Honor Magic 5 Pro review: a versatile flagship that earns its place at the high table

It's a kind of magic

Honor Magic 5 Pro helf in the hand in front of a bush
(Image: © Future / Axel Metz)

TechRadar Verdict

The Honor Magic 5 Pro has all the makings of being the phone to well and truly put Honor on the mobile map. Its design will divide opinion, but there are enough premium specs here to consider Honor’s latest flagship among this year’s best Android handsets.

Pros

  • +

    Vivid, eye-friendly display

  • +

    Exceptional rear cameras

  • +

    Strong battery life and performance

Cons

  • -

    Impractical design will divide opinion

  • -

    No US availability

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Honor Magic 5 Pro: Two-minute review

In an interview with TechRadar at MWC 2023, Honor CEO George Zhao made no bones about the capabilities of his company’s latest flagship, the Honor Magic 5 Pro (officially stylized as the Honor Magic5 Pro). “If you compare [this phone] to other flagship devices, it’s better than them. No one can compete with us,” he proclaimed.

At the time, it was easy to brush off Zhao's enthusiasm as just that – a hyperbolic show of faith from a CEO keen to drum up interest in his company’s newest product. Having since spent time reviewing the Magic 5 Pro, though, I can safely say that Honor’s 2023 flagship does indeed have the credentials to compete with – and in certain areas, surpass –  the very best phones on the market in 2023. 

Honor Magic 5 Pro in the hand

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)

In short, this successor to the excellent Honor Magic 4 Pro has proven a unique and feature-packed device, with few obvious drawbacks. The Magic 5 Pro’s display is big and bright, its cameras are some of the most impressive I’ve seen and its large battery ensures that you get at least 12 hours of heavy use before needing to reach for a charger. When you do, the phone’s charging speeds are lightning fast, and you’ll even get a power brick included in the box (which isn’t a given these days).

So far, so good, right? Sure. But, like most top-of-the-line smartphones, the Magic 5 Pro isn’t without its quirks. For instance, the phone’s absolutely huge camera protrusion gives it an unusual (read: impractical) design that definitely won’t work for everyone. Its impressive charging speeds also lead to brief spells of overheating, and the Magic 5 Pro’s limited international availability make it a write-off for prospective US customers.

All in all, though, Honor has produced an impressively versatile flagship that can truly kick it with the latest and greatest from Apple, Samsung, Huawei and the rest. If you’re living in Europe and are on the hunt for a feature-packed smartphone that stands out from the crowd, the Magic 5 Pro is absolutely worth considering.

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Price and availability

Honor Magic 5 Pro poster

Honor announced the Honor Magic 5 Pro at MWC 2023 (Image credit: Honor)
  • Available in Europe, Mexico and most of Asia
  • Costs £949.99 / €1,199

The Honor Magic 5 Pro was unveiled at MWC 2023 alongside Honor’s newest foldable phone, the Honor Magic Vs, with the device on sale at Honor, Three, Amazon, Argos, Very and Currys from April 28 in the UK.

Pre-orders for the device begin on April 19 from Honor or Three, with Honor offering £80 off the phone's £949.99 retail price if you apply code AM5PRO80 at the company's official online store. The phone hits shelves in Europe as of April 28, for €1,199.

For comparison, the Honor Magic 4 Pro also retailed for £949.99 at launch, and went on sale at a similar time (May 13, 2022). The Honor Magic 5 Lite is already available to buy from £329.99 / €369.

As with its predecessor, the Magic 5 Pro is unlikely to become available in the US. Huawei sold Honor in 2020 to avoid seeing its one-time sub-brand placed on the US import blacklist, and while there’s no legal reason why Honor can't sell its latest flagship across the Atlantic, it’s not something we’ve seen the burgeoning brand do as of yet.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Specs

Check out the phone’s full specs below:

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Honor Magic 5 Pro specs
Header Cell - Column 1
Dimensions:76.7 x 162.9 x 8.77 mm
Weight:219g
OS:Android 13 w/ MagicOS 7.1
Screen size:6.81 inches
Resolution:1312 x 2848 pixels
CPU:Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM12GB (LPDDR5X)
Storage:512GB (UFS 4.0)
Rear Cameras:50MP (wide), 50MP (ultra-wide), 50MP (telephoto w/ 3.5x optical zoom)
Front Camera:12MP
Battery:5100mAh

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Design

Honor Magic 5 Pro in the hand

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • Eye-catching triple-lens design
  • … but it’s not particularly practical
  • 219g weight is reasonable given the camera size

Measuring 76.7 x 162.9 x 8.77mm and weighing 219g, the Honor Magic 5 Pro sticks with much of what made its predecessor great on the design front, with one big exception: its rear camera array.

