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nubia Red Magic 7 review

Introduction and specs

The gaming smartphone segment is becoming very competitive, with OEMs rushing to introduce their latest hardware and software tweaks, improving gaming performance. Nubia’s Red Magic series have been particularly lucrative solutions due to their relatively lower price and powerful hardware. Not to mention their quirky active cooling system, which is usually associated only with PCs and laptops. Ever since Red Magic 3, the active cooling fan has stuck around and remains one of the centerpiece features. And for a good reason. We found that it does help with sustained performance, which is crucial during long gaming sessions.

And once more, nubia says it has improved the system’s overall airflow by 35% on top of the extra thermal-conductive passive cooling components. After all, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 can generate quite a bit of heat.

Speaking of the SoC, this is the main upgrade over the Red Magic 6s. In addition, we now have more memory options to choose from, starting from 8GB/128GB. However, we see the same 165Hz, 6.8-inch AMOLED display used, along with presumably the same stereo speakers and camera setup.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 specs at a glance:

  • Body: 170.6×78.3×9.5mm, 215g; Glass front, glass back, aluminum frame; Pressure sensitive zones (500Hz touch-sensing), Built-in cooling fan, Aviation aluminum middle frame.
  • Display: 6.80″ AMOLED, 1B colors, 165Hz, 700 nits (typ), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 387ppi.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.50 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 128GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 256GB 16GB RAM, 256GB 18GB RAM, 512GB 16GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 12, Redmagic 5.0.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.97″, 0.7µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 8 MP, f/2.0, 120˚, 13mm, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm; Macro: 2 MP, f/2.4.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, (wide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@30fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
  • Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 120W, 100% in 17 min (advertised) – China, Fast charging 65W – International, Power Delivery 3.0.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; 3.5mm jack.

An interesting trade-off to explore in the next couple of pages would be the decrease in overall battery capacity from 5,050 mAh down to 4,500 mAh and the increase in charging speed. Compared to the Red Magic 6s, that is. The new model can now do 65W by default for the global market, while the Chinese option gets the exclusive 120W. The 6s from last year capped at 30W, so it’s nice to see the premium feature of the Pro model trickle down to the vanilla variant.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Of course, one of the main focuses of this review would be the new Redmagic 5.0 software based on Android 12 and the gaming-specific features it offers in addition to the pressure-sensitive shoulder triggers. They got an upgrade too, but more on that later.

Unboxing the ZTE nubia Red Magic 7

The handset comes in a cool-looking box that contains the usual user manuals and a Power Delivery-compliant charger, which in return means that the provided cable is USB-C to USB-C.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

There’s also a silicone case thrown in there, which perfectly blends with the overall design and, of course, doesn’t obstruct the airflow of the cooling system.

Design and ergonomics

Ever since the Red Magic 5G, nubia hasn’t changed the overall design language much. In fact, last year’s Red Magic 6s colors carried over to this year’s Red Magic 7 with different names. The Eclipse Black and Transparent options are similar to the Obsidian and Supernova paint jobs. The new option is Pulsar, but we don’t have that in our office right now. Luckily, we haven’t held the Transparent/Supernova before and arguably, this is the best version. It strikes a particular geeky note within some of us in the office.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

And the best part is that the transparent back is actually transparent. That does not mean everything you see through it is the real deal. You can’t possibly see the CPU as it’s covered. Still, its placement is clearly marked, and as a bonus, the cooling fan features a cool RGB LED, which you can control via the software. Nubia doesn’t say what type of glass is used for the back, but the front one is advertised as Gorilla Glass 5.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

The camera island has been slightly altered and is now bigger but lies almost flat with minimal protrusion. It doesn’t cause the device to wobble. Moreover, there’s an extra grille right above the chipset, likely contributing to the improved airflow nubia is talking about.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

As we go around the sides, we stumble upon two more grilles. The intake vent is placed right next to the cooling fan on the right side, while the one on the left (and the one on the back) are used for exhaust. Anyway, the volume rocker is placed on the left-hand side, and the power button is on the right. Their placement is quite reasonable and is easy to reach with your thumb.

nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

nubia Red Magic 7

The SIM card tray is at the bottom, along with the bottom-facing speaker and the USB-C connector. Notably, the SIM card tray can hold only up to two SIM cards, no option for memory expansion via microSD. The 3.5mm audio jack finds its place at the top side of the frame.

