RedMagic 8S Pro review: Unapologetically powerful
The all-new RedMagic 8S Pro has just debuted, bringing many practical upgrades over its predecessor. But how does this new gaming phone perform in real life? We find out.
Asus and RedMagic are the only two brands constantly churning out true “gaming” smartphones. When we say “true gaming smartphones,” we mean a phone designed for gaming both on hardware and software levels.
We were highly impressed by the ROG Phone 7, but the RedMagic 8S Pro takes the quality to the next level. Its design is similar to its predecessor, RedMagic 8 Pro, yet is distinctly unique. The eye-catching look might even raise a few eyebrows in public.
The RedMagic 8 Pro was one of the most powerful and fastest gaming phones at launch, and the RedMagic 8S Pro is no different. But does all that power really make any difference for a serious gamer? We’ve been testing the phone for over a couple of weeks, and here’s what we feel about it.
- CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Leading Version
- Display: 6.8-inch AMOLED, 2480 x 1116 and 120Hz
- RAM: Up to 16GB LPDDR5
- Storage: Up to 512GB UFS 4.0
- OS: Android 13
- Cameras: 50MP Wide, 8MP 120 degrees FOV Ultra-Wide & 2MP macro lenses, 16MP Under display selfie camera
- Battery: 6,000 mAh
- Charging: 65W
- Features: In-display fingerprint sensor with heart rate monitor, UD selfie camera, 3.5MM headphone jack, Stereo speakers
- Price: Starts $649
Box contents: Phone, Sim card ejector, charging brick, USB-C charging cable, back cover
Design & display
The RedMagic 8S Pro’s design is similar to the RedMagic 8 Pro. The phone looks like a rectangular slab with flat sides and sharp edges. Since both phones are identical in size, weight, measurement, and placement of buttons and camera sensors, you can use your RedMagic 8 Pro’s cases on the new phone.
The flat design helps the phone stand flat on an even surface, and since there is an even distribution of weight, the phone doesn’t wobble much. That said, the flat sides come in handy when you play games as it offers enough space around the shoulder triggers to rest your fingers.
On the front, you have a massive, gorgeous edge-to-edge display with minimal bezels on all four sides. This nearly bezel-less design means that RedMagic was forced to move the stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the phone.
The presence of an under-display selfie camera means that you have an unobstructed 6.8-inch display of real estate at your disposal. Though it does have its impact on selfie photos, it also means an incredible experience while playing games or watching movies.
This large OLED panel is bright and produces punchy colors and deep blacks. Speaking of pure numbers, this panel supports a 120 Hz refresh rate, 400 PPI resolution, and up to 1300 nits of peak brightness. This means you can use the phone in bright sunlight as well. It is among the best displays you can get on a phone at this price point and is an absolute treat for content consumption.
The RedMagic 8S Pro also has a speaker and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top of the phone, while the bottom houses the dual sim card tray, a mic, USB Type C charging port, and another speaker. On the left, you have the volume rocker and a vent for heat dissipation. There are two vents on the phone, one on each side, housing a physical fan that pushes out hot air to keep the phone’s thermals in check. Who thought we’d have cooling fans inside of a phone? But here we are.
On the right side, you have the two shoulder triggers on each corner, a second vent, the power button and a slider button with a red accent to trigger gaming mode on the phone.
The rear panel looks rather plain compared to ROG Phone 7 or any other gaming phone, though, this might be a bonus for some users. The phone retains an LED light strip and a vertically aligned triple camera setup. It also has a translucent circle over the right fan, which, when turned on, has an excellent LED effect that shows through the rear panel. Besides these, you have a concentric circle design etched into the metallic panel, which reflects the light differently every time, making the phone look unique.
This texture also offers much-needed grip to the phone’s otherwise heavy-duty construction. After all, you don’t want to drop a phone with extremely narrow bezels where the display sits right on the edges.
Software & features
Software-wise, RedMagic-owner Nubia has to be commended for keeping things simple and the phone bloat-free. Right from when you boot the phone, there is no overload of features or information, which otherwise can be overwhelming at times.
While software updates on these phones could be tricky, our unit received an update that added the May security update, among other improvements.
While you might come across rough edges here and there, the overall experience on this phone was much smoother than the RedMagic 8 Pro. If you set the screen refresh rate to Auto and switch on the toggle to show the screen refresh rate on the status bar, it should ideally show the actual refresh rate. Instead, it remains fixed at 120Hz with an “A” to indicate that it’s in auto mode.
Though if you ignore these random bugs, the overall experience with the phone has been good mainly because the Android skin deployed on this phone keeps things simple and almost near stock Android. There are some tweaks and features that RedMagic has baked in, which are essential for the gaming experience.
