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Honor Magic Vs in half open mode in hand showing home screen
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
aa2020 recommended

HONOR Magic Vs review: Do you believe in magic?

HONOR is taking its best shot at disrupting Samsung's foldable lead.

Published onFebruary 28, 2023

aa2020 recommended

HONOR Magic Vs

The HONOR Magic Vs offers a well-rounded triple camera system, great OLED displays, good looks, super-fast charging and decent battery life. Unlike other Chinese foldables, it has full Google support and a competitive enough price to make even diehard Samsung fans pay attention.

What we like

Competitive price
Excellent hinge design
No gap when folded
Good battery life
Super-fast charging
Solid triple camera system

What we don't like

No water resistance
No wireless charging
Camera can be spotty in low-light
Mismatched screen refresh rates
aa2020 recommended

HONOR Magic Vs

The HONOR Magic Vs offers a well-rounded triple camera system, great OLED displays, good looks, super-fast charging and decent battery life. Unlike other Chinese foldables, it has full Google support and a competitive enough price to make even diehard Samsung fans pay attention.

With the global launch of the Magic Vs, HONOR is attempting to pull a foldable rabbit out of a hat once held by its well-heeled former parent, HUAWEI. In HONOR’s hands though, that hat is far smaller, with fewer resources, brand recognition, and buying power. And yet, the youthful company that is now fending for itself has done a remarkably good job with its second-generation foldable phone. This is Android Authority‘s HONOR Magic Vs review.

About this HONOR Magic Vs review: I tested the HONOR Magic Vs over a period of seven days. It was running Magic OS 7.1 (build number based on Android 13 with the February 1, 2023 security patch. The unit was provided by HONOR for this review.

What you need to know about the HONOR Magic Vs

Honor Magic Vs top down view showing lock screen in tent mode balancing on a table
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
  • HONOR Magic Vs: €1,599 (~$1,697)

The Magic Vs is HONOR’s second foldable phone but the first to be released globally (although not in the US). Its predecessor, the HONOR Magic V, was only announced in China, launching in January 2022. The Chinese version of the Magic Vs was released just 10 months later in November 2022 and it’s now time for the global launch. The Magic Vs is part of HONOR’s dual-flagship strategy, alongside the Magic 5 Pro.

Unlike in China, the global version of the Magic Vs only comes in one configuration with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. In HONOR’s home country, there’s also an 8GB/256GB variant and a 16GB/512GB Magic Vs Ultimate edition. That’s all paired with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1.

The HONOR Magic Vs has full access to the Google Play Store and Google apps and services

The main difference between the original Magic V and the Chinese version of the Magic Vs is that the global version of the Magic Vs has full access to the Google Play Store with all Google apps and services. This separates the Magic Vs from most of its Chinese foldable brethren, including the HUAWEI Mate X2, Oppo Find N2, and Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, none of which have Google support out of the box.

Honor Magic Vs side profile in tent mode balancing on a table
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

It’s clear that HONOR sees its main competition as Samsung, not HUAWEI, OPPO, or Xiaomi. This is evident in HONOR’s choice of antagonist for its marketing of the Magic Vs. HONOR wants to be considered in the same league as the world’s most recognizable foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and to be fair, it should be. HONOR’s foldable is a cool €200 cheaper than Samsung’s European launch pricing for the base model Fold 4 with half the storage of the Magic Vs. If you look at Samsung’s pricing for the 12GB/512GB version, the Magic Vs is €300 cheaper.

It's clear that HONOR sees its main competition as Samsung, not HUAWEI, OPPO, or Xiaomi.

While the Magic Vs also competes with the Mate X2 and upcoming Mate X3 from HUAWEI as well as Xiaomi and OPPO’s foldables, the presence of Google support here makes the Magic Vs a much more palatable option for Western audiences. That fact alone is enough to slay other Chinese contenders, even if there are some minor asterisks to be considered first. The HONOR Magic Vs may not be likely to dethrone Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, but at the very least there are now more options for Western European foldable buyers.

