I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time, and I’m actually a little surprised it’s only happening now. But with the launch of the Nubia’s Red Magic, there’s finally a gaming phone with built-in RGB lighting.
For years, desktop and console gamers have enjoyed a wealth of gadgets and accessories with customizable lighting. Then, when Razer launched its own gaming phone last year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring the joy of RGB to the mobile world. But they didn’t, and it was a little disappointing. I mean really, Razer is a company that sells a coffee mug featuring a base with adjustable RGB lights.
But enough about all that—that Red Magic is here now, and even though it features a lot of tired gaming tropes, like a black-and-red color scheme and its overly edgy name, this phone seems kind of sweet. The RGB strip that runs down the middle of the phone’s back can be customized to “mimic your gaming persona” (whatever that means) and can output up to 16 million different colors.
The 24-MP camera in back also has a neat hexagonal lens, which is further complemented by the Red Magic’s rear hexagonal fingerprint sensor. The phone even has a dedicated hardware button that activates Nubia’s Gameboost software so you can get every last bit of performance out of the phone when you’re fragging. And to make sure your hands don’t get too sweaty, the Red Magic has a graphite heat sink with three vents and special “air convection cooling system.”
As for the rest of the specs, the Red Magic sports Android 8.1, a healthy 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage standard, though the Red Magic’s 3,800 mAh battery is slightly smaller than the 4,000 mAh pack in the Xiaomi’s recently announced Black Shark gaming phone. Nubia, which is partly owned by ZTE, has even included a built-in DAC and a DTS amplifier to ensure powerful, maybe even obnoxiously loud stereo sound.
The one strange thing about the Red Magic is that it’s equipped with a year-old Snapdragon 835 processor, instead of a new SD845 chip. And unlike the Razer Phone, the Red Magic doesn’t have a 120Hz display either.
But with an expected price tag of just $400 when pre-orders go live on IndieGogo on April 26 ($300 less than the Razer Phone, which also has a SD835), it’s hard to complain too much about the Red Magic’s specs.
As for the big picture: With Razer, Xiaomi, ZTE/Nubia getting in on the gaming handset trend, with something from Asus also on the way, this almost certainly won’t be the last time we see RGB lighting on a phone. And even though the tech is kind of stupid, I’m happy it’s here.