Nubia RedMagic 5S review: a diamond in the rough

Nubia, a subsidiary of ZTE, returns to the gaming smartphone scene with the RedMagic 5S. Equipped with a Snapdragon 865 chipset, a 144 Hz AMOLED show, 12 GB of RAM, UFS 3.1 storage, a 64-megapixel triple digicam module, haptic-feedback triggers, and a monstrous 4,500 mAh battery, that is a highly effective beast that retails for lower than €600.


  • Fully purposeful gaming design
  • Snapdragon 865 chipset
  • Solid battery life
  • Beautiful 144 Hz AMOLED display screen
  • Useful Game Boost mode
  • Good temperature management
  • Relatively first rate worth


  • Geared in direction of gaming solely
  • Poor digicam efficiency
  • Poor RedMagic UI 3.0 Interface
  • The buttons and equipment will not be very ergonomic

Who is the Nubia RedMagic 5S for?

I’ve listed the extraordinarily spectacular specs sheet for the RedMagic 5S as a part of the introduction to this evaluate. On paper, the smartphone is a direct competitor to the Asus ROG Phone 3, which is to me, the most profitable gaming smartphone on the market in 2020.

Except for one factor: the ROG Phone Three sells for a whopping €999. The RedMagic 5S gives way more bang to your hard-earned buck. The fundamental mannequin, which is an 8GB RAM/128GB storage configuration has been out there since September 2nd for €579 in Europe. For those that need one thing that packs extra punch, there’s a 12GB RAM/256GB storage mannequin that can retail for €649 a pop.

At this worth level, it’s laborious to search out one thing higher and even superior in phrases of technical specs, until you take a look at the Realme and its X50 Pro, which sports activities some fairly hefty specs itself. Except that, as I’ve defined many occasions earlier than, the complete level of at present’s gaming smartphone is to be versatile sufficient to enchantment to the normal public as a substitute of simply the gaming neighborhood alone.

In brief, it should be capable of function a day by day driver and never rely fully upon as a gaming gadget, which isn’t but a robust and enticing issue for a buy. The ROG Phone Three has succeeded very properly in reaching such a compromise. I am unable to say the similar for the RedMagic 5S although, because it nonetheless suffers from the similar interface optimization points as its large brother, the RedMagic 5G.


What I like about the Nubia RedMagic 5S…

The 144 Hz AMOLED display screen

I’m in no way a fan of the current fad of trying down on curved screens.
But I do need to say that the alternative of a flat AMOLED display screen for the RedMagic 5S does its job fairly properly in the case of gaming periods with this explicit handset.

The 6.65-inch show doesn’t ‘endure’ from any notches or punch-holes. Instead, it retains a large bezel up high to accommodate the front-facing digicam, making certain that immersion throughout gameplay stays intact. The chin can be fairly distinguished, however if you happen to’re used to plugging a clip-on controller onto the sides of a smartphone (in panorama mode), you will perceive why that is the superior design alternative.

The 144 Hz AMOLED display screen of the RedMagic 5S runs very easily. / © NextPit

There can be the matter of a 144 Hz refresh charge, the place if you happen to’ve ever tried a display screen over 60 Hz, you already know that the in-game expertise and through navigation is an incrementally smoother expertise with the greater refresh charge. It’s not one thing that is clearly noticeable at first look although, however after spending a while with it, you’re going to get used to the buttery smoothness.

The RedMagic 5S show additionally options a 240 Hz contact sampling charge. This implies that each time you contact the display screen, it should document that contact 240 occasions per second, even at the slightest contact of your fingers. Under day-to-day use, that is unattainable to measure, however in actual life, your actions will probably be way more responsive and correct.

When I switched from the RedMagic 5S to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (evaluate coming quickly), I felt like my contact sensitivity in Call of Duty Mobile had decreased by 50% as the in-game contact response was “slower”.

The solely draw back to this wonderful show is its proneness to reflection which I discovered to be relatively excessive, particularly when I’m utilizing it outside or beneath direct daylight. However, you’ll inform me that as a severe gamer, you might be far happier to spend your time inside a darkish room and stay off a weight-reduction plan of pizzas and carbonated drinks. Why hassle going out and exposing your self to daylight? It is precisely such a thought that I (sadly) can determine with.

