RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

Motorola may have been the most improved smartphone brand of 2023, but RedMagic was very close to winning that title. We’ve seen the Chinese phone maker go from zero to hero over the years, with its gaming phones gradually reaching a higher level of finesse.

The RedMagic 9 Pro made its debut at the tail end of 2023, in the final days of December. This lovely slab of metal and glass goes very far in proving that RedMagic has finally shed the ghosts of its past and may even be ready to take on the greats like Samsung, Google, and ASUS.

While this isn’t a perfect phone, we’re finally at the point where this device can be used by your average Joe as a daily driver, and that makes me super excited. In fact, for a lot of people, this just might be the right fit for various reasons. Okay, I’ll stop teasing and dive right into the review!

RedMagic 9 Pro: Price, availability, and specs

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

The RedMagic 9 Pro was unveiled on December 18, 2023. Pre-orders went live on December 27 and the device was available in global markets from January 3, 2024, onwards.

You can buy the RedMagic 9 Pro in one of three colors, two of which sport transparent backs. This consists of Snowfall which has a white transparent design, Cyclone which is a black see-through option, and Sleet which is the only opaque colorway with a solid black coat of paint.

As for the price, the 12/256GB variant in Sleet costs $749. You can also get the 16/512GB variant in both Cyclone and Snowfall variants for the same price, $899.

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Category RedMagic 9 Pro
OS REDMAGIC OS 9.0 based on Android 14
Display 6.8-inch BOE Q9+ FHD+ AMOLED (2480×1116), 120Hz refresh, 1600 nits max brightness, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, 2000Hz instant & 960Hz overall touch sampling rates
Chipset Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, Red Core 2 Pro
RAM 12GB/16GB LPDDR5
Storage 256GB/512GB UFS 4.0
Rear camera 1 Samsung GN5 50MP main, OIS, 7P lens, APL-coated anti-glare
Rear camera 2 Samsung JN1 50MP ultra-wide-angle
Front camera 16MP
Cooling system ICE 13 10-layered system, 22,000 RPM high-speed Turbofan with RGB
Connectivity Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, 5G, GPS
Security In-screen optical fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Audio 3.5mm headphone jack, dual three-dimensional 1115K speakers, DTS:X Ultra, Snapdragon Sound
Battery 6,500mAh, 80W charging
Ingress protection 🚫
Dimensions 163.98mm x 76.35mm x 8.9mm, 229g
Extras 520Hz RGB shoulder triggers, colorful RGB fan with custom lights, gaming button

RedMagic 9 Pro: Design and display

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

RedMagic started out wild, but the brand has finally tamed its design language. The RedMagic 9 Pro is sleeker, slimmer, and more well-balanced than ever before, to the point that you can make it stand on any side unassisted.

The sharp edges look neat and don’t hurt anymore. This was a problem with last year’s RedMagic 8 Pro and 8S Pro. Another problem that’s been addressed is the protruding camera lenses used to collect dust. Amazingly, the lenses are sealed off inside the transparent glass back, keeping dirt particles away. Clearly, the Chinese smartphone maker put a lot of thought into the phone.

The headphone jack, red gaming button, shoulder triggers, and under-display camera are all still there. However, there’s a new rounded power button this time around. It takes some getting used to, but it actually improves the feel of the device. I didn’t have to fumble around the sides, pressing the volume rocker accidentally while trying to press the power button.

The front has Gorilla Glass 5 for protection, and the back is glass as well. You get a lovely aluminum frame and RGB lights incorporated into the shoulder triggers, as well as a tiny little portion of the rear. The speaker grills are located on the top and bottom of the phone.

Gone are the days of 165Hz AMOLED panels, but I can’t say I miss it much. The RedMagic 9 Pro’s 6.8-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen is extremely crispy, bright, and punchy. The lack of a notch makes it an absolute joy to behold. According to my colleague Nick Sutrich’s test results, there’s no PWM flicker either. If you’re sensitive to that, you’ll be happy as a lamb.

At 1600 nits of peak brightness levels, the 9 Pro gets reasonably bright out in glaring daylight. Overall, the size and display are very strongly reminiscent of the S23 Ultra.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Performance

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Slowly but steadily, REDMAGIC OS has improved significantly. The RedMagic 9 Pro runs REDMAGIC OS 9.0 based on Android 14, and it is the smoothest phone I have ever used. It feels even snappier once you swap out the preset icons for less gamer-esque ones.

