Hands on: Honor Magic V review

Honor's first foldable phone

What is a hands on review?
Honor Magic V
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

Honor’s foldable Honor Magic V combines cutting-edge performance with a slim profile for a foldable phone. There are a couple of spec compromises when compared to Samsung’s latest Z Fold 3 – there's no dust or water resistance, a 90Hz display versus 120Hz, and no wireless charging – oh, and thus far, it’s only available in China. Nevertheless, in-person, it feels premium and looks slick on first impression.


  • +

    Premium design and build

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    Latest generation power

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    Slim profile for a foldable phone


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    No IP68 dust and water resistance

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    90Hz main display – not 120Hz

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    No telephoto camera

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The Honor Magic V is launching in a world in which foldables have come a long way. In 2018 and 2019, concept phones and bendy screens were taking trade shows by storm, and the first few half-baked test dummies like the Royole FlexPai and Galaxy Z Fold collided with real-world use and, oftentimes, cracked under the pressure. 

While the Huawei Mate X and its outward folding form were popular at the time with critics, the market has since moved towards the safer, inward-folding design Samsung launched with. Huawei’s most recent large foldable, the Mate X2 carries forward this styling.

Now, phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 are amongst the smartest you can own, combining a dual form-factor, IP68 dust and water resistance, and S Pen support for stylus input. 

In this brave new world of foldables, everyone’s getting in on it, with Oppo launching the Find N, and even laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 launching with flexible displays.

As Honor cements its identity since its split from Huawei last year, it’s little wonder it too is adding its foldable into the mix, testing the waters in the Chinese market. 

Honor Magic V

(Image credit: Future)

Honor Magic V release date and price

The Honor Magic V isn’t available in the West, and it has no confirmed launch planned in Australia, the US, or UK – officially at least. What we do know is that in China, it’s available for the equivalent of around $1,530 / £1,155 / AUS $2,075.

At the time of writing, two spec variants are available, the 256GB, 12GB RAM option, or the 512GB, 12GB RAM option. The phone can be bought in one of three colors: Black, Burnt Orange, and Titanium Silver – the latter being the handset we got our hands-on time with.

Design and display

Honor Magic V

(Image credit: Future)

Manageable in the hand, Honor’s Magic V carries forward the same styling Huawei and Samsung have featured in their latest big-screened foldables. 

With a cover display that measures 6.45 inches, and with a Wide Full HD resolution of 1080 x 2560, it’s smaller than Samsung’s front displays, and that makes it more manageable to use as a phone when closed.

The cover display is no slouch, with its OLED 10-bit tech, HDR10+ credentials and 120Hz refresh rate. In fact, the refresh rate outperforms the inner display, though in the flesh and on the show floor at MWC 2022, we didn’t notice the inner display lacking in any way. 

At 7.9 inches, the main display of the Magic V is larger than the 7.6-inch screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It features a resolution of 1984 by 2272, making it sharper too, though the Z Fold 3’s 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2x refresh rate is superior. 

The phone is relatively thin for a foldable when closed at 14.3mm, with each half measuring 6.7mm thick. What’s also noticeable is how small the gap is between the two sides when folded. The device we were using also had a very subtle crease when compared to Samsung’s folding flagships – though this might be owing to the fact it was likely box-fresh. 

The phone’s build is clearly premium too, with a glass front, glass back, and an aluminum frame. The back of the Titanium Silver version also sports a novel, striated finish, making it stand out in a sea of plain shiny or matte alternatives.

Cameras and battery life

Honor Magic V

(Image credit: Future)

Foldables don’t tend to have the strongest smartphone cameras given the fact they are already thick by nature, so adding a big camera module to the mix will only add to their heft, and it doesn’t look like the Magic V will be getting in our best camera phones of 2022 list any time soon.

It’s great to see three 50MP cameras on the back of the Magic V, though, at the time of writing, we don’t know which sensors are being used – so can’t speculate on the quality. 

What we do know is that the main camera on the Magic V features a 23mm wide angle and an f/2 lens, and there’s a second camera with a similar focal at 20mm. Honor calls it a “Spectrum Enhanced” camera, and we don’t know exactly what that means – we’ve reached out to Honor for clarification, but we do know it features an f/2 lens. 

Finally, there’s an ultra-wide 50MP camera with a 13mm lens, which equates to a 122º field of view, and that’s matched with an f/2.2 aperture. That camera mix means the Magic V misses out on optical zoom camera and no OIS, which puts it behind the Z Fold 3 on paper.

As for selfies, you can rely on two 42MP front cameras, each with an f/2.4 lens. One of these is on the cover display, and the other is on the main display.

Honor puts a respectable, 4,750mAh battery in the Magic V, larger than the 4,400mAh cell in the Z Fold 3 and the 4,500 cell in the Huawei Mate X2. This bodes well, even with the phone’s larger front display, and with fast charging at up to 66W, its advertised charging speeds get it to 50 percent in as little as 15 minutes.

Performance and specs

Honor Magic V

(Image credit: Future)

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the Honor Magic V packs the latest 2022 power. We’ve really enjoyed gaming on foldables in the past, with handsets like the Z Fold 2 and Z Fold 3 handling big hitters well.

What’s also noteworthy about Honor phones is that since Honor parted ways with Huawei, they have had access to the Google Play Store in the West, which bodes well for the Magic V should a launch outside China be confirmed. 

As it stands, the Honor V we tested featured the China version of Honor’s software, Magic UI 6, which looks similar, but features region-specific apps and no Play Store access. 

What Honor gives with one hand though, it takes away with another, and unlike Samsung’s foldables, the Magic V misses out on wireless charging.

Early verdict

Honor Magic V

(Image credit: Future)

Honor’s out for gold with its new flagship, the Magic 4 and the foldable Honor Magic V. The two phones represent a real leap towards premium, flagship experiences, breaking free of the ‘Huawei-lite’ identity Honor had spent so many years perpetuating with its very good, but intentionally dialed back smartphones.

The Magic V in particular proves Honor isn’t afraid of broaching the cutting edge of tech, and going against the Android smartphone establishment – Samsung. 

While it doesn’t pack everything the Z Fold 3 does, with IP68 dust and water resistance and wireless charging being the main omissions when comparing the two, the Honor Magic V does enjoy a larger battery than the Z Fold 3, a more practical front display, and a super premium in-hand feel. 

  • First tested March 2022
Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and is skilled in video production, and runs the technology YouTube channel TechEdit.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.