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Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro Review: Gaming, Pros, Cons, and Specs

The Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro delivers impressive gaming performance and remarkable battery life at an unbelievably affordable price. It’s a specialized device with a unique aesthetic and user interface that may not appeal to everyone. Yet, for dedicated mobile gamers aiming to maximize value, there’s currently no superior option available.

Pros

Cons

In summary, the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro offers unparalleled gaming value, despite some UI and ergonomic drawbacks.

Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro Review: Gaming, Pros, Cons, and Specs

Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro: Quick Overview

The Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro, a follow-up to the popular 8S Pro, maintains its affordable appeal. While it may not have the sleekness of the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, it excels in delivering top-tier gaming features at half the price.

Staying true to Nubia’s iterative approach, the Red Magic 9 Pro sports updated internals and a slightly refined design, all without altering its budget-friendly price tag. Despite the familiar aesthetics, the device impresses with gaming-friendly features like capacitive shoulder buttons and a flattened camera module.

The display, notch-free and vibrant, stands out from its predecessors. Performance-wise, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, coupled with an effective cooling system, sets the Red Magic 9 Pro apart. Its extensive 6,500mAh battery ensures extended use, even during intense gaming sessions, with a rapid 80W charger for quick refueling.

On the downside, the camera system, while improved with a 50MP main sensor and OIS, falls short in the ultra-wide and under-display selfie departments. Nubia’s software has made strides, becoming more user-friendly, particularly with the gamer-centric Game Space mode.

In the realm of gaming phones, the Red Magic 9 Pro doesn’t claim the top spot, but its exceptional performance and affordability make it the best value at $649 / £579. For sustained gaming prowess without breaking the bank, the Red Magic 9 Pro stands unrivaled.

Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro Price

The Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro hits the market with prices starting at $649 / £579. For Australian buyers, purchases are made through the global store in USD.

Pre-orders opened on December 27, 2023, and sales officially kick off on January 3, 2024. The entry-level Sleet model, offering 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, is priced at $649 / £579. Meanwhile, the Cyclone and Snowfall models, equipped with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, come in at $799 / £709.

In Australia, the global store in USD means the base 256GB model costs around AU$965, while the 512GB variant is approximately AU$1,190. Here’s a breakdown of the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro prices:

RAM / StorageUS PriceUK PriceAU Price
12GB / 256GB$649£579Approx AU$965
16GB / 512GB$799£709Approx AU$1,190

Notably, Nubia maintains the pricing strategy from the 8S Pro, offering color choices for the top storage RAM version without introducing a mid-level price point.

The key specs for the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro

The key specs for the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro:

SpecificationDetails
Dimensions164 x 76.4 x 8.9mm
Weight229g
Display6.8-inch Full HD+ (1116 x 2480) up to 120Hz BOE Q9+ AMOLED
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
RAM12GB / 16GB (LPDDR5X)
Storage256GB / 512GB (UFS 4.0)
OS (at launch)Android 14
Primary camera50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN5 1/1.58-inch sensor w/ OIS
Ultra-wide camera50MP Samsung ISOCELL JN1 1/2.76-inch sensor
Macro camera2MP
Front Camera12MP, f/2.0, 1.12μm, 2nd-gen under-display
Battery6,500mAh
Charging80W wired
ColorsSleet, Cyclone, Snowfall

These specifications highlight the Red Magic 9 Pro’s impressive features, including a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, a vibrant 120Hz AMOLED display, and a substantial 6,500mAh battery with rapid 80W charging.

Red Magic 9 Pro Design

The Red Magic 9 Pro boasts a robust design with Gorilla Glass 5 panels, an aluminum frame, and an even flatter profile. While not the most ergonomic for extended use, its 8.9mm thickness and 229-gram weight are reasonable for a gaming phone.

This year, the blocky aesthetic is enhanced with a nearly flat back, housing the camera module underneath a transparent cover. The Snowfall color option, showcasing off-white with a semi-transparent back, adds a unique touch.

