The Red Magic 8 Pro ships with Redmagic 6 OS on top of Android 13. Despite the major version jump coming from its predecessor, the changes in the latest Redmagic OS are still incremental rather than drastic. On the surface, the UI looks very clean and even plain, but there are a lot of features and plenty of customization lurking right beneath the surface.
From a UI perspective, nothing has changed. It's still the heavily-customized ROM with the occasional weird translations. It's far from what you can call vanilla Android, so you will have to get used to the different icons, settings menus, quick toggles in the notification shade, etc.
Pretty much every aspect of the UI is customizable and can be tuned to your liking. ZTE's phones have always had special attention to their Always-on display functionality. The Red Magic 8 Pro doesn't fall behind in this regard, as it has tons of customizable clock styles and presets for you to choose from. You can even set looping, cool-looking GIFs and videos. Naturally, this would consume more power.
Redmagic UI allows you to shrink apps into small, interactive windows. Of course, not all apps support the feature, and you have to open the notification shade and tap on the Free Window toggle while an app is in the foreground. You can't resize the app's window - you can only move it around the screen. It makes for easy multitasking, yet you always have to open the notification shade to enter that mode every time. And you can't put more than one app into a small window.
What you can do in terms of two-app multitasking is enable split screen view. That is done from a special icon in the recent apps carousel.
Entertainment toolbox, which is essentially the same as Samsung's Edge Panel, is here to stay after being implemented with version 4.0 of the OS. Sliding your finger from the right edge of the display opens up the toolbox (sadly, it can't be moved, and its place is fixed). You can assign quick tasks or open up certain apps.
The fingerprint reader works as well as ever. It's fast, reliable and accurate. It also doubles as a heart rate monitor. It can be surprisingly accurate but is a bit inconsistent for our taste.
There are a few other interesting features hidden away on the Red Magic 8 Pro, but we won't go through them all. Here are some screenshots.
The Game space in-game overlay has experienced a major redesign with Redmagic OS 6. It now consists of two large, symmetrical menus on each side of the display. Most of the functions are readily accessible with a single tap which is greatly appreciated. You can monitor your CPU and GPU frequency as well as, crucially, in-game fps using an overlay. There are some quick access shortcuts for supported messenger apps as well for more convenient window-based chatting while in game.
Most of the interesting and powerful settings are located in their own sub-menu within the overlay. You can adjust CPU and GPU performance profiles, screen sensitivity and sampling rate, and enable a particular visual profile for the display to make certain game elements more easily visible.
Game Shorthand is a brand new feature within Game Space, It is basically a library where you can store game screenshots and attach notes to them. You can then quickly view up to 50 of these at a time - great for things like point-and-click adventure games for remembering clues and puzzles.
Plugins are a relatively new addition to the Red Magic Game Space. Unfortunately, like many other parts of the UI, these suffer from poor and incomplete translations, and it is somewhat difficult to discern what each one does.
X Gravity is the system nubia uses for mapping external devices like a controller or keyboard and mouse to on-screen controls. This is something that the Red Magic 8 Pro lets you easily do out of the box, which might be considered a bit controversial for competitive play since it offers a major advantage.
Auxiliary line is a way to define on-screen circles that appear around your character and signify things like the area of effect of certain skills or attacks - particularly useful for MOBA games. Stopwatches give the player an array of on-screen stopwatches to quickly time things like a skill or spell cooldown on enemies.
The Crosshair feature is particularly useful for shooters. Not only does it draw a crosshair overlay on the screen, but it can also zoom into a particular area of the image.
Of course, there are the shoulder triggers - one of the best gaming features of the Red Magic 8 Pro by far. They provide a really nice experience for racing and first-person shooter games. The software lets you map certain controls to the triggers and adjust the pressure sensitivity to avoid mistouches.
Circling back to X Gravity and the ability to map in-game, on-screen controls to physical accessories like a joystick or keyboard and mouse, it should not be understated how major of a feature this is on the Red Magic 8 Pro. The phone itself offers a number of convenient ways to connect to peripherals. First off, there is USB alt mode. Using a supported dongle, you can easily get an HDMI or DP output out of the Red Magic 8 Pro and USB inputs back into the phone. This is a great way to directly attach it to a monitor or TV.
If that seems too cumbersome for you and you would rather just use a PC to play your mobile games, then there is Redmagic studio - a Windows app that lets you screencast over Wi-Fi or USB cable connected directly to the PC. It works at a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The whole pairing process with the desktop app is seamless and extremely easy. You can set up different mapping profiles for all the games you play, and the keyboard/mouse input is pretty solid.
The streaming feature works in all menus of the phone and apps, not just games. So it may come in handy for more than just gaming. The gestures and keyboard typing feel native. You can even use the phone itself as a trackpad for touch input or alternatively opt to have it entirely autonomously functional so you can cast one app to a TV or monitor while using your phone for something entirely different. The whole system is extremely flexible and works surprisingly well. Props to nubia.
In terms of under-the-hood gaming-related features, the Red Magic 8 Pro has a dedicated secondary "gaming" chip called the Red Core 2. It is primarily meant to handle things like audio and haptic feedback processing and RGB lighting control so that these tasks can be offloaded from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 main chipset for better performance.
The Red Magic 8 Pro also includes something called a "cube performance optimizer" (CPO), which promises to smooth out in-game frame rates without increasing power consumption. We assume it is a sort of MEMC chip, though nubia isn't particularly descriptive when it comes to its nature.
The Red Magic 8 Pro also does something nubia calls quintuple buffering for generated game frames using a system called "MAGIC GPU". The idea here is that different systems like screen recording or casting might want to access GPU frames concurrently and, without sufficient buffering, might interfere with the frame count that actually ends up on display. This system prioritized display frames before anything else.