The gaming smartphone industry has really taken off this year as we have seen some amazing devices. These devices were meant to cater to a niche audience, but they feature specs rivalling flagship devices. One such device is the new Nubia Red Magic 3s. As the name suggests, this is the follow up to the Nubia Red Magic 3 launched earlier this year. Prices for the device start from Rs 35,999, which means it is well seated to disrupt the market for other popular gaming devices. I have thoroughly used the device for the last couple of weeks, and here’s my review of the Nubia Red Magic 3s.
Nubia Red Magic 3s: Design
Starting with the design, the Nubia Red Magic 3s looks identical to its predecessor. It has highlights and lines on the rear of the phone that defines its status as a gaming smartphone. And it also comes with the signature RGB LED strip that screams gaming.
The Nubia Red Magic 3s comes in two different colors. The one I used was the Mecha Silver, which is the lower specs variant. The rear metal panel has a matte finish which effectively keeps out the fingerprints. It has red accents and a black mesh design on the top and the bottom which gives it the look of a racing car. The LED flash, diamond camera bump, fan inlet, hexagonal fingerprint sensor, RGB LED strip and the LED illuminated Nubia logo are right down the middle. The Red Magic 3s name is on the top-right corner which is clearly visible when the user is gaming with the smartphone.
The left edge houses the Game Boost slider that is highlighted in red. Also seen is a dual-SIM slot along with connectors for the accessories from Nubia. The right edge, on the other hand, comes with the dual touch shoulder triggers. It also has the outlet grille for the internal cooling fan and the volume rocker and the power button. The top edge has the much needed 3.5mm audio port, while the bottom edge houses the Type-C port with a speaker grille and a microphone hole.
The Red Magic 3s comes with a 6.65-inch display, which sits between a small chin and forehead. The forehead houses the sensors, a 16-megapixel front camera and an LED indicator. There are a pair of stereo speakers on top and bottom.
The corners of the Red Magic 3s are rounded which makes it a comfortable grip when using the smartphone for gaming along with the triggers. The triggers themselves are extremely sensitive which makes shooting and aiming very efficient. Many might feel that the company could have gone for an in-display fingerprint sensor. But Nubia using the rear fingerprint sensor as a third customizable touch button for gaming makes it pretty useful in my opinion. It is easy to reach and use in gaming without having to stretch the fingers.
The Red Magic 3s runs Android 9 Pie over Red Magic OS 2.0 which is essentially stock Android with the addition of the Game boost mode. The OS is very clean and convenient for those that are used to the stock Android interface. Nubia probably wanted to be efficient and minimize the background activity by using the cleanest possible OS, which they seem to have achieved.
The apps transition from one another without a hitch and with minimal transition effects. Though in my opinion they could have added the option to switch the ‘back’ and ‘apps’ button because some users like me are used to having them on the other side. Some more gestures could also have been useful because the smartphone is almost bare of these. Upgrade to Android 10 would be essential.
The Red Magic 3s comes with top-of-the-line specs that includes the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ chipset and Adreno 640 GPU. The variant I used comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. These internals are quite the overkill for handling the day-to-day apps and processes. I am a heavy social media user with a lot of photography and gaming time on my smartphone. And I had no complaints about the device when it comes with retention of apps in the memory and initiating new apps, and switching between them.
The smartphone has a 6.65-inch AMOLED display with full HD+ resolution with a screen density of 381 pixels per inch. The display supports 90Hz refresh rate with 240Hz touch response rate, and HDR content too. With the specs mentioned, I admit that the display is as good as any of the flagship smartphones out there, and the 90Hz is like butter for the eyes. I have said this in my previous review and I am saying it again, higher refresh rate displays are a big positive for the viewing experience of a smartphone. And users need to experience it to understand just how good it really is. Fingers crossed for more content that supports higher FPS.
The most essential parameter for considering the Nubia Red Magic 3s a good smartphone is probably its gaming performance. And I must admit that it turns out to be a heavyweight in this department. Nubia’s smartphone comes with a dual cooling system which uses its fan and the liquid cooling system to efficiently keep internals cool. And this feature really pushes its gaming performance to the edge. With 90Hz the default display refresh rate, the smartphone really needs to cool the internals when playing games like Game for Peace which supports 90FPS.
The Game Boost center has the options to control the fan speed along with the preferred setting for gaming. Users can either select a balanced performance or a CPU boost or a GPU one. Users can customize their preference as well. The trigger placement can be customized for each game and the side panel for Game Boost has all the notification and the essential game options on hand for players. I found it very convenient to quickly access the record setting and the smartphone performance specs on the side panel. The 4D vibration is quite innovative, but not too useful and is a major battery hog when playing games.
All games (PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, FIFA Mobile, Mario Kart, Asphalt 9) I tested performed at their peak with the highest graphics setting on. But when the phone is really pushed hard, the fans go into overdrive and sounds almost like a PC fan. The smartphones does heat up a bit, but it is nothing that makes it uncomfortable to hold.
Moving on to the battery performance of the smartphones, it has a decent battery performance, and would last a day for very heavy users. I have a lot of screen time and used the smartphone constantly for social media, photography and at least three to four hours of gaming each day. I would start my day at a 100 percent battery and when I would go to bed 18 hours later, would still have battery left in the 20 percents. For heavy usage it would last about a day and a half and medium usage would last users almost two days.
Photography on Nubia Red Magic 3s
Unlike most smartphones, the Red Magic 3s comes with a single rear camera that has a 48-megapixel sensor with a f/1.79 aperture lens. On the front, it has a 16-megapixel sensor camera for selfies and video. The rear camera takes surprisingly accurate photos. And by accurate I mean photos that reproduce the color of the clothes and the skin tone precisely the shade it is. The front camera as well as the rear camera take good night mode photos that don’t even need the smartphone to be held in position for a while. Surprisingly good camera for one lens and a gaming smartphones.
Should you buy the Nubia Red Magic 3s?
The Nubia Red Magic 3s is a wonderfully all-rounded smartphone. It has a great look with ergonomic design, which according to my teammate is not too flashy. It has excellent additions in terms of the shoulder triggers and a cooling fan with top notch specs for the best smartphone gaming experience out there. The Red Magic 3s has a great display with 90Hz refresh rate and an extremely quick response to touches. It has decent battery life that should make any serious smartphone gamer happy. It is very well priced and is extremely competitive.
A couple of things on the downside would be that the smartphone has terrible adaptive brightness, and often tends to flicker. It does not come with the option to turn down the display from 90Hz to 60Hz. But considering the overwhelming positives to the negatives this smartphone is a definite thumbs up from me.