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Asus ROG Phone 8 vs. Redmagic 9 Pro: Choose your fighter

Asus ROG Phone 8

Better flagship

$1000 $1100 Save $100

The ROG Phone 8 strives to strike a balance between pure gaming prowess and everyday usability. It offers features often absent in gaming phones, like wireless charging and an IP68 water resistance rating. The camera system, while not class-leading, provides a respectable triple-lens setup that can capture decent photos. 

ProsIP68 ratingWireless chargingTelephoto lens ConsPunch-hole cutout in the displayCameras still not flagship-gradeComparatively expensive redmagic 9 pro on a white background

Nubia RedMagic 9 Pro

Better for gaming

The Redmagic 9 Pro features the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and boasts a unique built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating. Software updates are limited, the cameras are average, and wireless charging and water resistance are absent, but the $649 price tag makes it a compelling option for pure gaming power.

ProsBuilt-in fanBigger batteryMuch more affordable ConsNo IP ratingNo wireless chargingWeak cameras

While modern smartphones have become increasingly powerful, a niche breed thrives for those who demand absolute peak performance: gaming phones. Two names have consistently topped the gaming phone rankings — the Asus ROG Phone and the Redmagic by Nubia. Boasting lineages among the longest-running dedicated gaming phone series, both brands have constantly pushed the boundaries for mobile gaming experiences.

This year, however, things got interesting. Asus shook things up with the ROG Phone 8, implementing a brand-new design approach that might have left some loyal ROG fans scratching their heads. On the other hand, Nubia stayed true to form with the Redmagic 9 Pro, delivering another iteration of their unapologetically hardcore gaming phone.

So, which gaming phone reigns supreme? We break down everything you need to know about the Asus ROG Phone 8 and the Redmagic 9 Pro to make your purchase decision easy.

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Price, availability, and specs

The ROG Phone 8 landed in the US this spring with a starting price of $1,099 for the base 16GB/256GB model. However, you can currently snag it for $999 on the Asus e-store and Amazon. Asus also offers Pro variants of the ROG Phone 8 series; they feature a flashy LED-matrix display on the back, compared to the RGB logo on the regular ROG Phone 8. The ROG Phone 8 Pro starts at $1,199 for the 16GB/512GB version, reaching a hefty $1,499 for the top-of-the-line 24GB RAM/1TB storage model. Color options for the ROG Phone 8 are black and gray.

The Redmagic 9 Pro was launched late last year, in December 2023. It’s currently available unlocked directly from Nubia’s website and Amazon. It starts at a much friendlier $649 for the base 12GB/256GB variant. If you crave more storage, the 16GB/512GB variant could be yours for $799. This higher storage option also boasts a unique transparent exterior in either black or white colorways, whereas the base model sticks to a more conventional black. It’s important to note that the Redmagic 9 Pro skips mmWave 5G support, so you might not experience the absolute peak 5G speeds offered by some US carriers.

Asus ROG Phone 8Nubia RedMagic 9 ProSoCQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Display typeLTPO AMOLED, 165HzAMOLED, 120HzDisplay dimensions6.78-inch6.8-inchDisplay resolution1080 x 24001116 x 2480RAM12GB, 16GB, or 24GB12GB, 16GBStorage256GB, 512GB, or 1TB256GB, 512GBBattery5,500mAh6500mAhCharge speed65W wired, 15W wireless80W wiredPorts2x USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jackUSB-C, 3.5mm headphone jackOperating SystemAndroid 14Android 14Front camera32MP, f/2.516MP, f/2.0Rear camera50MP, f/1.9 main; 13MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 32MP, f/2.4 telephoto50MP main with OIS; 50MP, f/2.2 ultrawide; 2MP macroWi-Fi connectivityWi-Fi 7Wi-Fi 7BluetoothBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3Dimensions163.8 x 76.8 x 8.9mm164 x 76.4 x 8.9 mmWeight225g229gColorsRebel Grey, Phantom BlackSleet (Black), Snowfall (Silver), Cyclone (Transparent Black)PriceFrom $1,099$649

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Design

Loud and proud vs. understated practicality

redmagic 9 pro resting against plant pot

Both gaming flagships have traditionally embraced a bold, “look-at-me-I’m-a-gaming-phone” aesthetic. This year, however, Asus ditched the sharp edges and gamer-centric flourishes for a complete design overhaul that leans toward the mainstream flagship look.