HONOR has also improved its update policy for the Magic Vs (and Magic 5 Pro) to three years of OS updates and five years of security patches. This is still a little below Android manufacturers like OPPO and Samsung which offer four years of OS updates and five years of security patches. However, it’s a notable improvement over previous Honor handsets like the Magic 4 Pro where software support ended after two years and security support halted after four years. Android updates may not matter to most normal people but they are an essential part of future-proofing your device and maintaining its security; it’s great to see HONOR taking steps forward here.

The Magic Vs comes in Cyan (pictured here) or Black. A vegan leather version is also available in China but we’re not sure if or when that will come to Europe. While the HONOR Magic Vs price for the single memory configuration is €1,599 in Europe starting in May, there is no official word on specific launch markets or UK pricing.

What’s good?

Honor Magic Vs rear cover in hand showing showing camera
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

While it may seem unlikely that HONOR could produce a flagship foldable phone that’s every bit as good as one built by HUAWEI, it has. That’s a double-edged compliment, however. For all of HONOR’s posturing that it has been fully independent of HUAWEI for years now, HUAWEI’s DNA can be seen everywhere here.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing; HUAWEI and HONOR did, after all, make great smartphones together for years. So while we wish HONOR had established more of its own identity by this point, it’s still laudable that the company’s quality hasn’t dropped since the split.

One thing that does appear to be all HONOR’s doing is the new gearless hinge. It reduces the number of hinge components from 92 to just four, with two metal and two plastic elements. If you want to see it in close-up detail, you should watch JerryRigEverything’s teardown video. It’s a remarkable bit of engineering that makes other hinge solutions seem unnecessarily complicated.

Despite its simplicity, the Magic Vs hinge still stays open at any point between closed and fully open and feels rigid, trustworthy, and smooth. I like this hinge design for its simplicity and the benefits it brings of lighter weight and more internal space for a bigger battery. It will be interesting to see if other manufacturers follow suit, given HONOR’s solution here is over 60% lighter than the original Magic V hinge.

The HONOR Magic Vs folds completely flat with no gap at all.

Perhaps the best part of the new HONOR gearless hinge is that the Magic Vs folds completely flat with no gap at all. When it’s closed, you can’t even see the tiniest bit of daylight between the two halves. Honor rates the hinge for 400,000 opens, or over 10 years opening it 100 times per day. There is a slight screen crease but it’s far better than most foldable phones in their second generation. To my eye, it’s less noticeable than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 crease but not as invisible as that found on the OPPO N2 Flip.

Honor Magic Vs YouTube video playing in full screen mode
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

The display itself is also good, if not class-leading. It has good color and saturation with solid viewing angles and no discernible off-axis tint. It’s a 6.45-inch 21:9 aspect ratio Full HD+ OLED on the outside with 120Hz refresh rate and 1200-nit peak brightness. Inside, you’ll get a 7.9-inch 90Hz OLED that’s almost square. Color matching between the two is good and I experienced no software issues when transitioning content from the external to the internal display or vice versa.

I’m not a huge fan of HONOR’s very HUAWEI-like MagicOS but there’s nothing particularly wrong with it either. It’s well laid out and clean, even if I will always prefer an app drawer to the iPhone-style approach here that you get by default. HONOR has a few software tricks up its sleeve, including YOYO app suggestions and Magic Ring for multiple devices collaboration, similar to HUAWEI’s Super Device. Again, these work as intended, so are technically “good,” although I didn’t find myself using them any more than I had to for this review. Your mileage will fully depend on how many HONOR devices you have within your own mobile ecosystem.

The internal display has a lower refresh rate at just 90Hz, which is noticeable when coming from the external panel, and a lower peak brightness of just 800 nits. It’s still a nice OLED panel though and both displays have 1,920Hz pulse width modulation (PWM) dimming so they don’t suffer from screen flickering. Circadian Night Display is just a fancy word for HONOR’s blue light filter but it’s nice to have here, especially considering how likely you are to use this for entertainment while lying in bed. Screen dimming helps reduce eye strain throughout the day.

