Regardless of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold lineup now being in its fourth technology, it’s up to now confronted little competitors throughout a lot of the world. In China, patrons have a selection of tablet-style foldable gadgets from the likes of Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo, however elsewhere, Samsung has been the one critical choice for anybody who needs a smartphone-size foldable that may increase to the scale of a small pill.
That’s altering this yr. Not solely will Google’s Pixel Fold begin delivery to clients later this month, however Honor has additionally launched its Magic VS foldable outdoors of China. Whereas Google’s gadget goes toe-to-toe with Samsung by way of value, Honor is making an attempt to undercut it. The Magic VS retails at £1,399 (€1,599, or roughly $1,738 — although it received’t be bought within the US) versus a £1,649 (€1,799 / $1,799) beginning value for Samsung’s Z Fold 4, representing a small however important low cost. Not solely that, however the Honor Magic VS can also be thinner and rated to outlive extra folding cycles.
Its specs make the Magic VS appear to be nice worth. However regardless of this technically being Honor’s second swing at a foldable (its first gadget, the Magic V, was unique to China), the Magic VS has a collection of tough edges that make its asking value a troublesome promote.
The only most spectacular side of the Honor Magic VS is how nearly regular it feels to make use of whereas folded. Sure, it’s thick, and sure, it’s heavy, however basically, I by no means felt like I had to open it up to make use of it for normal smartphone duties.
A lot of that comes right down to the scale of its 120Hz OLED cowl show. It’s 6.45 inches in measurement, 1080p in decision, has a 21.3:9 side ratio, and the gadget (together with bezels) measures 72.6mm in width and 160.3mm in peak when folded. For these retaining observe, that makes the Magic VS barely taller and wider than the Z Fold 4 (67.1mm by 155.1mm), and the folded gadget can also be barely thinner in addition. It additionally folds neatly with none apparent hole, so it feels such as you’re holding a comparatively symmetrical gadget.
Unfold the Magic VS, and also you’ll discover a 7.9-inch interior display screen that’s barely larger decision (2272 × 1984) and barely greater than Samsung’s newest foldable however barely much less responsive (it’s 90Hz moderately than 120Hz). It’s received a ten.3:9 side ratio that makes it technically barely taller than it’s huge (aka portrait), however in observe, it principally feels sq.. There’s no stylus assist right here such as you get with Samsung’s latest foldables, and the display screen crease is fairly apparent once you maintain the cellphone at an angle. However like with different folding smartphones, the crease is way much less apparent once you’re really utilizing the cellphone, and in any other case, the display screen is crisp and colourful.
That stated, of their default “dynamic” refresh charge mode, the screens can really feel slightly sluggish, and I think they might have been defaulting to a decrease refresh charge to avoid wasting battery life. The “Medium” 90Hz refresh charge mode felt lots higher and didn’t seem to have a lot of an impression on battery life. The exterior display screen is technically able to as much as 120Hz however was by no means wanting for extra responsiveness.
No matter whether or not you’re utilizing the Magic VS open or closed, there’s loads of display screen for apps to utilize, however the tradeoff is weight. The Magic VS weighs 267 grams, which makes it 4 grams heavier than the Galaxy Fold 4 and a lot heavier than most conventional handsets. That’s comprehensible, contemplating you’re principally carrying round a small pill, however has its drawbacks. Should you’re somebody who likes to throw your cellphone in a zipped again pocket and go for a run, you may discover the Magic VS’s weight annoying.
Each screens are comfortably sized
On the again of the Magic VS is a vertical digicam bump for its essential, ultrawide, and telephoto cameras; on the aspect, there’s a speedy fingerprint scanner constructed into its energy button, and on the underside, there’s a single USB-C port. You don’t get a headphone jack as a result of, clearly, you don’t get a headphone jack, neither is there any assist for expandable storage.
Sturdiness stays a priority with any foldable gadget, and there’s each good and dangerous information on that entrance. The excellent news is Honor’s declare that the Honor Magic VS is rated to outlive 400,000 folding cycles, double the quantity Samsung has traditionally quoted for its telephones. However whereas Samsung ships its gadgets with an IPX8 score for water (however not mud) resistance, there’s no IP score to be discovered on Honor’s gadget.
