Honor's built a fantastic foldable in the Magic V2, but before we confirm it's a Galaxy Z Fold 5 killer, we want to try out the device's cameras and software a little more.
Reworked design that's lighter than rival foldables
Big battery and fast charging
Improved camera sensors
Foldable body not used to full potential
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The Honor Magic V2 has just been unveiled at IFA 2023 in Berlin, with Honor exposing how rival foldables still aren't pushing the engineering envelope that hard.
We only saw the Honor Magic Vs's global launch in the spring of this year , but we're excited to see a sequel appear so quickly to take on the newer Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold, not to mention upcoming foldables like the OnePlus Open. We're especially happy to see a sequel that somehow manages to be larger than its rivals while also coming in lighter and slimmer.
We've still got questions about the Magic V2's user experience beyond the hardware, but those will remain only partially answered until we get to try the final version. So for now, here are our initial thoughts on the Honor Magic V2.
Honor Magic V2 first look: Price and availability
There's no price announced at the time of writing, but Honor laments how expensive foldables can be. For context, the Magic VS costs £1,400, which is £400 cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or Google Pixel Fold. That gives us hope that Honor will keep the Magic V2 on the cheap side for a foldable too.
Also, Honor has yet to tell us if and when the Magic V2 will go on sale. It's already available in China, but an IFA presentation suggests an upcoming global release. The Magic V2 remains unlikely to make it to the U.S. though, so apologies to those of you hoping for another Samsung and Google challenger.
Honor Magic V2 first look: Design
A probable lower-than-average price doesn't mean you're getting an unrefined product from Honor. The Magic V2 features some very impressive engineering, which is what allows the phone to measure just 4.7mm thick when open, and 9.9mm when folded. For comparison, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a positively chunky 6.1mm/13.4mm respectively.
Weighing 231g, the Magic V2 is lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 5, too. In fact, it's lighter than the non-folding Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max, something you can feel just by holding both phones in your hand. Honor says that part of this is achieved with a new hinge design, which is made with titanium and 3D-printed parts.
The new hinge is even tougher, too. Honor claims the Magic V2 is rated for 400,000 folds, double what Samsung had the Galaxy Z Fold 5 certified as capable of managing. That's not to say the Z Fold 5 couldn't make it to 400k folds, but it's not guaranteed.
There's no IP rating like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or other conventional flagship phones have, but Honor does promise it's splashproof. I wouldn't want to test that myself, though.
Honor Magic V2: Display
Honor's not changed the inside display from the Honor Magic Vs; it remains a large 7.9-inch OLED panel. The outer display's a little different, measuring 6.43 inches compared to 6.45 inches on the Magic Vs, but that difference is not very noticeable. Besides, this still makes the Honor Magic V2 one of the largest foldables on the market right now, with only the OnePlus Open potentially poised to match or beat it.
Both of the Magic V2's displays feature 3,840Hz PWM dimming, just like the Honor Magic5 Pro and Honor 90. Honor claims this helps save your eyes from strain over long periods of use, although I definitely couldn't confirm this from my brief time tying the Magic V2.
Honor Magic V2: Cameras
Honor's introduced a new 50MP main camera on the back of the Magic V2, and adopted a 20MP telephoto camera with 2.5x optical zoom to replace the 8MP 3x sensor on the Magic Vs. The 50MP ultrawide camera, plus 16MP selfie cameras on the front and on the inside, are the same though.
Honor's never struggled with camera hardware on its phones, but sometimes its software processing can't match up to what rival devices are capable of. The sample shots I took (but couldn't bring away with me) looked fine on the day, but I'll need to do a full comparison to know for sure if the Honor Magic V2 cameras can compare to the strong cameras on the rival Samsung and Google foldables.
Honor Magic V2: Performance and battery
Running things inside the Magic V2 is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and 16GB RAM, with your choice of 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage. Honor is using essentially the same chip as the Galaxy Z Fold 5's 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy silicon — the latter is the overclocked version — but there's much more RAM in Honor's phone than there is inside the Z Fold 5 or Pixel Fold. That should be good news for multitasking, assuming Honor adds some extra abilities in the software to make use of it. The phone maker didn't mention anything of the sort during its presentation though, nor did I come across any while trying out the phone.
Within the slim body of the Honor Magic V2, there's a 5,000 mAh combined battery capacity with 66W charging, which should mean it lasts longer and charges faster than either the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or Google Pixel Fold. With this potent power cell, Honor promises the Magic V2 will last longer on a single charge than an iPhone 14 Pro Max, whether you've got the phone folded or unfolded.
Honor's also flexing more technical prowess here by using a silicon-carbon battery, rather than a traditional lithium-ion one. Silicon-carbon batteries can offer greater energy density, meaning more milliamp-hours in less space. Honor let us handle one of these batteries alongside the phone, and we found the battery truly is as thin as a credit card. I'd have tried to fit it in my wallet had I not been watched carefully by its representatives at the briefing.
Honor Magic V2: Early verdict
It's hard to fault the Honor Magic V2 after my hands-on time. A foldable phone that's slimmer and lighter than its rivals (and some standard phones) is very impressive, and shows Honor's trying its utmost to provide users a compelling alternative to a Galaxy Z Fold 5 or Google Pixel Fold. If either Samsung or Google offered a foldable built like this, it'd be an instant recommendation.
But since this is an Honor phone, there are two big issues to address. One is availability, since it's no good being a great phone if customers can't actually buy it. The other is software, as it's the main reason why previous Honor devices have not quite been able to crash the party for the best phones or best foldable phones around. We'll be considering both of these when we get a final version of the device to review.
More from Tom's Guide
Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.