic phones, and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking that the cameras on the RedMagic 6 are the exact same as the RedMagic 5S. In fact, the ultra-wide and macro cameras are both the exact same ones, but the main camera now uses a Samsung GW3 sensor instead of Sony's IMX686. There's also an 8MP front-facing camera.
Overall, the camera produces fine results, with vivid colors and a decent amount of detail, though there's quite a tendency for oversaturation and the main camera can produce slightly warmer shots than what would be ideal. You can see how the ultra-wide camera sometimes produces cooler colors compared to the main camera, for instance. On the other hand, the macro camera doesn't deliver the same amount of detail and sharpness. And, of course, the macro camera lets you get very close to subjects to capture the finer details, but its resolution is too low for it to be super useful.
The camera also includes a night mode, but it never kicks in automatically, nor does the software offer any hints to when you should turn it on. The results it produces are fine and it certainly helps make out more objects in a picture, but I feel as though night mode on previous RedMagic phones was a bit better.
The camera experience is where the software issues start to present themselves, and they're exactly the same as they've been for a while now. For all the effort RedMagic has put into improving its hardware, the software is still unlikable. First, the ultra-wide camera can only be accessed in Pro mode, so features like HDR aren't available, and you can't use night mode with the ultra-wide camera either.
I also don't like that Macro mode always starts with this round zoom lens that shows you a specific part of the image even more zoomed in. It can be removed, but it always resets whenever the Camera app is closed.
The Camera app does offer a ton of features, though, even if their usefulness varies. There's slow-motion video recording, and a whole range of effects for videos and photos that can be fun to play around with. All these things are tucked away in the oddly-named "Camera-family" section, and they've almost all been in previous RedMagic phones.
Performance and battery life
The RedMagic 6 is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888, like most other flagship phones this year, and it's backed by 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage. Nowadays, pretty much any flagship will give you more performance than you need, but the RedMagic 6 tried to take that even further thanks to its cooling system, featuring multiple components like a vapor chamber, a graphite thermal pad, and of course, a built-in cooling fan. That fan has also been improved with speeds up to 20,000 RPM, from 15,000 in the previous model.
All of that amounts to fantastic performance in day-to-day usage and gaming is a breeze, too, with everything from Pokémon GO to PUBG Mobile running as smoothly as you'd expect it to. For benchmarks, I used the latest version of AnTuTu, GeekBench 5, and GFXBench.
First off, AnTuTu tests the overall performance, and one thing that needs to be mentioned here is that this benchmark recently got a major update to version 9, which radically changes the scores. You actually can't see a ranking for this phone just yet, but I ran the updated benchmark on the OPPO Find X2 Pro for comparison.
The RedMagic 6 obtained a 815,171 score on the first run, coming slightly down to 808,239 and 806,084 in the two subsequent runs. Performance didn't drop significantly, but it's worth noting that it didn't drop significantly on the OPPO Find X2 Pro, either. That phone has a last-gen chipset, and it scored 659,087.
Next up is GeekBench, which focuses on the CPU. On the first run, the RedMagic 6 scored 1,055 for single-core performance and 3,521 for multi-core.
Here, I'm comparing it to the more similar OPPO Find X3 Pro, which has the same chipset, and that phone had a noticeably higher single-core result at 1,129, while the multi-core score was lower, at 3,378. In a second run, the RedMagic 6 scored 962 and 3,501, while a third run scored 962 and 3,515. Multi-core performance was fairly consistent and beats out the Find X3 Pro by quite a few points.
Finally, we have GFXBench, a series of tests focused on the GPU and is a very intensive benchmark.
Here, we can only compare the offscreen tests to the Find X3 Pro, because the on-screen tests run at different resolutions. The RedMagic 6 generally pulls convincing victories in every test on the first run, and even on a third run, it goes toe to toe with the single run of the Find X3 Pro.
As for battery life, RedMagic has bumped up the battery size to 5,050mAh, which is the largest it's ever used. Last year, the RedMagic 5G and 5S had smaller 4,500mAh units, and while that was still good enough, this is definitely an improvement. The phone consistently lasts me over 24 hours on a charge, and that's with the refresh rate constantly set to 165Hz. You can bring that down to 60Hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz if you want to prolong the battery life.
On top of that, RedMagic now offers 30W charging out of the box, and you can get a 66W charger sold separately, too. That 30W charger included in the box is a big improvement over the 18W adapter that came with last year's phones, and it makes charging much faster - a very welcome improvement.
