Honor Magic 5 Pro review: undercutting and outperforming Samsung's S23 Plus

Excellent value and balanced photo processing make the Honor Magic 5 Pro stand out for all the right reasons

5 Star Rating
A photo of the Honor Magic 5 Pro
(Image: © Basil Kronfli)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Honor Magic 5 Pro launched with a number-one camera ranking from DxOMark, and we can see why. Despite missing out on best-in-class specs across the board, Honor's refined image processing helps photos feel balanced, and with competitive pricing, a great screen, impressive battery life, loads of storage, and premium design, the Magic 5 Pro delivers on all fronts.


  • +

    Excellent value

  • +

    Versatile camera system

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    Long-lasting battery

  • +

    Huge storage capacity

  • +

    Face scanning biometrics


  • -

    Black version is a fingerprint magnet

  • -

    MagicOS still feels like Huawei's EMUI

  • -

    "100x" on the camera panel is misleading

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    Not available in US

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The Honor Magic 5 Pro's triple 50MP camera system looks mighty on paper. The primary sensor isn't far off 1-inch, so it should deliver rich depth of field, comparable to superphones like the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, and Vivo X90 Pro. Unlike those two phones, though, you can buy it in the West, with UK pricing starting at £949 (roughly $1,185) – lower than expected given the phone's 512GB storage. 

This isn't Honor's first foray into premium smartphone territory. Last year's Honor Magic 4 Pro seriously impressed us with its own triple camera system, so it isn't beyond reason to think its successor might clinch the top spot in our best camera phones list, or at least be one of the best Android phones on the scene.

Factor in its other specs – a latest-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip for top-tier gaming power, tons of storage, a high-capacity battery, fast charging and premium design, and it's a given this phone will be at least good. But the question is: is it great? And more importantly – should you buy it?


Rear cameras: 50MP main, 50MP ultrawide, 50MP telephoto
Front camera: 12MP + 3D Depth Camera
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Memory: 512GB storage + 12GB RAM
Screen Size: 6.8-inch 2848 × 1312
Battery: 5,100mAh
Size: 162.9 x 76.7 x 8.77mm
Colors: Black, Meadow Green

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Design and Screen

We got our hands on both the black and green Honor Magic 5 Pro. In black, it's polished, so loves to cling to fingerprints, while in green, it's matte, so keeps smudges at bay. If you don't plan on using a case with your phone, we would, therefore, recommend you pick it up in Meadow Green.

The Magic 5 Pro is a big, confident-looking flagship phone that's about as far from a compact option as things get. Despite not out-weighing the 240g iPhone 14 Pro Max,  at 219g, it's still one of the heaviest non-folding smartphones out now, and at its thickest point (the camera bump), measures around 14mm.

Even though it's big, Honor's done great work making the Magic 5 Pro feel elegant. Its cool, stark metal frame and glass back are curved, solid, and premium, and the camera bump which smoothly rises sits comfortably atop an index finger.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro's front is all screen, not counting that pill-shaped cutout which houses the 12MP selfie camera and 3D depth sensor. There's a small bezel framing it, and the display glass rounds off into the sides to meet the metal frame elegantly.

The right side houses the power button and volume rocker, while the base is where you'll access the SIM card slot, USB-C port and loudspeaker.

Most confusingly, "100x 1:1.6-3 ASPH" is inscribed between the three lenses. The 100x speaks to the digital zoom, and the 1.6-3 refers to the aperture. But with its maximum optical zoom of 3.5x, it's brazen to suggest the phone has a usable 100x zoom. (Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

More than anything, the Magic 5 Pro's design makes it look like an attention-grabbing camera phone. The bold, round camera surround is one of the most eye-catching we've seen, and will likely divide opinion. Initially, we didn't love it, but it grew on us during our time with the phone.

As for the screen, it's a large, 6.81-inch OLED panel with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The phone's 2848 x 1312 resolution means it's roughly as sharp as an iPhone 14 Pro.