The gearless hinge comes in handy here too, allowing you to prop the phone up on its lower half so you can watch videos hands-free. You can also use this half-open mode for taking hands-free photos with the external cameras and a timer. It’s actually kind of surprising how often you use your phone in this hands-free way and something I always miss when switching back to a regular phone.

Honor Magic Vs top down view of back panel on table
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

You get an included 66W HONOR SuperCharger in the box with a USB-A to USB-C cable. It’s a small thing but still good to note considering not all manufacturers give you a charger these days. It took me 50 minutes to charge to full and I was getting a solid day and a half in battery life, using the external display perhaps 75% of the time. The battery longevity you can expect will, of course, change depending on how often you use the larger internal display.

Despite being the same weight as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the HONOR Magic Vs has a substantially larger battery — 5,000mAh vs 4,400mAh to be precise — with better battery life as you would expect. Samsung’s foldable only fast charges at 25W too so with any luck HONOR’s efforts here will prompt Samsung to step things up with the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

The Cyan color with its metallic shimmer is quite striking compared to the often boring colorways you see these days. The matte texture of the rear glass reminds me of the Xperia Z5 days, and it resists fingerprint smudges just as effectively. It’s a small quality-of-life thing, but not feeling like you have to clean your phone constantly is a blessing. I’m also eager to see the vegan leather version in person but HONOR’s not saying anything yet about when it will show up in global markets.

I also found the fingerprint reader in the power button to be fast and reliable even if I still get mixed up when the phone is closed and press the volume rocker by mistake. It’s a bit of a difference from the face unlock or in-display fingerprint scanners I’ve grown used to but its speed and reliability remind me why I like capacitive sensors so much.

Finally, as far as performance goes, the HONOR Magic Vs isn’t going to challenge the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powerhouses, but it more than holds its own against most flagships in everyday use, including its direct competition — the Galaxy Z Fold 4. HONOR’s folable posts fairly impressive CPU benchmark scores in Geekbench 6, matching other Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 phones and beating out devices like the Google Pixel 7 Pro and OPPO Find N2 Flip.

The GPU is equally competitive with 2022’s best, and while it finds itself lacking next to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered handsets, it manages a higher stability score in 3DMark’s stress tests than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. While it’d perhaps be fair to expect bleeding edge silicon from a €1,600 device, this is one area where HONOR has cut costs without any tangible sacrifices in day-to-day performance.

What’s not so good?

Honor Magic Vs settings menu in closed mode in hand
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

For all the good here, there are a few things I wish were different. As much as I enjoy the Magic Vs’ displays, my biggest gripe is that the refresh rate of the internal and external panels don’t match. Having gotten used to the twin 120Hz displays on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (and even the twin 90Hz panels on the Mate X2), the inconsistency here is noticeable and unnecessary. The much lower peak brightness of the internal screen can also impact its usability outdoors.

You’ll get some letter-boxing when videos are played full-screen, like with most foldable phones. You’ll also see pillar-boxing in some apps, leaving lots of wasted space on either side of the content, which is a shame for a product otherwise so well suited to reading. Not all of this is within HONOR’s control, of course, but it’s still less than ideal.

I found audio over Bluetooth to be a little weak when it comes to volume. When pairing my Google Pixel Buds Pro to the Magic Vs, the max volume was only just loud enough to hear calls in a busy environment. The speaker quality is fine otherwise, with the stereo IMAX Enhanced speakers getting plenty loud.

Honor Magic Vs in open mode reading in a pillarboxed app
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

There’s no water-resistant rating on the HONOR Magic Vs, something Samsung does manage to offer. HONOR has added water-resistant mesh to the insides of the Magic Vs where openings like the speakers would allow dust and water in. It’s not as good as an official IP certification, but it’s better than nothing I guess.

While wired charging is rapid, there’s no wireless charging on offer here. HONOR has Samsung trounced when it comes to fast wired charging but even Samsung can manage 15W wireless charging on its foldable. The wired charging brick is also a USB-A charger, which does mean you might get stuck if you want to hook the device up to a laptop that only has a USB-C port.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 also works with the S Pen Fold Edition and S Pen Pro but only the Ferrari Ultimate edition of the Magic Vs supports HONOR’s Magic Pen. The Magic Vs also doesn’t feature Android 13’s taskbar, though HONOR has added its own version accessed via a swipe-and-hold back gesture.