So far, I've been singing the praises of the RedMagic 6, and that's because the company has truly delivered on almost every front with the hardware. But, as has been the case with previous RedMagic phones, the software is where things fall flat. The phone runs Android 11 with RedMagic OS 4 on top of it, but things unfortunately haven't changed much since the previous version.
I've listed all the things I don't like about it in the past, but I'll mention some of them again. First, there's still no option to change the display scaling, so this huge display feels a bit wasted with all the elements being as large as they are. Second, there's a ton of poor translations that make some settings not immediately obvious, so it's easy to feel confused navigating some parts of the phone's UI. A notable example are the multi-tasking options like picture-in-picture or bubbles. There are also multiple pages on the Settings app that have no actual settings, just information about certain software features. Another thing that bothers me is that RedMagic refuses to bring back the full suite of customization options for the RGB lighting as we got with the RedMagic 3 and 3S. You only get four solid colors and three gradients now, and that takes a lot away from the feeling of having something unique to you.
All those issues are not new, but there are some that are. For example, the company has finally made it possible to use a third-party launcher, which didn't work on last year's phones. But every now and then, it might still take you to the default nubia launcher for no reason. On top of that, using a third-party launcher with the Android navigation gestures makes it so that you can't open the task manager by swiping up and holding your finger on the screen. As soon as you swipe up, you're taken to the home screen, and there's nothing you can do about it. You're basically forced to use navigation buttons instead.
Another new issue is the power menu, which you can't back out of normally. Once you open the power menu, you need to lock and unlock the phone again to use it, since tapping an empty area of the screen does absolutely nothing. On that note, the power menu doesn't include the smart home controls Google introduced with Android 11, which is also a bummer. I've noticed some other things, like how if I set YouTube to just play audio in the background, the playback controls for it don't show up in the notification shade. Only my main music app is there, for some reason.
The biggest changes in the software are in the Game Space, the UI that shows up once you enable the gaming mode toggle on the left of the phone. RedMagic has added a few new features and simplified parts of the UI, especially for the game overlay. Some of the new options include quick access to a few chat apps, an easier way to record video, and a new "Hunting mode", which basically just inverts the colors on the screen.
One of the most notable improvements is for the shoulder triggers, which can be assigned to any area or button on the screen. Now, you can set different types of actuation for them, like setting each trigger to activate two touch areas on the screen at the same time. You can also set it to perform one action when you press the trigger, and another one when you release it. However, the pressing action is a one-time thing, so holding down the trigger won't do anything.
Finally, you can set the shoulder trigger to perform a macro, which you record beforehand. Macros can be up to five minutes long, and they're pretty cool. I recorded one that wins a full race in Asphalt 9 for me, which is fun to see. Macros can also be played out at the original speed or sped up, so if there's a combination of actions you want to do quickly, you can do that too.
I may sound like a broken record at this point, but the truth is the RedMagic 6 is more of the same as far as the company's philosophy goes. The focus almost always seems to be on the hardware, while software seems to be an afterthought, and unfortunately, that makes every RedMagic review a bit disheartening for me.
On the hardware side, RedMagic made some great changes that make this a better phone than ever. More RAM for the base configuration, a faster included charger, bringing back RGB lighting, a more solid-feeling build, a taller and faster display with far fewer issues than previous panels, better button placement, and a better haptic engine. This truly is the best hardware RedMagic has ever put together, and even with the price increase, the $599 price tag is an amazing deal for what you get. I was super excited to review this when I first started using it.
But that excitement started draining slowly as I used the phone and ran into the different software issues and limitations that RedMagic refuses to fix, in addition to bringing new ones and also not implementing new Android features like the smart home controls. It's ridiculous to think that I can't do something as simple as backing out of the power menu, or that using a third-party launcher makes it impossible to use the task manager.
The RedMagic 6 is still one of the most affordable gaming phones you can buy with top-of-the-line hardware, and for that reason alone, it's worthy of being considered. But gaming phones are evolving quickly, and if you have the money to spend, options like the Legion Phone Duel 2 or the ROG Phone 5 from ASUS are beating RedMagic in areas where it used to stand out - offering more control options, an internal cooling fan, or more customization.
With that being said, $599 for a Snapdragon 888, 12GB of RAM, and the world's first 165Hz display is a deal that's hard to ignore. If you can tolerate the software issues, then there's a lot to like here. You can buy the RedMagic 6 from the company's website, or opt for the 6 Pro for $699 to get 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and even better cooling.