With HDR credentials and a peak brightness of 1800 nits, whether watching content indoors or using the phone outside on a sunny day, it's a rich experience, and it's easy to make out what's on-screen.

In the settings, there's also a huge range of screen customization to be had, from frame rate booster, so you can upscale video with low frame rates when playing back in full screen, to manually setting the screen smoothness to either 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz or dynamic.

Honor's Eye Comfort mode is also worth mentioning, as that's partly what helped clinch the Magic 5 Pro a best-in-class award from DxOMark. In addition to filtering out blue light by making the screen appear warmer, it features 2160Hz PWM dimming, lowering the screen flicker rate to reduce eye strain and headaches. 

We couldn't test this feature as we don't suffer from screen-related eye strain, however, if you do, the Magic 5 Pro is the best-specced mainstream option that might be able to offer a solution.

Camera specs

The triple camera system on the Honor Magic 5 Pro sports three 50MP sensors, yet each is different. The most impressive camera is unsurprisingly the one powered by a large 1/1.12-inch main sensor, especially given the fact it's matched with a very wide f/1.6 aperture, so should deliver supremely soft bokeh. 

With its 23mm wide angle, the main camera is also versatile enough for group portraits and matched with its 50MP resolution and OIS, cropping into around 35mm would also produce a usable shot with reduced distortion. 

When you want to pull all the way out, the ultra-wide camera combines a wide f/2 aperture with an expansive 13mm focal length (122˚ field of view), and a 1/2.5-inch sensor. While significantly smaller than that of the main camera, this isn't small for an ultra-wide sensor size, and the camera's loaded up with autofocus too.

Finally, for the rear camera trinity, there's that periscope camera, which features an open f/3 aperture. What's interesting this year is that Honor's dropped both the resolution and sensor size compared to the Honor Magic 4 Pro, which featured a 64MP, slightly larger sensor. Despite this hardware decision, though, in reality, the telephoto camera ended up being our favorite camera of the three for high-impact shots loaded with depth.

Flipping the phone around, and the front camera isn’t just a photography tool. Similar to iPhones, the Magic 5 Pro packs 3D face scanning thanks to a secondary depth sensor. When you do need to take photos on it, you can bank on a 12MP selfie camera with an f.2.4 aperture and a wide 100º field of view.

Camera review

When testing out the Magic 5 Pro, we have to compare it against competition in its price range. Rather than the iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra, therefore, its price actually pits it against the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus and Pixel 7 Pro (256GB), even though the Magic 5 Pro has 512GB storage and top-tier flagship specs. The huge main sensor instantly outclasses its competition on the specs front, therefore, and this translates to photos too.

You can see a range of photos taken on the Magic 5 Pro's main camera above, illustrating how well the phone's large sensor and aperture work together to create mighty foreground and background separation.

Shots are packed with color and zing, but don't look over-egged, with contrast, saturation, and vibrancy all in check. So while Samsung ramps processing up in auto mode, we much prefer Honor's default image handling. 

Even though its sensor isn't the largest-in-show or its zoom isn't the furthest-reaching, its tasteful processing instantly puts the Magic 5 Pro in the same category as the OnePlus 11 and Pixel 7 Pro – camera phones that we'd trust without venturing beyond auto mode.

You can see examples above of the Magic 5 Pro's various optical focal lengths, and a 10x zoom shot to illustrate how well the digital zoom holds up in a bright outdoor environment. The secondary cameras' color reproduction is generally consistent and detail in shots taken on them is strong, though the ultra-wide does distort heavily and soften at the edges, so benefits from a slight crop.

The ultra-wide camera doubles up as a super-near macro camera, but we actually defaulted to the telephoto camera for macro shots. With a nearest focus distance of around 25cm, the 90mm zoom camera gave us beautiful depth without having to get too close to an object.

The telephoto camera's 90mm focal length and roughly 25cm nearest focus distance was perfect for shots like this (Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Whether taking a photo of a dinner table or a pet in the distance, despite thinking the telephoto camera on the Magic 5 Pro would be the weakest performer, given the dialed-back specs compared to last year, we couldn't be more impressed with it.

