At MWC 2023, we were excited to see Honor launching the Magic Vs, its first foldable that will be available globally after its introduction in China in late November.
The Honor Magic Vs is the first serious alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 as it delivers a slightly thinner and lighter form factor with a similar build quality and system hardware. The displays and cameras are also on par, while the battery is larger and comes with a 66W fast charger in the box.
The Honor Magic Vs will be available with 12GB+512GB in Black and Cyan for €1599 in Europe. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 was priced at €1799 at launch.
There are no plans for a U.S. launch where the Z Fold4 was released at $1799, which is only $99 less than the converted $1700 price (from €1599).
The Magic Vs is not waterproof, another downside compared to the Z Fold4 which features an IPx8 rating.
The build quality is excellent, with an elegant glossy finish on the back cover.
During the keynote event at MWC, Honor CEO George Zhao was proud to reveal that, unlike the Z Fold4, the new Magic Vs is gapless once folded, and at 12.9mm, is slimmer than its nemesis (15.8mm). At 261g, the Vs is also a hair lighter than the 263g Galaxy Z Fold4.
The back cover features curves on both long edges, which convey a smoother feel to the device when compared to its competitor, the flat Z Fold4.
“SMOOTHER FEEL TO THE DEVICE WHEN COMPARED TO ITS COMPETITOR”
The hinge was an important part of George Zhao’s presentation as it is made of an aerospace-grade polymeric material, and has significantly fewer components than its predecessor. Their number was reduced from 94 to 4 to make room for a larger 5000 mAh battery.
Honor claims that the new hinge can withstand up to 400,000 folds, double of the 200,000 folds rating of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4.
The foldable design features a different experience vs. classic phones, however, Honor, following in the footsteps of Samsung, in addition to the large 7.9” inner screen, provides a high-end 6.45” outer display that completely covers the front of the device when it is folded.
When folded at about 120 degrees and placed vertically on a table, you do not need a stand to consume content or read emails on one side while watching a video or consulting another app on the other side. It can be extremely convenient and is essentially a natural tripod.
Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold4, the 90-degree folded position works only if you place the cover with the camera module on the table, otherwise, it flips back open, probably a trade-off of the lighter and more durable hinge.
Both displays feature amazing image quality, responsiveness and comfort, and bring a superior visual experience for consuming content in general.
The 7.9” OLED features a 2272 x 1984 pixels resolution in a 10.3:9 aspect ratio (382ppi pixel density). The 90Hz refresh rate is below the 120Hz capability of the Galaxy Z Fold4, the Mix Fold 2 or the Oppo Find N2.
“AMAZING IMAGE QUALITY”
Probably to enhance the regular phone experience over the “tablet mode”, Honor decided to provide a higher 120 Hz refresh rate and pixel density (431PPI vs. 381) to the 6.45” 2560 x 1080 pixels outer screen.
The 1200 NITs peak brightness on the paper is similar to the theoretical peak brightness of the Z Fold4, we still need to measure the brightness to check the claim.
The crease is as visible as in the foldable phones we have played with, such as the Galaxy Z Fold4 and the Z Flip4. I barely notice it, since the display quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good, and the stereo dual speakers deliver a powerful and clear sound at maximum volume. However, when compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra whose sound is almost as excellent as the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Apple Pro Max, I noticed that the Magic Vs slightly lacks bass.
Honor Magic Vs Camera
The Honor Magic Vs brings the camera performance close the one found in the Galaxy S23 Plus and S23, and slightly higher than the one of the Z Fold4.
On the back, there is a triple-camera module:
- Primary Camera (Wide)
- 27mm 54MP IMX800 Main Camera (f/1.9)
- Video: Up to 2160×3840 pixels
- Photo: Up to 6144×8768 pixels
- Ultrawide & Macro camera
- Telephoto camera
- 94mm 8MP f/2.4 3X optical zoom + OIS
In the inner display, there is a selfie camera:
Our algorithmic CAMERA HW score ranks the Honor Magic Vs (score=161) slightly above the Galaxy Z Fold4 (score=155) and closer to the Galaxy S23+ and S23 (score=166), a good score as independent reviewers recognize the S23+/S23 as a good shooter in the premium segment.
The primary wide camera is equipped with a large 54MP IMX800 sensor that is comparable to the one found in the Galaxy Z Fold4, according to our algorithm.
Both the ultrawide and telephoto lenses are a little better than the ones in the Z Fold4. The Magic Vs optical “3X” zoom is better because it features a longer focal lens 94mm than the 62 mm of the Z Fold4.
Both phones feature a high-resolution sensor for the primary shooter. However, unlike the Samsung device, the high-res photo capture is unavailable in auto mode. With the Magic Vs, you must drill down two sub-menus to find it (camera mode menu>more>high res).
Because it is equipped with the same Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 as the Samsung Z Fold4, the performance is very much comparable. Our tests show the Z Fol4 has a small advantage in the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark, but it’s something that users would probably not notice much in the real world. We certainly did not.
From a graphics/gaming point of view, the performance we measured is nearly identical, which is not surprising. In any case, the conclusion is that the Honor Magic Vs performs exactly like what we would expect from a large high-end, Foldable android smartphone.
Thanks to the new hinge, the Magic Vs features a 5000 mAh battery, the largest on the foldable market. Non-foldable flagships such as S23 Ultra or OnePlus 11 have the same capacity. 5000 mAh is often considered to be the maximum practical capacity, but it is particularly challenging for a foldable design.
Additionally, when you need to replenish the battery, this smartphone can charge up to 66W of power, which is faster than any of the competitors we’ve seen until now. For heavy travelers, this is a significant advantage as you could charge 66% faster before boarding a flight or heading to your next destination.
The Honor Magic Vs is an impressive piece of technology at the same level of system performance, design excellence, display quality, and camera performance as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, its nemesis.
“AN IMPRESSIVE PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY”
The slight difference in our rating is justified by the absence of water resistance which is important for any device above $1500, and a better user experience for productivity and multi-tasking found in the Samsung device.
The Honor device certainly feels thinner and more agreeable to hold in the hand than the Z Fold4, with a better camera, for 200 euros less.