In place of the Magic 4 Pro’s quad-lens ‘Eye of Muse’ setup is a triple-lens ‘Star Wheel’ that protrudes from the phone’s rear, sitting on what Honor is calling the ‘Gaudi Curve’.

Personally, I think the design looks cool – it certainly gives the Honor Magic 5 Pro a distinct identity – but from a practical standpoint, it’s not the most comfortable innovation.

Holding the phone in one hand, I found that my index finger rubbed against the edge of this hefty camera bump, and sometimes even the bottom two lenses. This isn’t an issue when using the Magic 5 Pro with two hands (because I don’t need to move my finger so high up in order to support the phone’s weight), but I can imagine that folks with even bigger hands than mine will end up leaving fingerprints all over the rear lenses.

Honor Magic 5 Pro in the hand

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)

Interestingly, TechRadar’s Senior Phones Editor, Alex Walker-Todd, told me he actually likes the way the Magic 5 Pro’s quirky rear setup feels in the hand – so the phone’s design is definitely something that’ll be a matter of personal preference. As such, it might be an idea to get your hands on the device in a store before purchasing.

The Magic 5 Pro comes in two colors – Meadow Green and black – with the former sporting a matte finish, which should help to keep those inevitable fingerprints away from the phone’s rear body, at least. The Magic 5 Pro also boasts IP68 water and dust resistance, and the device coped well with a light sprinkling of shower water during my testing.

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Display

Honor Magic 5 Pro display

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • Smooth and colorful 6.81-inch OLED display
  • Sleep-friendly viewing experience

The Honor Magic 5 Pro uses a similar 6.81-inch LTPO OLED display as the Magic 4 Pro, which is by no means a bad thing. You’re getting a crisp 1312 x 2848 resolution and a fast refresh rate of up to 120Hz here; which keeps things feeling suitably smooth and looking consistently gorgeous.

The screen leapfrogs its predecessor’s on the brightness front, offering 1,800 nits at full HDR whack – that’s a touch above the equivalent figure boasted by the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and just shy of the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s peak brightness. At its brightest, the Honor Magic 5 Pro is actually quite blinding, so it’s hard to imagine you’ll be left wanting for luminance (I certainly wasn’t).

Honor has also included an impressive 2160Hz PWM dimming cycle rate on the panel. By mimicking the dynamic dimming of natural light relative the active refresh rate of the display at any given moment, the Magic 5 Pro’s screen supposedly reduces eye strain by up to 18% (compared to other premium smartphones).

Honor also claims that the phone's circadian-friendly night display will actually help with your sleep. This wasn’t something I was able to test, per se, but the company consulted with Dr. Glen Jeffery, Professor of Neuroscience at UCL, to back up its claims regarding the Magic 5 Pro's sleep-friendly credentials, and Jeffery concluded that "Honor's novel technology may be able to help side-step [sleep disruption]. By regulating blue light in the Magic5 Pro, Honor is taking an important step in this direction." 

For what it’s worth, I never noticed my eyes straining even when using the phone for extended periods of time, which was refreshing given the amount of screen time I’m clocking up these days. 

The Honor Magic 5 Pro being tested in a lab

The Honor Magic 5 Pro's display being tested in a lab (Image credit: Honor)

Being beautiful to look at and sleep-friendly, then, the Magic 5 Pro’s screen is up there with the most impressive mobile displays I’ve ever come across. Benchmarking company DXOMARK seems to agree, too, having ranked the Magic 5 Pro’s screen as the best display currently available on a phone in 2023.

The phone’s pill-shaped front-facing camera cutout will certainly divide opinion – as will its curved display edges, which I know some gamers aren't too keen on – but I didn’t find that either gripe significantly affected my experience of using (and enjoying) the Magic 5 Pro’s most impressive feature.

  • Display score: 5 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Cameras

Honor Magic 5 Pro cameras

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • Three exceptional 50MP rear sensors
  • Strong zoom capabilities at reasonable distances
  • 4K video capture is limited

Honor has made a big song and dance about the Honor Magic 5 Pro’s camera setup – and for good reason. Housed in that aforementioned rear bulge is a 50MP f/1.6 wide lens, a 50MP f/2.0 ultra-wide lens, and a 50MP f/3.0 periscope telephoto lens, with 3.5x optical zoom.