On the left side right above the volume rocker, we have the quick switch to Game Space, whereas the pressure-sensitive triggers for gaming are on the right side.

nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
nubia Red Magic 7 - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

nubia Red Magic 7

The whole frame has relatively flat sides (except the corners), and it’s made of anodized aluminum. Nubia mentions something about aviation-grade aluminum used for the middle frame, but that probably refers to the frame within the phone itself, not the exterior frame.

Moving onto the front, we see no changes whatsoever. Not that this is a bad thing, no. The top and bottom bezels are a tad thicker by design. You need that extra headroom to accommodate your thumbs when holding the phone horizontally and playing games. Minimizes accidental touches and leaves a bit more room for a powerful speaker on the top that also doubles as an earpiece. There are no cutouts that obstruct the viewing experience, and all sensors, including the selfie camera, are accommodated on the top bezel.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

But just like its predecessors, the Red Magic 7 is an unwieldy phone. Measuring 9.5mm in thickness and going up to 170mm in height, the handset is not meant for one-handed use. Not to mention it weighs 215 grams. The priority is to have a big, unobstructed gaming experience, and we believe nubia nailed it. Sure, the rounded back helps with the grip, and we were surprised by the not-so-slippery nature of the chassis. The hard-to-spot smudges on the back are a bonus as well. Still, handling on a daily basis with one hand will be no easy task.

Unobstructed and fast 165Hz AMOLED display

On paper, it appears that the Red Magic 7 uses the same panel as the Red Magic 6S and 65 Pro. We meet the same 6.8-inch AMOLED panel with 1080 x 2400ps resolution and going up to 165Hz refresh rate. One of the fastest in the industry and the 720Hz touch sampling rate using several fingers. The results from our testing also suggest that the Red Magic 7 is recycling the old panel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

We got up to 527 nits of maximum brightness in manual mode, which is a bit far from the advertised 700 nits but more importantly, we are disappointed to see the automatic boost in brightness absent again. For several generations now, the Red Magic series has been missing the much-needed brightness boost in Auto mode, and as a result, the screen falls short of offering flagship-grade max brightness.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 0 527
nubia Red Magic 6 0 444
nubia Red Magic 6R 0 439
nubia Red Magic 6R (Max Auto) 0 588
nubia Red Magic 6S Pro 0 529
Asus ROG Phone 5 0 492
Asus ROG Phone 5 (Max Auto) 0 806
Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro 0 511
Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (Max Auto) 0 840
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 0 498
Xiaomi Black Shark 4 (Max Auto) 0 694
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 0 494
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Extra brightness) 0 829
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Max Auto) 0 1266
OnePlus 9 Pro 0 525
OnePlus 9 Pro (Max Auto) 0.038 871 22921:1
Realme GT Neo2 0 498
Realme GT Neo2 (Max Auto) 0 659

It’s a mixed bag when it comes to color accuracy, though, as we see a significant improvement over the last generation, yet none of the presets offered an excellent color reproduction. They were all a bit off, with the whites and grays’ most prominent issue. They will always appear slightly blue-ish no matter what. Luckily, there’s a color temperature wheel so you can adjust it to your liking.

As before, HDR isn’t supported on some apps, such as Netflix, for example. The software reports HDR10 compliance, and we found it to work on YouTube, but we couldn’t even download Netflix. Perhaps the phone’s recent launch is the reason why Netflix still hasn’t added the Red Magic 7 to the list of supported devices.

HRR control

The way nubia manages all those hertzes is also a mixed bag. Setting the display’s refresh rate to 165Hz would ensure that all system menus and most system apps run smoothly at 165Hz. However, most of the third-party apps we tried were locked at either 60 or 90Hz. Instagram and Chrome, for example, didn’t go beyond 60Hz. The good news is that the system recognizes YouTube as a video player and tones down to 60Hz, but the default Gallery is running at 90Hz even when playing a full-screen video.

