There are all types of smartphones out there ranging from budget-friendly to full-on flagships. There are even niche phones that cater to a very specific subset of users, whether it be those who are only interested in photography or those who are mainly into gaming. It’s the last one we’re looking at today with the RedMagic 5S, a smartphone created by Nubia and made specifically for gaming enthusiasts. That means like most gaming PCs, the RedMagic 5S is packed full of high-end specs, unique gaming features, and a design that is unlike many of your mainstream smartphones.
When you first see the RedMagic 5S from the front, it looks like an ordinary smartphone. It has a very large 6.65″ display with very small bezels and the only thing that stands out is how large the phone is. It isn’t until you look at the rest of the phone that you start to realize that this isn’t your typical phone.
The rear is where you notice that there’s something sinister lurking in the RedMagic 5S. While not as flashy as previous RedMagic devices, the RedMagic 5S has a very unique rear design that still draws attention. The color we received is called Mecha Silver and looks pretty good, though doesn’t quite have that whoa factor that the Pulse color has (which is a combo red/blue). The rear is made of Gorilla Glass, though it has a frosted look that also feels a bit weird in your hands. Weird in a good way as it does feel like there’s more grip than standard shiny glass and it actually feels really smooth and soft, if that makes any sense.
Straight down the middle of the glass, you’ll find this mirror like strip down the center where the three cameras sit along with a RedMagic Ag cooling plate which seems to be made of silver. It’s a pretty nice look that gives it some flash.
The borders of the RedMagic 5S is also were you’ll find a lot of interesting features and differences from your standard smartphone. It’s made of aluminum, which I assume helps with the cooling of all its internal components, and has a matte finish to it. On the top, you’ll find a mic and an audio jack. To the right, you’ll find the power/sleep/wake button along with a volume button. You’ll also find one of the air-ducts here for the internal fans along with two tough-based triggers for gaming. On the left side, you’ll find another air-duct for cooling, a mic, and what looks like contact points for a dock. There’s also a shiny red toggle switch that you use to enable Game Space 2.1 for hardcore gaming. At the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, one of the stereo speakers, a mic, and a dual-sim tray. Surprising enough, there is no expandable memory option here.
Lastly, let’s talk about the front of the RedMagic 5S. Like I said at the beginning, there’s nothing really distinguishable about it. There’s a bezel up top that houses the camera and some sensors and a small bezel at the bottom. There’s also one front facing speaker on the top which is part of the dual speaker stereo system. The display here also features an under-glass fingerprint reader.
As a pure gaming phone, you expect the RedMagic 5S to have incredible, over the top specs, and it does for the most part. The 144hz screen is impressive as is all the extra cooling. Connectivity is also impressive as it seems to support a wide variety of networks, both new and old.
- DISPLAY – 6.65 inch FHD+ AMOLED screen with a 1080 x 2340 resolution and 387.5 ppi. It has a refresh rate of up to 144hz and a brightness level of 600 nits.
- HARDWARE – RedMagic 5S is running the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G chip with Kryo 585 cores. It’s also running Adreno 650 GPU. This particular version of the phone has 8GB LPDDR5 RAM with 128GB UFS3.1 RAM. You can also opt for 12GB RAM and 256GB ROM.
- COOLING SYSTEM – Centrifugal fan with a speed of 15,000 RPM. All made of aluminum. There’s also a liquid cooling pipe, thermal conductivity copper foil, thermal gel, and cooling graphite thermal pad.
- SIM: dual SIM
- SA+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
- FDD-LTE B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B20/B12/B17/B18/B19/B26
- Wi-Fi: WiFi 6 2×2 MIMO
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.1
- Positioning: GPS
- NFC: Yes
- SENSORS – Fingerprint, G-sensor, Electronic Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light Sensor, Sensor hub
Let’s be honest here and just say that if you’re buying a smartphone purely for gaming, you most likely don’t really care too much about what the quality of the cameras are, just as long as it has some. With that said, the cameras on the RedMagic 5S aren’t too shabby. We’re pretty much just going to glance over this but it does have a 64MP main camera, a 8MP ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP macro camera. It also supports 8K video recording at 15fps and 4K at 60/30fps. The front camera is a 8MP unit that supports 1080p video at 30fps.
