The RedMagic 8 Pro is the year’s best phone you haven’t heard of

RedMagic 8 Pro Titanium Edition back

RedMagic 8 Pro

MSRP $649.00

“The RedMagic 8 Pro combines powerful gaming chops with a gorgeous design and an incredible display. And it even manages to be a pretty great value.”

Pros

  • Full-screen display without a cutout
  • Powerful performance
  • Gorgeous design
  • Loaded with gaming features
  • Good value

Cons

  • Software has a few hiccups
  • Average cameras

Gaming phones have a niche audience, but the hardware on these devices is top-notch. The RedMagic 8 Pro is another such gaming phone that performs as amazing as it looks. It’s also a phone that — unless you’re heavily invested in the mobile gaming space — you probably haven’t heard of.

But using a gaming phone mostly means compromising on software and cameras. I used the RedMagic 8 Pro for a week as my go-to smartphone to find out if you can buy it as your primary phone. Here’s what I learned.

The RedMagic 8 Pro has a flashy, premium design

RedMagic 8 Pro glowing lights on the back.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I like flashing lights on phones, and the RedMagic 8 Pro has plenty of them that light up the logo and a few strips at the back. You can configure the colors and choose from up to seven options from the Settings menu. The matte version of the phone misses out on the transparent fun, but you get that on the titanium edition, which looks gorgeous in its transparent casing.

The RegMagic 8 Pro feels solid in the hand; it gives you a premium feel. In fact, the silver color variant looks more premium than any other Android smartphone. The matte surface on the regular model gives a good grip and isn’t prone to smudges. While I’d suggest using the phone as it is, you get a clear plastic case for protection in the box.

The RedMagic 8 Pro looks more premium than any other Android smartphone.

On the back also lies a triple rear camera setup. It doesn’t sit flush like last year’s RedMagic 7 Pro. However, it doesn’t seem out of place either. It is a rare phone with a minimal camera layout in 2023. On the right side, you get the power button, Game Space switch, and trigger buttons on top and bottom for gaming. There are volume rockers on the right side with air vents on both edges.

The RedMagic 8 Pro is smaller than the 7 Pro but features thinner bezels, so you get the same 6.8-inch screen size. There is no hole-punch camera cutout, so you get a full-screen display. The selfie shooter is mostly invisible. On the top lies a headphone jack alongside two mics, whereas the bottom has another mic and USB-C port. There is no IP rating for dust and water resistance.

An incredible display in every way

RedMagic 8 Pro display
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The RedMagic 8 Pro features a 6.8-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution (2480 x 1116 pixels) and a 120Hz refresh rate. Plus, there’s a 960Hz touch sampling rate for a smoother experience.

The company has worked on the display to improve its legibility in sunlight. The peak brightness has been increased from 600 nits to 1300 nits. I had no issues using the camera or viewing content in direct sunlight.

You can choose from five color modes: Normal, Vivid, Natural, P3, and sRGB. It came with Vivd out of the box, and I let it stay that way.

I liked consuming content on this display. It’s sharp, vivid, and offers a full-screen experience without any notch or cutout hindrance. It’s a good screen to view media on. The accompanied speakers get loud enough to let you enjoy TV shows, movies, or gaming sessions without the headphones.

Outstanding performance and battery life

RedMagic 8 Pro fan glowing in the dark.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The RedMagic 8 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which has been really good on every flagship smartphone I’ve tested this year. It is paired with up to 16GB RAM and 512GB storage.

What’s a gaming device without a fan, right? You get a built-in cooling fan here, which runs up to 20,000 rpm. But you won’t be able to hear it unless you hold the phone close to your ears.

The phone aced every game I ran on it.

The smartphone aced every game I ran on it — from Genshin Impact to Asphalt 9. The former consistently gave me 60 fps at max settings. To my surprise, the phone didn’t get warm after 20 minutes of gaming. It stays cool for longer gaming sessions. The shoulder trigger buttons are mappable and work well.

As for day-to-day usage, I didn’t come across any stutters or interface lag. The navigation works well, and the call quality is clear. Plus, the haptics on offer here are some of the best I’ve used.

