We first got a glimpse of the Honor Magic Vs at the end of 2022, and if the foldable had shipped globally then, it might have given Samsung quite a fight for the best foldable phones title. But time has moved on. Chipsets have been renewed, new foldables are on the horizon, but yet the Honor Magic Vs still had not launched. We don't even have a price for the U.K. yet.
This doesn't detract from the many positives surround the Magic Vs. When a U.K. cost is announced, it's likely to be cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's $1,799 starting price. This Honor phone also offers a well-engineered body that minimizes common folding phone pain points, and it's got attractive displays, both inside and out. If you like Honor's style of a simpler, easy-to-use foldable rather than one that'll overwhelm you with extra features and abilities you don't really want to use, then perhaps the Magic Vs is the foldable for you.
Read on for our full Honor Magic Vs review, as we help you to decide whether this phone is something to snap up or pass over.
Honor Magic Vs review: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 1|
|Outer display||6.45-inch OLED, 120Hz (1080 x 2560)|
|Inner display||7.9-inch OLED, 90Hz (1984 x 2272)|
|Rear cameras||54MP (f/1.9) main, 50MP (f/2.0) ultrawide, 8MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto|
|Front/inner cameras||16MP (f/2.5)|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1|
|Software||Android 13 with MagicOS 7.1|
|Size||6.31 x 5.57 x 0.24 inches (160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1 mm) unfolded / 6.31 x 2.86 x 0.51 inches (160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9 mm) folded|
|Weight||9.42 ounces (267 grams)|
Honor Magic Vs review: Price and availability
Honor is promising the Magic Vs will come to the U.K. but hasn't told us when or how much the phone will cost. All we have to go on is European pricing of €1,600, which should mean it's cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 4; that phone starts at €1,800, but costs €1,920 if you opt for the same 512GB storage that the Honor offers as standard.
The Magic Vs could do with launching sooner rather than later though. With the Galaxy Z Fold 5 expected this August, and the Google Pixel Fold rumored to be arriving at some point in 2023, any hardware advantage the Honor currently enjoys may quickly evaporate.
Honor Magic Vs review: Design
At first glance, the Magic Vs gets everything right with its design. As I wrote during an Honor Magic Vs hands-on last year based on my time with an early version of the phone, Honor's offering is larger than a Galaxy Z Fold 4 when unfolded, while offering a slimmer overall design with a hinge that can close without a gap and with a much less obvious crease down the middle of the display.
Now that I've had the chance to spend more time using the Magic Vs folded and unfolded, though, I've spotted some rough edges to the experience.
For instance, the phone is hard to open, due to the combination of a strong hinge and difficult-to-grip edges. Also even when "fully" open, the hinge still has a bit of room to bend, which feels disconcerting if you hold both sides of the Magic Vs when and feel the phone give a little.
Folded up, the Magic Vs is more usable than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, particularly if you're typing. However, the keyboard is still a little too squished to use reliably. For my thumbs, only the short and squat Oppo Find N2 provided a decent typing experience when folded.
I also think Honor made the Magic Vs uniquely attractive for a foldable. The single curved edge of the front display, the mix of sharp and curved corners and the choice of either the glittery matte Cyan or glossy Black colors help fight off any accusation of this being a simple Galaxy Z Fold clone.
The only extra thing I would have loved the Magic Vs to have is a water/dust resistance rating. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has IPX8 certification against water, but the Honor doesn't make any such promise.
Honor Magic Vs review: Displays
The outside display of the Magic Vs is a 6.45-inch panel with an FHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. It's very similar to a typical Android flagship phone display, except in this case, it's not the only one you'll find on the phone.
Open the Magic Vs up, and you get a 7.9-inch main display with a roughly square 1984 x 2272 resolution. For some reason, though, Honor opted for a 90Hz refresh rate on the inside panel. While arguably 90Hz is still smooth enough, it's annoying that I'm able to tell the difference in refresh rates moving from one screen to another.
Whichever display you use, you'll find your apps, videos and games look brighter than they do on a Galaxy Z Fold 4. But the colors are a bit more washed out on the Honor.
Honor Magic Vs review: Cameras
Honor provides a decent selection of cameras on the Magic Vs. You get a trio on the back of the phone: a 54MP main camera, a 50MP ultrawide camera and an 8MP telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom. On both the inside and on the front of the phone, you'll find punch-hole 16MP cameras.
Comparing main cameras with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, this shot of the entrance to the Paddington Underground station looks a bit duller through the Magic Vs lens. Samsung phones are known for cranking their color saturation higher than most others, but here it's helped make the gray sky look friendlier, and the sand-colored upper layer of the station look more "alive." The Magic Vs does get a thumbs up for slightly more definition, such as in the faint lines between the building's bricks.
Moving to the ultrawide cameras and using this blue-painted bridge in Little Venice as our subject, we see similar characteristics unfold. While the Honor's image is brighter, it's also lost some definition in the darker areas, which costs you detail in the objects beneath the bridge or on the path.
In a telephoto camera shot of an animated clock near Paddington Station, we find the greatest weakness of the Honor Vs. While it's got the same 3x optical magnification as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Honor's image features a lower resolution. The photo is also darker than what the Z Fold 4 produced. That doesn't matter so much looking at the clock face, but it makes the rest of the image harder to view.