RGB lighting, found around the fan, ’09’ decal, and capacitive shoulder buttons, adds flair. The unchanged 520Hz shoulder buttons, integrated with Nubia’s gaming UI, prove useful in games like CoD Mobile or PUBG Mobile.

Red Magic 9 Pro Design

The right edge features volume and power buttons, a circular Game Boost Switch, and capacitive shoulder buttons. The aluminum side frame complements the Gorilla Glass 5-protected display. However, compromises include the absence of water and dust resistance.

While a single USB-C port is at the phone’s bottom, a 3.5mm headphone jack is conveniently placed on the top edge. The front, with minimal bezels and an under-display selfie cam, offers an immersive experience but may pose challenges for gamers.

In landscape gaming, speaker grilles on the top and bottom edges may be less ideal. Despite minor drawbacks, the Red Magic 9 Pro’s design is visually appealing, balancing aesthetics and functionality for a compelling gaming experience.

Red Magic 9 Pro Display Review

The Red Magic 9 Pro sports a spacious 6.8-inch OLED display with a 2480 x 1116 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. While not the fastest in the gaming phone realm, the 120Hz rate suffices for most games.

Unlike its predecessor, the 9 Pro uses BOE’s Q9+ luminescent material, offering a punchier output. Adjusting from the default ‘Colorful’ to the ‘Soft’ color mode provided a more natural look.

This material also enhances brightness, with a peak of 1,600 nits, 300 nits more than the 8S Pro. With auto-brightness off, the 9 Pro reached 445 nits, about 100 nits higher than its predecessor.

Though not the most refined display, the Red Magic 9 Pro’s screen excels as a gaming canvas—large, flat, adequately bright, and free from bothersome notches obstructing the view.

Red Magic 9 Pro Camera

In the camera department, the Red Magic 9 Pro introduces a 50MP main sensor with optical image stabilization (OIS), a slight improvement from its predecessor. Despite using the same Samsung GN5 sensor, the addition of OIS is noteworthy for a gaming phone in this price range.

The 50MP ultra-wide lens and the 2MP macro camera bring some enhancements, yet the real star is the improved main sensor. With a 7P lens and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip’s enhanced image processing, the Red Magic 9 Pro captures decent shots, especially in favorable lighting conditions.

While low-light performance is crisper compared to the 8S Pro, the Night mode tends to over-brighten scenes. Unfortunately, the 16MP in-display selfie camera remains lackluster, failing to impress even in the context of gaming phones.

Video capabilities include up to 8K resolution, offering impressive flexibility for content creation. Despite its camera improvements, the Red Magic 9 Pro doesn’t position itself as a photography powerhouse, focusing more on catering to gaming enthusiasts.

Nubia has upgraded the ultra-wide camera, replacing the 8S Pro’s 8MP sensor with a 50MP Samsung JN1 alternative. While suitable in good lighting, it falls short in tone and dynamic range compared to the main sensor.

The addition of optical image stabilization (OIS) brings a positive impact on video capabilities, maintaining 8K/30fps, 4K/60fps, or 1080p/240fps shooting options. The footage seems noticeably steadier with this new technology.

However, one unchanged aspect is the 16MP under-display selfie camera. While it contributes to a sleek display, the selfie shots remain disappointingly blurry and smudged, lacking the clarity expected in modern smartphones.

performance

The Red Magic 9 Pro stands out as one of the first phones featuring the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, coupled with 12 or 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and a choice between 256GB or 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage.

Nubia prioritized gaming power, making compromises in design and camera. The Red Magic 9 Pro excels with the latest chip, delivering expectedly fast CPU and GPU benchmark results, showcasing a notable performance boost over the previous Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Comparing with the iPhone 15 Pro and its A17 Pro, the Red Magic 9 Pro competes closely, demonstrating advantages in GPU performance for its mid-market price of $649 / £579.

