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HONOR's biggest mistake with the Magic V2 is a delayed global launch
As I was checking our Android Authority stats a few days ago, I noticed that our readers were flocking to an article about the HONOR Magic V2’s global launch. “Huh, curious,” I thought, as HONOR devices are — if I’m being blunt here — not the most popular Android phones on our site. The article was still in the top spot the next day and was later replaced by, well, another post about the HONOR Magic V2’s launch price. “Curiouser and curiouser.”
We’re used to seeing reader interest in Pixels, Galaxys, and iPhones, but Chinese brands, and China-only phones specifically, rarely nab the most eyeballs. This was clearly a signal of a different attitude towards the Magic V2, but was it just Android Authority readers or did the trend go beyond us? And what does it mean for the Magic V2’s global release?
HONOR Magic V2: Hot or not?
An all-time-high interest in HONOR’s foldable
After my initial discovery, I found myself on an online hunt for signs of interest in HONOR’s latest foldable phone. YouTube was the easiest target. Looking at channels that published videos about the Magic V2 and its predecessor, the Magic VS, I noticed an anecdotal 30-100% increase in views on average (although some channels registered fewer views, the majority saw increases). Jerry Rig Everything‘s video, for example, gathered over one million views, coming in very close to his Pixel Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 5 videos. For a phone that has only launched in China, this is an impressive feat.
There's more worldwide interest in the Magic V2 than the VS, despite it not being sold anywhere outside of China.
Speaking of trends, there’s Google Trends too, a site that shows how often people search for different terms on Google. Interest in the HONOR Magic V2 is already showing as higher than the Magic VS globally, despite the V2 not being sold outside of China. That’s staggering, considering there are no marketing campaigns for it, it’s not promoted on operator or carrier websites yet, there are no deals for it, and your average half-techie Joe probably doesn’t know this phone exists.
HONOR struck gold with the Magic V2
So everyone is clearly intrigued by this phone, but why? We haven’t seen many reviews of it yet — the few units HONOR has seeded, including ours, run non-final software — but from our short hands-on with the Magic V2, we can tell this is the epitome of foldable phones.
It is very thin. Coming in at just under 10mm, it’s as thin as a regular smartphone and weighs around the same. For one-handed use, this is a foldable that doesn’t feel like a chunky brick. The form factor and 20:9 outer display help tremendously with that. It’s not as short and wide as the Google Pixel Fold, nor is it as tall and narrow as the Galaxy Z Fold 5. And it has the largest battery of any foldable yet — a specially engineered 5,000mAh split cell.
The HONOR Magic V2 is the quintessential two-in-one smartphone that foldables were promised to be.
To me, this is the quintessential two-in-one smartphone that foldables promised to be but never were, until now. If I’m going to invest in a foldable, I’d want it to be a fantastic regular smartphone first and a great foldable second; the Magic V2 achieves that. It seems nice to hold and use for longer periods in its unfolded state, with very few compromises (no wireless charging, no IP rating), and when you need to, you can unfold it to get a large tablet-like display for better productivity or media consumption. Truly, the best of both worlds.
The low-flicker display, stylus support on both screens, new hinge design, and other specs just add to what appears to be the most usable foldable yet. And I’m not the only one to think so. During the company’s IFA press conference, I kept my eye on the YouTube live chat and saw message after message of people asking about the V2’s global launch. The problem? Those enthusiasts who were glued to their screens watching HONOR gush over a concept purse foldable didn’t get an answer about the very real phone they’re interested in, nor did they get a date or price to look forward to.
A very delayed global launch
It turns out HONOR didn’t mention the Magic V2’s global release date at IFA because it’s not happening anytime soon. The company confirmed to us that it’ll launch the Magic V2 globally in Q1 2024.
Let me rephrase that: The HONOR Magic V2, which launched in China in July 2023, won’t come to the rest of Asia, Europe, and some other global markets before January 1, 2024, optimistically. That’s still six months too late. Realistically, we’re looking at a February or March launch, so seven or eight months too late.
The internet forgets. People forget. Interest wanes. And in the fast-moving pace of foldable phones, six months is an eternity. By then, OnePlus will have released the Open, OPPO will likely have the Find N3, the HUAWEI Mate X4 will be on the way, and leaks of Google’s Pixel Fold 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be coming in hot. Better yet, leaks of HONOR’s own Magic V3 will already be circulating! And the Magic V2, which looks like the hottest piece of foldable tech today, will be cast aside as yesterday’s news. It may not be the thinnest anymore, its battery might not be as impressive, and its cameras would feel a little underwhelming.
Q1 2024 is six months too late. The HONOR Magic V2 will literally be last year's news by then.
If I was thinking of buying the HONOR Magic V2 and I had to wait until early 2024 to get it, there are a hundred reasons why I’d change my mind before then. Or I’d look at my decision when the phone finally goes on sale and think, “Hmmm, am I really going to pay ~€1,599 for a foldable that was released last year? Maybe not.” And that’s the crux of the issue; the Magic V2 will be last year’s phone come Q1 2024. Paying full price for that sounds like a bad investment.
I’m sure HONOR has its reasons to do this, but they all seem silly to me. You strike while the iron is hot, not six months later when you have an uphill battle to fight to gain people’s eyeballs and interest again. You give those techies who are Googling the Magic V2, watching videos about it, reading articles about it, and streaming entire boring press conferences on it a tangible price and release date in the very near future.
China may be HONOR's main market today, but the rest of the world could be its playground tomorrow. Not with this strategy, though.
China may be HONOR’s main market today, but the rest of the world could be its playground tomorrow, and it keeps being ignored and dismissed.
At this point, I wonder if HONOR would be better off skipping the Magic V2’s global launch entirely and focusing on getting the Magic V3 in people’s hands everywhere at the same time instead. That sounds like a better use of resources to me.