While gaming phones are still a niche product, some do offer up decent specs at a more affordable price point than mainstream flagships. There are a few companies that make gaming-centric Android smartphones and we’ve got our hands on one of the latest.
Our nubia RedMagic 5S review takes a look at the newest gaming phone from the company which features great specs and some cool accessories. Read on for our full review.
The RedMagic 5S gaming smartphone has the following features and specifications:
|Display||• 6.65-inch FHD+ (1080×2340, 387.5ppi) AMOLED, 144Hz refresh rate, up to 240Hz touch sampling rate|
• 600 nits max brightness
• TÜV Rheinland Certification low blue light for eye comfort
• 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
• 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut
• 100,000:1 (typical) contrast ratio
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G, up to 2.84GHz|
|Cooling System||• 15,000RPM Turbo Fan with 4000mm² air-duct area, increases air volume by up to 30%, tested life 30,000 hours|
• Liquid Cooling Pipe
• High Thermal Conductivity Copper Foil
• Thermal gel
• Cooling Graphite Thermal Pad
|Rear Camera||• Sensors: Sony IMX686, HI846, OV02A10|
• Resolution: 64MP+8MP+2MP
• Wide Angle: 78.3°+120°+78°
• Pixel Size: 0.8μm+1.12μm+1.75μm
• Aperture: 2.0
• Slow Motion: 1080P at 240fps, 720P at 480fps
• Time-Lapse: Yes
• Video: 8K resolution at 15fps, 4K at 60fps/30fps, 1080P at 60fps/30fps, 720P at 30fps
|Front Camera||• Megapixels: 8MP|
• Pixel Size: 1.12μm
• Aperture: 2.0
• Video: 1080P/720P at 30fps
|Connectivity||• SIM: dual SIMSA+NSA: compatible with both standalone and non-standalone modes |
• 5G: NR n41/n78
•2G+3G+4G: GSM 2/3/5/8, WCDMA B1/2/4/5/8/19, CDMA/EVDO BC0/BC1, TD-LTE B34/B38/39/40/41,
• Wi-Fi: WiFi 6 2×2 MIMO
• Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.1
• Positioning: GPS
• NFC: Yes
|Sensors||On-screen Fingerprint, G-sensor, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light Sensor, Sensor hub|
|Ports||USB 3.0, Type-C, Dual nano-SIM slot, 3.5mm Audio Jack|
|Quick Charging||18W quick charging, up to 55W quick charging with optional 55W PD Quick Charger|
|Special Functions||• Shoulder Trigger Buttons: 320Hz touch sampling rate, dual pressure touch buttons|
• Magic Adapter: with internet port, 3.5mm headphone port, and charging port
• Picture in Picture 4.0
|Operating System||RedMagic OS 3.0 based on Android 10.0|
|Material||Metal middle frame + glass back cover|
|Color||Silver, Pulse (Red/Blue)|
|Dimensions||168.56 x 78 x 9.75mm|
What’s in the box
- RedMagic 5S Gaming Smartphone
- Power adapter
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Clear phone case
- SIM removal tool
- Pre-installed screen protector
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty information
As with most gaming phones, the nubia RedMagic 5S gaming smartphone is a bit flashier. Available in Silver or Pulse, our review unit was the latter. As such, the back of the phone has a fancy red and aqua design scheme. When the phone is held in landscape orientation, the RedMagic logo is centered in a black stripe across the middle. On one end is the RedMagic while the other is where you’ll find the triple camera strip with LED flash. The top half of the back is mostly red with an aqua triangle with the Powered by nubia logo. The bottom is the reverse with a red triangle with 5S printed in the middle. The red and aqua blend nicely together in the middle of the device.
On the left edge of the phone, which is aqua in color, you’ll find a red switch which is the Game Boost Mode toggle. Just below this is an air inlet for the internal 15,000rpm turbo-cooling fan. Finally, the docking pin for accessories is centered on the left edge.
The right edge of the phone houses the left shoulder trigger, air outlet your power volume rocker, power button, and right should trigger. The top of the phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-reduction microphone. Finally, the bottom of the device is where you’ll find the SIM card tray, the USB Type-C port, speaker, and microphone.
The front of the device is pretty simple with the front-facing camera towards the upper left with a speaker just above the display. The device is equipped with a fingerprint scanner as well and it is centered near the bottom under the display. The phone also comes with a screen protector which is already pre-applied on the display.
As far as smartphones go, the nubia RedMagic 5S is on the flashy side without being terribly flashy. It’s not surprisingly bulky either and is pretty similar in thickness as most flagship devices. It is shiny and does collect fingerprints on its glass back pretty easily but there is also an included transparent phone case that helps eliminate this issue (not to mention protects your investment).
The RedMagic 5S has a 6.65-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080×2340 for a pixel density of 387.5ppi. As gamers know, refresh rate does make a difference in gaming and the device also has a 144Hz refresh rate with an up to 240Hz touch sampling rate. Not only is this great for smoother gameplay but when scrolling through the main interface of the device, scrolling was extra smooth as well when compared to devices with lower refresh rates.
At 600 nits max brightness, the display can be pretty bright and I found it suitable in pretty much every lighting scenario. The RedMagic 5S also features TÜV Rheinland Certification low blue light for eye comfort, 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut, and a 100,000:1 (typical) contrast ratio. You can also adjust the color gamut from normal or vivid, as well as a natural sRGB mode. The hue can also be adjusted between cool, natural, and warm based on your preference.
Overall I had no issues with the display. Being an FHD+ instead of a QHD or higher resolution display doesn’t bother me and with 100% DCI-P3 Color Gamut support, colours are pretty nice on the default settings and don’t look unnatural.
