At first glance, the Honor Magic V2 raises the bar for foldable phones. It’s thinner and lighter than comparatively priced rivals, and borrows enough high-spec features from Honor’s premium candy bar devices to warrant plaudits beyond its impressive form factor.
Unparalleled foldable design
Vivid, eye-friendly display
No IP rating
No wireless charging
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Honor Magic V2: Two-minute preview
Foldable phones haven’t yet come close to meaningfully disrupting the candy bar-shaped mainstream, but there’s no denying that mobile manufacturers the world over are committed to investing heavily in the foldable ideal.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 arrived in July 2023 to shake up our list of the best foldable phones money can buy. But Chinese smartphone brand Honor – which has fast become a major industry disruptor – also has a new foldable flagship in its shop window; one that may have already left its American counterparts in the dust.
The Honor Magic V2 arrives as the successor to the excellent Honor Magic VS (head over to our hands-on Honor Magic VS review for our full thoughts on that device), and represents Honor’s third foldable offering since the Honor Magic V debuted in early 2022.
Thinner, lighter and more powerful than both of those devices, the Magic V2 packs a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a display that borrows heavily from the excellent Honor Magic 5 Pro, while its camera setup – on paper, at least – rivals that of the Google Pixel Fold.
Honor’s latest foldable flagship was officially unveiled in China earlier this year, before being announced globally at IFA 2023. I haven’t spent enough time with the Magic V2 to deliver a full verdict on its value for money – or position in the foldable market – just yet. But after some brief hands-on time pre-IFA, I can safely say that the early signs are promising.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Price and availability
As above, the Honor Magic V2 was first unveiled in China on July 12, 2023, before being showcased globally at IFA 2023 on September 1.
The phone has a starting price of 8,999 yuan overseas, which converts to around $1,250 / £980 / AU$1,920, but we’re still waiting on Honor to confirm international pricing (additional shipping and tax costs mean that those converted figures are likely to be much, much higher).
For reference, the Honor Magic VS started at £1,399 (for the 8GB RAM / 256GB model), while the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 starts at $1,799.99 / £1,749 / AU$2,599 (for the 12GB RAM / 256GB model). In other words, this is a competitively priced, albeit outrageously expensive, handset.
As with most Honor devices, the Magic V2 is unlikely to be made available in the US or Australia any time soon, though its imminent release in the UK and Europe has been confirmed.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Specs
Check out the Honor Magic V2's full specs below:
|Header Cell - Column 1|
|Dimensions (folded):||156.7 x 74.1 x 9.9mm|
|Dimensions (unfolded):||156.7 x 145.4 x 4.7mm|
|OS:||MagicOS 7.2 atop Android 13|
|Display (foldable):||7.92-inch OLED (2156 x 2344)|
|Display (outer):||6.43-inch OLED (1060 x 2376)|
|Chipset:||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|Storage:||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Rear Cameras:||50MP (f/1.9) main, 50MP (f/2.0) ultra-wide, 20MP (f/2.4) telephoto|
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Design
It’s fitting that this hands-on review should begin with our verdict on the Honor Magic V2’s design, because, quite frankly, that’s the most important aspect of any foldable phone. And what a design this is.
The Magic V2 is a large, book-style foldable that looks similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold. But measuring just 156.7 x 74.1 x 9.9mm when folded and 156.7 x 145.4 x 4.7mm when unfolded, it’s also the thinnest foldable smartphone available in the world right now.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold measure 6.1mm and 5.8 mm at their thinnest, respectively, so for Honor to undercut both models by more than a millimeter is seriously impressive. To help you visualize just how thin the Magic V2 is when unfolded, imagine two Euro coins stacked on top of each other. Or, to put it another way, you could probably pass this phone underneath your bedroom door.
The Magic V2 trumps the competition at its thickest, too, measuring just 9.9mm when folded (versus 13.4mm for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and 12.1mm for the Pixel Fold). In candy bar mode, Honor’s latest foldable is just one millimeter thicker than the conventionally-designed Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and at 231g, it’s also 3g lighter.
So, yes, the Magic V2 is the thinnest and lightest book-style foldable money can buy right now, which likewise makes it the most physically practical device of its kind. Foldable phones – not least the Honor Magic VS – have often been criticized for being heavy, un-pocketable devices, but Honor has gone some way to mitigating that criticism here.
The Chinese manufacturer claims to have used “proprietary steel” and a titanium hinge – one that can supposedly be folded up to 400,000 times – to achieve such impressive design credentials on the Magic V2, with the phone’s dual “silicon-carbon batteries” also measuring just 2.72mm thick (that’s about the thickness of a credit card).