The combination of raw power from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM is unmatched. Want to hear the craziest part? You can give the RedMagic 9 Pro a little bit of a boost by using part of the UFS 4.0 storage to add 3GB of extra RAM.

This device powers through anything and everything, day in and day out, delivering smooth performance like a champion. You’ll forget what delays feel like, to be honest. Even with a million apps open, multitasking like a monster, and leaving plenty of other things running in the background, the RedMagic 9 Pro doesn’t stutter or glitch out on me. There’s a very fluid feel to the device.

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Category RedMagic 9 Pro ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro iQOO 12 iPhone 15 Pro Max
Geekbench 6 (single-core) 2241 2244 2252 2950
Geekbench 6 (multi-core) 6953 6995 6952 7381
3DMark Wild Life Extreme (score) 5203 5207 4329 3648
3DMark Wild Life Extreme (FPS) 31.16 31.18 25.92 21.9
3DMark Solar Bay (score) 8685 8657 8042 5024
3DMark Solar Bay (FPS) 33 32.92 32.33 19.1

One look at the benchmarks, and you’ll see just why the RedMagic 9 Pro operates so well. The RedMagic 9 Pro and ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro’s scores are neck and neck. The ICE 13 cooling system keeps things cool under the hood while you push the phone to its limits. The only time I ever saw the 9 Pro in trouble was when I ran the 3DMark Solar Bay, and the phone shut down afterward because of overheating. To be fair, even the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro ran extremely hot when running the same test, as per my colleague Harish Jonnalagadda’s testing, and that device has even more muscle.

There’s no task that doesn’t feel like a pleasure on this device. It is one of the best gaming phones of 2024, and I’m certain it will compete admirably against the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Software

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Usually, this is the part where I express my frustration, disappointment, and anger at RedMagic’s badly organized UI, poor translations, and chunky icons. Ladies and gentlemen, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that this is no longer the case. The company actually went ahead and fixed everything we hated so passionately about REDMAGIC OS.

I can’t even begin to express my joy at this landmark improvement. The RedMagic 9 Pro has the best software on any RedMagic phone to date. REDMAGIC OS 9.0 is fluid, well organized, written in proper English, easy to search through and navigate, and just looks so darn good. Don’t believe me? See for yourself!

From icons and themes to color schemes and RGB lights, everything is easily accessible and customizable. All the extra features are neatly categorized under the Features settings. The OS doesn’t feel heavy at all, and transitions are ultra-snappy.

This goes to show how much something seemingly small can change the user experience and perspective of a smartphone. REDMAGIC OS is almost comparable to stock Android at this point, and that’s the best compliment I can give it.

The beauty of the 9 Pro is that it isn’t just a gaming phone anymore. You can use it as your daily driver and get more out of it than what basic Android 14 delivers. There’s a new tray that pulls out of the sides, giving you access to apps and other shortcuts. It’s just like the side panels found in One UI. You still get the customizable Z-POP button if you want even more shortcuts and quick access on the fly.

As for the gaming side of things, that’s just as good as ever, albeit with proper terms instead of wonky translations. You’ll find millions of gaming options, settings, shortcuts, screencasting, add-ons, plugins, and other meaningful features that take your gaming to a whole new level, all baked right into the OS.

If you’re coming from a RedMagic phone, the new gaming overlay will feel familiar. There’s a small learning curve there, but it’s nothing insanely difficult to follow. All you’ve got to do is play around with the options and settings to familiarize yourself.

RedMagic now guarantees “at least two years” of major OS updates as well as security updates. This is great news because you don’t want a $750 to $900 device to become outdated after a mere 12 months. And with the processing power this thing packs, it can definitely handle future updates without flinching.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Battery and charging

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

RedMagic always kills it in the battery and charging segment, and this year isn’t any different. The RedMagic 9 Pro jacks up last year’s 5,000mAh cell, ditching it in favor of an even larger 6,500mAh battery. That’s an insane amount of power, which easily lasts for two days on average.

Once your 9 Pro runs out of juice, recharging it takes about 20 minutes or so. Since the device features 80W Power Delivery 3.0 USB-C charging, such a feat is easily accomplished by the RedMagic 9 Pro.

There’s still no wireless charging here, but honestly, you don’t even need it. It’s convenient, but Qi wireless charging is very inefficient in practice. With 80W wired charging in your hands, there’s no need to consider alternative charging methods.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Cameras

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Cameras aren’t usually an area of much focus when it comes to gaming phones. However, the RedMagic 9 Pro isn’t restricted to hardcore gamers. Anyone who prizes performance over all else can consider getting one for themselves, so cameras are definitely worth looking into.

