Honor is not messing about with its foldables. It seems only yesterday we checked out the Honor Magic Vs, the firm’s first foray from mid-range smartphones (plus the occasional flagship) into properly premium territory – or at least the first to make it on sale in Western countries. And now we have the Honor Magic V2.
OK, so it was actually six months ago we tried out Vs, but half a year isn’t long for a £1500 phone to go from hot stuff to a has-been. We got our hands on the new Magic V2 to see if this is a case of Honor being in a mad dash to catch up with Samsung and phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, or if it really does have something of its own to offer.
Forget the suspense. While the Honor Magic V2 seems familiar from a distance, it arguably gets closer to a certain foldable holy grail than any other to date. When folded up this thing’s dimensions aren’t that different to those of a normal phone. And once you get over the gimmicky side of a foldable phone design, maybe that’s what we really need from this category for now.
Design & build: Getting shredded
When the average person first comes across a foldable phone they usually let out a coo’ing sound and ask if they can have a go. We like to think phone designers get a migraine as they start thinking about all the problems ahead instead. The first of these is in making a foldable that doesn’t implode if you breathe on it too strongly. Honor’s Magic V2 is out to address the second issue: that handling these foldable can, at times, be a right pain in the backside.
Samsung’s current approach is to make the frame super-narrow so the thing is easy to grasp even if it is almost twice as thick as many flagship phones. Honor has taken a different approach here. The Magic V2 is shorter and narrower than a non-folding iPhone 14 Pro Max, and at 9.9mm when shut is the slimmest foldable I’ve ever handled. It’s apparently the slimmest foldable, ever. It’s just 4.8mm per side when opened up. This doesn’t include the camera housing, which adds 2-3 extra millimetres, but the bit you actually hold? It’s svelte.
This slim, bigger-footprint style means we can picture leaving the Honor Magic V2 closed at least 85% of the time, and only opening it up for late night ruining of sleep patterns, when lounging on the sofa or killing time on a long train journey. And, hey, maybe that’s a sign foldables are finally starting to reach maturity.
As in the last generation, Honor goes beyond the norm, using titanium in the hinge rather than just heavier steel or aluminium (there is also some steel apparently). However, unlike the Magic Vs we get to see major weight benefits in the V2. It weighs 237g in the glass-back version, 231g with the fake leather back option.
That version is 2g lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, up to 22g lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 5. And that phone has a smaller footprint. It’s kinda miraculous stuff. We’re told it’s partly down to greater use of titanium in the hinge, and a pair of ridiculously thin batteries. There’s one in each side of the phone, and they aren’t much chunkier than a couple of credit cards glued together.
However, on paper at least it’s not as hardy as Samsung’s latest foldable. There’s no official water resistance, where Samsung has IPX8, the best you’ll see in a mainstream phone. It is also possible to over-egg how much Honor has squashed the compromises of a foldable. You still feel those double mounds of the two display parts under your fingers. And, obviously, for a phone of this footprint it’s still heavy.
Screen & sound: Comfortable familiarity
Get past the exterior innovations and the Honor Magic V2’s screens are quite familiar. The bit we love most – as we did with the Magic Vs – is the phone-like aspect ratio, not the super skinny column Samsung favours in its Z Fold phones. It all adds to the sense that you can forget the inner screen sometimes and have a relatively normal phone experience.
This is a 6.43in OLED panel with lightly rounded glass on top, and a 2476×1060 resolution. Honor says it can hit peak brightness of 2500 nits. We didn’t see anything like that, giving the thing a once over in a hotel lobby, but it is one of the highest brightness claims we’ve heard to date. Apple says the iPhone 14 Pro Max can reach 2000 nits, and that was an eye-opener back in September 2022.
Open the Honor Magic V2 up and you get a massive 7.92in, 2344×2156 OLED display with a peak brightness of 1600 nits. This is slightly larger, slightly higher-res than the screen of the Magic Vs, but the in-person impression is the same as that of any of these foldables: small screen goes big.
As you’d hope in 2023, the screen crease or fold is not too obvious, and the panel has a max 120Hz refresh rate. It’s all lovely stuff, if nothing dramatically new. Being able to use a stylus on both the inner and outer screen is a welcome addition, although a stylus won’t be bundled.
Camera and Software: All bases covered
We’ve only had a brief play with the Honor Magic V2’s cameras so far. But a just a look at a few snaps tells a familiar story. These cameras will do just fine in just about all scenarios, but aren’t going to be quite a match for the cracking array of the Honor Magic 5 Pro. When we used the zoom and ultra-wide in a hotel lobby, for example, the middle-level lighting was enough for fine details to start looking just a tad soft and processed or painterly.
The rear cameras include a 50MP, f/1.9 primary with optical image stabilisation, a 50MP, f/2.0 ultrawide and a 20MP telephoto with 2.5x zoom. There are also front facing cameras whether you are looking at the inner or outer screen, which both use 16MP sensors.
Specs-wise we’re in the same ballpark as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, especially when you consider Honor’s high-res sensors are designed for pixel binning, typically resulting in 12.5MP, not 50MP, pictures as standard.
One more foldable-related bit we’re glad to see: when you open up the hinge half-way in the camera app, one side turns into a control surface, the other a preview window. Neat. The hinge also lets the Honor Magic V2 stay like this comfortably enough.
Performance & battery life: The good stuff
The Honor Magic V2 has a 5000mAh battery, just like its predecessors. We’d be bummed if it had any less as a result, but Honor deserves props for maintaining that capacity after shaving almost 3mm off the phone’s thickness and 30g of weight.
This stuff isn’t easy. However, also like the last Magic Vs, the V2 does not have wireless charging. Instead, we get 66W cabled charging only, much like the mid-tier flatty Honor 90.
Just as you’d hope, the Honor Magic V2 also has the latest Qualcomm flagship processor, the Snapdragon Gen 8 Gen 2. This is both more powerful and more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 used in Honor’s last-generation foldable.
Honor Magic V2 initial verdict
Honor can be a right old flashy show-off sometimes, but we can get on-board with the foldable concept it aims for the in Honor Magic V2. It wants you to forget it’s even a foldable, at least half the time. Lower weight, a thinner frame and a very normal-shaped and fairly substantial front display means everyday interactions don’t feel they are struggling to get by, compromised.
The Honor Magic V2 isn’t a revelation. Instead, it comes across a serious attempt to address the elements that turn prospective foldable phone buyers off. Well, apart from the cost, which is still something of an unknown. We’re betting it’ll undercut a Z Fold 5, though.
It doesn’t get all the way there, but it’s good to see someone other than Samsung pushing at the boundaries of this relatively new area of phone tech.
Honor Magic V2 technical specifications
|6.43in, 2376×1060 OLED w/ 120Hz outer
7.92in, 2344×2156 flexible OLED w/ 120Hz inner
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
|50MP, f1.9 main w/ PDAF, laser AF, OIS
20MP, f/2.4 telephoto w/ PDAF, OIS, 2.5x optical zoom
50MP, f/2.0 ultrawide w/ AF
16MP, f/2.2 front
|Android 13 w/ MagicOS 7.2
|5000mAh w/ 66w wired charging