HONOR Magic Vs camera review

Honor Magic Vs top down closeup of cameras
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

I’ll come right out and say it: the HONOR Magic Vs cameras impressed me. They’re not unimpeachable and won’t challenge the very best camera phones, but they are much better than I was expecting, especially the primary 54MP camera. The main f/1.9 lens is paired with a 1/1.49-inch Sony IMX800 sensor. HONOR has been using this sensor since last year’s HONOR 70 and it clearly has its image processing dialed in. Below we’ll be looking at a few select shots, but you can also check out all of our full-res camera samples at the link.

The HONOR Magic Vs cameras impressed me; the results are generally A-grade.

Daytime shots from the pixel-binned main sensor are, as you would expect for any modern flagship, great. Colors are bright and natural-looking, if a little bit over-saturated. There’s plenty of detail and contrast; the results are generally A-grade.

To HONOR’s credit, it has steered clear of aggressive post-processing and allowed a more… how should I put it?… “normal” photo to appear, even if that means a little bit of softness in places. Coming from years of oversharpened, heavily denoised images from smartphones, I prefer the naturalness on display here.

The 50MP ultrawide has a 122-degree field of view and bins to 12.6MP shots. Color-matching with the main camera is good but the ultrawide shoots cooler than the slightly warm main camera. There’s a little elongation at the edges of the frame, visible in the legs of the people in the street shot above, but this is pretty common when shooting with super-wide lenses.

HONOR seems to have prioritized exposure matching for highlights, resulting in darker shadows in some ultrawide shots like the lake below. The main camera and ultrawide nail the sky, which is almost identical in both shots, but the ultrawide crushes shadows a bit as a result. It definitely has less dynamic range than the main camera. There is also a little chromatic aberration visible on the far left and far right of the lake shot.

Despite my minor nitpicks here, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Magic Vs ultrawide because, in other phones, the ultrawide is often the weakest point of a triple-camera system.

The 3x telephoto has a much lower resolution sensor at just 8MP, but it still produces decent results. It can’t compete with the detail the larger sensors capture but the images are pretty well-matched in terms of color and contrast. The telephoto does underexpose highlights a little, resulting in lighter skies but it’s not too bad.

On closer subjects like the duck and musician above, the 3x produces lovely colors. There’s nice detail in the musician, but the duck is a little soft, perhaps because it was a moving target. Optical image stabilization helps keep the image stable on 3x shots at least. The telephoto is the only lens with OIS; the main lens uses electronic image stabilization, and there’s nothing on the ultrawide. On a related note, video stabilization is good, with the Magic Vs maxing out at 4K at 60fps.

Photos of people in daylight using any camera — including the twin 16MP selfie cameras on the internal and external display — are generally fine. Portrait mode does an admirable job with edge detection, and as you can see in the daylight shot above there’s a gorgeous natural look to the bokeh. But as soon as light levels start to drop, processing kicks in that smudges faces and kills detail.

Some of the low-light shots below also display this smudging. For the most part, they have good detail, well-handled exposure, and a lack of noise. You can clearly read the menu items on the lightbox, you can practically see inside the windows of the building, and they all capture the ambiance of the scene well. But if you look more closely at the center of the shot with the ambulance or the background of the street shot you can see the same smudgy post-processing.

Low-light portraits and extremely dark environments are where the Magic Vs camera finally starts to fall down. But this is only if you go looking for issues. For social media, these photos will be fine and they’re far better than what a lot of foldables offer. If, however, you’re a night owl and the majority of your photos are taken at night, especially if you’re taking groufies in bars all weekend, the Magic Vs might not be the camera for you.

The overall package here is, however, very well executed and a nice surprise on an affordable foldable phone. No camera system is perfect and we always expect camera performance to be the area where the first corners are cut. But that’s not necessarily the case here. Depending on your shooting style, the processing on low light shots might be a dealbreaker but, for me, it’s just something to be aware of as I otherwise enjoy the Magic Vs camera.