The Magic 5 Pro’s main sensor is 35% larger than that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra, which means – on paper, at least – it can reckon with the challenges of light more effectively than both devices, and the phone’s use of computational photography (i.e. its ability to capture images using different lenses simultaneously) delivers zoom clarity that’s comparable to its premium rivals.

The Magic 5 Pro’s default shooting mode is more than sufficient for most photography tasks – with or without AI assistance enabled – with images appearing consistently sharp and well-balanced. Colors are exceptionally vivid, and the phone’s Millisecond Falcon Capture algorithm leads to very fast photo capture times – even on shots taken in tricky lighting conditions.

Night photography is similarly impressive on the Magic 5 Pro, though I did encounter some lens flare (below) that I couldn’t rectify, even after playing around with the phone’s dedicated night settings. Still, in this instance, the streaks of light emerging from the street lamps made for a strangely ethereal – and not wholly unwelcome – effect. 

On the odd occasion, the Magic 5 Pro also overcompensates when it comes to ‘filling in’ areas of darkness with artificial light. In the below example, the first image shows what I was actually seeing in front of me, and the second shows what the Magic 5 Pro captured. Again, the fact that the phone can manipulate light to this degree is seriously impressive – but in this case, I didn’t want my image to look like it was taken during the day.  

As mentioned, the Magic 5 Pro’s zoom capabilities are on a par with those of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – meaning they’re nothing short of remarkable. Standing on the top floor of a hotel I was staying at in Barcelona, I was able to capture images of pedestrians at street level whom I could barely make out with my own eyes. 

That said, as with Samsung’s latest flagship, the Magic 5 Pro’s zoom lens becomes more akin to a Dall-E painting generator when working at anything more than 50x magnification. As you can see in the series of images below, strong image sharpness is maintained at 3.5x and 10x magnification, but the subject becomes heavily distorted when magnifying any further. 

What’s more, the viewfinder no longer moves in sync with your hand when shooting at 100x – which makes capturing moving faraway objects almost impossible – so we’d suggest only maxing out the Magic 5 Pro’s zoom capabilities when you want to prove to your friends that, yes, your phone can make out that pigeon sitting on top of the Chrysler building. 

Fast-moving objects are a doddle when they’re much closer, mind, thanks to the Magic 5 Pro’s AI-assisted Falcon capture feature – which lets you take crisp photos of speeding objects without blur, even at night.

When it comes to video, the Magic 5 Pro can capture footage up to 4K at 30fps or 60fps, though the phone defaults to 1080p resolution, so you’ll need to head into settings to shoot in anything crisper. Annoyingly for those who want to shoot lengthy videos, the Magic 5 Pro caps 4K footage at 15 minutes – either due to storage limitations or heat build-up – so mobile-reliant content creators need not apply here. 

The Magic 5 Pro also gets a 12MP front-facing camera that falls into the ‘not bad, not groundbreaking’ category, which is the story of almost every flagship’s selfie snapper in 2023. 

  • Camera score: 4 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Performance

Honor Magic 5 Pro held in a hand in front of a bush

The Honor Magic 5 Pro is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
  • 512GB storage with 12GB RAM

Under the hood, the Honor Magic 5 Pro is powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which is the processor powering many of the best Android phones in 2023. 

The phone’s 12GB RAM is an improvement over its predecessor’s 8GB, and the Magic 5 Pro’s 512GB storage capacity is double that of the Magic 4 Pro, ensuring it can tackle whatever power-hungry creative or professional tasks are thrown its way. 

In short, the Magic 5 Pro offers the type of performance you’d expect from a near-four-figure Android flagship. Neither general browsing nor gaming caused the phone to noticeably heat up or slow down, with racing sims Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 9: Legends performing brilliantly at their highest graphical settings. 

The Magic 5 Pro’s Geekbench scores were comparable to the Xiaomi 13, Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus and Motorola Edge 40 Pro, with negligible performance differences between the four devices. In other words, you’re getting exceptional performance from this phone at all times, and prospective buyers need not be concerned by Honor’s lack of flagship pedigree compared to those three more established premium brands. 

