Redmagic 9 Pro Review: A proper gaming bargain?

If you’re seriously into Android gaming but don’t want to pay the higher price of some of the name-brand flagships, the RedMagic 9 Pro is worth considering.

Pros Cons
Great performance Unclear update future
Solid battery life No wireless charging
Dedicated Android game launcher Stupid virtual avatar isn’t needed

Score: 4/5


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In this review

RedMagic 9 Pro Specifications
RedMagic 9 Pro Design
RedMagic 9 Pro Performance
RedMagic 9 Pro Battery
RedMagic 9 Pro Conclusion



RedMagic 9 Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

I noted in my unboxing of the RedMagic 9 Pro that it had a real 90s-era PC gaming box feel to it, and that’s a position that I’m sticking to. The closest design match would perhaps be the Nothing phones you can buy through JB Hi-Fi right now, and it’s not a style that will suit every buyer.

RedMagic might not be a phone brand you’re familiar with. Technically, it’s not a brand in its own right, instead being the gaming branch of ZTE, in much the same way that (for example) ROG is the gaming branch of ASUS.

It’s been a long while since I’ve reviewed any ZTE phone, with the company in Australia largely just producing telco-branded budget phones, and even that was a long while ago.

The RedMagic 9 Pro is a physically imposing phone, measuring in at 163.98x76.35x8.9mm and weighing 229 grams. It’s also quite slippery in the hand, not entirely helped by the fact that it’s a rare example of a more premium-priced smartphone with no camera bump whatsoever on the back of the phone.

All three lenses of the RedMagic 9 Pro are recessed within the body of the phone, which comes in three colour variants, either Sleet (black), Cyclone (Black/Gold) or Snowfall (White); it’s the Snowfall model I’ve been testing out. The clear circuitry look of the back of the RedMagic 9 Pro is a rather definitive choice here, and it’s one you’ll either love or hate.

RedMagic does provide a case for the RedMagic 9 Pro in the box… just.

It’s the most slender piece of plastic I’ve ever wrapped around a phone, protecting only the top and back of the phone itself.

I’m always in favour of putting a case on a phone, but here you’re only getting the very lightest level of protection. To add to the issues of protection, the RedMagic 9 Pro doesn’t have any level of IP-rated water or dust protection, which is unusual for a premium-priced phone, even though it does sit on the lower end of the premium price tier.

Not having a full case is a design challenge, mind you, because the right hand side of the RedMagic 9 Pro is a very busy space. Aside from your typical power button and volume rocker, there’s also a pair of configurable haptic triggers and a mysterious red switch. Honestly, at first I wondered if RedMagic were aping either the mute switch or action button of the iPhone, but instead it's a dedicated launching switch for RedMagic's Game Lobby software, because, again, this is a gaming phone first and foremost.

Then we come to the RedMagic 9 Pro's screen. It's a very pleasant 6.8 inch 120Hz capable AMOLED display whose key trick is that you can't spot the front-facing selfie camera at all. No notch, no teardrop, no holepunch to hide it. It's not even hiding in a little pop-up array, though I've not seen anyone go down that particular path for many years now.

Instead, RedMagic's opted for an in-display selfie camera to keep the entire front display 100% dedicated to being a gaming space. That's good for gaming... but with some impact on camera quality.


Gaming phones often trade away camera performance in service to their primary gaming functions, and the RedMagic 9 Pro doesn’t really buck that trend, even though it does offer up some camera features not found in other phones, gaming or otherwise.

At the rear, it houses a primary 50MP wide sensor with optical image stabilisation, a 50MP ultrawide and 2MP macro lens, while the front-facing selfie camera is a 16MP shooter – and as already noted, it doesn’t live within a notch or holepunch array, sitting instead underneath the glass itself.

Look, I’ve got to deal with the selfie camera first, because it’s the most striking part of the RedMagic 9 Pro’s camera game. Only Samsung has opted to go with an under-glass camera on its Galaxy Z Fold cameras to date, and they’ve all been low-megapixel, low quality efforts – but on a folding phone you can somewhat get away with that, because you’re only a fold away from a different camera and extra screen.

The RedMagic 9 Pro has none of that, though bumping up the sensor size to 16MP might mitigate for some of that.

Might… but doesn’t.

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Selfie (Photo: Alex Kidman)

This is soft, and already not great, but just wait...

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Selfie Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

This was the very next shot, and the RedMagic 9 Pro's selfie camera HAS CRACKED MY HEAD OPEN LIKE AN EGG.

The RedMagic 9 Pro’s selfie camera produces incredibly soft pictures with weird lighting effects, intermittent blurring and… look, basically, it’s a disaster area as a selfie camera. It does kind of prove why under-display cameras haven’t yet become a big deal in smartphone photography, because the technology just isn’t there yet.

The rest of the RedMagic 9 Pro’s still camera performance is decent without being stellar. You’re not going to make your Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro toting friends jealous with the clarity of the shots you get, but equally – excluding the 2MP macro – you’re not going to embarrass yourself either.

It's not quite the same story for video, however, with some noticeable distortion if you try to use the RedMagic 9 Pro for filming while walking. If you're stationary it's perfectly acceptable, but any kind of motion produces unacceptable levels of jitter.

RedMagic 9 Pro Photo Samples

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)

RedMagic 9 Pro Sample Photo (Photo: Alex Kidman)


The RedMagic 9 Pro runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC with an Adreno 750 GPU and either 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (Sleet version) or 16GB of RAM and 512GB of onboard storage (Cyclone/Snowfall) with Android 14 running ZTE’s own RedMagic OS 9.0 on top of it.

Many gaming phones run with their own optimisation-heavy launchers in play, and while RedMagic OS 9.0 isn’t to my personal taste – I’m very much in the “plain Android” camp – it’s certainly functional for pushing the gaming mission of the phone itself.

