Nubia 5G 144Hz phone costs under $350: Why so cheap?

The company Nubia created a smartphone that works with 5G connectivity and costs significantly less than its closest competitor. The only bad news – it's only scheduled to be released in China, for now. This device is called the Nubia Play, and it looks a whole lot like a device currently on SlashGear's review bench – a gaming phone with the brand Red Magic.

Both devices are associated with the brand ZTE, both are released with "Nubia" printed on their box. The Nubia line generally costs slightly less than the "Red Magic" line, since the Red Magic line is aimed at gamers, and is fairly tricked out. The Red Magic 5G device was released in March, while the Nubia Play will be released this week (April) in China.

The Play has the same size display as the Red Magic 5G, but the Red Magic device is housed in a piece of hardware that's slightly smaller. As such, the screen-to-body ratio is larger on the Red Magic device. Both devices have AMOLED capacitive touchscreen panels and are capable of running 144Hz image refresh.

So wait, you might be saying, what's going on here? How can one device cost under $350, while the other costs around $700?

Nubia made key cuts to the innards of the cheaper device. The processor, for example, is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G (7nm) chipset with Octa-core CPU (1x2.4 GHz Kryo 475 Prime & 1x2.2 GHz Kryo 475 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 475 Silver) and Adreno 620 GPU. The Red Magic device has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 856 (7nm+) chipset with Octa-core CPU (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 585 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 585 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 585), and an Adreno 650 GPU.

The cheaper device has no headphone jack, relying instead on USB-C 24-bit/192kHz audio. The more expensive device comes with a headphone jack that allows 32-bit/384kHz audio. The Nubia Play has USB-C 2.0, while the Red Magic 5G has USB-C 3.0, as well as an "accessory connector" – pogo pins for connecting to accessories developed specifically for the Red Magic line.

The Red Magic device has 55W fast charging, while the Nubia Play has 30W fast charging. The Red Magic's battery is smaller than the Nubia Play – 4500mAh compared to 5100mAh, and they work with different technology, too. The 4500mAh battery of the Red Magic device is Li-Po, while the 5100mAh battery of the Nubia Play is Li-Ion.

Both devices are aimed at similar audiences, but for a bang for your buck, you'd probably want to consider buying two Nubia Play units rather than a single Red Magic 5G – BUT, you're probably just a single human, and probably don't really need a spare device that same as your primary device. So it really depends on your situation!

Your decision here also really depends on what kind of 5G you want to roll with, and whether or not you live in China. If you live in the USA, you'll have access to the Red Magic 5G right now. Meanwhile the Nubia Play remains China-only for the foreseeable future – but cross your fingers anyway!