Battery life

Coming from the Red Magic 6 and 6s series, the vanilla Red Magic 7 downgrades the battery from 5,050 mAh down to 4,500 mAh. A significant decrease that may very much lead to reduced endurance. And the results show for it. The overall endurance rating of 89 hours and we found that 3G talk time and video playback runtimes are mostly to blame here. At least the web browsing score hasn’t gone down all that much, which wasn’t so great, to begin with.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

No matter how you look at it, the endurance of the Red Magic 7 isn’t satisfactory, even when taking into account the gaming-centric nature of the device. It’s important to note that the web browsing test ran at 90Hz – that’s the maximum refresh rate we could force.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display’s highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we’ve tested.

Charging speed

This year’s global variant comes with a proper 65W charger, and as before, it’s compliant with the USB Power Delivery standard. And perhaps due to the smaller battery, the Red Magic 7 charges faster than its predecessors even though they all support up to 65W charging. In the first 30 minutes, the charger replenished 99% of the battery, but it took extra eight minutes to reach the fully charged status.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

As before, nubia utilizes Red Magic 7’s cooling fan to reduce the heat when charging the handset and potentially improve charging performance. However, we didn’t notice any difference in either direction when switching on the fan. We only noticed a slight decrease in surface temperatures but not to a significant degree.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    100%
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    99%
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    99%
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro (66W)
    75%
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    71%
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    70%
  • nubia Red Magic 6
    63%
  • nubia Red Magic 6R
    62%
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro (30W)
    49%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    0:19h
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    0:32h
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    0:38h
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro (66W)
    0:53h
  • nubia Red Magic 6R
    0:58h
  • nubia Red Magic 6
    1:01h
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    1:03h
  • Asus ROG Phone 5
    1:05h
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro (30W)
    1:50h

Speaker

As always, Red Magic 7’s speakers are excellent. The usual setup is at hand – a bottom-firing speaker and one at the top of the display doubling as an earpiece. The balance is good and the maximum loudness has been rated “Excellent”. At -22.7 LUFS, this is one of the loudest smartphones we’ve held.

And the sound quality is pretty nice too as long as you don’t blast the speakers. Keeping them within moderate volumes will ensure there’s no distortion in the highs and you will still get deep lows for that fuller sound.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal “0db” flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Redmagic 5.0 on top of Android 12

The Redmagic 5.0 software isn’t very different from the older Redmagic 4.0 iteration. The aesthetics are very familiar if you’ve used Red Magic’s UI before. But coming from vanilla Android, you’ll have to get used to the different quick toggles in the notification shade and the completely revamped iconography in the general Settings menu.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Unfortunately, the awkward translations haven’t been fixed, or some of the new features haven’t been translated properly, making the software experience feel “beta”.

Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Home screen, notification shade, app drawer, settings menu

That was the bad, so now let’s get to the good, starting with the Android 12-intrinsic features. The so-called Privacy Dashboard has been included in nubia’s most recent software, but to our surprise, it didn’t show up in the Settings’ search. Anyway, the Privacy Dashboard works like Digital Wellbeing, but it’s about permissions and information about how often apps are accessing your user data. One of the standout features is the ability to give an approximate location to some apps instead of your exact location.

Privacy dashboard and location access - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Privacy dashboard and location access - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Privacy dashboard and location access - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Privacy dashboard and location access - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Privacy dashboard and location access

For a more in-depth look at Android 12, we suggest reading our full Android 12 review.

We are happy to report that nubia has added a quick shortcut to App info in the context menu when holding down on an app on the Home screen. This option wasn’t available before and was pretty annoying.

Redmagic UI allows you to shrink apps into small, interactive windows. Of course, not all apps support the feature and you have to open the notification shade and tap on the Free Window toggle while an app is in the foreground. You can’t resize the app’s window – you can only move it around the screen. It makes for easy multi-tasking, yet you always have to open the notification shade to enter that mode every time. And you can’t put more than one app into a small window.

Free Window - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Free Window

ZTE’s phones have always had special attention to their Always-on display functionality. The Red Magic 6 doesn’t fall behind in this regard as well as it has tons of customizable clock styles and presets for you to choose from. You can even set looping, cool-looking GIFs and videos. Naturally, this would consume more power.

Always-on display settings - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Always-on display settings - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Always-on display settings - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Always-on display settings

Speaking of customization, there are a couple of beautiful (or flashy, depending on your preference) themes that change the wallpaper, lock screen and icons. All of the preset themes have one in common – they are in line with the phone’s gaming aesthetics.