The ROG Phone 8 opts for a sleeker, more subtle look, with flattened edges, a textured matte glass back, and a near bezel-less display dominating its design. It has also shed some weight and bulk compared to its predecessors, measuring at a slimmer 8.9mm and a lighter 225g, which is almost identical to the Redmagic 9 Pro’s dimensions. It’s important to remember, however, that these are still big phones and a good protective case is always recommended.

The Redmagic 9 Pro proudly carries the torch of the classic gaming phone aesthetic. It features a boxy design with flat edges, loud branding elements (including printed text and even a Snapdragon logo), and, of course, RGB lighting. You’ll find a light-up “09” logo on the back, along with RGB strips shining through the back camera module and side-mounted trigger buttons.

The ROG Phone 8 takes the win in terms of build quality, boasting the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection for both the front and back, offering superior scratch resistance compared to the Redmagic 9 Pro’s Gorilla Glass 5. When it comes to durability, the ROG Phone 8 ups the ante further with an IP68 rating, safeguarding it from dust and water submersion. The Redmagic 9 Pro offers no official ingress protection rating.

Thankfully, both manufacturers haven’t forgotten mobile gamers’ core needs. Each phone retains essential gaming features like a 3.5mm headphone jack and pressure-sensitive trigger buttons on the right edge for enhanced in-game control.

The ROG Phone 8 goes a step further, including a secondary USB-C port on the side, perfect for charging the phone in landscape mode during extended gaming sessions. In contrast, the Redmagic 9 Pro features a built-in cooling fan with a dedicated vent on the right edge, just below the camera system.

Display

Evenly matched

hand holding redmagic 9 pro in front of flowers

Both the ROG Phone 8 and Redmagic 9 Pro boast large, immersive 6.8-inch AMOLED displays with FHD+ resolutions. The Redmagic 9 Pro takes a futuristic approach with an under-display selfie camera, achieving a cleaner, all-screen look. The ROG Phone 8 utilizes a punch-hole cutout for its front camera, which might slightly obstruct on-screen elements in certain games.

However, the ROG Phone 8 claws back some ground with a superior display in a few key areas. First up, it boasts a significantly brighter panel. With a peak brightness of 2500 nits (and HBM brightness of 1600 nits), it allows for comfortable gaming and movie marathons, even under harsh sunlight. Additionally, the ROG Phone 8’s AMOLED display boasts a lightning-fast 165Hz adaptive refresh rate, ensuring silky smooth visuals and animations.

The Redmagic 9 Pro’s display is no slouch either, offering a still-very-respectable 120Hz refresh rate for smooth gameplay and animations. However, its peak brightness falls short at 1600 nits, and it lacks the convenient always-on display feature found on the ROG Phone 8. The ROG 8 also features a smarter LTPO display for variable refresh rate, while the Redmagic 9 Pro’s display can only switch between 120, 90, and 60Hz refresh rates.

Both devices have stereo speaker setups for immersive audio experiences and utilize under-display fingerprint scanners for secure unlocking.

Software

Win some, lose some

redmagic 9 pro showing screen resting on piano

Both the ROG Phone 8 and Redmagic 9 Pro run customized versions of Android 14, offering a plethora of features to enhance your gaming experience. They each include dedicated game spaces, acting as hubs for all your Android games. Here you can fine-tune various settings, from optimizing individual game performance to tweaking the RGB lighting.

The Redmagic 9 Pro takes it a step further with a physical Game Space switch on the phone’s side. This is a fantastic addition for quick game access. Additionally, when this switch is activated, it prevents accidental swipes back to the home screen, a common frustration for many mobile gamers.

Software support is also a point of consideration. Redmagic only guarantees two years of security updates and one major Android upgrade. In essence, you shouldn’t expect the Redmagic 9 Pro to receive updates beyond the upcoming Android 15. Asus does slightly better with the ROG Phone 8, promising at least two years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates. While not ideal for a flagship phone in 2024, it provides a bit more longevity.

Performance and gaming

Undisputed champions

side buttons on redmagic 9 pro

Both ROG Phone 8 and Redmagic 9 Pro boast the bleeding edge of Android gaming hardware: the mighty Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset and lightning-fast UFS 4.0 storage. Frankly, it’s overkill for most current games, but future-proofs your phone for demanding titles to come.

The phones deliver seamless performance for everyday use, with their high refresh rate displays ensuring buttery smooth visuals. They have ample RAM to handle any multitasking you throw their way and effortlessly run even the most graphically intensive games at the highest settings. Games like COD Mobile can even be enjoyed at a silky smooth 120fps on these devices.

