Honor Magic V2 review: Fine foldable form

The Honor Magic V2 is unbelievably thin for a folding phone (Image: Honor)

The Honor Magic V2 is an excellent expensive foldable phone with one of the best and thinnest folding designs to date

What we love

  • Stupendously thin design
  • Very good displays
  • Top performance
  • Good battery life for a foldable

What we don’t

  • The software is a little unpolished
  • Very expensive
  • Not fully waterproof

The Honor Magic V2 is an astounding piece of engineering, an impossibly thin folding phone that’s more impressive at first glance than rival devices from Samsung, Google, and OnePlus.

When closed it’s only 2mm thicker than an iPhone 15, which means it’s one of the first book-style foldables that feels like a ‘regular’ slab smartphone in your hand or your front pocket, even if it is a little heavier because of its hinge and two screens.

Those two screens are very good indeed, powered by a snappy chipset and surprisingly decent all-day battery considering the razor thin design. Most apps behave on both sized screens, with the outer display a more normal and usable size compared to the tall and narrow one on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Honor’s software needs some work though, and the Magic V2 is not as intuitive or as clever with its software features compared to the OnePlus Open. But for an underdog tech company, this hardware is phenomenal, even if the V2 is a nearly-there foldable that doesn’t quite justify its £1,699 price tag.

Honor Magic V2 review

Folding smartphones have been available for five years now, and their novelty may well be wearing off. Maybe that’s just us. But the latest book-style foldable from phone maker Honor is just so incredibly thin that we had to sit up and take notice.

Phones that fold are fun but they are very expensive, fragile, and often have odd-shaped screens.  sells the most foldables globally, but its has a large almost-square inside screen and an annoyingly thin outer display. When it’s closed the phone feels like a chunky, heavy TV remote control.

The Honor Magic V2 is a better-designed phone, but its software is not as easy to get along with as Samsung or OnePlus’s competing phones. And when you’re spending more than £1,600 on a phone, stuff like that really matters, no matter how pretty the hardware is.

Design

  • Incredible thin design
  • Vegan leather option
  • Screen crease is mostly invisible

If you weren’t sold on the idea of foldable phones yet then the Honor Magic V2’s design could well change your mind. It is thin – impossibly thin – undoubtedly more impressive than the Galaxy Z Fold 5, , and even the more refined . At 231g, it’s also only 10g heavier than the .

The back of our review unit was coated in fingerprint-resistant black vegan leather, which is lovely to the touch, but a matt purple glass version is also available in the UK. It’s only 9.9mm thick when closed, which is barely 2mm more than an (the purple V2 is 10.1mm). When a phone with a hidden inside screen is practically as thin as a normal phone it’s clear Honor has done something special here, and it reminds you just how futuristic and cutting edge it is to be able to buy a gadget that has a folding screen.

The Honor Magic V2 unfolded

The Magic V2 is impressively thin when unfolded (Image: Honor)

When unfolded there’s a plastic rim around the border of the plastic display, with volume rocker on the left edge and a power button with a fingerprint sensor built into the power button on the right, which works well consistently.

A three-camera array sticks out of the back, spoiling the thin look somewhat. The hinge mechanism feels sturdy and Honor says it’s built to last up to 400,000 open and closes. That’s enough to cover you for more than 100 open and closes per day for ten years. Only time will tell if the phone will last, as it depends on a number of factors. It has an IP65 rating, which means it’s fairly dustproof, but will only withstand splashes. Don’t take this phone near the pool.

If you weren’t sold on the idea of foldable phones yet then the Honor Magic V2’s design could well change your mind

There’s a USB-C port on the bottom and a lesser-spotted IR blaster on the top edge – an infrared beam that you can use to control TVs and other appliances like a remote control.

The Honor Magic V2

The phone comes in purple or black in the UK (Image: Honor)

Displays

  • 7.92-inch inner screen
  • 6.43-inch outer screen
  • Both have smooth 120Hz refresh rates

The most important part of a folding phone is its folding screen. Luckily Honor has done a solid job here, with the crease in the middle of a large 7.92-inch OLED display that’s less visible in most lights than the deep groove in Samsung’s current crop of foldables. The panel has good brightness but as it’s plastic it’s hard to see in bright lights as it is quite reflective. Despite that we found it great to read on, with news apps and the Kindle app expanding to fill the whole display. You might stop carrying your Kindle full stop, though the blue light from the screen (like all phone screens) means you do get eye strain at night.

The Honor Magic V2's inner screen

The Honor Magic V2’s inner screen looks great in high resolution (Image: Honor)

It’s very high resolution so things look pin-sharp as they scroll smoothly thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. The outer screen is just as good and smooth, and is a great, normal phone shape. Paired with the thinness when close, the Magic V2 is the first large folding phone that genuinely feels normal to use when closed.

Both screens have single selfie camera cut outs so you can snap yourself whichever one you’re using, or take video calls.

