Not all smartphone manufacturers create a gaming phone. Technically, flagship smartphones with top specs are ideal for gaming but they lack the appeal and design. When Razer announced their own phone, it was true to its Razer branding but lacked the RGB lighting we’ve known from PC gaming peripherals.
I spent a few days with the Red Magic and here’s my hands-on.
It looks like a true gaming smartphone
The Red Magic practically screams “extreme gamer” due to its sharp, hexagonal cutouts, red vents and details, and the glowing LED strip on the back.
However, it’s still your usual premium Android device with a 6-inch Full HD+ display. It’s got an 18:9 aspect ratio and, thankfully, there’s no notch that’ll get in the way when playing games.
The top and bottom bezels are not as thin as the Galaxy S9’s, so there’s still some room for your thumb on the side when holding the phone in landscape with two hands.
Overall, the phone feels really solid thanks to its aluminum unibody, but to make things a bit special and more gaming-focused, the back of Red Magic is a bit curved making it comfortable in my hands.
On the side, it has what they call the “Compete Button” which reminds me of the alert slider on OnePlus’ phones. Instead of shushing notification sounds though, Red Magic’s slider puts the phone in tip-top performance. This is useful when you’re about to play a game.
The Compete Button not only improves the phone’s performance, but it also triggers some settings like blocking app notifications to avoid unnecessary pop-ups while playing. You can also set it to block the virtual navigation button from showing up accidentally.
Most importantly, the Compete Button activates the RGB LED strip at the back. It’s a visual cue showing that the Red Magic is ready to take on the challenge. The LED strip has four preset effects: Skyline, Rainbow Ribbon, Laserwave, and Voice Controlled.
It’s fun to play around with the effects, but my personal favorite is the Voice Controlled option. Well, it’s not exactly based on your own voice but rather with the audio of the game you’re playing.
The light strip also acts as notification light if you wish. Just be sure to lay the phone flat on a table so you won’t miss it.
The rear of the phone is quite intriguing but also distinct. There are four red lines on the corners which I first thought are all speakers. But, only one of them is the actual loudspeaker and it’s the one at the lower left. Even though it’s a mono back-firing speaker, it’s loud and has good bass.
When it comes to power, the Red Magic is not lacking but it could have had a better processor. The phone sports last year’s Snapdragon 835 processor which is a step down compared to this year’s flagship phones. At least it’s paired with 8GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage.
The Snapdragon 835 is still a capable processor with the Adreno 540 GPU. I managed to play a number of games on the Red Magic, and the device was able to handle them like magic. PUBG ran smoothly with the highest settings and the new Asphalt 9: Legends was flawless and stunning on the screen.
The Red Magic was even the best-performing Snapdragon 835-powered phone on AnTuTu’s list. It managed to be in the top ten of the most powerful Android phones last June which is dominated by phones with Snapdragon 845 processor.
Does it have good cameras?
A gaming phone still needs cameras. There’s a 24-megapixel f/1.7 rear shooter which takes good-looking photos. Thanks to the large aperture of the camera’s lens, it can take great photos even in low-light.
Here are some samples:
It might not be the best camera phone around, but that’s not the focus of the Red Magic. It lacks a secondary sensor for bokeh or other effects, but the camera launcher has a couple of modes you can play with including manual shooting. For selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture.
Is this you GadgetMatch?
Hard to tell if the phone will impress mobile gaming enthusiasts out there, but the design of Nubia Red Magic is certainly a head-turner. The red accents might be too common in the world of gaming, but the unique RGB LED strip at the back sure gives its own persona.
The Nubia Red Magic is available in China starting at CNY 2,499 for the base variant with 6GB of memory and 64GB of storage. The high-end version I have here with 8GB of memory and 128GB storage is priced at CNY 2,999. In the US, it’s priced at US$ 399 through Indigogo but the funding project is already closed.
ASUS ROG Phone receives US pricing
Last piece of the puzzle
For the model with 128GB of storage, you’d have to shell out US$ 899. For the larger 512GB storage variant, the cost goes up to US$ 1,099. Both come with a high-end Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of memory.
Of course, there are accessories to go with it. First is the ROG Mobile Desktop Dock, which costs US$ 229; the ROG Phone Case retails for US$ 59; the ROG Professional Dock is valued at US$ 119; you can buy the ROG TwinView Dock for US$ 399; the ROG Gamevice Controller is at US$ 89; and lastly, the ROG WiGig Dock goes for US$ 329.
Those are a lot of accessories for one phone, but that’s what makes the ROG Phone a truly gamer-centric device.
As stated last week, the ROG Phone will hit US shores starting October 18, with other regions to follow soon after.
PlayStation’s PSN Online ID change coming soon
Full rollout coming early 2019!
You’ll soon be able to retire your DarkWarrior1214 PlayStation ID. In a blog post, Sony PlayStation said they will soon begin testing the PSN Online ID change feature as part of their preview program.
Beta testers part of the preview program will be able to change their PSN ID as much as they want. However, once the feature rolls out to everyone, only the first name change will be free. Succeeding name changes will cost US$ 9.99 for regular users.
PS Plus users will be charged a smaller fee of US$ 4.99. The online ID can be changed through the profile page on your PS4 or at the Settings menu. There’s also an option to display your old PSN ID alongside your new one so your friends can recognize you right away.
Not for all games
The feature isn’t available for all games, though. Only PS4 games published after April 1, 2018 along with other most-played titles that were published before that date will have the feature. PlayStation also warns that changing the ID might cause some issues with some games that can be fixed by reverting to the old ID. Here’s to hoping PlayStation finds a way to address those issues some time down the line.
The planned full rollout of the feature is in early 2019. What will be your new PSN Online ID?
Razer Phone 2 is a faster, more streamlined gaming smartphone
Truly flagship all around
Razer has been synonymous with gaming. Last year, they embraced the mobile gaming scene with the launch of their own smartphone simply called the Razer Phone. This paved the way for the popularity of gaming smartphones and other manufacturers, like ASUS and Honor, unveiled their own. Of course, Razer must fight back and now we have the Razer Phone 2.
At first glance, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the new Razer Phone and the old one. The Razer Phone 2 has the same size, same boxy shape, and same thick top and bottom bezels that house the front-facing speakers.
Don’t be fooled, because the Razer Phone 2 has some significant upgrades over its predecessor.
The new Razer Phone offers up to 30 percent better performance with the use of a Snapdragon 845 processor, Adreno 630 graphics processing unit, and an improved vapor chamber cooling system. It also comes with 8GB of memory and 64GB of storage.
As for imaging, it still has dual 12-megapixel rear shooters, but the main sensor is now equipped optical image stabilization. An 8-megapixel front-facing camera takes care of selfies and live-streaming duties.
With a new glass back, the Razer Phone 2 is capable of wireless charging. And to complement this new feature, there’s also a wireless charging accessory with Chroma — Razer’s popular RGB lighting system.
Speaking of Chroma, the Razer Phone 2 also has it. The rear triple-headed snake logo lights up in 16.8 million colors. Let’s also not forget about the added water and dust resistance with an IP67 rating.
The rest of the great specs is carried over from the predecessor including the 5.7-inch IGZO display with 120Hz refresh rate and touch sampling, and the 4000mAh battery with Qualcomm QuickCharge 4+ support.
The Razer Phone 2 is priced at US$ 799 and it’ll be available in Mirror Black and soon in Satin Black. Pre-orders start on October 11 on Razer’s website.
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