With the 9 Pro, gone are the nonsensical 5MP macro and 8MP ultrawide sensors. Instead, RedMagic very carefully opted for only two main cameras, both of which are 50MP lenses. The main camera is a wide-angle Samsung GN5 50MP lens with optical image stabilization, 7P lens, and APL-coated anti-glare. Meanwhile, the secondary ultrawide-angle camera is a Samsung JN1 50MP lens with an optimized distortion correction algorithm.

Together, you can capture videos in 8K at 30fps, 4K at 60fps or 30fps, and 1080p at up to 240fps on the RedMagic 9 Pro.

Below are some primary camera samples in varying lighting conditions. Naturally, the bright sunlight shot came out looking great. The cameras were able to retain quite a bit of detail in both natural soft and artificial indoor lighting scenarios. Some images lack punchiness, but the results are decent enough overall.

Digital zoom isn’t half bad either, giving you shots like these when taken advantage of in the right lighting conditions and at the right angle.

I was particularly pleased with the improved low light and night photography. These shots were taken in a very dark roller skating rink and the colors are very accurate to real life. There’s plenty of texture and contrast there as well.

The fifth generation of RedMagic’s UDC technology does a marvelous job of pretending it’s not there when the front camera isn’t in use. You can’t tell whether there’s a camera lens buried underneath the layer of pixels whatsoever.

The selfie camera on last year’s RedMagic 8 Pro was garbage, giving overly saturated results that were way off in terms of colors, tones, contrast, and detail. The fifth-gen UDC featured in the RedMagic 9 Pro improves on those things, but the end result still looks fuzzy, and the colors turn out a bit washed out.

Just look at the same selfie I captured with the RedMagic 9 Pro and the Google Pixel 6. The difference in hues and textural details is astonishing.

So, while we can all agree that the 9 Pro’s front camera is markedly better than the previous iterations, it’s still not ready to compete with the best Android phones out there.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Competition

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

The ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro, iQOO 12, and the unreleased Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra come to mind when considering potential competitors for the RedMagic 9 Pro.

In terms of price and value for money, the iQOO 12 gives RedMagic a good fight. This budget gaming phone costs less than the 9 Pro, yet it still delivers performance that’s on par and faster 120W charging. You get Android 14 and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, but there’s no dedicated cooling system or shoulder triggers for gaming.

If budget is not an issue, you can’t go wrong with the mighty ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro. This beefed-up device also uses the same chipset and has a dedicated cooling system as well as gaming triggers. However, it one-ups the RedMagic 9 Pro with 15W wireless charging, four OS updates (two more than RedMagic), a 32MP telephoto lens, a USB-C DisplayPort 1.4, and IP68 water and dust resistance.

Before you throw in the towel, do remember that the maxed-out variant of the RedMagic 9 Pro costs $900, whereas the ASUS ROG Phone 8 Pro starts at a whopping $1,200 for the basic 12GB/256GB version. The top-of-the-line 24GB/1TB model will set you back around $1,500.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Should you buy it?

RedMagic 9 Pro review: This isn’t even its final form

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

You should get it if…

  • You are a power user who needs blazing performance
  • You want a dedicated cooling system
  • You hate front camera notches
  • You need to get the most value for your money
  • You can’t do without shoulder triggers
  • You crave super-fast charging speeds

You shouldn’t get it if…

  • You use CDMA carriers
  • You prioritize cameras above all else
  • You depend on water resistance

Honestly speaking, I did not expect to love the RedMagic 9 Pro as much as I did. And I really did not expect that I’d be able to compare it to the likes of the S23 Ultra or hope to pit it against the unreleased S24 Ultra.

RedMagic took me by surprise this time around. I was fully expecting more of the same — a beastly gaming phone held back by its flawed software. But I’m happy to report that this is not the case this time around. REDMAGIC OS 9.0 is rather delightful and feels amazingly lightweight. The 9 Pro is immensely powerful, helped along by its secondary Red Core 2 Pro chipset that’s dedicated to gaming.

Hand on my heart, I can finally say that the RedMagic 9 Pro is ready for the mainstream user now. The front camera isn’t great, but everything else weighs much too heavily in favor of the smartphone. If you want a fantastic phone with flagship parts and performance but for half the price, you should buy the RedMagic 9 Pro.

Via: Androidcentral

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