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HONOR Magic 3 series launched: The best HUAWEI alternative yet? (Updated)
Update: August 12, 2021 (11:31 AM ET): HONOR CEO George Zhao has confirmed to Android Authority that the newly announced Magic 3 series will be getting “at least” two Android OS updates.
This comes after HONOR previously suggested that the Magic 3 series might only receive one major OS update. We’re glad to see this isn’t the case, especially when these phones cost at least €900.
Original article: August 12, 2021 (8:56 AM ET): Honor was sold by Huawei last year, allowing the former sub-brand to become independent and regain ties with global partners like Google and Qualcomm. It’s already released the HONOR 50 series of super mid-range phones, but we’ve now got our first post-HUAWEI flagships in the HONOR Magic 3 series.
We’ve actually got three phones on tap this time, in the form of the HONOR Magic 3, HONOR Magic 3 Pro, and HONOR Magic 3 Pro Plus. They share plenty of features too, namely a curved 6.67-inch OLED screen (2,772 x 1,344, 120Hz refresh rate), a 4,600mAh battery, 66W wired charging, Google support, and the Magic UI 5 skin. But these phones differ when it comes to SoC, cameras, and a couple of other areas.
HONOR Magic 3 Pro Plus: The top dog
Looking for a no-compromise device? That’s where the Magic 3 Pro Plus comes in. You’re getting the aforementioned screen, battery, and wired charging speed, but you’re also getting a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset and 50W wireless charging.
Honor’s top-end phone also packs a rather interesting quad rear camera setup. There’s a 50MP IMX700 main camera (1.22-micron pixels, 1/1.28-inch sensor size, 23mm), a 64MP monochrome camera, a 64MP ultra-wide snapper (11mm), and a 4X 64MP periscope zoom camera. The company has also added a color temperature sensor to the rear camera system. The 13MP front-facing selfie camera is also joined by a 3D ToF camera for 3D face unlock.
Staying with the front, the manufacturer says it’s added a so-called Nano Crystal Shield to the screen, claiming a 3x improvement to durability for drops (ostensibly compared to other curved displays). It’s also introduced an IP68 rating here for an even more durable design.
The Goldilocks option?
The Magic 3 Pro is the middle child here, but it still shares plenty in common with the Pro Plus. You’ve got the top-end model’s Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC, 50W wireless charging, and IP68 rating. You’ve also got the 3D ToF camera up-front for secure face unlock next to the 13MP shooter. So what are you sacrificing with the Pro device, then?
You’ve still got a 50MP main camera, but the Pro Plus’s IMX700 main camera is traded in for an IMX766 shooter (1/1.56-inch sensor size). We also see a switch from a 64MP ultra-wide camera to a 13MP ultra-wide snapper. Otherwise, you’ve also got a 64MP monochrome camera and a 64MP 3.5X periscope camera (with 10X hybrid zoom).
HONOR Magic 3: The cheapest model
Those who want a Magic 3 device but don’t want to spend a ton of cash should consider the vanilla model. The biggest cutbacks here are the switch to a standard Snapdragon 888 chipset, the lack of wireless charging, and the lack of a 3D ToF camera up-front. We also see an IP54 splash-resistant rating here instead of the Pro models’ IP68 rating.
Switching to the rear camera system, HONOR has ditched a zoom shooter of any kind. Instead, you’ve got a 50MP IMX766 main camera, a 64MP monochrome shooter, and a 13MP ultra-wide lens.
Otherwise, you’ve still got the same 6.67-inch 120Hz OLED screen, a 13MP selfie camera, 66W wired charging, and a 4,600mAh battery to keep you going.
HONOR Magic 3 series pricing
The Chinese brand confirmed that the Magic 3 will start at €899 (~$1,055) and will be available in an 8GB/256GB variant. This device is available in Blue Hour (seen above), Golden Hour, White, and Black colorways, with the two former options being vegan leather designs.
Want the Magic 3 Pro? Then you’ll be splashing out €1,099 (~$1,289) for the 8GB/256GB model. This device is available in Black, White, and Golden Hour options. Otherwise, the top-end Magic 3 Pro Plus starts at €1,499 (~$1,759) for the sole 12GB/512GB device. The Pro Plus can be had in Ceramic Black and Ceramic White options. There’s no word on official launch markets just yet.
As for a commitment to software updates, HONOR told journalists that it generally commits to “at least one big generation upgrade” for all its flagship phones. If the HONOR Magic 3 series is indeed only getting one OS update, that would be a major disappointment. After all, Samsung and other players have announced three years of OS updates for their flagships. This would be doubly disappointing for the Magic 3 Pro Plus, given its price tag. We’ll be following up with HONOR to confirm this statement.
HONOR Magic 3 series: Hot or not?
It’s also interesting to note that the Pro Plus in particular offers a camera system that’s somewhat similar to the HUAWEI P50 Pro. That is, they both offer a 50MP main camera (and it looks like HUAWEI’s phone has an IMX700 too), a 64MP periscope lens, and a high-resolution monochrome camera (albeit 64MP versus the P50 Pro’s 40MP). We even see the same wired and wireless charging speeds on the Pro devices, while the standard Magic 3 and P50 share the same 66W wired-only charging.
This similarity suggests the HONOR phones were in the works prior to the split from HUAWEI, which makes sense given the long development time for smartphones in general. But it therefore seems like this could be the closest we’d get to new HUAWEI phones with Google support.
What do you think of the HONOR Magic 3 series? Let us know via the poll above.