The major downside of all that aesthetic innovation is that the Magic V2 offers no official IP rating, meaning it’s not as water resistant as, say, the Galaxy Fold 5. In a pre-briefing for the device, Honor told us that the Magic V2 can comfortably withstand the odd shower sprinkling, but this is definitely not a phone to be taken for an underwater photoshoot.
On the colors front, the Magic V2 is available black, gold, Silk Black and Silk Purple. The black model has an eco-leather rear panel, while the other three models have glass backs.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Display
Being a foldable phone, the Honor Magic V2 has two displays. The first is a 7.92-inch, 2156 x 2344-pixel foldable OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and a peak brightness of 1,600 nits. The second is a 6.43-inch, 120Hz OLED cover display with a 1060 x 2376 resolution, which uses drop-resistant nanocrystal glass.
Both screens have around 402 pixels per inch, and both use Honor’s proprietary dynamic dimming display technology to achieve an impressive 3840Hz PWM dimming cycle rate, which essentially helps to minimize strain on the eyes (you’ll find the same display smarts inside the Honor Magic 5 Pro and Honor 90).
In practice, the Magic V2’s dual displays are big, bright, smooth and more than suitable for gaming and watching movies (thanks in part to that aforementioned HDR10+ support). They’re largely in line with what you’ll get from the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold, though the former has slightly smaller bezels around its edges.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Cameras
Foldable phone manufacturers have yet to make cameras the core focus of their foldable devices, and that doesn’t change with the Honor Magic V2.
That’s not to say that the cameras on offer here aren’t worth shouting about, mind. The Magic V2 boasts three rear lenses: a 50MP (f/1.9) main, a 50MP (f/2.0) ultra-wide, and a 20MP f/2.4 telephoto, with the latter offering 2.5x optical zoom. The main and telephoto cameras also have optical image stabilization (OIS).
There’s a 16MP, punch-hole front camera on each screen, too, and on the video front, you can shoot in up to 4K quality at up to 60 fps.
The Google Pixel Fold represents the current standard for foldable phone cameras, and since that phone’s rear setup comprises a 48MP (f/1.7) main lens, a 10.8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens and a 10.8MP (f/3.05) telephoto lens offering 5x optical zoom, the Magic V2 has a good chance of challenging for that crown.
Honor’s Falcon Capture system is also carried over from Magic 5 Pro, and some clever AI optimization should help to keep pictures taken with the Magic V2 looking bright and sharp, so we’re excited to put the phone through its photographic paces in our full review.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Performance and software
Under the hood, the Honor Magic V2 is powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which is the chip you’ll find inside many of the best Android phones in 2023.
It comes with 16GB of RAM and a choice of either 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage – i.e. the same options offered on the Honor Magic VS. But whatever configuration you choose, the Magic V2 will almost certainly deliver the level of performance you’d expect from a four-figure Android flagship.
Browsing, streaming and gaming are a breeze for this phone, with its 16GB of RAM making even the most power-hungry creative or professional tasks easy to perform. I’ll be running full benchmark tests for the Magic V2’s full review, but it’s safe to expect comparable performance from this device versus others running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
Other performance specs include a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, 5G support and stereo speakers, and the Magic V2 supports a stylus on both of its screens, too – though this isn’t included with the phone, as is the case in China.
On the software front, the Magic V2 runs MagicOS 7.2 – which is based on Android 13 – and comes pre-equipped with Google apps, meaning the likes of the Play Store, Maps and Gmail are ready and waiting on first boot-up.
As you’d expect from a foldable Honor device, the phone also packs a raft of enhanced smart features. Parallel Space, for example, lets you use two apps independently of each other split across the foldable screen.
We’re waiting on Honor to confirm its update support commitment to the Magic V2. But since the Magic 5 Pro and Magic VS are both getting five years of security updates and three major operating system upgrades, we’d expect similar pledges for Honor’s latest flagship.
Hands-on Honor Magic V2 review: Battery life
Like its predecessor, the Honor Magic V2 packs a dual 5,000 mAh battery that can be fully recharged using Honor’s 66W SuperCharge tech in under an hour.
That’s a larger battery than you’ll find inside both the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (4,400 mAh) and Pixel Fold (4,727 mAh) – so in theory, the Magic V2 should last longer than either phone. And it’s worth remembering that this larger cell doesn’t come at the expense of weight (quite the opposite, in fact). Honor’s 66W SuperCharge cable comes included in the box, too.
I’ll be running full battery tests for the phone’s full review, but suffice to say, those on-paper battery credentials are impressive, and I haven’t yet found myself wanting for charge with the Magic V2. There's still no wireless charging, though, so the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold win out on that front.
First tested August 2023
Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.
Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.
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