Honor's Magic VS, even in prototype form, feels like a contender |  Engadget

Honor’s Magic VS, even in prototype form, feels like a contender | Engadget

Let me draw the curtain on something that happens when you spend time with a very early prototype phone: often there’s a list of conditions that mean you can’t really talk about your experiences in a way specific. Keep that in mind when talking about this prototype I’ve been tinkering with for a few days. I’m actually quite impressed with it, although I’ve been asked not to draw any solid conclusions about its non-definitive hardware, software, imaging, performance and display quality.

The Magic VS is the company’s second foldable phone, although the first that will be available for sale outside of China when it hits select global markets in early 2023. It’s a close cousin to the first Folder. ‘Honor, the , which was first published. in early 2022, and it looks like a polish, rather than an evolution, of the existing model. The main difference is an extensively redesigned hinge with far fewer parts, which should make it more reliable. And the company promises the handset will withstand 400,000 folds, or more than 100 a day for the better part of a decade. It’s also two grams lighter than Samsung’s Z Fold 4, which Honor is very proud of, but it still weighs just two grams.

The rest of the differences between Magic VS and Magic V are all pretty minor; a 5,000 mAh battery, up from the last model’s 4,750 mAh. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is replaced by an 8+, and there’s a major change on the imaging front. While the V packed a trio of 50-megapixel lenses, the VS ditched the third in favor of an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 3x optical zoom. Of course, I can’t speak to how powerful these beefy zooms are, or how fast they take an image. Or that, just like many other Android handsets, you want the images to not be so washed out.

When it comes to screens, you’ll find that the 6.45-inch outdoor OLED display is no slouch, especially since it has a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Honor knows that the Most people will default to the external display for most of their smartphone use, and so that’s almost the first thought here. The 21:9 ratio is still cramped and initially disorienting, but that’s not a deal breaker. And, if I’m being honest, you’ll accept a slightly narrow external display in order to access that foldable 7.9-inch OLED inside. Now, it’s not as high-res or as fast (it peaks at 90Hz), but it’s so much bigger that you’ll want to use it as much as possible.

Image of Honor Magic VS closed on a table.

Daniel Cooper

Honor says the display is “crease-free”, a term I’m going to take a bit of trouble with, if only because there’s no such thing. Hold the device face to face, and when watching a video or browsing, you’ll barely notice the crease unless you catch the light from the wrong angle. Sit anywhere off center, and you can see the bumps in the field just fine – but that’s not to say it’s a dealbreaker at all. Just that some promises sound better on paper than they do when looking at a very faint peak in a flexible OLED display.

One thing I can talk about is the hinge, which helps both halves of the handset fold flat (barring the dreaded camera bump) and sit very comfortably in my pocket. There’s no doubt that this is still a hefty slab of a device, with a 6.45-inch screen that will be uncomfortable if you have a penchant for ultra-skinny jeans. But if you’re looking for something that will do double duty as a slate, this seems like the sleekest of the admittedly limited pantheon.

I probably can’t draw any conclusions about the speed of the power button-mounted fingerprint sensor or the camera’s face unlock. Granted, you wouldn’t expect a Snapdragon 8+ handset to stutter, especially when paired with 12GB storage, as is the case here. Honor has given strict instructions not to test app performance on the device, but I can’t imagine that – given the performance of what comes preloaded, this device will struggle to handle much. I tried a very popular Battle Royale-like game, which I won’t name to respect Honor’s wishes, and it played like a charm.

The Magic VS won’t come with, but does support, Honor’s Magic Pen stylus input, which I’d say is a good start, but not quite what this device should be. After all, the benefit of a device like this is what it can give you when you need to do a bit of focused work while you’re on the go. (Okay, that’s my interest, I’m sure others just want a bigger screen to play Fortnite turned on, and that’s absolutely fine.) If Honor shipped this thing with a small stand and a matching wireless keyboard (or both), then I can see it becoming every commuter’s dream purchase.

Now here’s something that I think should make the folks at Samsung a little nervous. It’s an imperfect comparison, but imagine keeping your eye on the Z Fold 4, which currently retails for $1,700 in the US. Honor plans to sell the Magic VS for 7,499 RMB in China, which costs around $1,048. Now, for its part, Honor probably won’t sell in the US market, and taxes and exchange rates will play their part. But if the final version of this handset can offer something very similar to the Z Fold 4 for a significantly lower price, I can imagine it will turn the heads of many potential Fold owners.

Now, like I said, I can’t draw any solid conclusions about this device, but what I can say is that I really think it deserves a full review when it hits global markets. early next year. And that there’s enough here to say that Honor can make a very compelling case to be considered a fair competitor to Samsung at the upper end of the Android space.

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