When it comes to gaming smartphones, you can’t really talk about them without throwing RedMagic into the mix. Nubia has been making RedMagic gaming smartphones for the last few years and each iteration of the series keeps getting better and better. What is remarkable about the devices though is just how powerful they are at such a low price point. We’re talking about what usually amounts to flagship-level specs at almost half the price of brands like Apple, Samsung, and others. Their latest gaming smartphone, the RedMagic 6R, tries to tone down the loud, gaming aspect of the series and push it into a more mainstream place by cleaning up its looks and making it a more daily livable device.
The RedMagic 6R, otherwise known as the RedMagic 6 Racing, is based on the RedMagic 6 series with essentially almost the same flagship level specs, but at an even lower price point. Some compromises had to be made to fit it into a thinner, lighter package, but this device is still every bit as impressive as its more powerful siblings.
First up, I’d like the thank RedMagic for sending over the RedMagic 6R to us to evaluate for this review. This is the retail package that includes a charger, charging cable, aux adapter, and case.
The RedMagic 6R differs in design from almost every other RedMagic phone that came before it. The approach here seems to be more of a toned-down, every-man type of phone that isn’t too crazy or two flashy. At a quick glance, it looks like a normal non-gaming specific phone that you’d see from any other brand, built to be thin and light and easy to carry. It isn’t until you look at it up close that you notice all the subtle little design cues that still make the RedMagic 6R a RedMagic phone.
For starters, the front view is is just like any other phone on the market right now. Mainly edge-to-edge glass with a display that has very thin bezels. The only thing that interrupts the display is a tiny pin hole camera up at the top. You’ll also notice the tiniest sliver of a earpiece up top as well. The RedMagic 6R does make good use of the space here and the display does also comes with a built-in screen protector, which is good, and it’s one that doesn’t have much friction to it so your fingers will slide smoothly across it. It’s up to you if you want to remove it or not. I would keep it on just to protect the screen.
Moving away from the front, it isn’t until you get to the metal rails and back panel that things start to get really interesting design wise.
The side rails here have a very similar design to that of the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro. They have very similar cuts in the rails where up top and bottom have this concave cut straight across, while the sides are cut much straighter. The four corners are more curved but overall, the edges don’t feel sharp at all and RedMagic did a good job keeping things fairly smooth. It’s very comfortable to hold and nothing digs into your palms, whether your one-handing it or holding it in landscape with both hands.
You’ll notice that the RedMagic 6Rhas eliminated the AUX jack in this iteration, so those wanting an audio jack will be disappointed. They probably did this to not only save weight, but to keep the design thin. So up top, we only get a mic and on the bottom, we get another mic, a downward facing speaker, the USB-C port, and the dual sim tray. Like the other models, there is no expandable memory slot.
On the right-hand rail, you’ll find a layout that is similar to that of a Samsung or Sony phone now with the power and volume buttons all located here. These appear to be metal buttons and match up color wise to the dark rails. The right side also houses the two built-in, touch enabled shoulder triggers that are a staple of the RedMagic gaming phones. Glad to see RedMagic kept these here and didn’t decide to remove them.
There’s nothing on the left-hand rail and you’ll notice that the red switch to enable GameSpace isn’t there. There are also no intake or exhaust ports as this phone doesn’t have the open-air cooling system or Turbo fan.
Moving to the back, this is where we see the deviation from their more aggressively styled gaming phones. Here it is majorly toned down, but still carries a bit of the RedMagic flair. The back panel is still made of glass with a gaming-influenced design underneath. It isn’t quite as aggressively styled though but still has a bit of that sci-fi techno influence to it. It’s pretty good-looking and doesn’t overpower the look of the rest of the phone. One major difference you’ll spot here though is that the cameras no longer sit flush and in the middle on the back, but instead now sit in their own camera bump on the top left-hand side. This doesn’t look quite as smooth and integrated as in the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro, but it doesn’t look terrible here. If you use the included clear case, the bump isn’t as noticeable.
Speaking of the case the included case here is much better than what came on the RedMagic 6 in which I did not like the opened slit down the middle. This new case for the RedMagic 6R covers the whole back now and seems much more protective. It even has the openings for the shoulder buttons.