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Software

Honor Magic 5 Pro front display

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • Runs MagicOS 7.1 (based on Android 13)
  • Unique privacy features

The Honor Magic 5 Pro runs MagicOS 7.1, which is based on Android 13. 

The phone’s interface will be familiar to existing Android fans, though there are minor differences to the way large folders and swipe gestures work. You’ll encounter the usual app bloat when booting up the Magic 5 Pro for the first time, but cleaning up and moving things around is a relatively quick and painless process. 

Honor also offers a range of smart device-specific features – such as MagicRing for multi-device collaboration and Magic Text for intelligent text recognition – with the Magic 5 Pro, and you’ll get stellar security credentials, too, with the phone boasting industry-first ‘Sound Energy Spatial Control Technology’, which supposedly generates opposite sound waves (i.e. destructive sound waves) to prevent sound leakage for your private phone calls.

As for criticisms, I found the optical in-display fingerprint scanner to be a little temperamental – it often required multiple tries, and sometimes locked me out for too many incorrect attempts – but the phone’s advanced facial recognition software proved consistently speedy.

You can also look forward to three OS upgrades and five years’ worth of security patches with the Magic 5 Pro, which matches Google’s commitment to its Pixel series.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Battery life

Honor Magic 5 Pro charging port

(Image credit: Future / Axel Metz)
  • 5100mAh battery
  • 66W wired charging, 50W wireless charging

The Honor Magic 5 Pro packs a giant 5100mAh battery that yields over 12 hours of battery life with heavy usage (for comparison, that's slightly more than the S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro Max can manage). If you’re more of a casual user, I’d say you’ll probably get closer to a day-and-a-half of juice from the Magic 5 Pro before needing to reach for a charger.

You’ll get 66W wired and 50W wireless charging with the phone, which is a little less than the 100W wired charging offered by the Magic 4 Pro, but in my testing I was still able to reach 43% and 67% in 15 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively (from a completely dead state). 

Those speeds will be plenty fast enough for most users, though it’s worth noting that my device did get noticeably hot after around 15 minutes of charging. Also, you’ll get a charger in the box, which isn’t a given these days (looking at you, Apple and Samsung).

  • Battery life score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Honor Magic 5 Pro?

Buy it if...

You want a feature-packed Android flagship that stands out from the crowd
The Magic 5 Pro boasts enough bells and whistles to be considered a long-term alternative to comparable flagships from more established mobile brands.

You want the best mobile display (at the time of writing)
The Magic 5 Pro’s cameras are excellent, but its eye-friendly display is what really sets the phone apart from the competition.

Don't buy it if...

You want a conventional-looking phone
The Magic 5 Pro arguably prioritizes individuality over practicality – as such, its unconventional design won’t be for everyone.

You’re a content creator
Given that 4K video capture is limited to 15 minutes, creators won’t be able to use the Magic 5 Pro to shoot lengthy videos.

Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Also consider

Image

Xiaomi 13 Pro

If you’re a fan of the Magic 5 Pro’s 50MP triple-camera setup but don’t like how those cameras are positioned, then the Xiaomi 13 Pro offers similar photographic performance in a more conventional-looking package. 

Image

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Magic 5 Pro may be a better all-rounder when it comes to mobile photography, but the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s superior 200MP main sensor may warrant the additional expense for hardcore shutterbugs.

Image

OnePlus 11

If you're itching for a mobile display as good at the Magic 5 Pro's but aren't a fan of the phone's overall design, then the OnePlus 11 – which boasts a similarly dazzling screen – could be a worthy alternative. 

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Xiaomi 13 ProSamsung Galaxy 23 UltraOnePlus 11
Price (from):£1,099$1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,949$699 / £729 / AU$1,199
Dimensions:162.9 x 74.6 x 8.38mm163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm163.1 x 74.1 x 8.5mm
Weight:229g234g205g
OS (at launch):Android 13 w/ MIUI 14Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1Android 13 w/ OxygenOS 13
Screen Size:6.73-inch6.8-inch6.7-inch
Resolution:3200 x 14403088 x 14401440 x 3216
CPU:Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for GalaxySnapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM:12GB (LPDDR5X)8GB / 12GB8GB / 16GB
Storage:256GB / 512GB (UFS 4.0)256GB / 512GB / 1TB128GB / 256GB
Battery:4,820mAh5,000mAh5,000 mAh
Rear Cameras:50MP main, 50MP ultra-wide, 50MP telephoto (3.2x)