The Snapdragon 865’s efficiency

Logically, RedMagic outperforms many different smartphones on the market with its Snapdragon 865 chipset. We did not get the overclocked Snapdragon 865+ model, however the smartphone performs relatively properly on the graphical benchmarks in comparison with the ROG Phone Three from Asus, which does include the overclocked Snapdragon 865+ chipset.

I had no issues in the case of smoothness on any of the video games that I performed for this evaluate. From FPS titles reminiscent of Call of Duty Mobile to journey video games like Sky: Children of the Light to massively multiplayer video games like Eve Echoes. The most resource-hungry titles had been launched with the default graphics choices set to the most, they usually all ran with none issues.

Nubia RedMagic 5S benchmark comparability:

  RedMagic 5S Asus ROG Phone 3 OPPO Find X2 Pro OnePlus 8 Pro
3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme ES 3.1 7736 7724 7814 7122
3D Mark Sling Shot Vulkan 7052 7079 6261 6613
3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0 9687 9833 8854 8864
Geekbench 5 (Single / Multi) 902/3232 977 / 3324 910 / 3295 887/ 3313
CrossMark Memory 27.442 28.568 35.423 27.118
CrossMark disk 88.322 124.077 71.327 50.083

With smartphone gaming primarily in thoughts, the RedMagic 5S gives performance-boosting modes and a really complete vary of customization choices through the Game Boost menu. In order to do that, merely flip a small purple swap in the high left nook of the smartphone and also you’re good to go.

You will then immediately be despatched to the Game Boost choice. I do know that it sounds actually foolish, however this gadget with a purple Men in Black type button has had its effect on me. The Game Boost features as a hub and doubles up as a launcher to your video games, letting you customise a slew of options reminiscent of the inner fan pace, display screen refresh charge, and even assigning the set off buttons.

NextPit RedMagic 5S side
The purple “magic” button to show the RedMagic 5S into a pseudo moveable sport console. / © NextPit

The triggers are purely haptic, however their sensitivity is extraordinarily correct because of a tactile sampling charge of 320 Hz. The Game Boost additionally gives different choices which might be actually cool though I might doubt that they’re able to being options that can assist you to clinch the deal.

For instance, you’ll be able to activate an aiming support mode, which completely shows a viewfinder on the display screen. It’s so useful on most FPS titles that it may appear to be dishonest to me. But I’m not going to complain about it.

nubia redmagic 5s review aiming asist
RedMagic 5S’s aiming support mode is much too efficient to contemplate it as truthful play. / © NextPit

In addition to monitoring and setting CPU and different clocks, the Game Boost menu additionally gives a digital wellness characteristic that tracks your sport time. Depending in your sport time stats, the smartphone might counsel that you simply take a break. This is a considerably abhorrent idea for any self-respecting gamer, however mother and father will certainly love this selection nonetheless as a ‘digital nanny’ helps preserve tabs on gaming time on this gadget.

nubia redmagic 5s review game boost menu
The Game Boost is the important power of the RedMagic 5S’ interface. / © NextPit

As we’ll see under, the RedMagic 5S will not be a software program marvel, however the Game Boost is its most attention-grabbing and most profitable software program characteristic.

Its strong battery life

The 4,500mAh battery managed to resist the 144Hz refresh charge and the intensive use that I put the RedMagic 5S by. The PC Mark benchmark that NextPit makes use of truly simulates intensive use, if not a considerably real looking situation, the smartphone lasted for as much as 10 hours earlier than falling under the 20% battery life remaining – all this with a 144 Hz refresh charge.

I did use the handset with the show operating at 60 Hz refresh charge, and this allowed the RedMagic 5S to final for over 12 hours utilizing the similar benchmark. For sensible, day by day use, it ought to simply final a day and a half on a single cost even if you happen to do use it for energetic gaming periods.

With Four or 5 hours of display screen time per day on common, I by no means needed to plug it in at the finish of the day. On the different hand, the fast cost leaves a little to be desired. The 18-watt charging adapter (the 50-watt one is unique to the Chinese market) means that you can cost it from 20% to 100% battery life in a little multiple hour (1 hour 16 minutes).

A chassis that continues to be cool to the contact

That’s the different nice power of the RedMagic 5S: temperature management. The cooling system in this mannequin is “version 4.0”, as Nubia calls it. The inner fan, liquid cooling tube, and graphite supplies are nonetheless a part of the setup as on the RedMagic 5G, however there’s a new silver plate that’s situated on the again of the gadget which is able to facilitate warmth switch when utilizing the Ice Dock gadget (a glorified title for an exterior fan).

