Honor Magic Vs hands-on review

GSMArena Team, 30 November 2022.

Design, build quality, handling

It's the hardware that we're here to marvel at and play with, and it's undoubtedly some pretty nice hardware. The glass/metal combination would feel premium on any bar smartphone while the extra exclusivity of the foldable form factor further elevates that impression of a top-tier handset.

Honor Magic Vs review

We say glass and metal, and that's what our unit, the Cyan colorway, is made of. A shimmery frosted finish on the back adds a bit of flair on this particular variant.

The other color options have their own different takes on it. The Black one is glossy and relies on a golden Honor logo for a splash of color. The Orange one, on the other hand, is in no shortage of color - the back is... well, orange, and the metal bits are golden.

Alternative color options: Black - Honor Magic Vs review Alternative color options: Orange - Honor Magic Vs review
Alternative color options: Black • Orange

It's that Orange one that lets Honor make statements like the Magic Vs being 'the lightest foldable smartphone in the global markets currently' - the Magic Vs in its Orange colorway weighs 261g and that's less than the Galaxy Z Fold4. There's a ton of technicalities in that claim, like the fact that the number doesn't include either screen protector, and while the plastic sheet over the cover display is strictly optional, we wouldn't dare remove the one on the foldable panel. Not to mention that the Magic Vs has yet to make it to market.

In any case, the Orange version swaps out the glass panel for a textured eco-leather one, and that helps shave 6g off the 267g weight of the glass options, like our Cyan one here.

Honor Magic Vs review

Another weight reduction measure can be found in the hinge mechanism. Doing away with the geared design of the previous generation, the Vs comes with a gearless alternative, and Honor says the number of components has been reduced from 92 to just 4, which can't not involve some semantics itself. Looking at the promo videos, there's a whole lot of stuff going on there.

Hinge bits: Old one (with gears) - Honor Magic Vs review Hinge bits: New one - Honor Magic Vs review
Hinge bits: New one - Honor Magic Vs review Hinge bits: New one - Honor Magic Vs review
Hinge bits: Old one (with gears) • New one

New materials have been adopted too, also contributing to weight savings. The inner screen's support structure is made of titanium, making it 20% lighter, while the magnesium alloy support structure of the outer screen is 34% lighter than the previous aluminum solution. Those are Honor's numbers, and we won't be tearing down units and weighing any of these individually just to check, of course.

Honor Magic Vs review

The hinge has been tested and rated for 400,000 actuations which is close to 11 years worth of 100 folds per day. Should be good enough. In practice, it feels remarkably sturdy in action, and it exhibits no weird noises or flexing in any direction.

It does even have the capability to remain in intermediate positions, possibly enabling use cases like a 'tripod mode' of sorts where you place the phone on a table and use it for long exposures or group photos with you in them. There is some creep, however, particularly if you start off from the unfolded state, in which case the Magic may tend to fully reopen - the Galaxy is more stable for such applications.

Honor Magic Vs review

The phone folds flat in on itself, leaving no gap between the two halves - a common gripe we've had with several generations of Galaxy Folds (Flips too).

Honor Magic Vs review

There are magnets keeping the two sides together, as with other foldables. This one here, however, is particularly hard to pry open - the combination of the magnets and the thin flat sides that meet with little gap between them makes unfolding the Magic Vs a more fiddly operation than we're used to. The Galaxy Z Fold4's thicker sides, flat as they may be as well, provide a larger grip area, while the more rounded rails of the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 make it easier to wedge your fingertips inbetween the two halves.

Honor Magic Vs review

You could file this under nitpicking probably - it's not like unfolding the Vs is a dealbreakingly difficult task. And the flipside of that complaint of ours is that the Honor handset does manage to pull off a strikingly slim gapless look that can easily embarrass a Galaxy Fold.

Honor Magic Vs reviewGalaxy Z Fold4 (left) next to the Magic Vs

Naturally, that's not the first time we've seen it done better than Samsung - the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 is another svelte gapless large foldable, but that's never coming outside of China, and the Magic Vs just might, eventually.

Your pocket will need to accommodate the Magic Vs in its folded state, and in that case, it measures 160.3x72.6x12.9mm. It's taller and wider than the Galaxy Fold, but thinner, and it looks and feels even thinner than the numbers suggest, thanks to the lack of gap and the parallel surfaces.

Honor Magic Vs review

It can be used a lot like a normal phone in its folded state, too, the 21:9 aspect of the cover screen being closer to convention than the 23.1:9 Galaxy. The current Fold4 is admittedly a step in the right direction from the even narrower 25:9 Fold3, but the Honor is still better in this respect than the latest Galaxy. And it's an overall larger display too, at 96cm2 compared to the 84cm2 of the Fold4, further reinforcing its superiority for 'regular smartphone' use cases.

Honor Magic Vs reviewMagic Vs (left) next to the Galaxy Z Fold4

For tablet use cases, the Honor also offers a larger viewing area, if not quite by as much. The 7.9-inch display of the Magic Vs comes in at 199.5cm2, compared to the 'tiny' 7.6-inch unit of the Galaxy and its 183.2cm2. To be fair, the difference isn't huge, but what's really welcome is the fact that you're getting more screen estate without having to accept a weight penalty.

Honor Magic Vs reviewMagic Vs (left) next to the Galaxy Z Fold4

Claims for creaseless-ness are being thrown around left and right by foldables manufacturers, and Honor also mentions it in the press materials. In fact (and, really, as expected), it's not quite there. The groove along the middle of the display is there, and it's probably a tiny bit shallower than on the Galaxy Z Fold4, but it's still there for you to feel and see. The Mix Fold 2 is marginally better still, but none of these comes close to what we saw on the Oppo Find N.

Honor Magic Vs review

Naturally, those comparisons should be accompanied by the usual disclaimer that creases tend to be ironed out by your brain as time goes by and you get used to using a foldable, and the very possibility of having a display this large in half the footprint trumps a mostly cosmetic imperfection. That's not to say we don't appreciate smoother creases; we just tend to not get too fixated on them.

Honor Magic Vs review

One of the checkmarks missing in the Magic Vs' spec sheet is dust- and water-resistance. The latest two generations of Galaxies (both Flip and Fold) remain the only foldable models with a proper IP rating.

Honor Magic Vs review

Reader comments

"Vs" is an English/French moniker. It's typically used in Brandy and Cognac, and meant to signify a quality product. As opposed to "low-class" drinks like whiskey, rum, etc. Btw, HTC did this back in 2012 with their On...

  • Anonymous
  • 03 Dec 2022
  • YUU

Just a rebadge of the old mate x 🤣🤣🤣 Honor used to be under Huawei before

I don't think the V used here stands for 5. I believe it represents a silhouette of the phone slightly opened like you see in the main pic. They're copying Samsung. They had to find their own letter.