Honor Magic Vs hands-on: 54MP foldable with a 7.9-inch screen

Big battery, big screen, big specs – light weight; Honor's Magic Vs takes the fight to Samsung in 2023

A photo of the Honor Magic Vs
(Image: © Basil Kronfli)

Early Verdict

2023 is set to be the year of the folding phone, and the Honor Magic Vs looks like it will be a major player. It combines the IMX800-powered camera that debuted on the Honor 70, with a large, 7.9-inch foldable screen, a high-capacity battery, and plenty of power. While it's too early to say whether it'll be a smash hit, if it launches at the right price in the West, it could be the perfect choice for foldable-curious folks after a big screen experience.

Pros

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    Larger screens that Galaxy Z Fold 4

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    Premium-feeling materials

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    Powerful internals

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    Large battery for a foldable

Cons

  • -

    No OIS on main camera

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    90Hz inner screen falls behind 120Hz competition

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    No IP dust or water resistance rating

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    Misses out on wireless charging

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Honor will be launching the Magic Vs in 2023 globally, and we've had an early hands-on with the phone, around the same time we tried out the Oppo Find N2 (opens in new tab) and the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 (opens in new tab) – to say our appetite's have been whet for a foldable future is an understatement. 

The Honor Magic Vs brings back much of what we loved about the Honor 70 when it comes to its cameras. Sony's IMX800 54MP sensor returns and it's once again matched with a 50MP ultra-wide camera, complete with autofocus – a good start.

This time around, Honor adds a telephoto camera with a three-times zoom equivalent, and the phone benefits from the ergonomic photography highlights foldables bring, from cover-screen previews when taking selfies with the rear camera, to part-folded shooting.

But what does Honor bring to the table that Samsung doesn't already offer with its excellent Galaxy Z Fold 4?

Honor Magic Vs: Design and screen

A few things have happened in the world of foldable phones lately. Most recently, Oppo announced the Find N2, weighing less than an iPhone 13 Pro Max (opens in new tab) and 14 Pro Max (opens in new tab) at 233g – impressive for a folding phone. The compact Galaxy Z Flip 4 (opens in new tab) has also been very well received, so the expectation for folding phones is shifting from clunky and chunky to compact and pocketable. 

While the Honor Magic Vs isn't quite as light as the Oppo Find N2 or Z Flip 4, considering its bigger screens and larger battery, at 261g, it's still perfectly manageable for anyone who doesn't mind using a large phone.

Honor has a few wins under its belt with the Vs. For starters, it folds shut – no hinge gap, so that suggests dust and grit are less likely to get in when the phone's in a pocket. Its screens are also large – so this phone feels very usable, both open and closed.

There are a couple of things we're not sure about on first impression, though. The power and volume buttons are on different sides of the unfolded phone – the power button on the right, the volume button on the left. This forces you to use it two-handed if you want to do things like lower the volume or take a screenshot.

The phone also misses out on an IP rating, so isn't dust or water-resistant. Thus far, only Samsung's been able to offer the rating on a folding phone – so it definitely isn't the norm. Still, given the fact durability is one of the main concerns around foldable displays, it's definitely a point to note.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

The Honor Magic Vs's front screen measures 6.45 inches, and with its 21:9 aspect ratio, is vertically less stretched than that of the Galaxy Z Fold 4. On first impression, therefore,  it feels more comfortable to type on – less cramped from left to right.

As for the inner screen, it's a large, 7.9-inches of foldable OLED screen tech, and visuals showcased on it look sumptuous on first impression. Its size means web pages and documents look like they might on a small tablet, and when you split-screen two apps, each feels spacious.

While the front screen is a silky smooth 120Hz, the inner, larger display is 90Hz, so isn't quite as fluid when gliding through menus and apps. Both screens are 10-bit, so showcase over a billion colors with smooth gradients, and with 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut covered, should deliver color-accurate visuals too.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

Honor's launching the phone in a few styles – Cyan and Orange in diffuse glass, and black with a polished glass finish.

All things considered, with the early version of the Honor Magic Vs that we've been using, there's clear promise. The phone feels premium, and it's a good size – closed it has a smaller footprint than many other phones out now, but open, its screen is expansive. That means it really does feel like a two-in-one device – a large smartphone that turns into a small tablet.

Honor Magic Vs: Cameras

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
(opens in new tab)

If you want a preview of the Honor Magic Vs's camera, have a look at our in-depth Honor 70 review (opens in new tab). After all, the phones share the same primary camera – a 54MP Sony IMX800 sensor with an f/1.9 aperture lens. There's no OIS on the primary camera, though we found performance, in general, to be impressive for the most part.

There's also a 50MP ultra-wide camera that features autofocus and an f/2.0 lens, so it doubles up as a macro camera, just like that of the Nothing Phone (1) (opens in new tab).

What the Magic Vs gets that the Honor 70 doesn't is a third rear camera – a telephoto camera with 8MP resolution, and three times greater reach than the main camera. This does feature OIS, and that's matched with an f/2.4 aperture.

As for the front cameras, there are two, one in the cover screen and one in the foldable screen, each with a 16MP resolution and an f/2.45 aperture.

Of course, we would have loved to see the phone's camera specs match Honor's flagship Magic 4 Pro (opens in new tab), which seriously impressed us in our time with it, especially with its periscope zoom camera. That said, we do understand that the reason the Magic Vs is the size it is, is because it doesn't feature a huge camera system.

Honor Magic Vs: additional specs

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
(opens in new tab)

The Honor Magic Vs has mighty internals, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset powering it. You can pick it up with either 256GB storage + 8GB or 12GB RAM, or 512GB storage + 12GB RAM, and there’s no expandable storage.

Running Android 12 with Honor's MagicOS 7.0, Honor's custom UI that's been built on top of Huawei's EMUI of old, we've been using a pre-production version of Honor's upcoming foldable interface. Hopefully, when the Magic Vs does launch globally, it will run the newer Android 13 and some foldable flourishes too help it compete with Samsung's Z Fold line.

With its large 5000mAh battery, Honor's crammed in more mAh than much of the competition, including the Oppo Find N and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (opens in new tab). The fact the Magic Vs charges at a fast 66W is also a boon for fans of fast charging, though there's no wireless charging here.

Early verdict 

It's too early to tell whether or not the Honor Magic Vs will be a smash hit, or a swing and a miss. After all, we don't know exactly when it will launch outside China or at what price – just that it will at some point.

As it stands, the mere fact Honor has confirmed that the phone will be available in Europe at some point is only a good thing for the future of foldable phones. It means that Honor joins Huawei, Oppo, and Samsung – all of whom are expected to have folding phones on the global market in 2023 – and more choice for a burgeoning product category can only be a good thing.

Check back for our full review of the Honor Magic Vs when it's announced globally – possibly at MWC 2023 in February, and to see what the foldable competition looks like right now, read our best foldable phones of 2022 (opens in new tab) run down.

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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.