Both phones incorporate responsive trigger buttons for enhanced gaming immersion. However, the Redmagic 9 Pro pulls ahead for hardcore gamers with its secret weapon: the ICE 13.0 Magic Cooling System with a built-in fan. This ingenious system improves airflow and reduces CPU core temperatures by up to 25°C.

Real-world tests show the Redmagic 9 Pro stays significantly cooler after extended sessions on demanding games like Genshin Impact. The ROG Phone 8, in its pursuit of water resistance, lacks open vents for active cooling. Asus does offer a separate Aeroactive cooler fan accessory that can help with heat dissipation, but it’s an extra purchase.

Battery life

Power up for a day or two

redmagic 9 pro on floral surface

When it comes to battery life, the Redmagic 9 Pro takes the crown with its massive 6500mAh battery. This translates to an easy two-day battery life on a single charge for moderate users. The ROG Phone 8’s 5500mAh battery is still respectable and offers over a day of regular use.

The Redmagic 9 Pro boasts faster charging as well, with its 80W wired charging system that can refuel its mammoth battery in just 35 minutes. The ROG Phone 8’s 65W wired charging takes about 40 minutes for a full charge from 0 to 100%. However, the ROG Phone 8 throws in support for 15W wireless charging, a feature missing from the Redmagic 9 Pro.

Camera

Lesser of two evils

redmagic 9 pro camera lenses

Let’s face it: cameras aren’t the top priority for most gaming phone users, and that is evident in the ROG Phone 8 and Redmagic 9 Pro. The Redmagic 9 Pro features a middle-of-the-road camera system at best, sporting a 50MP primary sensor with optical image stabilization (OIS) alongside a 50MP ultrawide sensor. While usable, low-light performance and handling of challenging lighting situations likely won’t impress photography enthusiasts.

Asus has made a slight improvement on the ROG Phone 8. It boasts a 50MP primary camera with gimbal OIS, a 13MP ultrawide sensor, and a new 32MP 3x telephoto lens, offering a bit more versatility. However, similar to the Redmagic 9 Pro, image processing remains a weak spot for the ROG Phone 8. Both phones struggle against established leaders like Google and Samsung when it comes to capturing photos in tricky lighting or low-light conditions.

The front camera situation isn’t much better. Since the Redmagic 9 Pro utilizes an under-display camera, selfies often appear soft and hazy. The ROG Phone 8’s front camera fares better, producing more acceptable selfies, but they won’t be winning awards anytime soon either.

In a head-to-head comparison, the ROG Phone 8’s inclusion of a telephoto lens and a generally better selfie experience gives it the edge in the camera department. However, it’s crucial to remember that the ROG Phone 8 sits at $1000, while the Redmagic 9 Pro comes in at a much more affordable $650. At that price point, very few phones offer truly top-tier camera experiences.

Which one’s right for you?

Today’s high-end smartphones pack serious processing power, making dedicated gaming phones a niche within a niche. Gaming phones now cater more to hardcore mobile gamers seeking that extra edge in performance and control, with specialized features like cooling fans and pressure-sensitive triggers. However, these advantages often come with trade-offs in terms of camera quality, software updates, and other convenient features that phones bring upwards of $500.

That being said, the ROG Phone 8 carves out a space for itself as a well-rounded smartphone, offering the fewest compromises for a $1,000 gaming phone. It boasts the convenience of wireless charging, an IP68 rating for dust and water protection, and even a versatile triple-camera setup that captures decent photos. If you’re seeking a daily driver that is also secretly a gaming beast, the ROG Phone 8 is your champion.

Asus ROG Phone 8 series on a white background

Asus ROG Phone 8

Better flagship

Gaming flagship with the least compromises

$1000 $1100 Save $100

If you’re looking for a daily driver flagship that transforms into an unyielding gaming machine, the ROG Phone 8 is a compelling choice, albeit at a premium $1,000 price point.

But, if features like wireless charging and water resistance aren’t priorities, or if you already own a separate daily driver and need a dedicated gaming device, the Redmagic 9 Pro is tough to beat. It boasts the same top-tier processing power as the ROG Phone 8 at a significantly lower price, $650. The built-in cooling fan and a massive battery make it even more adept at handling extended gaming sessions. Keep in mind, though, that these advantages come at the expense of a weaker camera system and less reliable software support.

redmagic 9 pro on a white background

Nubia RedMagic 9 Pro

Better for gaming

Serious power on a budget

If you want an Android smartphone with an uncompromising gaming experience above everything else, the Redmagic 9 Pro delivers everything you need at a pocket-friendly price tag.

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