Unusually for me, I additionally managed to scratch the duvet show on my overview gadget, which doesn’t precisely fill me with confidence. (There’s no point out of Gorilla Glass within the Honor Magic VS’s specs, unlike with Samsung.) So that you’re left with a selection between a foldable (Honor’s) that’s rated to outlive extra folds in a lab setting or one (Samsung’s) that has extra claimed safety in opposition to real-world accidents.
Internally the Honor Magic VS is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage (for the file, the bottom variant of the Z Fold 4 comes with simply 256GB). Sure, meaning it’s technically powered by final yr’s Qualcomm flagship processor (the cellphone was first introduced in China final November), however I by no means discovered the cellphone chugged in on a regular basis utilization.
In each day use, the Magic VS feels as quick and responsive to make use of as every other flagship and feels very usable in its folded state. I contemplate this each a optimistic and a unfavorable. Sure, you actually can use this like an everyday (albeit thick and heavy) smartphone. Nevertheless it additionally speaks to the typically restricted performance of the bigger interior show.
For probably the most half, this comes right down to how inconsistently Android apps deal with the bigger interior show. Typically they work nice. WhatsApp is a wonderful instance of an app that finds good use for the extra horizontal display screen actual property, and like with different foldables, you should utilize the Magic VS whereas half folded, like a laptop computer, to look at YouTube on one-half of the display screen (even when its stereo audio system are slightly quiet).
However the majority of apps I attempted had been extra inconsistent. Many, like Twitter, merely increase to fill the additional display screen actual property and find yourself wanting like stretched cellphone apps. Others, like Instagram, Instapaper, Slack, and the companion app for my Tado good heating system, seem with black bars on both aspect of the show to take care of a phone-like side ratio.
These aren’t issues unique to Honor’s cellphone, Samsung’s foldables have comparable points, but it surely’s an essential challenge to concentrate on should you’re considering of investing in a foldable.
Because of this, the bigger interior show makes much more sense for multitasking. You may put apps into split-screen mode by swiping a small line icon on the prime of the display screen to the left or proper earlier than selecting a second app from an app drawer that seems. It’s additionally attainable to open a 3rd app as a floating window, however by that time, issues get so crowded that the apps are onerous to make use of for something over a pair seconds.
These multitasking moments had been when the Magic VS made probably the most sense to me. It was the time on a prepare after I might watch a YouTube video whereas leaving WhatsApp open to answer messages. Or after I was placing collectively a weekly procuring listing on one aspect of the display screen whereas looking recipes I would wish to cook dinner on the opposite. Or after I wanted to obtain an emailed receipt from my dentist to make a declare on my insurance coverage by way of a web site that was on no account optimized for cell. I don’t have to let you know that large screens could be tremendous useful.
Multitasking is the place the interior show turns into most helpful
That’s to not say that multitasking works flawlessly on the Honor Magic VS. Google Calendar, for instance, refused to open in break up display screen if I attempted to launch it whereas utilizing one other app — as a substitute, I needed to keep in mind to launch it first after which open a second app in break up display screen. Slack’s textual content compose field would get hidden behind the onscreen keyboard when utilized in break up display screen. I additionally incessantly noticed an error message if I dared to open or shut the cellphone whereas utilizing sure apps, warning that it might create errors. I by no means encountered the issues the error message warned about, however the message itself was fairly annoying.
It’s troublesome to say whether or not these points are the fault of Honor or app builders. However this distinction might find yourself being important if builders select to optimize their apps for the forthcoming Pixel Fold. All I can say for certain is that the gadget I used felt tough across the edges.
Elsewhere, Honor’s MagicOS software program has quirks that I’ve disliked in its earlier telephones and proceed to dislike now. Typically I might customise and tweak issues to my liking, like by changing Honor’s SwiftKey keyboard with Gboard and manually exempting apps from its aggressive power-management choices. There are additionally quite a lot of preinstalled apps I eliminated, like Fb and Reserving.com. Elsewhere, nonetheless, Honor’s selections are extra everlasting, like how there’s no choice to allow an app drawer, leaving all of your apps cluttering up your homescreen.