That’s pretty much it here. In my opinion, the RedMagic 6R looks pretty good. I like the toned down looks and it does give the phone a much cleaner appearance. In terms of size, it’s not too big and not too small. For comparison, it sits between the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. In case you’re wondering, the color of this RedMagic 6R is Cosmos Black with a second color you can choose called Mercury Silver.
The RedMagic 6R is designed to be a more toned down experience and more of an everyday carry type smartphone that is geared more towards the masses. That doesn’t mean the performance has been dramatically toned down that much as the phone itself is still very much a power house for gaming. While not quite as powerful as the RedMagic 6 or 6 Pro, the RedMagic 6R is no slouch. You’re still getting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB LPDDR5 RAM instead of 12GB, 128GB UFS3.1 Storage, 5G + WiFi 6E, under-display fingerprint reader, and a 4200mAh battery, instead of a 5050mAh battery.
Other notable specs include 30W fast charging (no 66W charging), 144Hz screen refresh rate (down from 160Hz), and a resolution of 2400×1080 from a 6.67″ AMOLED display. It also has a max brightness of 770 nits. Despite some of the lower specs, the display is still gorgeous and buttery smooth at 144Hz. The touch sampling rate is 360Hz for multi-touch. The glass on the display is Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Speaking of touch sampling, the built-in shoulder triggers have a touch sampling rate of 400Hz which is the same as in the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro.
The RedMagic 6R doesn’t have the ICE 6.0 Multidimensional Cooling System with Built-in Turbofan, which was used to help cool the phone down during heavy gaming. This is because the RedMagic 6R has a lighter, thinner design. However, it still does have a built-in cooling mechanism in the form Vapor Chamber Liquid-Cooling, graphene, thermally conductive gel superconducting copper foil, and a metal middle frame. This multi-level cooling system helps reduce the core CPU temperatures.
In terms of security, the RedMagic 6R has an under-display fingerprint reader that is very fast and accurate. I believe it’s an optical scanner because the reader lights up super bright when it detects your finger. If you want another means of unlocking your phone, you can also activate the Face Recognition which again here is very fast. In fact, it almost seems instantaneous here, which is great.
While most of the specs still seem pretty good despite being a bit lower than on the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro, there is one item that they shouldn’t have changed and that’s with the speakers. This thing only has one speaker that fires out through the bottom of the phone. There isn’t a second speaker where the earpiece is. That means you don’t get stereo sound when play games, listening to music, or playing videos. Plus only having a bottom firing speaker means it’s easy to block with your hand when holding your phone. It is loud though, so that’s its only saving grace.
Lastly, there also doesn’t seem to be an IP Rating on the RedMagic 6R, but the design of the phone itself seems like it would resist dirt and water a bit better than the more powerful RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro. This is because it doesn’t have the open-air cooling system and everything seems to be more enclosed here. The only holes appear to be the speaker hole, USB-C port, and the mic holes and that’s it. I still wouldn’t risk dunking it in water, but a little splash here and there shouldn’t hurt it.
The RedMagic 6R runs RedMagic OS 4.0 which is based on Android 11. Some features are straight Android 11, while others have been heavily customized specifically tailored to take advantage of the hardware. While the custom launcher is pretty snappy, I don’t think I like it as much as a more pure Android 11-like experience. For instance, you’re missing the new smart home device controls shortcut and you can’t custom arrange the app drawer. There are also some oddly named sections in the settings that you’ll have to play with to figure out what they’re for as well as some humorous typos in some sections.
For the most part though, despite some differences, it’s not hard to get used to the UI as it still is Android underneath.
What is interesting is that RedMagic provides several of its own apps instead of using Google equivalents, such as its own file manager, calendar, clock, gallery, notepad, and calculator. Nothing is keeping you from using Google apps however as there are several included and you can always download the others. Speaking of which, swiping to the left-most screen does bring up the Google Feed with no way of turning it off from what I can see. The only bit of real bloat I could see was one app called NextWord Browser. I think it’s meant more for non-English speaking users who want to learn English while browsing. Useful for some, but not for me. This got immediately replaced with Chrome.
There are also little additions that I haven’t really seen on other phones. For instance, if you have an app open, you can turn it into a tiny windowed version of itself with a click of a button. RedMagic calls it Small Window mode, though it doesn’t work on all apps, only those that support it. There’s also a Chrome shortcut in the pull-down shortcut menu that will open Chrome in a windowed version as well. You can also enable something called the Entertainment Toolbox, which is basically a slide-out toolbar on the desktop with shortcuts on it.