Beyond raw processing power, the Red Magic 9 Pro impresses with sustained performance, evident in 3DMark Extreme tests. Thanks to the upgraded ICE 13.0 Cooling System, featuring a physical fan, the phone maintains near-perfect stability during prolonged gaming sessions. Despite some noise, this cooling system ensures smooth gameplay even in graphics-intensive games like Genshin Impact or Diablo Immortal.

Discussing the software aspect of Red Magic 9 Pro

Discussing the software aspect

Nubia’s Red Magic OS 9.0 on Android 14 has undergone significant improvements. From a mishmash of widgets and translation issues, it now resembles a typical custom Android environment.

While the custom skin remains mediocre, featuring charmless wallpapers and preinstalled apps like Booking.com, it functions well. Despite initial hiccups, firmware updates resolved lags, offering a smooth user experience. Notably, Google Keep comes preinstalled, a thoughtful touch uncommon among manufacturers.

Crucially, the Game Space UI caters to the intended gaming audience. Activating it grants access to games and control over fan, CPU, and GPU settings. In-game, a streamlined UI allows customization of capacitive controls for virtual buttons.

The Game Space UI extends functionality beyond gaming, offering management for accessories, large screen projection, in-game screenshots, RGB lighting adjustments, and more. While these features exceed average user needs, they align with the Red Magic 9 Pro’s focus on gaming enthusiasts.

Addressing the battery aspect

The Red Magic 9 Pro impresses with an expanded 6,500mAh dual-cell configuration. Despite its similar weight and slightly thinner profile compared to the 8S Pro, Nubia achieved a notable increase.

The claimed 56-hour endurance may seem abstract, but real-world usage showcased a full day with 65% remaining after four hours of screen-on time. This improvement not only surpasses the 8S Pro but also suggests the potential for practical two-day usage.

For gamers, the generous battery size allows multiple intensive gaming sessions without worrying about recharging until bedtime. The bundled 80W charger, an improvement from the 8S Pro’s 65W, facilitates a quick full charge in approximately 40 minutes.

While wireless charging is absent, a common omission in gaming phones, the focus on advanced cooling solutions takes precedence, as seen in the $1,399 ROG Phone 7 Ultimate.

Buying Guide For Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro

Consider the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro if you crave top gaming performance at an affordable price. Its high-speed chip, ample memory, storage, and effective cooling system create an unbeatable combination.

Opt for it if you desire a phone with an all-screen display. The minimal bezels and under-display camera provide a unique, screen-centric experience, suitable for both active media consumption and passive enjoyment like watching shows or reading books.

Choose it for the impressive two-day battery life, especially when gaming is dialed down. Even with regular use, the Red Magic 9 Pro can effortlessly last through a full day without compromising your gaming sessions.

However, avoid it if photography is a top priority. While the main sensor is decent, better camera systems are available for the same or lower price. The under-display camera technology, though intriguing, may not satisfy selfie enthusiasts.

If money is no constraint and you seek the absolute best gaming phone, consider alternatives like the Asus ROG Phone range. Additionally, if you dislike custom Android UIs, be aware that the Red Magic OS 9.0, while improved, may not align with your preference for stock Android.

Considering gaming phones?

While the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro offers a unique experience, other options are worth exploring:

Asus ROG Phone 7 UltimateNubia Red Magic 8S ProApple iPhone 13
Price (at launch)From $1,399 / £1,199.99 / AU$2,099From $649 / £579From $799 / £779 / AU$1,349
Dimensions173 x 77 x 10.3mm164 x 76.4 x 9.5mm146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm
Weight239g228g174g
OS (at launch)Android 13Android 13iOS 15
Display6.78-inch Full HD+ 165Hz AMOLED6.8-inch Full HD+ 120Hz AMOLED6.1-inch 2532 x 1170 19.5:9 60Hz OLED
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Apple A15 Bionic
RAM16GB12GB / 16GB4GB
Storage512GB256GB / 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear Cameras50MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide
Front camera32MP16MP12MP
Battery6,000mAh + 65W wired charging6,000mAh + 65W wired charging3,240mAh + 20W wired, up to 15W wireless

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