I have been using a folding phone for quite a few years now but up until the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 5G was available (and a nice tax rebate came my way), I had not been able to find one that stuck. The problem was that here in the UK unless you wanted to import from China, there were no real other options. The good news is that all changes in the next couple of weeks as we are about to have another two (at least) options become available.
I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to test one of those options and I have had my hands on the for the last week. I am talking about the Honor Magic Vs 5G. I have a preview unit of what will be landing in the UK markets very soon and I have some thoughts on it since I unboxed it a week ago. Usually, I would post my first thoughts within 24 hrs of the unboxing being done, however, this time around I was awaiting a forward update to be released before I posted. That update has now arrived so I am now happy to post my thoughts.
Now that is out of the way let’s dive into the device’s specs.
Some pretty good-looking specs but folding phones are so much more than their component parts. The key to a folding phone and also to differentiating it in terms of the way it feels is all down to the design and feel. So onto the tour of the device.
Let’s start with the hinge. there has been a lot of talk about the Hinge in the Honor Magic Vs 5G. It is rightly deserving this as the hinge from the outside edge is very small looking and it feels very strong when in use. On the inside of the hinge, we have only 4 major components instead of the predecessor’s 96 major components! That is some real evolution of design there. However, it does present a problem. i have become quite accustomed to having the hinge in a halfway open position on my Fold 4 but this is not something that is easily achieved on the Magic Vs. it will Hold the angle but it does require a bit more fiddling to get it to stay put and even then it is only a matter of time until it unfolds fully. Whilst it may not be a major issue I have grown used to having the phone in “book mode” for reading e-books at night. It’s a shame that the Magic Vs doesn’t keep its position as well. I have tried to show an example of this in the clip below.
As for the rest of the tour let’s start-up on the top bezels where we can find on one side a pinhole mic a speaker grill and then an IR blaster, which i still find weird to see on phones these days but it has long been a feature of Honor devices
Moving around we have got a staggered arrangement meant of keys with the volume rocker being on the upper of the edge and the power button/fingerprint reader being on the bottom. This staggering is actually quite clever as it means when the phone is unfolded then the volume is on the left-hand side and the power is on the right.
When you use the phone in its landscape orientation of wit the fold horizontally then the power button is on the bottom. This is true of the Fold 4 as well but on the Magic Vs, I find that the power button is not where my fingers rest naturally which means I don’t accidentally press it when gaming.
On the bottom edge, we have got a Dual sim card slot with a waterproof gasket. another speaker grill and mic and then the USB Type C Gen 3.1. This allows for the use of fast charging when used on a suitable fats charger brick and also Video and data throughput allows you to utilise a Desktop UI akin to Samsungs DEX mode.
This USB port also opens the door to using Honor’s proprietary Supercharge technology which will allow the two internal batteries to charge at up to 66W depending on the battery state and conditions. This is very useful and does go a little way to make up for the loss of lack of a QI charging could for Wireless charging, although, for a phone of this level, I would still have expected that to be on board.
Moving around the rear we have a relatively normal-looking rear panel with an overly glossy fingerprint magnet glass panel and a larger-than-life camera array. This array features 3 sensors each of the highest quality. We have got the following
- 54MP IMX800 Main Camera (f/1.9),
- 50MP Ultra Wide & Macro Main Camera (f/2.0),
- 8MP 3X Optical Zoom Camera (f/2.4)
However, things change when the phone is unfolded as part of the back of the phone used to be the outer display which now becomes a rear panel!
Now that I have mentioned the outer display it is a panel that is nice and tall but also and importantly a little bit wide than the one found o the Fold 4. This makes for a very useable outer display and the phone can be used perfectly in the one hand via this screen. the panel has the following specs
HDR10+ Screen-to-body ratio: 90%
Refresh rate: up to 120Hz
Brightness: up to 1200 nits
Resolution: 2560 x 1080 pixels
Pixel density: 431 PPI
It is a very nice panel to use and for the most part when in use it feels just like a normal phone albeit a bit thicker than a normal phone. Even though there is not a massive difference in the outer screen sizes of the Fold 4 against the Magic Vs for ease of use the Magic Vs just feels that little bit better which I have to say did surprise me. The only slight negative is that the pre-fitted screen protector is quite sticky and therefore smudges and fingerprints are easily added and the finger doesn’t seem to track as smoothly as on Gorilla Glass Victus. I do like having the high refresh rate on the outer display and i feel that this is now becoming the industry standard spec for this price point and a lot lower in some cases.
Embedded into the middle of the front /outer display is a 16MP selfie camera with the following specs
16MP Camera (f/2.45),
Video: Up to 1080 × 2520 pixels,
Photo: Up to 3456 × 4608 pixels
Just above the camera is a tiny groove which acts as the earpiece for voice calls and the audio produced from this opening is very clear and is not so loud that other parties will be able to hear your conversations either.
Whilst talking about calls you may have noticed that there are a lot of antenna lines around the edge of the phone and this makes for some really good signal reception on both cellular signal and Wifi signal. I have been impressed with the quality of the signals being held on all networks that I have tested the phone on. as you would reasonably expect from a phone of this level in 2023.
Finally, the bit we are most interested in is the internal folding display. the display itself is great and i cannot fault it for the colour and the brightness levels. I can’t even fault the fact that it is only a 90hz display. However, the issue that I do have with the inner display and an area where the fold 4 still come into its own is how the internal display is used. This is more something that will be discussed in the software section of the full review but it is a big weak point for the Magic Vs. The inner display will mirror exactly what has been going on on t router display in terms of the layout of apps and the icon size.
This is a big shame as otherwise, the display is really good and I would go as far as saying that the crease is less noticeable than that of the Fold 4 and any preceding fold device from Samsung. As you can hopefully see from the image of the devices alongside each other below the crease is so much more visible in Fold 4 than it is in Magic Vs. This is down to the Magic Vs using a different folding screen method from the Fold 4 and for me, this is the better out of the two options.
We do of course have one other major difference on the internal screens and that is the selfie camera which is a cutout on the magic vs and it shares the same spec as the one on the outer display. I can’t really say that it makes a big difference when I am using the phones regarding the cutout as i would tend to have the cutout in the bottom right-hand corner when I am holding the phone in landscape so it doesn’t intrude too much when I am gaming or watching videos.
So that pretty much covers my unboxing for the Honor Magic Fold Vs 5G. Overall impressions are the hardware is in some ways better than the Fold 4, however, where it takes its hits they are hard hits.
I do prefer the feel of the slightly wider folded phone and using it in this way feels more natural than on the Fold 4, the differences in terms of hardware are not so apparent when you unfold it though as the Fold 4 uses this mode better in terms of software and that outweighs the benefits of the reduced groove in the middle of the display.
I have had a few days of use of the Magic Vs under my belt by the time I have written this and i will say that there are some big differences here and they will be what really makes or breaks this as an option for me especially as i have been living with a 4th gen product for some time now.
I look forward to getting you the full review out to you soon.
I will also be getting an update on the pricing ad availability of the Honor Magic Vs 5G in the UK soon which I will share with you very soon. if you are thinking of getting a folding phone then watch this space as things are about to get more interesting and the Honor Magic Vs 5G is going to play a big part in that.