Honor gave me a pre-production unit of the brand new Honor Magic Vs folding phone to check out, so long as I didn’t talk about the software.
This happens sometimes in tech journalism – a brand is so keen to show off its shiny new thing that it lets reporters and YouTubers take a look at a product before it is ready to ship, as long as they promise not to talk about the unfinished stuff.
That’s why I agreed, somewhat begrudgingly, to have a play with the Honor Magic Vs before it was available with software that customers will actually use.
I chose to still write about it despite the restrictions because the hardware is very impressive, and I feel it succeeds where Honor claimed it does: in working well as a regular smartphone.
The downfall of expensive folding phones that open to tablet size such as Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is their outer displays are often restrictive. In the Z Fold 4’s case, it’s too thin, meaning apps appear squashed and typing with one thumb, let alone two, is cramped and can result in typos.
By contrast, Honor VP of global product marketing Clement Wong told Tech Advisor the goal of the Magic Vs was to make a folding phone with a tablet screen inside that people would still buy and use as their main smartphone.
The problem with competing foldables, he said, is their outer displays have odd aspect ratios and offer a bad user experience, so people still use a normal slab smartphone alongside their fancy folding device.
After two weeks using the Magic Vs, I am inclined to agree Honor has done a good job with the outer display. It’s a 120Hz 6.45in OLED screen that crucially is 21:9, an aspect ratio often found on ‘normal’ phones.
Add to that the fact the Magic Vs also folds shut totally flat – unlike the wedged Z Fold 4 – and you’re left with a foldable that does genuinely feel more like a normal phone, albeit a lot thicker.
One downside is the folding mechanism is a little unpolished. When opened fully, it feels and looks as though the hinge is trying to close a little, as it doesn’t snap completely flat. But Honor has worked to simplify the hinge mechanism from the original Magic V released earlier this year, resulting in a pleasingly clean design.
The triple camera module on the back also protrudes, so the Magic Vs is still a bit of a chonk and not everyone will love the matt, sparkly cyan colour of the sample I checked out. The inner display is a decent 7.9in panel but it’s only 90Hz and you can feel the crease in the middle and easily see it in most lighting conditions.
I can’t talk much more about the Magic Vs, but I’ve been promised a full retail review sample in the new year. Honor has yet to confirm which countries will officially get the foldable, or how much it will cost, but it’s set for a “global” launch.
If the Magic Vs has useful, reliable software and, more importantly, a competitive price, it could end up the leading competitor to Samsung’s Z Fold series in Europe, leapfrogging Oppo, Huawei and Xiaomi in the process.
For a brand that not long ago was the youth-focused budget brand of Huawei, that would be very impressive indeed.