I’ll say that it’s good to see Honor providing extra years of assist with the Magic VS than it has completed up to now. The corporate has stated the cellphone will obtain three years of Android updates and five years of security updates for the foldable, which falls barely wanting Samsung’s Z Fold 4 on the Android replace entrance (4 years) however matches it on the safety aspect (5 years).
The battery lifetime of the Honor Magic VS is nice. I averaged about six and a half hours of screen-on time with the cellphone and routinely put the gadget on to cost in a single day with over 50 p.c of its battery capability remaining, even on a day crammed with loads of YouTube watching, social media, and a few heavy WhatsApp utilization. Certain, that’s not a pill’s price of battery life, but it surely’s good for a cellphone. The Magic VS could be fast-charged utilizing a 66W charger that comes within the field (in contrast to Samsung’s Z Fold 4), however there’s no wi-fi charging (additionally in contrast to Samsung’s Z Fold 4).
The Honor Magic VS has 5 cameras complete. Three of them are constructed into that giant rear digicam bump (a 54-megapixel essential, 50-megapixel ultrawide, and 8-megapixel telephoto with a 3x optical zoom), and there are additionally 16-megapixel selfie cameras on the duvet and interior shows, each contained inside hole-punch notches. There aren’t any under-display selfie cameras right here, which, given their shaky popularity, I’m completely wonderful with.
General, nonetheless, the Magic VS’s digicam efficiency isn’t superb. Sure, daylight photographs are vibrant and colourful, however they will stray into over-processed territory. Have a look at the vegetation sitting on the windowsill of the primary picture within the gallery above, they usually’re outlined with a bizarre vibrant line that makes them appear to be an object you’ve chosen in a online game. It’s the obvious instance from my photographs, however this tendency towards brightening and sharpening is current throughout most of them. That stated, typically I like how the processing comes out when it’s utilized to individuals’s faces. Sure, it’s arguably unnatural, but when I had been to manually edit a photograph, it’s in all probability near the look I’d select.
Pictures with the ultrawide and telephoto are typically good as long as you have got sufficient mild, however I had a extra inconsistent time in low mild. Right here, the Honor Magic VS struggled to take care of element with even its essential digicam, and it had much more of an issue when it got here to its telephoto and ultrawide cameras. You may nearly get away with a nonetheless scene, however the second there’s any second, there’s quite a lot of blurriness to take care of. Video efficiency is okay, with the choice to file in as much as 4K at 60fps.
Regardless of commanding costs that put them into the identical brackets as the costliest flagship telephones available on the market, foldables hardly ever handle to compete with them by way of digicam efficiency. And that continues to be the case right here. You’re paying for the folding mechanism, not a number one digicam system.
To this point, no foldable has shipped with out compromises. There are nonetheless loads of legitimate issues about sturdiness, and there are nonetheless too few Android apps that make good use of bigger screens. And regardless of their premium value tags, digicam high quality continues to fall wanting comparably priced non-folding flagships. All of that continues to be the case with the Honor Magic VS.
That’s to not say Honor hasn’t made some progress. I feel the extent to which the cellphone is usable in its folded, smartphone-style kind is spectacular. I like that Honor is testing the cellphone to final extra folding cycles, and should you’re the form of individual that bristles on the thought of a premium-priced cellphone coming with no charger within the field, then you definitely’ll like that there’s one right here.
I think there could also be two varieties of individuals on the market who may contemplate shopping for the Honor Magic VS. The primary are the individuals who undoubtedly desire a foldable and who’re contemplating saving some cash by going with the Magic VS over the Z Fold 4 (or, certainly, the upcoming Google Pixel Fold or Z Fold 5 that Samsung is predicted to announce this summer season). The second are individuals who wouldn’t usually contemplate shopping for a foldable however who’re tempted by the extra reasonably priced value of the Magic VS.
I’d battle to enthusiastically advocate the Honor Magic VS for both group. Should you’re already bought on the thought of a foldable, I feel it is smart to pay for the upper degree of polish of Samsung’s product. And should you haven’t been satisfied by foldables up to now, I don’t suppose the Magic VS does sufficient to beat their historic limitations to be convincing.
The Honor Magic VS is perhaps a extra reasonably priced foldable choice. However once you’re priced at £1,399, “extra reasonably priced” isn’t the strongest argument.
Pictures by Jon Porter / The Verge