While foldables have yet to establish a more “mainstream” presence in the smartphone market, there’s little doubt that consumers are taking notice of what is most likely the next evolution of modern smartphone hardware. Brands like Samsung and Google are currently wooing North American buyers with devices like the Galaxy Z Fold and Pixel Fold handsets, although that’s not to say that companies outside of the US have been sleeping on the rising popularity of the foldable market segment.
This is where the Honor Magic Vs comes in – priced at around $1700 (when converted), Honor’s flagship foldable aims to mark its territory in global markets, thanks to a rich set of features and a design that’s meant to compete with contenders from the big brands. Will this be enough though? Let’s find out.
Design and Displays
It’s clear that Honor wasn’t holding back any punches in terms of design, as the Magic Vs evokes a premium feel all throughout, as evidenced by its glass build and a polished metal frame that surrounds the entirety of the device. This frame also houses the speakers and microphone, USB-C charging port, volume rocker, and a side-mounted fingerprint reader.
When folded, users are greeted by an outer OLED display which measures 6.45 inches, and comes with a 120hz refresh rate in addition to its 1080 x 2560 pixel resolution. It’s a good-looking screen, and its relatively large size makes it usable from the get-go, but of course that’s not the highlight of the Magic Vs – instead, we go to the massive 7.9-inch foldable display, which is undoubtedly the star of this show.
Honor has fitted an OLED panel that features a 1979 x 2272 pixel resolution, although the refresh rate does drop down to 90Hz on the main display, as does the brightness which maxes out at 800 nits, versus the 1200 nits on the standard external display. Due to its flexibility, the inner display does not feature glass, so a bit of extra care is needed to keep it safe from unintended scratches and such. It’s worth noting that the crease is rather visible, which might be a point of contention for some users.
If the Magic Vs is your first-ever foldable, it will take a bit of time to get used to the new aspect ratio, as games and most apps will do a bit of adapting to properly fill out that more squared off screen size. This larger width does make the Magic Vs perfect not only for content consumption and web browsing but for doing a bit of work as well, so factors like multitasking, window management and such are easily handled by the phone’s user interface. Essentially, there’s more real estate to go around, which will be ideal for productivity on-the-go.
There’s a nice solid feeling that you get when folding the device shut, and there’s barely any gap in the inner display when folded, so there’s less chance of debris getting stuck inside the display. The design and construction feel sturdy overall, although we’d still advise caution when handling the Magic Vs as glass is still susceptible to damage when dropped. One caveat however is the lack of any waterproofing (or water resistance at the very least), which is a bit disappointing.
Internals & Software
The Honor Magic Vs is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ gen 1, and while it isn’t exactly on the same level as the more popular 8 Gen 2, it can nonetheless hold its own for moderate and intensive usage. For users after basics like messaging, video calls, content streaming, web and social media browsing, the Magic Vs will be more than capable, especially if you pick up the maxed-out configuration with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage.
While it’s not marketed primarily as a gaming phone, the Magic Vs can run most games from Google Play as well, although there are some games which might not conform to the device’s aspect ratio, such as a handful of legacy titles like “Great Little Wargame” (pictured below).
In terms of software, the Magic Vs ships with Android 13 for the global variant of the phone, layered with MagicOS 7.1, Honor’s proprietary Android skin. AOSP and Pixel purists need not look here – the foldable features a heavily-customized version of Android, and while this means that you get some additional bloatware, you also get access to some nifty software features courtesy of Honor.
The company’s been working on building up its hardware and software ecosystem, as seen in features like Honor Share, which works similar to Airdrop and allows for seamless file transfers between devices. It’s an ideal device if you use an Honor-branded laptop, for example.
Multi-window management is arguably one of the biggest advantages in using a foldable device, and it’s made easy on the Magic Vs thanks to an implementation of a small bar that appears near the top of the display when using apps. This gives users the option to go into split-screen mode, picture-in-picture mode, and you can even temporarily minimize an app into a small tab on the side of the screen. It’s tidbits like these that make using the Magic Vs intuitive, despite the add-on of third-party apps which I don’t really use personally.
The phone packs a 5,000 mAh battery, something that’s been the norm for a lot of modern Android phones. A single charge will be able to last most users from morning until night, however we’d recommend keeping an eye on your battery icon should you decide to play games on your device. There’s support for 66W wired charging, which ensures that you won’t be left waiting too long for the Magic Vs to finish charging. You can charge other devices as well, although at a slower pace with the 5W reverse charging capability.
There’s a trio of cameras on the rear panel of the Honor Magic Vs, which include a 54MP main lens with f/1.9 aperture, an 8MP telephoto lens with f/2.4 aperture, and a 50MP ultrawide lens with f/2.0 aperture. For video, there’s a maximum resolution of 4K at either 30 or 60fps, and 1080p at 30 or 60fps, while video stabilization is handled by gyro-EIS.
For a lot of casual mobile photographers, the Honor Magic Vs will be a capable camera – images come out sharp, and in general look good. There are some tiny nuances however, like moments where dynamic range might not seem enough, especially in bright outdoor shots. Color accuracy is mostly on point, and for daylight photos the camera setup does well. Video quality is decent as well, with good colors and decent stabilization with clips shot on the main camera. The Magic Vs also manages to nail low-light shots, provided that you’re not shooting in total darkness – details do tend to get a bit softer, however.
The front camera meanwhile comes with a 16MP lens with f/2.5 aperture. Again, it gets the job done, and for social media posts it should be enough for most users – just don’t expect Pixel-level quality selfies, and you’re good. We do wish that there was additional functionality on the cover screen which allowed control access to take photos, other than remaining as a simple viewfinder.
As far as foldable Android phones are concerned, the Honor Magic Vs does enough to keep it from settling down at the bottom of the foldable handset market, thanks to a premium design, competent software, and a specs sheet that won’t leave you scratching your head. While the device is more suited for content consumption and productivity, that doesn’t mean that other factors such as camera performance are left in the dust.
There are considerations to keep in mind, however – the lack of any IP rating might be a turn off for more meticulous users, as well as the visible crease in the display which lacks any specialized protective glass of some sort. It’s in areas like these where it is trumped by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, which features IPX8 certification, and additional input functionality by way of S-Pen support. The lack of wireless charging isn’t doing it any favors though, and counts as another factor to take into account.
It’s a commendable effort from Honor for sure, and there’s no doubt that Honor fans will find favor with the Magic Vs. For its relatively high price, the Honor Magic Vs does a lot of things well, but we think that a bit more polish would have been welcome, especially given the high caliber of competing devices that it’s up against.