It's still too soon to know for sure if the Honor Magic 5 Pro is a Galaxy S23-beating phone. But we've liked what we've seen so far from Honor's latest flagship.
This hands-on uses a pre-release version of the Magic 5 Pro, so we're not able to test everything fully at this point. But at this early stage, the Magic 5 Pro gives an encouraging impression of a phone that provides another source of competition to the Galaxy S23 Ultra and similar top-class flagship phones thanks to its top-grade display and cameras.
We'll bring you a full review of the Magic 5 Pro later down the line, but for now this hands-on will show you the highlights of Honor's new flagship handset.
Honor Magic 5 Pro hands-on: Price and availability
We have no Honor Magic 5 Pro price yet for the U.K. We do have the price in Euros, which is €1,199. At that price, it undercuts the €1,419 launch price of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. (Samsung's phone has since been discounted.) But the Magic 5 Pro is still more expensive than an €899 Pixel 7 Pro, or a €849 OnePlus 11, two flagship phones with relatively few flaws.
Honor's promised a global launch for the Magic 5 Pro, which should mean most countries will be able to buy the phone except for the U.S. Honor's talked about trying to enter the North American market before, now it's no longer joined with the firmly-banned Huawei, but it's yet to do so.
Honor Magic5 Pro hands-on: Design and display
The curved IP68-rated body of the Magic 5 Pro looks great in both its Black and Meadow Green guises. In black, the round, sloping camera block looks most like the black hole that allegedly inspired the design, but having handled both phones, I like the green with its matte finish more — particularly given how many fingerprints the glossy black back picks up over a normal day's use.
The display is a 6.81-inch AMOLED number with a 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate and a max brightness of 1,800 nits. That's pretty much par for the course as flagship-grade displays go, but the Honor Magic 5 Pro adds some unique twists.
First is the fact the display is "quad-curved display," an unusual style of screen that provides the benefit of a rounded screen (comfort and attractiveness) on all sides. I like the way this looks, but I can't honestly notice a difference when holding the phone horizontally to watch a video. I also have to wonder about how users who prefer flat displays would get on with a phone that curves on all sides. I suspect not too well.
Honor also puts a lot of emphasis on its eye comfort features like a high PWM dimming rate (which reduces the screen's imperceptible flickering) and auto-adjusting color and brightness that adapt to the time of day. I haven't used the Magic 5 Pro enough to say for sure if these are effective, but I've certainly not had an issue using the phone for extended periods of time for testing.
Honor Magic 5 Pro hands-on: Cameras
The trio of 50MP cameras in the Honor Magic5 Pro, covering main, ultrawide and 3.5x telephoto duties, don't quite match up to the top-specced phones in its class like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but they're still worthy of the Pro title. While we can't compare photos against other phones yet, Honor is keen to point out that according to the DXOMark rankings (opens in new tab) for smartphone cameras, the Magic 5 Pro is currently in the top spot.
There's also a front 12MP selfie camera, which is paired with a 3D depth sensor. This is another unusual feature that I'm grateful the phone has. Not only does it enable secure face unlocking, it also helps with portrait mode shots.
Honor is allowing reviewers to share samples by themselves though, which is what you'll see in the gallery below. I like how all of these shots have come out, and how sharp they're looking. Their coloration seems to be quite tame, too, something that could please users who don't like how saturated Samsung phones make their photos.
You can see the impact of the front camera's depth sensor in the selfie image clearly. The blurred background bokeh effect cuts around my glasses perfectly.
Honor Magic 5 Pro hands-on: Performance and battery
Honor has made sure the Magic 5 Pro stacks up well to its rivals, at least on paper, with its chipset. The phone runs off a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, with up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. Again we can't share benchmarks just yet from the pre-release handset but hopefully it'll match up well with Samsung Galaxy S23 and OnePlus 11, which run on the same Qualcomm silicon.
Battery and charging is an area where Honor has managed to carve out a specs advantage. It's fitted a 5,100 mAh battery with 66W wired charging and 50W wireless charging into the Magic 5 Pro, whereas most rival phones are content with 5,000 mAh cells.
Honor doesn't give an estimate of how fast the included 66W brick will fill the phone, but going by the Honor Magic VS that uses the same charging standard, we should see the phone full or almost full after 40 minutes of charging.
Honor Magic 5 Pro hands-on: Software
Installed on the Honor Magic 5 Pro is the latest Android 13 version, with MagicOS 7.1 on top. Honor promises to provide with three years of updates and five years of security updates.
The total security update period matches up with other Android phone builders, but three years of full updates are behind the four offered by Google and the five you get with Samsung phones.
MagicOS itself is an Android skin that reworks a lot of the standard OS's details. One particular addition I like is the "large folder" which lets you squeeze nine apps into the space of four regular icons, while still letting you tap on any one of them to open it. It's a nice way to make more use of your home screen, as is the existing MagicOS ability to swipe down on certain apps to open a temporary widget without placing it permanently on your home screen.
Honor Magic 5 Pro hands-on: Outlook
As limited as first impressions are, I think the Honor Magic 5 Pro could become one of my go-to Android flagships to recommend. If the GBP price remains in the spot that the Euros price suggests it will, it'll provide a handy option for users wanting more than a vanilla flagship phone can offer, but who don't want to pay up for a Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Honor devices still aren't available in the U.S., leaving users there with the Pixel 7 series or the OnePlus 11 to fill a similar role. But U.K. users who don't mind the shorter software support period and like the sound of the display eye health features and impressive camera specs may want to keep an eye out for the Magic 5 Pro once the launch date and price gets announced, and we get to test the final version of Honor's phone