The only drawback of the phone's zoom is that it can't best pricier alternatives like the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its 10x reach. At its price, though, the Magic 5 Pro is still one of the most versatile zoomers on the block and captures great-looking photos and video, held together well thanks to strong OIS.

Clearly, Honor isn't just banking on powerful hardware to capture great photos. We took a number of RAW shots on the phone, and struggled to emulate the dynamic range and finesse of the shots taken in auto mode without bracketing. The phone's advanced processing can also be seen when looking at shots taken on the selfie camera.

High-contrast scenes are handled brilliantly, and while the selfie camera struggles in very low light without the fill flash, it handles most other situations well. That said, ghosting in the photo shot in a moving car, below, shines a light on just how much processing is taking place to hit those dynamic range heights the Magic 5 Pro achieves.

Video captured on the Magic 5 Pro impressed us too, handing off between lenses smoothly, and keeping things nice and steady. At night, detail drops off, but we still enjoyed relatively noise-free footage, especially from the main camera.

Additional specs

Launching with the freshest flagship Android chip on the block, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the Magic 5 Pro doesn't skimp on power, and with 12GB RAM, whether multitasking or gaming, it can tear through tasks, apps and games.

We mentioned that the Magic 5 Pro's front camera has 3D scanning technology. This might sound like a fancy way to unlock your phone, but it's actually much more than that. Honor's flagship is the first Android phone that can link up with third-party apps to use face-scanning as a form of biometric authentication. That means everything from banking apps to biometrically locked dating apps can open with either a thumbprint or a glance.

Honor's also packed in a huge 512GB storage, which should see smartphone users through years of file hoarding without even coming close to a low-storage warning. This is the key area Honor knocks it out of the park when it comes to value for money.

It's great to see Honor’s new flagship running Android 13, the freshest version of Google's mobile operating system. MagicOS, though, the phone’s interface is an evolution of Huawei’s EMUI. 

Since the two brands split, Honor has struggled to differentiate its interface, and that's still the case this time round. There are a number of apps that feel like bloatware, Honor's email app as well as Gmail and App Market as well as the Google Play Store, for example, but most of these can be uninstalled which is a saving grace.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Our main issue with the Honor Magic 4 Pro was its modest battery. This year, Honor's beefed up the capacity to 5100mAh – slightly larger than much of the competition. After a day of working from home using the phone for WhatsApp and music playback, we got through less than half the battery by the end of it. Traveling and using the phone more heavily left us with 15-20 percent by 11 PM – impressive performance.

Honor's slowed down charging to 66W wired, 50W wireless on the Magic 5 Pro, versus 100W wired and wireless on the 4 Pro. The strange move is down to Honor prioritizing size over speed, which makes sense from an end-user point of view. Though the fact we could get a full charge in under an hour means Honor's flagship still bests Apple, Google and Samsung's top performers.


The Honor Magic 5 Pro is the best camera phone around at its price, it's that simple. Its primary and telephoto cameras in particular are wonderfully versatile, combining depth and detail brilliantly, and Honor's photo processing elevates all the cameras onboard. 

While some might prefer Google's images over those of Honor, the Magic 5 Pro delivers significantly superior battery life, faster charging, and more storage. Its main camera's larger sensor also makes it a more compelling package versus the Pixel 7 Pro for a certain type of photographer.

Despite costing less than the Galaxy S23 Plus, the Magic 5 Pro is the better smartphone, competing more closely with the much pricier S23 Ultra. And while we don't love Honor's interface, it's getting better year-on-year, and the phone performed smoothly in our time it.

And so, the Magic 5 Pro firms up Honor's position as a smartphone maker to watch, especially in the flagship space, combining its trademark value with a newfound focus on imaging excellence.

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Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist and content creator with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there, he headed up and runs Tech[edit], a technology YouTube channel, and has worked alongside this role at Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 

His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.