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Honor Magic V2 review hands-on review: Slim Jim

Incredibly slim, sleek and lightweight: is Honor’s Magic V2 the best folding phone yet?

Too thick, too bulky, too awkward — three complaints that are commonly levelled at foldable phones could hardly be applied to the Honor Magic V2. This book-style folding smartphone measures a mere 9.9mm from front to back when folded and a seemingly impossible 4.7mm when unfolded. And crucially, after launching in China earlier this year, it’s finally been slated for a European release.

Alas, you’ll have to wait until early 2024 to get your hands on one but I’ve just had a chance to go hands-on at the company’s IFA 2023 launch event and I promise you it will be worth hanging on for.

The Magic V2 launches alongside the “high fashion” concept Honor V Purse, which has an external folding screen that displays textures and a shoulder strap so it can be carried around like a clutch purse. It’s certainly intriguing but, in my opinion, is a far less exciting proposition.

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Honor Magic V2 review: Key specifications and release date

  • Internal foldable display: 7.92in, 2,344x 2,156 , 120Hz LTPO OLED
  • Cover display: 6.43in, 2,376 x 1,060, 120Hz LTPO OLED
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage
  • Rear cameras: 50MP, f/2 main, OIS; 50MP, f/2 ultrawide; 20MP, f/1.9 2.5x telephoto, OIS
  • Selfie cameras: 16MP, f/2.4 internal and external
  • 5,000mAh silicon-carbon battery
  • Fingerprint reader in power button
  • Price: £TBC
  • Availability: Early 2024

Honor Magic V2 review: Features, design and first impressions

9.9mm thin when folded. Have a think about those dimensions for a moment. Your eye might have glided over them momentarily but it’s worth dwelling on them a little longer than you might do usually.

That’s 1.7mm thinner than the original iPhone and a full 3.5mm thinner than the Magic V2’s main rival, the Samsung Z Fold 5. It weighs less than an iPhone 14 Pro Max and, when you pick it up, it feels surprisingly normal to hold. Not particularly bulky or tall or narrow or weird in any way.

If you were concerned that this slimming down has resulted in a flimsy build, worry no more. The all-important teardrop hinge (which folds closed with zero gap around the sides, by the way) feels smooth and solid in operation. Honor says it has been built using titanium alloys and tested by Swiss firm SGS up to 400,000 folds.

The display crease is as shallow as I’ve experienced on any foldable so far, too. Yes, you can see it and feel it when you run your finger across it but look at it head on and you barely notice it. Couple that with a rather fetching design, finished in anodised purple or fake leather, and you have a folding phone that has every potential to challenge the very best in the business.

So, how has Honor managed this seemingly impossible feat? It seems that this has chiefly been achieved through the use of a new kind of battery: silicon carbon. This technology, first shown off earlier this year, allows manufacturers to squeeze more capacity into less space than lithium-ion batteries, allowing phones and other devices to be thinner and lighter than ever before.

Honor Magic V2 silicon carbon battery

Here, there are two credit card sized batteries measuring 2.72mm thin, one in each half of the phone, totalling 5,000mAh in capacity, delivering  600mAh more than in the much thicker Z Fold 5. Whether this results in superior stamina in real world usage remains to be seen but it’s highly encouraging, nonetheless.

The rest of the specifications of the Honor Magic V2 build on those of its predecessor – the Magic Vs – which we reviewed last year. The screens are the same size and resolution and use identical LTPO OLED panels, but bump the refresh rate up to 120Hz from 90Hz. The internal display measures 7.92in across the diagonal with a resolution of 2,344 x 2,196, while the external screen reaches 6.43in with a resolution of 2,376 x 1,060.

Honor Magic V2 from rear, purple

The camera lineup isn’t missing anything particularly critical, either, with a 50MP (f/2) main camera, supported by a 2.5x 20MP telephoto and a 50MP ultrawide. Both internal and external selfie units, meanwhile, are 16MP (f/2.4) shooters. The main and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilisation, too.

Internally, the chipset has been upgraded, of course, to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, although the lag on bringing this phone to Europe means that, by the time you’ll be able to buy it, it will have already been superseded by the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (or whatever else Qualcomm decides to call it). This is accompanied by 16GB of RAM and either 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage.

Other features to note include a fingerprint reader built into the power button on the right edge of the phone and stylus support, although there isn’t one included in the box.

Honor Magic V2 half folded

There are some negatives, however. There’s no wireless charging here – presumably because the phone is so thin – and that charging the phone is relatively slow. At 66W, it will top the phone up in around an hour according to Honor, which is positively sluggish by modern standards. There’s also no water resistance where the Samsung Z Fold 5 is IPX8 rated.

And you still have to be very careful about scratching the inner screen; no manufacturer has yet overcome the soft plastic these panels need to be coated in to remain flexible.

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Honor Magic V2 review: Early verdict

However, even with these caveats in place, the Honor Magic V2 feels important. As if foldables have finally reached a tipping point when it comes to their physical design; its thin, relatively lightweight design means you can now choose a foldable without worrying about it weighing you down too much.

The most important barrier that foldables such as this need to hurdle, however, is the price, which until now has remained too high for the mass market to consider. Unfortunately, the Honor Magic V2 isn’t going to change that situation when it hits shelves early next year. It’s still going to be expensive. Frustratingly, Honor isn’t announcing a UK price as yet but we’d expect it to come in between the Galaxy Fold 5 and the Honor Magic Vs.

Whether you’ll want to stump up that will depend largely on the usual things – battery life, camera, screen quality and the software – and we won’t know how good it is in this regard until we get our hands on one for full testing later in the year. Watch this space.

Honor Magic V2 folded, orange background

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