Honor surprised everyone earlier this year when it announced it would be the first-ever Chinese company to launch a foldable book outside of its home market. The company has since confirmed that this foldable will be released in January 2023, beating the rumored Google Pixel Fold to the punch. We now know the foldable will be the Magic Vs, the awkwardly named successor to Honor’s first foldable phone, the Magic V.
While Honor is still a few weeks away from releasing the foldable in international markets, pitting it against the best phones on the market gave me the chance to test the hardware and get an idea of what we can expect from it. the future. The software is still not complete on the device, but it’s clear to me that Honor is doing a lot of things right. The Magic Vs presents itself as a worthy competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Honor Magic Vs
- Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
- Interior: 7.9-inch 90Hz 2272 x 1984 OLED; Exterior: 6.45 inch 120Hz 2560×1080 OLED
- 8/12 GB
- 256/512 GB
- USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1
- Operating system
- Magic OS 7.0 (Android 12)
- Front camera
- 2x 16MP f/2.45
- Rear cameras
- 54MP IMX800 main, 50MP ultrawide, 8MP 3x zoom
- Bluetooth 5.2, WiFi, dual SIM, 5G
- Stylus support
- Unfolded: 160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1mm; Folded: 160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9mm
- Cyan, Black, Orange, Gold
- 66W wired
- IP Rating
- Micro SD card support
Honor Magic Vs: Refined Hardware
The Honor Magic Vs is only the company’s second foldable after the original Magic V, but it already looks more refined and sturdier than many other second-gen devices. The advantage for Honor here is that it didn’t have to start from scratch. The Magic V is clearly related to the Huawei Mate X2, so it’s likely Honor could build on the work Huawei started before the company parted ways with its older parent.
It’s also clear why this phone is called the Magic Vs and not the Magic V2. When you compare it to its predecessor, there aren’t too many differences. The form factor and core hardware are nearly the same, safe for significant weight and depth reductions, and a larger battery inside, one with a 5000mAh capacity that charges at 66W , to be precise. It’s joined by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, up to 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage.
The outer screen is a 6.45-inch 1080p 120Hz OLED with a 21:9 aspect ratio, while the inner screen is close to square at 7.9-inches with a 90Hz refresh rate. and a resolution of 2272×1984. The crease in the middle of the inner screen is still noticeable when you run your finger over it and look at the device from certain angles, but it’s better than some competitors. Leaving the inner screen at just 90Hz refresh rate is also an odd move, but it makes sense considering Honor is positioning the Magic Vs as something you can easily use like a standard smartphone. The focus is simply on a great outdoor screen experience.
To achieve a smaller footprint and bigger battery, Honor had to shrink the folding mechanism and make better use of the space inside the foldable. The company claims to have redesigned the hinge compared to the predecessor, drastically removing the individual components down to just four individual pieces. This way, the durability of the foldable phone would also be improved. Honor promises up to 400,000 folds over the lifetime of the device, which is the equivalent of 100 folding actions per day for over 10 years.
Overall, the action provided by this streamlined hinge is good, with closed and open positions that click into place firmly. However, the Honor Magic Vs falls short when you want to use it in a half-open state. The hinge tends to keep working its way to complete its movement, whether it’s fully open or fully closed, and it’s not possible to snap it firmly into place anywhere other than completely open or completely closed. Samsung’s hinge is much better in this regard, allowing for semi-open positions.
Even though the Honor Magic Vs is a small upgrade on paper over its predecessor, it’s still an exciting handset. After all, it will come to Europe in an official capacity, with the offer of Google applications and services. No other Chinese Fold-style foldable has made the leap yet, which finally means Samsung has some good competition to look forward to.
Honor Magic Vs: the first foldable smartphone
Unlike Samsung with the Z Fold line, Honor was careful not to compromise on the exterior screen of the Magic V and Vs. The company claims to have conducted research which showed that around 50% of foldable phone owners carry a regular smartphone alongside their foldable phone because most foldable handsets compromise when you want to use them as a phone. The Honor Magic Vs aims to solve this problem with its 21:9 outer screen and relatively light weight, which is supposed to make it look more like a regular phone.