Themes and wallpapers - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Themes and wallpapers - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Themes and wallpapers - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Themes and wallpapers

Entertainment toolbox, which is essentially the same as Samsung’s Edge Panel, is here to stay after being implemented with version 4.0 of the OS. Sliding your finger from the right edge of the display opens up the toolbox (sadly, it can’t be moved and its place is fixed). You can assign quick tasks or open up certain apps but three of those tasks are non-removable – a screenshot tool, screen recorder and GIF creator.

Entertainment toolbox, heart rate measurement - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Entertainment toolbox, heart rate measurement - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Entertainment toolbox, heart rate measurement - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Entertainment toolbox, heart rate measurement - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Entertainment toolbox, heart rate measurement

The fingerprint reader works as well as ever. It’s fast, reliable and accurate. The new addition this time around is the built-in heart rate functionality. You can measure your heart rate by pressing down on the fingerprint scanner. To our surprise, it’s somewhat accurate. We put it against the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic and the deviation was no more than 3 bpm. However, consecutive testing suggests that the heart rate measurements are largely inconsistent, especially if you are not in a resting position.

Game space and other gaming features

The new Game space has been vastly improved along with the in-game overlay. The latter can now display CPU and GPU frequency and you can now monitor your real-time FPS as well. The better integration with some messaging apps, including Discord, is much appreciated. There’s quick access to the ones supported (WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram are on the list) and opens up a small window, which you can move around, open in full-screen or resize.

The sidebar now seems more refined and you can scroll the quick toggles. They were quite limited last time we used Game Space.

In-game overlay and sidebar - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
In-game overlay and sidebar - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

In-game overlay and sidebar - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
In-game overlay and sidebar - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

In-game overlay and sidebar

Some additional Game Space features and settings can be found in the Game Space Center by tapping on the icon in the upper-right corner. A quick summary of how much and which games you’ve played recently is available, control network settings, customize barrage messages (pretty neat feature to read your texts while in-game).

Game Space - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Game Space - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Game Space - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Game Space - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Game Space - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Game Space

A new set of features that appear to be supported in almost all games can be found in the Power Base menu at the bottom of the Game Space’s home screen. A wide selection of plugins. One of them adds a customized crosshair in shooters and even zooms in on the crosshair. A handy countdown for your enemy’s cooldowns on certain spells and skills is also available. We can definitely see some of those features giving you some competitive advantage.

In-game plugins - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
In-game plugins - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
In-game plugins - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

In-game plugins

An under-the-hood gaming-related feature is the so-called Smart game that intelligently controls the phone’s temperature by ramping up the cooling fan when needed and also analyzes the game’s capabilities to match an adequate refresh rate. It doesn’t say that it’s doing a proper variable refresh rate. It just chooses between the standard 60, 90, 120 and 165Hz steps that the display offers.

Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Under-the-hood optimizations - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Under-the-hood optimizations

This feature is still called Touch Choreographer, going by nubia’s press release, and it says it has been improved even further. The display’s refresh rate is adjusted dynamically and in real-time, but we are still not convinced that it can make incremental steps by 1 or 10Hz. It probably just chooses the most appropriate refresh rate from the existing HRR steps. All in all, nubia claims that the new Touch Choreographer should improve frame stability by up to 50%.

Shoulder triggers - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Shoulder triggers - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Shoulder triggers

But by far, the best gaming feature would be the shoulder triggers. Even more responsive than before (the difference is rather negligible, though), they provide a really nice experience for racing and first-person shooter games. It’s so much better to have some physical keys for certain controls during gaming. The software lets you map certain controls to the triggers and adjust the pressure sensitivity to avoid mistouches.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Red Magic 7 has the honor of being one of the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered smartphones to enter our office. The chipset’s CPU is based on ARM’s new Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710 and Cortex-A510 cores. Respectively, these core clusters are 1x Kryo Prime @3.0 GHz, 3x Kryo Gold @2.5 GHz and 4x Kryo Silver @1.8 GHz. The Adreno 730 GPU clocked at 818 MHz takes care of the graphically-intensive tasks. The whole chip is based on Samsung’s 4nm 4LPE manufacturing process promising further power savings from last year’s Snapdragon 888 series.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

An improved internal X65 modem is also on board supporting download/upload speeds of 10 Gbit/s/3 Gbit/s over 5G.