Now we’re to the part most of you are interested in. How is gaming on the RedMagic 5S with all its high specs and game specific features? It’s pretty much what you’d expect on a mobile device, just a little bit better. Let me explain.
Since this runs the latest CPU and has a ton of RAM, game load quickly and run very smoothly. You’ll rarely see if, at all, any lag whatsoever and because of the 144hz display, games look freaking gorgeous. The frame rates stay smooth and consistent and that’s what you want when you game. I honestly don’t think there’s any game out there on Android right now that will give you issues running on this.
The dual speaker setup is terrific with some of the best sounds I’ve heard on a mobile device for games.
The addition of Game Space 2.1 is a novel idea and it is kind of neat that there’s a dedicated area just for your games that allows you to customize quite a few things. The menu you can swipe from the right has items like macro settings, should trigger mapping, adjustment of CPU and GPU power, fan speed, etc. Certain games even allow you to turn on 4D shock for vibrations. All of this does make the gaming experience more PC and console-like, bring the smartphone closer in terms of being an actual gaming machine and less like a phone. Not only that, there are accessories you can get that make it even more of a gaming machine such as the Ice Dock and the Pro Handle that adds an actual controller.
While this is all pretty amazing stuff, I will admit that much of this might be overkill and there aren’t really that many game, if any, that actually require a super-powered smartphone to enjoy. The game-centeric features are welcome of course and I don’t really know of any other regular smartphones that do all that. What I am saying is that you’ll be able to run most of your games no problem on almost any other mid to flagship tier phone within the last couple of years.
OTHER EXPERIENCES & ISSUES
I appreciate the fact that the RedMagic 5S runs Android 10, though as RedMagic OS 3.0. What I worry about here are updates and how frequently we’d get them. For the most part, the OS itself is really snappy and isn’t too different. I don’t however particularly like the icon package they’ve used for their apps.
I will say that the battery life is actually pretty good. Sure you’ll eat through it in full on game mode, but as a regular phone, it’ll last a good portion of time. The 4500mAh battery helps with that. Charging is also pretty quick and is said to be even faster if you can provide a 55W charger.
I mentioned that the RedMagic 5S does not have expandable memory so you need to make sure you choose the amount of memory you want beforehand. You get a choice of 128GB and 256GB. Not sure why though 128 nets you 8GB RAM while the 256 gets you 12GB. I would have liked to have seen expandable memory here instead of a dual sim card tray. Why you would need 2 sims in a gaming phone is beyond me. I keep a lot of my media and photos on an SD card which makes moving to new phones a whole lot easier.
Lastly, don’t go near any water at all with this phone. This is not IP rated at all and I’m sure fairly certain dropping this in a puddle would be instant death. The fan openings alone would lead water straight into the guts. You have to be super careful with the RedMagic 5S, which I know a lot of us are not.
The RedMagic 5S is a very interesting proposition. On paper, it’s a really kick butt phone. It’s got crazy specs, a gorgeous display, terrific speakers, and top-notch build quality. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s not IP rated for water or dust which means you’ll have to be super careful with it. That’s really the only downside I see with this phone as everything else on it is superb.
I will say, the RedMagic 5S does provide an insane amount of value however as the 8GB+128GB model costs $579 while the 12GB+256GB costs $649. That is significantly cheaper than almost every other flagship phone out there with the same type of specs. The price alone makes the lack of IP rating and any other minor issues a non-issue and you’ll be getting one of the most powerful devices out there at this price range.
What do you think of the RedMagic 5S? If you have any questions about it that maybe I didn’t cover on there, let us know in the comments below.
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