It’s getting harder for smartphone makers to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. This has led to some big risks like modular phones and display notches. A new class of phones is emerging that emphasize their gaming credentials. The Razer Phone was a bit of a flop, but that hasn’t stopped others from trying. Chinese smartphone maker Nubia is expanding internationally with its Red Magic gaming phone. It has high-end specs, but most importantly, there’s a light bar on the back. Sold, right?
Nubia is one of the top smartphone makers in China, and it’s owned partially by ZTE. Yes, the ZTE that’s currently in hot water with the US government. As it’s not a wholly owned subsidiary, Nubia should be okay to continue buying tech from US companies. Nubia has not ventured much outside its native China, but the Red Magic is coming to Indiegogo in a few days for $399. It seems the phone will be available globally.
Internally, the Red Magic looks like a capable phone. It’s got a Snapdragon 835, 8GB of RAM, a 6-inch 1080p LCD, and 128GB of storage. There’s a 3,800mAh battery for long gaming sessions as well. The company claims up to seven hours of Arena of Valor gameplay. The most gaming-oriented internal feature is the air convection cooling system. It pulls heat away from the components using a series of heat pipes and layers of graphite, which prevents throttling of the SoC. Or at least it should.
It will run Android 8.1 Oreo, but we don’t know much about the state of the software. Red Magic says it has developed a gaming mode that clears background tasks to boost performance, but that’s more a novelty than anything else. Nubia’s phones in China don’t even have Google services, so it’ll be interesting to see what it comes up with for an international launch.
The Red Magic avoids the worst of the “gamer” aesthetic, but it does have a strange hexagonal fingerprint sensor and camera module on the back. The most gamer-style design element is the light bar on the rear. This strip of RGB LEDs is completely controllable by the user, so you can set the color and choose from four different lighting modes. The idea of RGB on a phone is so garish that it’s kind of cool.
You’ll be able to order the Red Magic phone on Indiegogo starting April 26th. It will cost $399, which is lower than the final (undisclosed) retail price. We won’t know about the delivery timeline until the campaign launches, but there’s always an element of risk with hardware crowdfunding campaigns. Saygus had a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2014 and it still hasn’t shipped a phone.
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