The Red Magic 7 supplies the SoC with various memory options ranging from 8GB/128GB up to 16GB/512GB. The storage is, of course, UFS 3.1 with no option for expandability via a microSD card.

We ran the usual benchmark tests to see how much the Red Magic 7 has improved over its predecessors in terms of raw performance as well as compare it against the competition from Samsung. Sadly, we don’t have data for MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 at the time of writing this review.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    3855
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate
    3728
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    3708
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    3667
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    3660
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    3657
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    3586
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    3521
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    3486
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    2831

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    1246
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    1221
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    1180
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    1175
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    1140
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate
    1128
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    1128
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    1124
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    1117
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    1042

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    1056488
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    997948
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    968359
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    866437
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    823354
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    761334
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    735588
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    719815

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    64
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    44
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    43
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    42
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    42
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    40
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    29
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    26

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    48
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    44
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    35
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    32
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    31
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    31
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    31
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    30
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    30

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    77
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    62
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    59
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    59
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    58
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    50
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    46
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    39
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    37

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    97
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    95
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    76
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    74
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    71
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    70
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    70
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    69
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    63

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7
    10118
  • iQOO 9 Pro
    9673
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
    7437
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    6602
  • nubia Red Magic 6S Pro
    5865
  • Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate
    5745
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6
    5714
  • ZTE nubia Red Magic 6R
    5667
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro (X Mode)
    5659
  • Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
    5556

In the pure CPU benchmark, Geekbench, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 takes a notable lead over this year’s Exynos 2200 chip and last year’s Snapdragon 888+ inside the Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro. In both, single and multi-core tests, the SD 8 Gen 1 overtakes the rest by about 5-6%.

However, in the combined AnTuTu 9 test, the chipset takes a more confident lead with a 9% difference over the Exynos 2220.

The GPU-intensive tests suggest of even greater performance leap beating the Xclipse GPU inside the Exynos 2200 by 36% in some cases.

It’s evident that the Red Magic 7 utilizes the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to the fullest, beating the competition fairly easy in GPU-bound workloads while posting a modest lead over the Exynos 2200 in strictly CPU-bound tests.

Sustained performance

Packing a powerful chipset under the hood isn’t enough. You need a working cooling solution to maintain stable and sustained performance during long gaming sessions. Well, this is supposed to be Red Magic’s specialty as it features a unique cooling fan. This year’s iteration boasts a 35% improvement in air volume, probably thanks to the additional exhaust vent on the back.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

The cooling fan itself caps at 20,000 RPM, and a metal cover reduces the sound emissions. On this version, the fan blades are transparent, and an RGB LED ring sits beneath them, creating a cool and flashy effect.

To help with the cooling fan, nubia has used composite graphene and “space-grade materials” for better heat dissipation. There’s also an aircraft-grade aluminum used for the middle frame, a VC heat sink attached to it, which in turn is glued to the chip using high thermal conductivity gel. There’s also a copper coil somewhere inside.

To put the new chip and cooling system to the test, we ran an hour-long CPU stress test since this is the main contributor to the heat inside the SoC. We first did the test without the cooling fan, let the handset cool off and then rerun it with the cooling fan set to maximum.

We were pleased to see that even without the cooling fan on, the passive cooling solution does a pretty good job of maintaining high clock speeds. The performance curve is rather smooth with no big dips. The handset throttled down to 87% of its maximum performance but only for a few brief moments. If we try to guess, the phone will be able to maintain a pretty smooth performance after an hour of gameplay. That’s a notable improvement over last year’s Red Magic 6s Pro, which was pretty good at sustained performance as well.

Cooling fan: Off - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Cooling fan: On - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Cooling fan: Off • On

Turning the fan on didn’t flatten the curve, but it prevented the system to dip below 91% of its maximum performance. That’s an impressive score after an hour-long sustained heavy CPU-bound load.

It’s important to note that the phone’s frame was quite warm in both scenarios, and so was the glass back. The frame felt warmer, though. Don’t expect the fan to help with the exterior heat.