However, the major thing the differentiates the RedMagic 6 from most all other Android phones is the custom GameSpace desktop. It’s activated a bit differently here on the 6R and requires that you push a button from the pull down quick settings. This mode is specifically for gaming and lets you do a bunch of really custom stuff. You also need to enable GameSpace in order to use the shoulder trigger buttons. These you will need to enable in-game and map them to any touch-button onscreen. As an example, in Call of Duty Mobile, I use the left trigger to enable ADS and I use the right trigger to throw grenades. You can do this for any game and I like that the triggers aren’t automatically mapped to anything. Again, customization is the name of the game here.
Another thing you can do within GameSpace is set the priority of the CPU and GPU. For certain games, you might want more CPU performance and for others, more GPU performance. You can even set it where both are prioritized. It’s entirely up to you.
Most of GameSpace is the same as it is in the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro except that there is no turbo fan activation and no RGB lighting to control.
Since RedMagic markets the RedMagic 6R as more of a day to day device that you can carry around with you just like any other smartphone that isn’t game-centric, they seem to have made some improvements to the cameras. You get a 4-camera system – a 64MP main camera, a 8MP ultra wide angle camera, a 5MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth of field camera.Up front, you get a 16MP unit for selfies. Basically they added the new depth of field camera, and upped the size of the macro and selfie cameras.
The software isn’t bad either. You get your standard auto photo modes with 1x, 3x, 5x, and 10x zoom modes, up to Ultra HD 8K video recording at 30fps, Night mode, and a Portrait Mode. You’ll also get a Pro mode for manually adjusting settings and a “Camera-Friendly” option which is basically just a bunch of fun camera filters and other modes such as Macro, Time-Lapse, Pano, Slow Motion, etc. The camera app is actually pretty thorough and feature-rich. All the features are pretty much the same as they are on the RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro.
So with these slightly improved specs and what already seems like good camera software, you end up with quite a capable shooter with the RedMagic 6R.
For the most part, the hardware experience is quite good with the RedMagic 6R. It’s a solid, sturdy device that feels great in your hands and isn’t too large or too small. The display looks really good especially when running at 144Hz. This is higher than say the more popular Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but I don’t honestly think you’ll notice the higher refresh rate. You’ll just know that it looks darn good and and super smooth. You’ll also marvel I think at how quick and accurate the fingerprint reader is despite it being an optical reader. It is seriously fast and I’ve had pretty much zero issues with it. Same goes for the face recognition software which reads your face almost instantaneously.
What is a bit hit or miss is the RedMagic OS 4.0 launcher which you’ll either love or hate. There are some things about it that are really good and other things that just make no sense or has been removed that you’d get in Android 11. I think RedMagic GameSpace is really good and is a great place to have your games organized and played. It’s not difficult to get used to RedMagic OS 4.0 though, it’s just a little different.
Since the RedMagic 6R is still considered a gaming phone, you’ll be happy to note that it still runs pretty much every game as smoothly as you’d expect from a Snapdragon 888 device. Mainly, if you’re a casual gamer, you’ll be happy and if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’ll be happy too. The two shoulder buttons are the best gaming features on the phone and I kinda which now all phones had these.
The RedMagic 6R is a rather interesting device when compared to the other RedMagic 6 phones in the lineup. In terms of price, the RedMagic 6R sits about $100 below the RedMagic 6, making it $499. If you choose to go 12+256GB, it’ll be $599. That is incredibly cheap for a Snapdragon 888 phone and one with 5G + WiFi 6E. Sure you give up some things here and there, such as the open-air cooling, stereo speakers, and slight “detuned” specs, but performance wise, you aren’t really missing much if you aren’t a hardcore mobile gamer. On the other hand, you’re also gaining better cameras for everyday use as well as a thinner and lighter device, so it might be worth the tradeoff.
That being said, the RedMagic 6R is a very good phone for the price. I would in fact choose this over the higher spec’d RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro because it’s honestly more than you’ll probably need. The RedMagic 6R has the right combination of speed, specs, and features for the price to satisfy most people these days. This is a gaming smartphone for those who don’t necessarily need one and don’t want to show that they’re using one, and that’s perfectly fine.
The RedMagic 6R is currently up for pre-order on Amazon with an estimated release date of July 6.