For the most part, the Magic Vs delivers exactly that experience. When folded, it’s only slightly bulkier and harder to use than a modern Android flagship phone. The 21:9 ratio is still a little weird compared to most other phones that have moved to a 19.5:9 ratio these days. It certainly feels a lot closer to a regular screen than the Z Fold 4’s clunky 23.1:9 (and yes, that is a very welcome improvement over the Fold 3 already!). This allowed me to comfortably use the Magic Vs in its folded format most of the time, and I never switched to the larger inner screen when it made sense, like looking at documents, sending emails more serious or display my itinerary on Google Maps or my photos on Google Photos.
There are still some compromises. When you hold the Magic Vs down for an extended period, it starts to feel a lot heavier than a regular phone. When folded, it is much easier to manage because the weight is better distributed. I also don’t like that the exterior design of the phone is asymmetrical and the screen is curved on one side only. Luckily, it’s a super subtle curve that you struggle to notice, and nothing quite like the curves of other Honor phones or even the Google Pixel 7 Pro. The design still feels interrupted and incomplete unless it’s completely open, although that’s a problem for nearly all Fold-style foldable phones.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s nitpicking. If you want a foldable smartphone that functions just like a regular smartphone, then the Honor Magic Vs is the hardware to look out for.
Honor Magic Vs: Magic OS 7 coming soon
The Honor Magic Vs that was provided to me came with pre-release software. The international launch is still over a month or two away, so the company is still working on finalizing the build. That’s why I won’t judge the software experience on the foldable itself just yet, just like I won’t talk about the cameras, which are supposed to get even better with more software updates.
Honor has already announced a few features for the Chinese version of the Magic V which are however worth mentioning. Like most other Chinese manufacturers, the company offers two different versions of its software: one without Google apps for its domestic market and one with Google apps for international versions. These two versions are not always identical and often have significant differences in pre-installed applications and services. However, the Chinese version gives us some glimpses of what Honor hopes to achieve with its software and what it wants to do differently.
Like what Samsung offers on the Z Fold 4, Honor promises to add advanced split-screen options with different display sizes. And like on other Honor phones, you’ll also be able to use floating windows for apps, collected in Android’s floating bubble interface for even more flexibility. Along with these folding-specific features, Honor’s next custom build on Android, Magic OS 7, is supposed to come with new animations and other visual changes, an easier way to connect to other Honor devices , and more.
Honor is also announcing a “Magic Text” option that lets you copy and paste text from images, although this may be a Chinese-exclusive alternative to Google Lens, which will be available on the international version anyway.
The software is supposed to be based on Android 13, although some marketing materials from Honor currently state that it is still Android 12. This may be a limitation for the Chinese version only. , and that the international version comes with Android 13 right from the start.
The Honor Magic Vs has the right ideas
The Honor Magic Vs isn’t perfect, but that’s a problem for all phones in this emerging form factor. Based on hardware alone, the Magic Vs offers the least compromise, however. Its outer display can serve as a decent smartphone, and its inner display takes care of the rest when you need a bigger screen. The build quality is sturdy and the battery life is promising.
All in all, it’s clear that Samsung is finally getting some competition for its Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is the only book-style foldable phone available internationally so far. This alone makes the Honor Magic Vs one of the most interesting foldables to launch next year, especially since it could be the first of many interesting, but so far exclusive to China alternatives. . Samsung needs to come up with an enticing alternative next year with the Z Fold 5 if it wants to maintain its competitive edge.
Stay tuned for our full review next year once we get our hands on the final software and hardware. As interesting as the Honor Magic Vs is in its current state, the software has always been a weak point for Honor, so it remains to be seen if it can live up to Samsung’s excellent foldable optimizations.