High refresh rate gaming

We used Android 12’s built-in refresh rate counter alongside Game Space’s built-in FPS counter to determine which games really run at more than 60fps. Sadly, for the most part, games ran at 120Hz, but the actual FPS counter showed 60fps. We tried quite a bit AAA titles such as Garena Free Fire, Genshin Impact, Mobile Legends, Arena of Valor, Asphalt 9, Real Racing 3 and even PUBG Mobile. They were all locked up to 60fps, while Garena Free Fire and PUBG required some additional tweaking in their respective settings menus to go from 30 to 60fps.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

There were some games that utilized the HRR display to some degree. Call of Duty Mobile got up to 90fps, Air Force 1945 got all the 165Hz as well as Sky Force: Reloaded and Real Racing 3.

Unfortunately, we are still far away from proper HRR gaming on Android phones, but the efforts are noticeable. Still, be prepared for the majority of games not to be able to saturate that speedy 165Hz display.

Standard triple-camera combo with 64MP main camera

For yet another year, nubia hasn’t changed a thing to its camera setup, so we can only hope for a better ISP coming with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 since the handset doesn’t impress with its camera performance in the first place.

However, we did notice a small change in the main camera. The Red Magic 6 used a 64MP, 1/1.72″, 0.8µm sensor paired with f/1.8 aperture, but this year, the sensor size is significantly smaller at 1/1.97″ and the pixel size has decreased to 0.7µm. So here’s another reason to hope for a better ISP.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

For the ultrawide snaps, we have a common 8MP sensor with 1.12µm pixels and is 1/4.0″ in size. The aperture is f/2.0. And the macro camera is 2MP with fixed focus.

The front uses the same sensor as the ultrawide camera but has a standard wide lens with f/2.0 aperture. A bit underwhelming given that all competitors use a bit bigger selfie cameras.

Camera menus

The camera menu is business as usual. Camera modes switch with a simple swipe left and right in a carousel formation. The additional settings menu is placed in the upper-right corner of the viewfinder, and the dedicated Pro mode offers quite a bit of settings to tinker with.

Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Default camera app - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Default camera app

Two things we found interesting. When shooting macro, you get a small magnifier, which you can move around the viewfinder, but more importantly – it has focus peaking. It allows you to hit the right focusing distance instead of guessing. We found this feature to be particularly useful since there’s no autofocus support. We wished more OEMs doing non-AF macro cameras to do this.

We only wish that the macro camera gets a toggle of its own. Interestingly, the Pro mode works not only with the main camera but also with the ultrawide and macro.

Daylight samples

Main camera

The main camera’s processing is almost the same as last year’s Red Magic 6 and 6s series. It’s sort of satisfactory, but we were expecting more in a way. The new Red Magic also tends to go for a darker exposure, although the dynamic range is wide enough to resolve plenty of detail in the shadows. The higher contrast in all photos makes the color look a tad juicier than real life. Some may like the look, some may not, it’s for you to decide.

16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/349s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/1012s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/476s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/520s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/873s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/370s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/847s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

16MP daylight samples

The good about the samples, however, is the sharpness and detail. They both seem pretty adequate, and we can no longer see the sharpening halos we noticed in the previous Red Magic phone. Noise is kept under wraps even in more challenging indoor conditions, but sharpness drops dramatically indoors.

16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/640s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/954s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/603s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/912s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/231s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
16MP daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 241, 1/50s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

16MP daylight samples

2x zoom

Тhe 2x zoom samples are nothing to write home about. There’s a significant drop in sharpness compared to the standard photos, detail is often smeared away, and there’s noticeable color fringing on bright-colored surfaces and around highlights.

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/399s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/115s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/823s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/669s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/968s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
2x zoom daylight samples - f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/1042s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

2x zoom daylight samples

Ultrawide camera

The ultrawide camera offers unsatisfactory image quality, even for a phone that doesn’t specialize in photography. The ultrawide shots have a narrow dynamic range, color fringing, lack detail, look soft, and are washed out. The darker exposure and higher contrast can be noticed here as well.

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/899s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/649s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/810s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/926s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/847s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1672s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Ultrawide daylight samples - f/2.2, ISO 100, 1/1073s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Ultrawide daylight samples

Macro camera

The macro camera lacks autofocus, which makes things a bit more challenging when shooting objects from up close, but nubia has come up with a neat way to tackle this with its camera software. There’s a magnifying lens that zooms in on the subject and focus peaking that helps you choose the right focusing distance.

