RedMagic 8 Pro review: The most powerful gaming phone held back by software

by Fahad Mahar

There are very few smartphone brands that are known solely for gaming phones. The first is probably Asus with its stellar ROG Phone series (though it has an equally great Zenfone series), and the second is probably RedMagic. Gaming on a smartphone isn’t exactly a new concept, and with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Qualcomm has been doubling down on some of what makes a gaming phone great.

That brings us to the RedMagic 8 Pro, one of the first phones to have Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and, subsequently, one of the best gaming phones I’ve ever used. As is always the case with RedMagic, the 8 Pro is a fantastic smartphone that’s let down only by its software. I can use nearly any smartphone and have a decent time with it (I could even stomach ColorOS 6.1 back in the day when it looked exactly like iOS but worse), but the company’s OS is nearly unusable on a daily basis. Some aspects of the UI are great, but others are really, really terrible. Even the fantastic display and design of this device, along with its stellar performance, can’t make up for that.

If, however, you don’t mind what you see in the software realm and can stomach it for a unique-looking phone with an excellent display and an interesting design, then maybe the Red Magic 8 Pro is for you. It’s not a bad phone whatsoever and might be one of the most powerful smartphones you can purchase on the market today.

About this review: RedMagic sent me the RedMagic 8 Pro for review on Jan. 4, 2023. The company had no input into the contents of this review.

RedMagic 8 Pro

The RedMagic 8 Pro is a gaming smartphone that packs a lot of punch. With its incredible display, powerful hardware, and out-of-the-way front-facing camera, it’s a great first choice for a gamer. The only issue is the software.

  • Brand RedMagic
  • SoC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • Display 120Hz 1080p AMOLED
  • RAM 12GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB storage
  • Battery 6,000 mAh
  • Ports USB-C, headphone jack
  • Operating System Android 13
  • Front camera Under-display, 16MP
  • Rear cameras 50MP, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
  • Dimensions 164 x 76.4 x 8.9 mm
  • Colors Black
  • Display type AMOLED
  • Weight 228g
  • Charging65W, charger in box
Great designSoftware is terrible
Beautiful displayPoor front-facing camera
Bezel-less designUnlikely to get updates
Powerful hardware

RedMagic 8 Pro: Pricing and availability

  • Matte – 12GB RAM + 256GB at $649 / Є649 / £579 / 906.9 SGD
  • Void – 16GB RAM + 512GB at $799 / Є749 / £709 / 1119 SGD

The RedMagic 8 Pro starts at $649 for the base model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It’s available for purchase starting on Feb. 2, with early bird deals beginning on Jan. 28. It’s available from the following countries:

  • North America: Canada and the U.S.
  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, U.K., Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Portugal, Finland, Romania, France, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta
  • Asia Pacific: Hong Kong (China SAR), Indonesia, Macau (China SAR), Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia
  • Middle East: Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt
  • Latin America: Mexico, Peru, and Chile

Design: Beautiful with no bezels

  • Unique design
  • Great hardware
  • Completely bezel-less

The Red Magic 8 Pro has one of the most unique smartphone designs I’ve seen in recent years. It’s very boxy, with squared-off sides and a much smaller radius curve for each display corner. The display is edge-to-edge, and an under-screen camera means that there’s no notch to speak of, either. That uninterrupted display is rare to experience nowadays, with ZTE being one of the main contenders putting under-display cameras in its flagships. This makes it a great media consumption phone, let alone a gaming phone.

Things get even more interesting on the back, though. There are the usual gaming insignias imprinted on the back, but nothing too cringey. However, going up the left-hand side of the back is a “REDMAGIC” logo and small stripes at the top and bottom. These light up like a notification LED, though in the color green, which I found a bit weird given that, you know, “Red” is in the name. You can change it in the settings to any color you want and customize it in other ways, so it doesn’t really matter.

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