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Honor Magic review

Honor Magic review Foldables out of China is going global left and right, aiming to challenge Samsung’s dominance in the field, and the Honor Magic Vs is the latest to make its international debut. A second-gen foldable from Honor, the Magic Vs builds on the V from last year, adding refinement to the moving bits, improving the camera system, and tweaking the displays and battery.

Honor Magic review We had an early look at the Magic Vs late last year, and while that unit was ready for prime time in terms of hardware, it wasn’t final when it came to software. This one here is, so you’ll be getting the usual test results, including battery life (spoiler: solid) and camera samples – we couldn’t test those three months ago.

The Magic Vs is based on a 7.9-inch foldable OLED display that’s still capped at 90Hz (Samsung’s Z Fold4 can do 120Hz). It’s now brighter than the V’s, Honor Magic review Honor says, as is the 6.45-inch cover display, which can refresh at up to 120Hz.

The folding mechanism is new on the Vs, compared to the V, with Honor abandoning gears in favor of a gearless hinge. Reducing the complexity as well as the adoption of magnesium and titanium alloys in the build has made the Vs some 10% lighter than the V – a most welcome development. Honor Magic review That’s with a larger battery than the older model too – 5,000mAh vs. 4,750mAh.

A couple of changes in the camera system make the Magic Vs a more capable cameraphone, we reckon. A telephoto camera replaces the ‘ultra-spectrum’ 50MP module on the Magic V that we never quite got to experience. It may be a relatively modest 8MP 3x unit, but some telephoto is better than no telephoto. The 54MP primary camera is new for this generation, too, while the 50MP ultrawide has been carried over. A couple of 16MP selfie cameras, one punch hole per display, bring the tally up to 5 cameras.

The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 tick inside the Magic Vs, adding a plus over the Magic V’s chipset. And in the months between the initial release in China and the global rollout Honor’s put together an Android 13-based build of Magic UI (the one we had for the hands-on was on Android 12), so it’s nicely current on the software front.

Honor Magic Vs specs at a glance:

Body: 160.3×141.5×6.1mm, 267g/261g; Glass front, glass back or eco-leather back, magnesium alloy frame, titanium alloy folding mechanism.
Display: 7.9″ Foldable OLED, 1B colors, 90Hz, HDR10+, 1984x2272px resolution, 10.3:9 aspect ratio, 382ppi; Cover display: OLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+, 6.45″, 1080x2560px, 431 ppi.
Chipset: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.0 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.5 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM.
OS/Software: Android 13, Magic UI 7.1.
Rear camera: Wide (main): 54 MP, f/1.9, 27mm, 1/1.49″, 1.0µm, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 50 MP, f/2.0, 13mm, 122˚, AF; Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, PDAF, 3x optical zoom, OIS.
Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.5, (wide).
Video capture: Rear camera: [email protected]/60fps (10-bit), [email protected]/60fps, gyro-EIS, HDR10+; Front camera: [email protected], gyro-EIS.
Battery: 5000mAh; 66W wired, 5W reverse wired.
Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Infrared port; stereo speakers.

Honor Magic Vs unboxing

The Magic Vs ships in a large black cardboard box with a fine striped pattern and a matte finish. Inside, the handset lies unfolded in a tray with the accessories in further boxes placed in dedicated compartments – a decidedly premium presentation, if not all that environmentally friendly.

The bundled peripherals include a 66W adapter to match the phone’s specified charging capabilities and a cable to go with it.

Also inside the box is a protector for the back of the phone – the only surface that doesn’t feature a display of some sort. It’s a combined snap-on/sticker design – it will stay on without the adhesive strip, but the sticker provides an extra level of holding power, of course.

Design, build quality, handling

Nothing’s changed between November and now in the Magic Vs’ hardware, but there are plenty of changes coming from the Magic V, as we reported back then. But to make sure we have something new to say, Honor has sent us a Black review unit this time around – to compare and contrast against the Cyan we already had.

The glossy, mirror-like finish of the glass panel is about as welcoming to fingerprints as you’d expect – it’s only pristine when you pull it out of the protective sleeve when taking it out of the box. Well, you could keep a microfiber cloth handy and wipe it periodically, but it’s a tall order keeping it clean.

It’s worth noting that if you do use it as a mirror (which is a viable use case), through the magic of your eyes’ focusing magic you’ll be seeing past the smudges and they will only be noticeable if you focus on them. In any case, the… case saves you from all of those woes, while also providing protection. It’s got a soft faux leather layer so it’s a nicely premium feeling, too.

The Cyan colorway, meanwhile, has a shimmery frosted finish, so it’s nowhere as prone to smudges, plus it’s got a fresher look than a plain black back. Cyan or Black, the rear panel is made of glass.

There’s a third colorway, Orange, and that’s got a faux leather rear panel, making it 6g lighter than the 267g glass-backed versions. The international Magic Vs variant isn’t getting it, however – it remains exclusive to China, apparently.

Mentioning grams brings us to one of the key generational improvements – the entirely reworked hinge mechanism. Doing away with the geared design of the previous generation, the Vs comes with a gearless alternative, and Honor says the number of components has been reduced from 92 to just 4, which can’t involve some semantics and calling ‘a component’ what is essentially an assembly of several bits and bobs. Looking at the promo videos, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on there.

New materials have been adopted too, also contributing to weight savings. The inner screen’s support structure is made of titanium, making it 20% lighter, while the magnesium alloy underside of the outer screen is 34% lighter than the previous aluminum solution. Those are Honor’s numbers, and we won’t be tearing down units and weighing any of these individually just to check, of course.

The hinge has been tested and rated for 400,000 actuation which is close to 11 years worth of 100 folds per day. We bet something else will croak before that, be it on the phone or yourself.

We can confirm that on both of our units, the hinge action feels reassuringly sturdy, with no weird noises or flexing in any direction.

The hinge allows the Magic Vs to remain in intermediate positions, possibly enabling use cases like a ‘tripod mode’ of sorts where you place the phone on a table and use it for long exposures or group photos with you in them. It’s not entirely stable, however, and it will have a tendency to fully reopen if you start from the tablet state and you’re at or slightly beyond the 90-degree angle.

On the opposite end of the hinge’s travel, the phone folds flat in on itself, leaving no gap between the two halves. It’s a common gripe we’ve had with several generations of Galaxy foldable and something that always comes up in comparisons, with only the Samsungs having a wedge shape when closed.

The Magic is kept shut in its closed state by magnets, as is common practice. The Magic Vs is one of the less easy-to-open foldable due to the combination of those and the thin flat sides that leave no room for you to insert your fingertips and pry open the two halves. It’s not an issue, strictly speaking, just a comparative observation.

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