When looking at this inner selfie camera comparison, bear in mind that the Galaxy Z Fold uses an under-display 4MP camera. As a result, I think the above comparison shows off how poor that shooter is just as much as it reflects how good the Magic Vs' camera is. There's far greater sharpness in the Honor photo, making this camera an effective taker of selfies, unlike the Samsung's which is good for little more than grainy video calls.
Switching to the front selfie cameras and enabling portrait mode, it's hard not to notice how much higher the contrast is in the Honor Magic Vs' shot. I look a lot more striking in Honor's photo, although my glasses are not as neatly cut out by the phone's algorithm. I still think the Galaxy Z Fold 4's selfie looks good, but it's not as interesting as what I shot with the Magic Vs.
So after all these tests, the Honor Magic Vs has proven its cameras can match up pretty well with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Still, I think the Z Fold produces the better photos overall.
Honor Magic Vs review: Performance
Inside the Honor Magic Vs is a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip, joined by 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. The 8 Plus Gen 1 chip was the latest silicon on the market when Honor first launched this phone in China in November last year, but since then Qualcomm has come out with the faster, more efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. As a result, the Magic Vs looks outdated now at its global release.
Don't get me wrong — the phone still performs well. While it loses to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 on the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark and is also on the slow side when transcoding an Adobe Premiere Rush video, the Magic Vs beats Samsung's foldable on the two 3DMark GPU benchmarks.
|Honor Magic Vs||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4|
|Geekbench 5 (single-core / multi-core)||969 / 3,677||1,328 / 3,831|
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (score / FPS)||10,929 / 65.4||8,819 / 52.8|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score / FPS)||2,761/ 16.5||2,677 / 16.03|
|Adobe Premiere Rush transcoding test (mins:secs)||0:50||0:45|
In other countries, Honor sells different memory variants of the Magic Vs, but the one we get in Europe features a generous 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. That's more storage than you get in the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which starts at 256GB.
Honor Magic Vs review: Battery and charging
Foldable phones sometimes have trouble lasting a while on a charge, but that's not a trade-off Honor's made with the Magic Vs. Like other Android flagship devices, this phone comes with a 5,000 mAh battery, while rival foldables run on smaller power packs.
The large inner display still drains the battery quickly, of course. It only took me 3 hours and 53 minutes of watching a 1080p aquarium video over Wi-Fi on YouTube to drain 30% of the battery. But that's still a ways ahead of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which lasted three hours and 17 minutes on the same test, despite having a smaller display.
I also managed to get about 24 hours' use out of the phone, checking my emails, replying to messages and browsing the web on both the front and main displays, from a single charge. That's as much as I'd hope for from a normal phone, let alone a foldable.
Honor has also thrown 66W fast wired charging into the Magic Vs, equal to what it offers on its more traditional Magic 5 Pro. As a result, you can get up to a 40% charge in 15 minutes and to 78% after half-an-hour. I fully recharged the Honor Vs in just 48 minutes.
That said, the Magic Vs did give itself a head start by refusing to be drained to 0% battery, instead shutting itself off at 2%. I don't imagine that had too big of an effect on the results here, though it's something to keep in mind if your battery life is dwindling perilously low.
Honor Magic Vs review: Special features and software
One of the areas that disappoints me most with the Magic Vs is that Honor's not really made much use of the phone's folding ability. It's reminiscent of the first couple of generations of other manufacturers' foldable phones which behaved like a phone when closed and a tablet when open, rather than its own unique thing.
There's no flex mode like on a Galaxy Z Fold or Oppo Find N2, even though the Magic Vs hinge can hold itself open at different angles. The phone also lacks stylus compatibility like the Galaxy Z Fold's S Pen, and there's no option to tile multiple apps together for multitasking.
Fortunately, the Magic Vs still offers the usual MagicOS special abilities, enabling features such as large folders for more efficient use of your home screen, my beloved temporary widgets accessible by swiping up on certain apps and device interconnectivity with Honor laptops or tablets.
Honor also recently improved its update schedule, which will give the Magic Vs three full years of Android updates and two extra years of security updates. It's not quite as generous as what Samsung offers for the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it's still an adequate amount of new Android versions for a phone.
Honor Magic Vs review: Verdict
The Honor Magic Vs' presence in the global foldable phone market is overall a net good, since Samsung has had little meaningful competition outside China for years now. But by debuting a phone designed for 2022 in 2023, the Magic Vs is already looking a bit behind the times.
Two things you can't take away from the Honor are its lower price among foldables and great build quality (hinge peculiarities aside). Both qualities will remain strengths, even after the next Samsung and Google foldables appear. Hopefully the Honor's battery life lead will remain intact, too, but I don't hold out hope for its cameras or performance to stay competitive.
I don't recommend rushing to buy the Honor Magic Vs if you do happen to be living in Europe (especially since it's not on sale yet). It's likely best to wait a few months and see what the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold have to offer when they arrive. But if you're after a foldable phone now, particularly if it'll be your first one, the Magic Vs feels like a great way to bridge the gap.