One concern here I do have is the update question; while the RedMagic 9 Pro is running current Android, there’s no mention of any future OS upgrades, and at the time of writing, the RedMagic 9 Pro only had the February 2024 updates as “current”, which isn’t ideal given I’m writing this review in May.

In straight line performance terms, the RedMagic 9 Pro does benchmark well, especially relative to its price point. Here’s how it compares against other flagship phones using Geekbench 6’s CPU test:

And here’s how it compares using 3DMark:

Comparatively speaking, ZTE doesn’t throw a lot of bloatware onto the RedMagic 9 Pro, not including the Game Lobby software, which is pleasing to see. There is some – and RedMagic’s own web browser (why do phone makers always throw their own browser on these phones?), but it’s not a huge quantity to deal with if you don’t want it there.

It should come as no surprise at all that the RedMagic 9 Pro is beautifully responsive phone for everyday apps, but nobody’s buying it to be just another dull social-media and web-browser phone.

It’s all about the games, and the best way to optimise the RedMagic 9 Pro for that is to hit the red switch on the side and launch the RedMagic 9 Pro’s Game Lobby application. There’s a short pause when doing so, but this allows you to set a lot of gaming variables, from fan speed to custom controller profiles.

There’s also… Mora. Mora is RedMagic’s slightly awkward character avatar, designed to hook in the kinds of teenage boys who are likely to get excited about a set of digital bouncing mammaries in a faux schoolgirl outfit. You can dress Mora up, and if you’re willing (I wasn’t) give her access to your photos and music and other private data to flesh out your relationship with her.

Blech. I won’t comment on the performance of those features, because they 100% were not for me, and they’re the kind of thing that honestly I feel like gaming should have gotten past years ago.

Here’s a quick hint, by the way: plenty of women game, and while I cannot and should not speak for them, I suspect more than a few would find Mora to be precisely what they don’t want in a gaming phone.

That out of the way, in terms of providing an uncluttered way to focus in on your gaming, the Game Lobby app works quite well. You do have to do a little work to customise controls, especially with the haptic triggers and how they work in games, but once you’re set up, it generally runs well.

Game Lobby will also detect if you’ve paired a game controller with the phone. For sideways mounted controls this is decent, though the wider profile of the RedMagic 9 Pro didn’t fit some of the controllers I tested with that way, but for controllers that use clips above a pad (a la the budget Anko Wireless Controller), you’ll quickly hit a balance problem, because the clip will most likely hit the power and volume buttons when in place, because they’re centrally mounted on the right hand side of the phone.

The fans on the RedMagic 9 Pro do work well to cool the unit, spinning at up to a claimed 20,000 RPM but as a result they are noticeably noisy. For other gaming phones I’ve tested (like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition) I’d expect that out of a dedicated cooler; here it’s built in, so you will be able to hear it when it kicks in if you’re close to the phone. One rather silly feature here is that enabling the fan in the Game Lobby software kicks in a short engine revving sound, which you seemingly can’t disable.


RedMagic 9 Pro (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The RedMagic 9 Pro certainly doesn’t mess around when it comes to battery capacity, with a 6,500mAh battery pack sitting inside its frame.

It’s not unheard of for gaming phones to offer more battery capacity than your typical 5,000mAh Android phone, though 6,500mAh is a high water mark for phones I’ve tested.

As such, I had high hopes for its general battery endurance, and here it did not disappoint. Here’s how it compared using my standard YouTube battery test:

Of course, that’s not 100% of the story, for a couple of reasons. Video processing for a phone at this level should be child’s play, and having 1,500mAh (or more!) than the competition gives the RedMagic 9 Pro lots of headroom to start with.

If you adjusted for that battery size, it’s only about as power efficient as its competition – though that does still mean for everyday use, it’ll easily last a day and then some.

However, the bigger picture here is that nobody buys a gaming phone if they’re not going to game on it, and probably pretty extensively. Throwing heavier duty Android games at the RedMagic 9 Pro will both sap the battery and put the fans into overdrive – which also can have a significant impact on battery life, though it does keep the phone that little bit cooler under heavier loads.

Obviously all of this is relative, and it will depend on your gaming choices and how much time you’re spending with that kind of heavy duty app. If you game a lot, a battery pack would still be a sensible investment to go along with the RedMagic 9 Pro, but for more moderate use, this is a very easy 2-day usage phone.

When it comes to charging, it’s via USB-C with a bundled 80W charger in the box. The unit that RedMagic sent my way had a US plug on it – plug adaptors are handy here, because it was at least rated for 100-240V usage, so it’s safe to use in Australia – though they seem to indicate that Australian orders placed with them should come with an Australian plug.

80W charging is, naturally enough, quite fast, but the trade-off here (common to many “gaming” phones) is that there’s no onboard wireless charging capability at all.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Alex’s Verdict

The RedMagic 9 Pro is a very good value phone if -- and only if -- you're a very particular type of Android phone user. Specifically gaming must be your passion for it to make sense. At this price the issues with selfies, IP rated water resistance and Android updates wouldn't be worth dealing with otherwise.

However, if you are a mad keen Android gamer, it's a bit of a bargain, given you're getting the same levels of performance you'd get out of a Galaxy S24 Ultra, a phone that can literally cost twice as much as the RedMagic 9 Pro does.

RedMagic 9 Pro: Pricing and availability

RedMagic officially only sells the RedMagic 9 Pro through its online store in US dollars at $US649 and $US799 respectively, which equates out to roughly (at the time of writing) $977 AUD and $1203 AUD respectively.

It is also available through other channels such as Amazon -- and if you want to support ART, you can buy one through the affiliate link below!

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