RedMagic 8 Pro glowing logo.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The RedMagic 8 Pro packs a 6,000mAh battery with support for 66W fast charging. It continuously lasted me a day with ease, even on heavy work days. I used the phone at a 120Hz refresh rate, pushed the brightness to the max, did a few gaming tests, clicked photos, and navigated the interface — and it still had 20% battery left by 9:00 p.m.

And if you’re running out of charge, the included 65W GaN charger helps get it to 50% within half an hour of charge time.

Are the cameras worth using?

RedMagic 8 Pro camera module.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The RedMagic 8 Pro sports three rear cameras. It is led by a 50MP Samsung GN5 sensor, which is accompanied by an 8MP ultrawide angle sensor and a 2MP macro camera.

The primary camera captures detailed photos in daylight. It offers good dynamic range in outdoor shots with details even in the shadows.

Photos at night come out surprisingly well too. I had low expectations from it for nighttime photography, but the images come out bright with minimal lens flare. You’ll have to work a bit to adjust photos to get even better-looking images.

Portrait shots have good edge detection with natural blur. It doesn’t feel like the subject is pasted artificially over the background, which happens on a few phones.

Switching to the ultrawide camera, the colors remain consistent in daylight, but the shots aren’t as detailed as the primary camera. As for the 2MP macro sensor, it is of minimal use.

On the front lies a 16MP selfie shooter. It has been immensely improved over its predecessor. However, it still smoothens outs the skin. I’m OK with the image quality because I get a no-nonsense full-screen display without any hindrance. It’s not the best camera package in the world, but it gets the job done.

Software that’s a mix of good and bad

The RedMagic 8 Pro runs Android 13 with its own RedMagic OS 6. Simply put, there’s still room for improvement in the UI. It’s not consistent most of the time. For instance, if I change the layout option from no drawer to app drawer, I lose my home screen setup, and it converts to something random by default, which is frustrating.

Then there’s the notification problem as well, where the system changes anything more than one notification to “x notifications hidden.” That said, multitasking features like floating windows and others are good to use for productivity.

You can add a custom launcher without any issues this time around. I came across a few bugs that could be fixed with an update, but I’m not sure when and if an update will roll out. Sometimes, trying to insert an icon to create a folder on the home screen would lead to no result.

The best part about the software is the Game Space, which can be toggled by the switch located on the right edge of the phone. It allows you to store game shortcuts, adjust frame rate, touch sensitivity, fan and shoulder triggers, and view CPU and GPU performance. When inside a game, you can access the Game Space by swiping from either side.

What about the competition?

A person holding the Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The RedMagic 8 Pro stands tall on its own, but it becomes an even more fascinating device when you compare it to its peers.

Take the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate as an example. It’s similarly powerful to the RedMagic 8 Pro, but it features a much bulkier design and a significantly higher price. Asus compliments the ROG Phone 7 with some helpful gaming accessories that the RedMagic 8 Pro doesn’t offer, but there’s also a difference of nearly $900 between the two.

The RedMagic 8 Pro also becomes an interesting alternative to phones like the OnePlus 11 and Galaxy S23. Those phones are better all-around smartphones, while the RedMagic 8 Pro is more focused on gaming — but they’re also more expensive.

The RedMagic 8 Pro is a great choice for gamers

RedMagic 8 Pro Titanium Edition back.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The matte variant of the RedMagic 8 Pro comes with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage. It is priced at $649 / 649 euros / 579 British pounds.

On the other hand, the titanium and void options that offer a transparent design come with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. These can be bought for $799 /749 euros /709 pounds. The RedMagic 8 Pro is available unlocked in the U.S., including RedMagic’s website and Amazon.

The RedMagic 8 Pro is strictly for people who are serious about mobile gaming. It’s a gaming-first smartphone with a few hiccups in software, but you get all-day battery life, a good display without any cutouts or notch, excellent performance, and serviceable cameras. It’s not for everyone, but if this is the type of phone you’ve been looking for, the RedMagic 8 Pro has a lot to offer.

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