HONOR Magic Vs specs

HONOR Magic Vs
- 6.45-inch OLED
- 120Hz refresh rate
- 2,560 x 1,080 resolution
- 431ppi
- Up to 1200 nits

- 7.9-inch OLED
- 90Hz refresh rate
- 2,272 x 1,984 resolution
- 381ppi
- Up to 800 nits

Both displays:
- HDR10+
- Dynamic dimming
- Circadian night display
- 1920Hz PWM dimming
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1

Adreno 730 GPU
Non-expandable storage
5,000mAh battery
66W wired charging
(charger in box)
No wireless charging
Exterior rear:
- 54MP main (IMX800), 1.0μm, OIS, ƒ/1.9
- 50MP ultra-wide/macro, ƒ/2.0, 122-degree field-of-view
- 8MP telephoto, OIS, 3x zoom, ƒ/2.4

Exterior front:
- 16MP, ƒ/2.45

Internal front:
- 16MP, ƒ/2.45

- 10-bit 4K 60fps Log
Stereo speakers
3-mic stereo voice reception
DTS: X Ultra algorithm
No 3.5mm headphone port
SIM and connectivity
Dual nano-SIM tray
eSIM support
Bluetooth 5.2 (BLE, SBC, AAC, LDAC, APTX, APTX HD)
USB-C/USB 3.1 Gen 1
Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Android 13
Magic OS 7.1
Dimensions and weight
Folded dimensions:
- 160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9mm

Unfolded dimensions:
- 160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1mm

- 267g (glass)
- 261g (vegan leather)

HONOR Magic Vs review: The verdict

Honor Magic Vs in reverse tent mode showing hinge spine on a table
Kris Carlon / Android Authority

A €1,599 price tag is a bitter pill to swallow for any smartphone, even a foldable. But considering that HONOR’s competition charges closer to two thousand Euros (and sometimes more) for similar specs and features, the Magic Vs is definitely a more palatable option. Especially so for anyone considering their first phone-tablet-style foldable or that has been longing for a HUAWEI-like foldable with full access to Google apps and services.

There's a lot to like about the HONOR Magic Vs.

The HONOR Magic Vs doesn’t feature the latest-and-greatest chipset or class-leading displays but it does offer a very good set of compromises for the price and the camera is not one of them. It has great battery life, solid performance, super-fast charging, good cameras and displays, and a lot to like. It’s a bold entry to the global foldable market for HONOR and a good one at that.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 ($1180.25 at Amazon) still offers a more rounded overall experience, but all competition is good competition. The more rivals Samsung has, especially with lower price points and comparable feature sets, is ultimately better for consumers. With more book-like foldables expected to drop in 2023 from the likes of Google and OnePlus, the competition is expected to heat up even further. But whatever happens, HONOR has already claimed itself a spot in the big leagues.

Honor Magic VsHonor Magic Vs
AA Recommended
Honor Magic Vs
Affordable foldable • 5,000mAh battery • No screen gap when folded
MSRP: $1,049.00
Honor takes on Samsung with a more affordable foldable
Honor takes on the big guns in the foldable landscape with the Magic Vs. It's more affordable than the majority of the competition, has a bigger battery than all of them, and delivers all the same basics you would expect from a large-screen foldable.

Top HONOR Magic Vs questions and answers

Not at this point, no. While it will be possible to import a global unit, check networking bands with your carriers to ensure it will work first.

The HONOR Magic Vs does not have a water resistance rating. It does, however, have water-resistant mesh inside the chassis which should provide limited protection from minor splashes.

HONOR officially severed ties with HUAWEI in mid-November 2020, when the larger company sold it off as a result of the US trade ban.

The HONOR Magic Vs will be priced at €1,599 in Europe, starting in May, 2023. No pricing details or launch information is currently available for the UK.

The HONOR Magic Vs global release took place on February 27, 2023 at Mobile World Congress.

The HONOR Magic Vs supports sub-6GHz 5G.

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