All the options to personalize your phone by changing the wallpaper, tweaking the Always on Display, adjusting the LED light strip, app icons, font, animation, color, and shape of the icons have been cobbled under one menu in settings. This makes it relatively simple to customize the phone.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “Leading Version” SoC that powers this phone is an overclocked version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. It is the same chipset that Samsung calls Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, which it used in its Galaxy S23 lineup.
The RedMagic 8S Pro is the first non-Samsung phone to launch with this SoC, making it one of the most powerful phones you can buy now. The difference in overall fluidity, app opening times, and performing other tasks is visibly bigger than any other concurrent flagship device we’ve used.
RedMagic says that it has improved the thermal management tech. It now has a layer of graphene under the display, a cooling gel, and a bigger vapor chamber entrusted with keeping the temperatures in check. You can also feel the fan speed increasing and decreasing based on the tasks the phone is performing, while the previous generation fans would be either on or off.
There is a marked difference in how this new tech performs its job. The RedMagic 8 Pro would heat up considerably while charging or after an extended gaming session, but the 8S Pro doesn’t even flinch.
While the phone supports 5G connectivity and ships with all the global bands, it didn’t latch on Jio’s 5G network in India during our test period. The relevant bands were missing since the RedMagic phones do not retail in India. That said, 4G connectivity worked seamlessly on 4G networks, and the voice calling experience was also good.
This phone can run any Android game easily. Aside from the incredibly responsive shoulder triggers, a bright and vivid display and loud stereo speakers make it an incredibly immersive gaming experience.
The dedicated gaming mode has many settings and customizations that help you get the best out of this powerful device. The red-colored physical slider button can trigger and immerse you into the Game Space that keeps you focused on your gaming sessions.
Whether playing Need For Speed, Genshin Impact, Modern Combat 5, or COD Mobile, it has many options that can help you fine-tune your mobile gaming experience. These include tweaking the inputs from shoulder triggers, palm rejection, changing CPU and GPU profiles, in-game shooting assistance, using macros, and more.
RedMagic says that the phone comes with 4D atmospheric vibration, which essentially improves the in-game experience with the help of the device’s haptic motors. This works with select games and once turned on, you can feel the remarkable difference when you fire or your character gets hit.
Overall, the RedMagic 8S Pro’s gaming performance is second to none. You don’t need to be a serious gamer to be hooked on playing games on this phone and even outperforming most of your friends.
While the phone manages to hit almost everything out of the park, the same cannot be said about its camera. The primary sensor can capture decent images. However, the results are even worse than what a year-old mid-ranger from Samsung can produce.
The difference in HDR effect and color processing is noticeable. When you start shooting indoors or in low light, the images lose details and are passable.
While the primary camera can produce respective, the other two cameras’ performance leaves much to be desired. RedMagic says the under-display selfie camera has a 7-layer transparent system. While a notch-less display looks fantastic, it results in a significant compromise on self-portraits. The images are too soft and washed out.
That said, RedMagic 8s Pro has a feature-rich camera app with one-touch settings for interesting modes like light painting, starry sky, macro shots, multi-exposure, and more.
However, the overall camera performance confirms that gaming phones could have better cameras. We saw the same on the ROG Phone 7, and the story continues with the RedMagic 8S Pro.
Battery and charging
The RedMagic 8S Pro has a 6000 mAh battery pack and supports 65W fast charging on the international variant. The Chinese version, however, supports 80W charging tech. Thankfully, the phone ships with a charging brick, unlike some premium phones.
RedMagic 8S Pro’s battery life is mighty impressive. This massive battery can easily last you over two days if you’re a regular user or an occasional gamer. Even if you’re a normal game and play games with max settings, you’ll not be looking for a charging socket before 4 to 5 hours of usage.
The retail box has a 65W charging brick along with a red-colored USB Type C cable. If you run out of battery, this brick can quickly charge your phone and laptop if it supports charging over Type C. Unlike the ROG Phone 7, the RedMagic 8S Pro has a single charging port at the bottom. This itself makes gaming and charging the phone at the same time slightly tricky.
Should you buy it?
The RedMagic 8S Pro is ideal for someone looking for a dedicated gaming phone or a device for content consumption. Only a few phones can match the RedMagic 8S Pro in terms of performance or gaming prowess.
Even if you consume a lot of video content on your phone, RedMagic 8S Pro’s gorgeous notch-less display and long battery life make it a perfect choice.
The Verdict: 4/5
The RedMagic 8S Pro has a unique design, extremely long battery life, a stunning display, an extremely powerful chipset under the hood, and much more to convince you that it’s a great gaming phone, and we agree. We paired the phone with a Bluetooth keyboard and even wrote an article when the laptop’s battery gave up while traveling.
We’ve used it for watching movies and web content for hours aside from playing games on the go, and we can’t get over it.
This phone is an easy recommendation if mobile photography isn’t your top priority. You’ll have to carry another phone to capture photos, especially in low-light scenarios. But, with that aside, the RedMagic 8S Pro can handle everything else you throw at it.
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