The nubia RedMagic 5S runs on RedMagic OS 3.0 which is based on Android 10.0. It is a pretty familiar experience where swiping right gets you your Google News dashboard and the newer gesture navigation is also supported. The biggest standout is the custom icons for most of the default apps which are square with rounded corners as opposed to the round circles in stock Android.
In addition to the default Google apps, the RedMagic 5S ships with a few more. These include a calculator, calendar, camera, clock, contacts, file manager, gallery, notepad, recorder, settings, and user manual app. A few other features include split-screen mode, small window (PIP mode), super snap (for screenshots), and screen recording modes.
The one software app/feature of note, however, is the gaming app. Once you toggle the Game Boost Mode switch, the device enters gaming mode. If you are not in a game, you’ll be taken to the Game Mode hub. Here you can launch games, toggle the cooling fan, block messages, and adjust different settings. You can also see your daily and weekly gaming summary, view screenshots and recordings, lock the screen brightness, toggle false-touch prevention, and more. When in this mode, whether in the hub or a game, swiping left will bring up a quick access overlay to access most of these features.
RedMagic 5S Game Mode Screenshot Gallery
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, you are pretty much getting the latest available on a smartphone. Our review unit was also the 12GB variant so there is lots of RAM on board with 256GB of internal storage.
As one would expect with these specs, games ran nice and smooth. I had no issues with apps or games opening quickly or playing smoothly. App switching was quick as well and I could have multiple apps open without noticing any slowdowns.
The on-screen fingerprint scanner was mostly hit but occasionally miss. There were a few times I’d have to scan my thumb twice before it registered and only once that it wouldn’t register at all. A minor issue and not one specific to this device as I’ve encountered similar issues with other on-display fingerprint scanners. Aside from that, I had no other issues at all with the performance of this device.
The nubia RedMagic 5S has pretty decent sound, although having the bottom speaker on the edge did cause a bit of an issue on occasion. While the top (or left in landscape mode) speaker is just above the display, sometimes I’d find my right hand covered the bottom (or right) speaker when held in landscape mode. As a result, the sound was muffled just a bit and it took some getting used to holding the phone so as not to cover this.
That aside, the phone does pump out quite a bit of volume. Positional audio while using the phone’s speakers is good enough to tell which direction your enemies are coming from.
Cameras in most phones are pretty decent today. While gaming is the primary focus of the RedMagic 5S, most people use their devices as their main camera. With a triple-rear camera powered by Sony IMX686, HI846, and OV02A10 sensors, you’ll be getting 64M/8MP/2MP camera options, including a wide-angle lens.
Aside from the default photo mode which features AI photo, HDR, face detection, intelligent beauty, multi-point auto-focus, and more, there are many other features on the device. It includes some filters like Cyberpunk, Fish Eye, Old Film, LOMO, Negative Film, Miniature, Sketch, and a couple of others for some fun effects. There are also portrait, pro, night, and camera family modes. The latter includes features like multi-exposure, star trail, macro, zoom blur, slow motion, DNG, and a few more.
Features aside, the photos taken with the device turned out better than I expected. The better the light, the better the photo as is usually the case but I was even impressed with the night mode quality. While it’s not the best camera out there, it is pretty decent and should serve most user needs.
Camera Sample Photo Gallery
The RedMagic 5S supports 5G. Depending on your area, 5G coverage may be spotty or non-existent. It is just starting to roll out in my area so it was really hit and miss. That being said, I was able to get over 200Mbps download on 5G at one point, and when not on 5G, LTE speeds were just fine. As for call reception, I didn’t have any issues during the couple of calls I made and took while using the device.
With a 4500mAh battery, the RedMagic 5S has one of the bigger capacity batteries in phones these days. During regular use, I could easily get a couple of days out of the device without having to plug it in. On the gaming front, I could get nearly 4 hours of gameplay in games like Call of Duty: Mobile with the Game Mode function enabled. With it disabled, I could squeeze an extra 45 minutes or so out of it.
There is no wireless charging on the device but it does feature 18W fast charging with the included charger and up to 55W fast charging with an optional charger.
The RedMagic 5S comes with a screen protector pre-installed (yay!) and a clear phone case. The case itself isn’t much but it does fit nicely and offers additional protection. The inside is lightly textured, presumably to offer some extra drop protection. The edges of the case are slightly frosted for added grip and the cutouts are (as one would hope with an OEM case) well position. Finally, the corners of the case jut out slightly which not only adds extra corner protection but helps with gripping the phone while being used in landscape mode.
While we were unable to test them out, there are also several other accessories for the device. These include an Ice Dock to keep your phone even cooler while gaming, a Pro Handle gaming grip, the 55W Power Adapter, an E-Sports Handle, a Pro Handle Protective Case, and a Type-C to Type-C cable with a right angle end.
At US$649 for the 12GB/256GB version, the nubia RedMagic 5S Android gaming smartphone is a pretty great value, even if you’re not using it for gaming. If you want to save a few dollars, the 8GB/128GB silver version is only $579 and should perform just as well, especially for daily use and casual gaming.
The RedMagic 5S is a decent phone with flagship specs and an affordable price point. Even if you’re not a gamer, it does offer great value for the price.
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- Sleek, relatively thin metal frame design
- Great performance
- Decent sound
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Great battery life with up to 55W quick charging
- Internal cooling fan
- Includes screen protector and phone case
- 5G and WiFi 6 support
- Fairly decent camera
- Reasonably priced given the specs
- No wireless charging
- No headphone jack
- No IP rating
- On-display fingerprint scanner can be hit and miss