While there are a few flip phones on the scene, if you live in the UK or Europe, the Honor Magic Vs is the only big-screened foldable phone on sale to give Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Huawei's Mate X3 a run for their money. It’s a different story in China – there’s the Oppo Find N2, Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 and Vivo X Fold to name a few. And in the US, there really is no competition, with Samsung still being the only player, four years after the original Galaxy Fold was announced.
The Honor Magic Vs, therefore, has one clear mission: to be better than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Off the bat, in some ways, it is, costing less and packing more storage and larger screens than Samsung's offering.
• Read our guide to the best Android phones
With an Honor 70 primary and ultra-wide camera set-up, matched with a telephoto camera, its photography credentials also seem competitive, even though the phone misses out on optical image stabilization.
With no IP water resistance rating or pen support, as well as Honor's interface being historically clunkier than Samsung's, has the Magic Vs got what it takes to topple the top dog foldable?
Honor Magic Vs: Design
At first glance, the Honor Magic Vs looks great. Available in a glossy Black or matte Cyan, while the black one is a fingerprint magnet, in Cyan, the diffuse, shimmery finish stays fingerprint-free.
At 12.9mm when closed, as with any foldable, the Magic Vs has some heft to it, though when unfolded, its super-svelte 6.1mm frame is sleek. While the heaviest traditional phones weigh around 240g, the two-screened Magic Vs is 267g – perfectly reasonable by foldable standards.
The Magic Vs has a large front display that curves to the right side elegantly, with the glass and metal combination creating a great in-hand feel, though it is thick, especially when sat next to the Huawei Mate X3.
The foldable's novel button positioning is also worth noting. Honor places the power button (which is also a fingerprint scanner) on the bottom half when shut, and the volume rocker on the top half. When using the Magic Vs's front display, it all feels very traditional one-hended with all the buttons on the right side. Open the phone up, though, and the volume button unfolds to the left, making it feel that bit more like a tablet.
We like some of the innovative steps Honor has taken to differentiate its folding phone. From stylistic flourishes like the curved glass camera surround, to the button placement, there's a clear effort on Honor's part.
That said, the folding mechanism just doesn't feel as solid as some foldables we've used in the past.
Specifically, we struggled with the fact the Magic Vs doesn’t unfold totally flat when you open it, taking a few minutes to let go of an ever-so-slight bend along the middle of the phone. This isn't a deal breaker, but you really notice it when you open up the phone and start gaming or typing on it.
The Magic Vs also misses out on water resistance too, which Samsung's Z Fold 4 has, though Honor's phone does fold completely shut, so will keep pocket debris away from the screen better when closed.
All things considered, though, if you’re in the UK or Europe, the Magic Vs is the only Google services-packing big-screened folding phone that gives you an ample front display that isn’t super-tall like that of Samsung’s Z Fold series. Anyone in China, however, has loads of options from Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi.
Honor Magic Vs: Screens
The Magic Vs has two screens. When it's closed, you interact with the one on the front which is tall, like a traditional phone screen. When the foldable opens up, it unveils a larger, mini-tablet screen.
On first impressions, we love the front screen. It's wider than that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, making it less cramped for more comfortable typing. Even the inner screen wins out when it comes to size, being larger than the Z Fold 4's, and in turn, more expansive.
Looking at the specs, though, the Magic Vs’s screens fall slightly short of the competition on paper. Yes, the huge inner screen is an ample 7.9 inches, but with a 90Hz refresh rate, it's a bit less smooth than the 120Hz front screen, and the 120Hz inner screen competition – not a huge deal, but worth noting.
The external screen, nevertheless, stacks up well. At 6.45 inches and with a 21:9 aspect ratio, it's a super-usable size, and is perfect for cinematic content when you don't want to open up your folding phone.
Also, we have to touch on our real-world experiences that go beyond specs. Yes, the refresh rate of the inner screen isn't best in class, but the experience it provides is still excellent. By being larger than that of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Lightroom for Mobile gives us a bit more room to see what's going on, and when showing folks on the other side of the dinner table a group photo you just took, the Honor Magic Vs's big screen is easy to see.
With ample brightness for comfortable outdoor viewing in most environments, punchy colors, and a host of screen customization options in the settings, the Magic Vs's screens are a treat.
Honor Magic Vs: Camera specs
We already knew what to expect from two of the Honor Magic Vs's cameras, after all, the phone has the same primary and ultra-wide cameras as the Honor 70. That means a 54MP primary camera with a 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, like that of the Nothing Phone (1).
What the Magic Vs gets that the Honor 70 doesn't is 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 selfie cameras, there are two, one on the cover screen and one on the foldable screen, each with a 16MP resolution and an f/2.45 aperture.
Camera hardware's only part of the story, with software being the other part – and the Magic Vs features a Huawei-like camera interface we've seen before. It has been tuned slightly to better accommodate the foldable's form, so you can use the cover screen as a preview for a photo when the phone's open and subjects can see themselves. That said, there are no on-screen controls on the front display, so it's of limited value for selfie-takers looking to capture with the main camera.
Frustratingly, you can't half-fold the phone and capture content with a split UI. Both Samsung and Oppo's folding phones support this feature, but not the Magic Vs. This is despite the fact apps like Disney+ do split the UI when part-folded, so the hardware's playing ball and is recognized as foldable by third-party apps – it just isn't optimized by Honor.