The Honor Magic V2's outer screen

The Honor Magic V2’s outer screen is the size of a normal smartphone (Image: Honor)

Cameras

  • Solid 50MP main camera
  • Decent telephoto and ultra-wide lenses
  • Selfie cameras at top of both screens

The Magic V2’s cameras are very good, if a rung or two below the very best. This is quite usual for foldable phones, which can’t fit in the best sensors when phone makers keep them slim. The exception is the huge camera bump on the OnePlus Open, whose cameras are exceptionally good.

That said, we were far from disappointed with the lenses on the V2. Images from the 50MP main sensor are crisp and sharp, and results usually rival most other high-end smartphones:

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

We were impressed with the 2.5x optical zoom of the 20MP telephoto too. The below shot was taken at 2.5x from the same spot as the photo above:

Honor Magic V2 camera sample

Honor Magic V2 camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

The ultra-wide lens is good in a pinch to capture more of a scene, and at 50MP it captures decent colour range and detail. But we much preferred shooting with the main and zoom at 2.5x, making the V2 surprisingly versatile as a camera considering it’s a folding device. But normal non-folding phones such as the and iPhone 15 Pro Max produce better results while costing less.

Using either selfie camera gives you decent enough shots but you can also take a photo with the phone unfolded and cleverly use the front screen to show you a preview of the shot, allowing you to take a selfie using the superior main camera. 

Performance and battery life

  • Zippy performance
  • Great for gaming
  • All-day battery life and fast charging

The phone uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which isn’t the latest but is still very high-end. It means gaming performance is excellent, helped along by a generous 16GB RAM. You get the advantage of the large inner display, though some popular games display with black bars at the top and bottom. Others such as Call of Duty fully fill the big bright screen, and are a joy to play.

Apps open quickly and everything feels fluid despite the power under the hood needed to run several apps at a time – and thanks to the large screen you can even run two side-by-side in split screen mode, and have a third one floating in a window.

… we found the software a little limiting and at times unpolished

It’s not as useful as having several windows open on a huge PC monitor, but it’s fun to watch the football while texting, or have Chrome next to Google Docs to copy and paste text or note things down. Speaking of notes, the Magic V2 actually works with a pen stylus for notes, drawing and input on both screens, but it’s only available in China. Honor told us it isn’t on sale in the UK, which is a shame.

Battery life is excellent thanks to a large 5,000mAh cell inside. We regularly gotwell into a second day of use before needing to charge, which the phone can do at quick 66W speeds, but there’s annoyingly no charger in the box – only a cable. You’ll have to stump up even more cash to get the compatible charger. There’s no wireless charging here, either.

The Honor Magic V2

The Honor Magic V2 is only a centimetre thick when closed (Image: Honor)

Software

  • Ships with older Android 13
  • MagicOS can feel clunky
  • Five years of software support is good

For the most part, the Magic V2 is absolutely fine to use and won’t frustrate. But having used other folding phones, we found the software a little limiting and at times unpolished. Samsung’s One UI and OnePlus’s Oxygen OS feel more seamless in their multitasking and splitscreen modes. We had to wrestle a bit with the Honor to get things working, but it’s fine after a few days of getting used to the MagicOS skin.

It’s a shame this expensive phone is stuck on Android 13 at launch, but we’d hope it gets Android 14 soon as Honor is promising four years of Android updates and five of security updates, taking you to 2029. That’s decent, but lags behind Samsung and Google’s seven (not that we all keep phones that long anyway).

There are some good software additions such as in-game gaming controls to stop notifications and lock screen brightness as well as boost performance. Parallel Space lets you create a second user profile with a different Google account too, or you can run a separate app drawer of work apps if your company runs on Google services. It keeps your personal and work lives digitally apart, which we like.

The open-screen homescreen lets you fit a lot on there, and we did like MagicOS’s option for larger folders, where you can put up to nine apps and access them all instantly, letting you fit more icons on a page. The system also gives you recently used apps in the dock, and the YOYO assistant can be used to suggest apps you might want at that time using AI (see below screenshot).

A screenshot of the Honor Magic V2's software

A screenshot of the Honor Magic V2’s software (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Price and availability

The Honor Magic V2 costs £1,699.99. You can buy it in the UK from Honor, Amazon, Argos and Currys.

This is a similar price to the £1,749 , £1,749 , and £1,599 . All are among the most expensive smartphones in the world.

You can spend less than this for a phone with better battery life and camera quality if you don’t want a foldable. The , , and are all better cameras with longer lasting batteries than the Honor Magic V2 – the price premium for foldables is the relatively young hinge tech you’re getting.

Verdict

The Honor Magic V2 has the best design of any book-style foldable, hands down. It’s unbelievably thin but doesn’t sacrifice anything for it. Honor has simply bested its competitors in this regard. It makes the Galaxy Z Fold 5 look like an old prototype.

This is a supremely expensive device, and for the money we’d have expected slightly better cameras and a more polished software experience. It’s also annoying that there’s no fast charger in the box, and we wish it were fully waterproof.

But with two excellent screens, surprisingly good battery life, solid cameras, and great performance, the Magic V2 is one of the best folding phones you can buy.

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