Macro samples - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Macro samples - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Macro samples - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Macro samples - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Macro samples

Now, when it comes to the actual photos – they seem on par with the course. Don’t expect much detail from a 2MP snapper, but sharpness is good, and colors might come out a bit bland, but they are also pretty close to real-life. We would have appreciated even slightly exaggerated colors for macros even. Lighting conditions have to be optimal too, due to the small sensor size and rather narrow f/2.4 aperture.

Low-light samples

Main camera

We low-key expected at least a little improvement in the low-light scenario over the last generation, but all we see is a slightly darker exposure, which balances out the clipped highlights from before. Colors are punchier, although the general softness and the lack of fine detail plague the nighttime samples. At least there’s not too much noise.

Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3616, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/25s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 4512, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 6752, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3424, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 2641, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light main camera samples

The Night mode makes a significant improvement in sharpness, detail, highlight management and overall dynamic range. The light sources look way better, and it appears that the software goes for a slightly warmer color temperature. The Night mode definitely looks better, so we suggest using it when the light drops.

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/11s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/10s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/10s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Night mode main camera samples - f/1.8, ISO 3056, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Night mode main camera samples

2x zoom

Using the 2x zoom mode after dark isn’t the best idea. Photos look soft, with limited dynamic range, noisy and pale. The Night mode doesn’t help much with either.

Low-light 2x zoom: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 4384, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light 2x zoom: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/11s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light 2x zoom: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 9088, 1/15s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light 2x zoom: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/9s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light 2x zoom: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 5920, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light 2x zoom: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 3200, 1/10s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light 2x zoom: Normal - f/1.8, ISO 2209, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light 2x zoom: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 2359, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light 2x zoom: Normal • Night mode

Ultrawide

There’s no Night mode for the ultrawide camera but we doubt it would be able to fix anything. The images are extremely soft, noisy and are underexposed.

Low-light ultrawide samples - f/1.8, ISO 3616, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light ultrawide samples - f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/25s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 2544, 1/17s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 1525, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Low-light ultrawide samples - f/2.2, ISO 781, 1/20s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Low-light ultrawide samples

Once you are done with the real-life examples, take a look at our Photo compare tool for some pixel-peeping and see how the nubia Red Magic 7 fares against the competition.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 vs. Red Magic 6 and the Asus ROG Phone 5 in our Photo compare tool

Portraits

While we liked last year’s portraits, this year, the Red Magic 7 can’t get a “satisfactory” score even. Even with good light, the subject appears soft, with pale skin, and the faux bokeh effect is rough around the edges.

Portrait samples - f/4.0, ISO 413, 1/33s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Portrait samples - f/4.0, ISO 1756, 1/25s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Portrait samples - f/4.0, ISO 538, 1/33s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Portrait samples - f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/201s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Portrait samples

Selfies

The 8MP sensor is rather limiting, so as a result, images are rather soft and lack detail. The colors are a bit washed out, and there’s hardly any fine detail to spot. As before, we noticed that most of our selfie samples turned out quite blurry. Speaking of blur, there’s a dedicated Portrait selfie mode, but this one didn’t work on our unit.

Selfies - f/2.0, ISO 185, 1/33s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Selfies - f/2.0, ISO 469, 1/25s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review
Selfies - f/2.0, ISO 169, 1/50s - ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Selfies

Video recording

Just like every flagship phone in the last couple of years, the Red Magic 7 supports up to 8K video recording and even 4K HDR videos too. EIS is also supported on up to 2160p@30fps videos. Let’s start with the 4320p video first.

This year’s Red Magic 7 goes for a slightly warmer color temperature and adds a little bit more color to its videos. A step in the right direction from last year. In terms of sharpness, however, it looks all of the same, and in case you have an 8K TV to enjoy the content, the 4320p video mode might come in handy. We noticed some clipped highlights in the distance, but to be fair, the conditions were a bit tricky, so overall, the handset did a decent job of balancing the highlights and shadows.

There’s a noticeable drop in sharpness when recording 4K videos, which is expected, but the overall rendition doesn’t change.

Here’s the 4K HDR video in case you have the proper TV to check it out. There[‘s little to no difference between the non-HDR and the HDR-enabled video.

We tested the video stabilization in 2160p@30fps and it looks good with no jello effect.

Here’s a non-stabilized video with wider field of view for reference.