I’ll inform you extra about this gadget under, however it is best to know that it’s not very helpful in any respect. The copper foil which is situated beneath the again plate proper at the again of the smartphone has been enlarged, and the backplate is now made out of glass with some steel beneath. This makes it really feel and sound barely completely different from a customary glass again.

I did not dismantle the smartphone to make it possible for the cooling system is current as marketed. I additionally do not have the instruments to measure the temperature of the smartphone throughout use. But total, I’ve by no means felt it overheat because it remained cool to the contact, even after a number of consecutive hours of play.

Where some smartphones undergo thermal throttling, which entails the deliberate slowing of efficiency to restrict overheating, I used to be capable of actually ‘abuse’ the RedMagic 5S with out having it break a sweat.

It’s fairly merely certainly one of the handiest smartphones round in the case of operating at a cool temperature.

What I did not like about the Nubia RedMagic 5S…

Its incomprehensible ergonomics

I’m not referring to the design with a silver-colored again with silk designs and quite a few aggressive shapes which might be adorned with LEDs, which is relatively discreet however does carry a very robust gaming connotation that will enchantment to some customers.
I’m not speaking about the normal grip of the smartphone both, which is fairly good.

The smartphone has a sure type to it – a character, if you’ll. I’m speaking about greater than questionable selections for the button placement and the variety of equipment that when indifferent from the RedMagic 5S, will not be the finest issues to have a look at. However, let’s start with the worst of the lot: the buttons.

NextPit RedMagic 5S back
On the design aspect, the RedMagic 5S could be very gaming-oriented however with the benefit of getting a sure type, a character. / © NextPit

The energy button is situated under the quantity knob when holding the gadget in portrait mode, which is widespread on different smartphones however is especially annoying when utilizing the RedMagic 5S. Not solely does this button intervene with the “clips” to connect your PS4 or Xbox One controller, however it should additionally lock your smartphone if you try to connect the “Ice Dock”, the exterior fan – because of the pointless strain positioned on it.

NextPit RedMagic 5S game fan
The higher a part of the fan mount presses immediately on the energy button of the RedMagic 5S. / © NextPit

And this “Ice Dock” fan, let’s discuss that. Not solely do I discover its usefulness fairly doubtful in phrases of cooling, however I additionally discovered it very annoying as soon as it’s plugged into the smartphone.

It must be linked to the USB-C port of the smartphone, and that is executed through a relatively unusual mechanism that rests on a brief strap that connects the fan to the smartphone. But don’t be concerned, the fan additionally has a USB-C enter so you’ll be able to nonetheless cost your smartphone concurrently ought to it run low on juice.

The annoying factor is that this: it takes up an excessive amount of house on the again of the RedMagic 5S. Yes, I’ve large fingers and fingers that hail from the Cro-Magnon period, however even for a regular human, I doubt the ergonomics are optimum. I might have most popular a port on the lower-left fringe of the smartphone, like on the ROG Phone Three and with a thinner fan. In addition, the smartphone itself already does a first rate job staying cool when pushed to the limits, so is a fan accent actually all that vital?

NextPit RedMagic 5S fan hands
The RedMagic 5S loses a lot of ergonomics as soon as the “Ice Dock” fan is linked. / © NextPit

RedMagic UI 3.Zero interface

When I obtained the RedMagic 5S for a evaluate session, the producer warned me that the software program overlay was not the closing model. In the few evaluations that I’ve come throughout for this smartphone, I’ve learn criticisms about the fluidity of the interface, issues with the launcher, the software drawer that does not open, or worse – purposes that freeze.

Personally, I’ve by no means encountered such issues. The navigation is sort of fluid and the interface of the RedMagic UI 3.Zero overlay is near an Android inventory model, similar to many different handsets. While it isn’t visually flashy, it does have some helpful options.

I need to say this – the picture-in-picture mode, a window mode, inner air flow administration, display screen saver customization, or having an “always-on display” choice are all relatively helpful. But I observed that the window mode is incompatible with most of the apps I exploit on a day by day foundation (Chrome, Gmail, Twitter, and so forth.).

redmagic 5s review redmagic ui interface
The RedMagic UI 3.Zero interface will not be totally optimized for user-friendliness. / © NextPit

And the interface is clearly not as easy as on the different flagships I’ve reviewed in the previous, regardless of a very gentle overlay. The fingerprint reader is sort of gradual to reply and total not very correct.