Honor Magic Vs: Camera review
Like any foldable, though, the Magic Vs's camera isn't its strongest asset, and its results won't compete with those of flagships, including the Honor Magic 5 Pro. Its main and ultra-wide cameras capture balanced shots with decent dynamic range, and it has a fair amount of optical reach for clarity when zoomed in.
You can see below the three stages of optical reach, from the ultra-wide to the telephoto captured by the Magic Vs.
If you think the telephoto camera is just about snapping faraway objects, you're missing a trick. With a nearest-focus distance of around 50cm and OIS, the Magic Vs's 3x zoom camera is great when taking close-up shots of objects without pulling up a heavy shadow. This makes it meaningfully better than phones like the Find N2 Flip, which misses out on a quality ultra-wide or any kind of telephoto camera.
That said, its main competition, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 outclasses it in most areas. Starting with the main camera, the fact Honor ditches OIS and dials back shadow detail holds the Vs back compared to Samsung's more specced-out, processing-heavy shots, as you can see below.
The telephoto camera pulls out less detail than that of the Z Fold 4, though its results are still comparable from a dynamic range point of view, and the ultra-wide subdues processing significantly. Let's not forget, though, the Magic Vs is considerably cheaper than the Z Fold 4.
The Magic Vs's cameras pack respectable night performance when capturing static subjects, though struggle when motion is added to the mix across all three cameras.
We also shot a few RAW photos with the primary Sony IMX800-powered main camera, and the results were fair, not excellent – paling alongside RAW shots from phones like the iPhone 14 Pro Max and OnePlus 11 when it comes to resolved detail.
In bright conditions, therefore, the Magic Vs is a powerful, versatile camera phone whichever snapper you use. Photos of nearby subjects showcase depth and punch, as illustrated in the orchid and dinner table shots below. Challenge it, and it won't always rise to the occasion. Moving pets look slightly softer than we'd like them to, and dynamic range could be helped along by a little extra shadow information.
The Honor Magic Vs's selfie camera does a respectable job in most environments, and you can tune aspects of the beauty filter to your taste. We mentioned the fact it doesn't do a great job of supporting selfies on the main camera when the phone's unfolded – and that's a real shame.
As far as videos go, nippy autofocus and solid stabilization help it along, though dynamic range could be better, with bright highlights blowing things out when in frame. Honor does include a GoPro Quik-style, fun AI montage creator and video editor to help you do something with your footage, which is handy.
Honor Magic Vs: Additional features
The Magic Vs packs some serious highlights that aren't seen often enough. Its lowest storage capacity is 512GB, for example. That means that you'll likely never run out of space, even if you keep the phone for years, loading it up with movies, music, photos, and 4K recordings.
Continuity when opening and closing the phone is also intuitive – the app just transfers from one screen to the other, whereas other foldables can struggle with the process.
The phone also runs Android 13, the latest widely available version of Google's operating system, and unlike Huawei's phones, it has full access to the Google Play Store, and with Link to Windows, can pair nicely with a PC to get all your notifications across your devices.
There are a few big buts, though. Honor's foldable interface is woefully optimized for the folding form. While Samsung has included a handy taskbar, pen support, and a camera that recognizes when the phone's part-folded, Honor hasn't.
Another example of Honor's hardware being capable of more than the preloaded software lets on is the Vs's pre-installed keyboard. Install Google's own keyboard through the Google Play Store, and the app knows to split the keyboard when the Magic Vs is open, optimizing it for the big screen. Honor's pre-installed keyboard, meanwhile, isn't optimized, reflecting another example of a third-party app that is better optimized for the Vs's folding hardware than Honor's native solution.
The Magic Vs we tested also pulled up a few software grumps in our time with it – Google Discover, for example, didn't display correctly on the cover screen after being open on the main display
Since we first tested the Honor foldable, updates have improved the experience, with split-screen multitasking improvements, and Twitter supporting a two-panel view, which is excellent, it just isn't quite as reliable or slick as a non-folding alternative, or the Z Fold 4.
For the most part, we had a great time with the Magic Vs when we weren't trying to catch it out while reviewing it. When gaming on the phone, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset powered through games like Genshin Impact and Diablo Immortal well, and day-to-day tasks didn't cause it to slow down at all.
The phone's large 5000mAh battery is also full of beans, ensuring it lasts a full day even with a fair bit of gaming and photography, and with 66W fast charging, it powers up in a little over 45 minutes, which is great going for a foldable. That said, unlike the Z Fold 4, there's no wireless charging on the Vs.
Honor Magic Vs: Verdict
Despite niggles, the Magic Vs is a lot of fun to use day-in-day-out. With a decent camera, big screens, and nippy performance, while it doesn't break the foldable mold, at the very least, it's great to see some solid competition to the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Big-screened foldables, in general, are still some way off being easy to recommend to most as they cost significantly more than non-folding phones. The fact Honor's global debut foldable, the Magic Vs, misses out on the water resistance, a camera optimized for its form-factor, and some of the software perks the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 packs makes it an even tougher sell.
It has 512GB storage, though, which is its saving grace. Costing less than a 512GB iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the same as a 512GB Galaxy S23 Ultra, though, Honor's debut folding phone could be an excellent option for Android fans looking to shake things up without paying top-foldable-dollar.
Read more: If Honor's Magic Vs doesn't do it for you, check out the other best flip and fold phones