Once you are done with the real-life scenarios, take a look at our video compare tool to see how the nubia Red Magic 7 stacks against the other phones we’ve reviewed.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

2160p: ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 vs. Red Magic 6 and the Asus ROG Phone 5 in our Video compare tool

Competition

The Red Magic series that come out early in the year have a competitive edge over its rivals, which are very limited as they are. There are still very few gaming-oriented smartphones, and nubia is the first company to introduce its contender in 2022. And this is on top of the already competitive price tag. The phone starts at €629 in Europe and goes up to €799 for the beefiest version, which we have, and the semi-transparent Supernova back. One could argue that this pricing makes the device a very lucrative Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered option in general. If you don’t mind the flashy gaming aesthetics, of course.

As we already implied, the gaming smartphone segment isn’t very saturated, so we will go through the gaming-oriented options only, even if they are from a year ago.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

One of the natural competitors to the Red Magic family is the Asus ROG Phone series. However, they are always significantly more expensive. The current price of a ROG Phone 5s from the H2 2021 is somewhere around €1,000 or almost twice as the Red Magic 7. Sure, Asus’ option offers vastly better HRR support in games, does a better job at taking photos and videos, offers more polished software, has longer battery life and a brighter, arguably better screen as well. You will be paying a price premium for an older phone with Snapdragon 888+, but that might not matter all that much since this year’s Snapdragon flagship and last year’s are both perfectly capable of running the latest games with ease. And still, does all of this justify the higher price? It’s up to you to decide.

Asus ROG Phone 5s
Xiaomi Black Shark 4
ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 Pro

Asus ROG Phone 5s • Xiaomi Black Shark 4 • ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 Pro

A more direct competitor from last year would be the Xiaomi Black Shark 4S Pro. We haven’t had the chance to review it yet, but it seems like a pretty solid competitor priced at around €600. It has a pair of mechanical, pop-up shoulder triggers for that old-school, handheld console feel (if our past Black Shark 4 experience is anything to go by) and has all the bells and whistles for a gaming flagship phone. Including a blazing-fast 120W fast charger. So where’s the catch? Well, this phone is hard to come by. In fact, we struggled to find any units on sale on major markets.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

And perhaps you are wondering whether you should wait for the Pro model to arrive as it’s scheduled for a Q2 release this year for the global market. There’s still no price attached to it, but quick napkin math based on the Chinese pricing points at a price tag of €730. So what are you getting for those extra €100? Potentially a brighter display with 10-bit color reproduction, a higher resolution selfie camera, sitting under the display and a bigger 5,000 mAh battery that charges faster using a 165W-rated brick. The display is clocked at 120Hz, although that might not be such a big disadvantage given that most games we tried didn’t go beyond the 120 fps mark.

Verdict

The Red Magic 7 is a niche phone, there’s no denying it. It also has its strong suits like excellent performance during sustained load, charges really fast, there are a handful of helpful gaming features, pressure-sensitive shoulder triggers, fast 165Hz display and pair of loud, good-sounding speakers. The semi-transparent Supernova back is by far one of the best designs we’ve seen. It has a rather authentic see-through hardware look in person.

ZTE nubia Red Magic 7 review

Sadly, almost all of these pros come with some sort of caveat. The Supernova back is a tad expensive, the software gaming features are nice, but the software is poorly translated, and some of the features are supported by only a couple of games, the display doesn’t have an automatic boost in brightness, and battery life is disappointing. And then you have the subpar camera performance across the board.

Still, the Red Magic 7 is the only truly powerful yet relatively affordable gaming option on the market. So if you are strictly looking into gaming handsets, the Red Magic 7 is indeed a “bang for the buck” in many ways.

Pros

  • Large, unobstructed and fast 165Hz OLED panel.
  • The Supernova version we got looks hot.
  • nubia finally delivers a fast charging solution on the global market.
  • Plenty of gaming-oriented features, including pressure-sensitive shoulder triggers.
  • Great-sounding and loud stereo speakers.
  • Impressive thermal management during high, sustained loads, the fan helps.
  • Excellent price/performance ratio.

Cons

  • No Auto brightness boost.
  • Subpar camera performance across the board.
  • Poor battery life.
  • Not many games can go above 60 fps.
  • No ingress protection, no microSD card.
  • The software is still plagued by awkward translation.
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