I believe all of those on a regular basis efficiency options distinction closely with the actually profitable Game Boost mode that makes the RedMagic’s person interface may benefit from an optimization train. As I write this, I nonetheless have the June safety patch, which is much from reassuring.

Another characteristic to look into is the neo-AI. The system will study out of your habits and utilization sample, counting on redistribution of system assets in order to launch the most often performed video games quicker. During the evening, the system makes use of this time-out to filter out its system reminiscence. neo AI additionally retains monitor of not often used purposes and freezes them, or in different phrases, suspends all processes for these purposes in order to avoid wasting energy.

Its digicam module is mediocre

This is clearly not the killer-feature of a gaming smartphone, and the RedMagic 5S confirms the development. The important digicam makes use of a 64 MP sensor that has an f/1.Eight aperture. The sensor itself is 1/1.72″ and 0.8µm pixels.

There can be an Eight MP ultra-wide angle sensor and a 2 MP macro (which is virtually ineffective) sensor, respectively. As for the selfie digicam, it’s a single Eight MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.0.

And total, the photograph rendering is de facto not good. In daylight, and beneath good lighting situations, the pictures lack element and sharpness. Dynamic vary administration leaves one thing to be desired, particularly when switching from one sensor to a different.

redmagic 5s review photo day
Even in daylight and beneath good lighting situations, the digicam module of the RedMagic 5S leaves a lot to be desired. / © NextPit

You can see clear variations in publicity between wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle images. Strangely sufficient, it’s important to undergo the “Pro” mode to make use of ultra-wide-angle mode, which is completely counter-intuitive.

The RedMagic 5S doesn’t have a devoted telephoto lens. The 3x, 5x, and 10x zooms are purely digital and are achieved by cropping the heart of the picture taken with the 64 MP sensor. This inevitably causes the picture to degrade considerably and you’ll see loads of noise that drowns out the picture particulars.

At evening, the RedMagic doesn’t illuminate the scene sufficiently. We find yourself with images which might be tough to make use of, and the devoted evening mode does not handle to restrict noise. The scene is extra seen, however it’s spoiled by the presence of digital mush and software program smoothing that spreads the pixels from one finish to the different.

redmagic 5s review photo night
RedMagic 5S evening mode is not any more practical than its daytime prowess. / © NextPit

Finally, I could not get the portrait mode to work properly. I felt like all the images got here out with out blurring the background. Either the impact was too refined for my broken eyes from hours spent in entrance of a display screen, both from play or work, or it merely did not perform as anticipated.

In any case, it’s an absolute catastrophe for the RedMagic 5S in the case of photo-taking.


If you might be on the lookout for an inexpensive flagship that retails for lower than €600, there are clearly higher alternate options on the market. What I imply is that this: there are smartphones at the similar worth, with comparable specs however provide a way more full and balanced person expertise. I’m considering of the Realme X50 Pro or Xiaomi’s Poco F2 Pro (which our editors nonetheless have not obtained).

But that is clearly not the market that ZTE subsidiary Nubia is concentrating on at with the RedMagic 5S. This smartphone totally assumes that the gaming smartphone market is a viable one, and it’s a section that the firm has determined to throw its lot with and cater to. In phrases of efficiency and customization of the gaming expertise, it is a success.

The RedMagic can be €300 cheaper than the market leaders in the gaming section reminiscent of the ROG Phone 3 (€999) or the BlackShark 3 Pro (€899).

On the different hand, the place the ROG Phone Three has achieved a sure stability, because it cleverly combines gaming and shopper smartphone options collectively in order to fulfill the extra informal players who need a extra balanced product, the RedMagic 5S has wedged itself in a very slim hall with none wiggle room – that’s, cell gaming.

So if gaming is your important precedence and even near unique use in the case of a smartphone, then the RedMagic 5S is a sensible choice. But I believe that that is one thing that solely a choose few folks would concern themselves with, a lot in order that it can’t be a promoting level for the plenty. Perhaps I is likely to be incorrect on this level, so be happy to name me out in the feedback.

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