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Honor Magic V2 review: A good foldable that's late to the party

 Honor Magic V2 part folded, from the back.
Honor Magic V2 part folded, from the back.

The Honor Magic V2 has shown up late to the foldable phone get-together, but hopes that with its shiny new outfit and some new party tricks, you'll forgive it taking six months to get here.

This is Honor's newest foldable to finally get a global release, replacing the good but not chart-topping Honor Magic Vs that launched early in 2023. Similar to the Vs, the Magic V2's focus is on its physical attributes, showing how foldables can be lighter and more compact than you think, while still offering a big battery and flagship-worthy cameras

Unfortunately this focus on flagship phone creature comforts has meant Honor has not provided the Magic V2 with any compelling foldable-specific features. Plus all that expert engineering doesn't come cheap, even with a chipset that's over a year old. And that's not to mention the fact that this is not a phone you'll find easily in the United States.

Right now, the Honor Magic V2 is a challenger for the best foldable phones you can buy. But the danger it poses to Samsung, OnePlus and others could be short-lived.

Honor Magic V2: Specs

Honor Magic V2: Price and availability

Honor launched the Magic V2 on January 26th, for the cost of £1,699.99 for its single available 512GB of storage model. This makes it a little cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (which costs £1,799 for only 256GB storage), but a bit more expensive than the £1,599 OnePlus Open, also 512GB storage by default.

As this is an Honor product, you're not going to find this on store or carrier shelves in the U.S. While Honor does have access to all the usual Google apps (unlike its ex-parent company Huawei), this difficulty in buying the phone in the U.S. is still a considerable hurdle for foldable buyers.

Honor Magic V2: Design and display

Honor hasn't changed much from the Honor Magic Vs to the Magic V2 beyond changing the camera block shape, but a lot of behind-the-scenes refinement has happened to make the new Magic foldable better.

For one, the Magic V2 boasts a thickness of just 9.9mm (0.39 inches) when closed and 4.7 mm (0.19 inches) when open, and a weight of 231g (8.15 ounces) in its Black Vegan Leather guise (those measurements are 10.1 mm / 4.8mm and 237g for the glass-backed Phantom Purple version). That's thinner and lighter than either the OnePlus Open or the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and is in fact lighter than some standard smartphones like the 233g/8.22-ounce Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Honor Magic V2, folded from the side
Honor Magic V2, folded from the side

Honor's also done work on the Magic V2's hinge, including trendy (but more importantly light and strong) titanium parts. The hinge is primarily designed to keep the Magic V2 open or closed, rather than sit at any in-between angle like the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but you can get the Honor to stand up and remain part-open in just the right position for watching stuff on its cover screen.

Honor Magic V2, folded from the front
Honor Magic V2, folded from the front

That outer display is similar to a standard phone in size at 6.4 inches with a 21:9 aspect ratio (most phones are around 20:9), while the inner display is 7.92 inches, sizeable even for a book-style foldable phone. Honor offers 120Hz on both displays, unlike the Magic Vs which was stuck with 90Hz on its outer screen, and promises 1,600 nits of brightness on the inner screen and 2,500 nits on the outside. We weren't able to verify these numbers in the TG lab but I certainly never had a problem using the Magic V2 outdoors.

Honor Magic V2, inner display
Honor Magic V2, inner display

Honor also included its signature display comfort technology like 3,840Hz PWM dimming, which Honor claims reduces eye strain.

Honor Magic V2 part folded, from the front
Honor Magic V2 part folded, from the front

The one unusual thing about the Magic V2's outer display, inherited from the Magic Vs, is its single curved edge on the side away from the hinge. It makes the phone more obviously asymmetrical than even other foldables, although as a right-handed user, it does make it easier to reach across the full breadth of the other display. However, I imagine curved display haters will still dislike it.

Honor Magic V2: Cameras

The Magic V2's camera arsenal consists of 50MP main, 50MP ultrawide and 20MP 2.5x telephoto cameras on the back, and two 16MP selfie cameras across the inner and outer displays. On paper, this puts the Honor foldable ahead of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 but behind the OnePlus Open in terms of pure megapixels, but resolution alone doesn't make a great photo.

Honor Magic V2, showing back and cameras
Honor Magic V2, showing back and cameras

To put these cameras through their paces properly, I compared the Magic V2's photos with those from the OnePlus Open, the current top of our best foldables guide thanks in part to its strong photography.

With a main camera photo of Paddington Basin, we first see the essential difference between these two phones — the Honor foldable skews towards richer colors, while the OnePlus prioritizes a brighter composition. In this image, where a fair chunk is taken up by the sky, and the grey cloudy weather drains the scene's natural color, the Honor's approach has resulted in the more appealing shot.

It's the same story of color vs. brightness in this ultrawide shot of a colorful barge. One extra thing to note is that the text on the right side is clearer on the OnePlus image, a big plus in the Open's favor when taking photos of more complex scenes.

Next we come to a telephoto image of a statue. Setting aside the difference in background due to the two phones' different magnification, the Honor struggled to bring this sculpture to life, offering only minimal color saturation difference. The OnePlus Open has its biggest sensor resolution advantage in this round, and it seems to have put it to good use, balancing both brightness and color.

Last, but not least, we have the portrait selfie round. There's not a huge color or brightness difference this time around, instead the most obvious differences being that my skin's smoother in the OnePlus image, but the portrait effect is better in the Honor photo.

Foldables aren't interested in being the best camera phones around, but photography is still important to consider when buying a phone. The good news for those interested in the Honor Magic V2 is that its photos mostly keep up with the leading phone in its category, despite it being an older device at heart.

Honor Magic V2: Performance

Since Honor first released this phone in China in July 2023, the phone uses a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the latest in flagship silicon for Android phones back then but a chip that unfortunately is dated now the first Gen 3 chips are appearing in phones. Fortunately, rival foldables have yet to adopt the new generation of Snapdragon, meaning Honor's not at a disadvantage just yet — especially with its generous 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

The table above shows how the Honor compares to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and OnePlus Open, which use the same chipset, as well as the Google Pixel Fold, which uses Google's own Tensor G2 chip. Since the Samsung foldable uses a special "For Galaxy" version of the Snapdragon chip with slightly higher performance, it beats the Honor on all the tests, while the Honor trades blows with the OnePlus Open and soundly beats the Pixel Fold.

Honor Magic V2, unfolded from the front
Honor Magic V2, unfolded from the front

So at least for the time being, the Honor Magic V2 has strong performance, although putting it to use with mobile gaming wasn't that enjoyable. I'm not a fan of gaming on foldable phones, because their main displays are squarer than games are normally designed for, meaning you end up either wasting display space to play in a windowed mode or have to deal with a weirdly zoomed-in view of the game world.

Putting aside my own feelings on it, playing things like "Genshin Impact" or "Grid: Autosport" on the Magic V2 were at least smooth, with graphics quality equal to other leading Android phones. Plus the relatively normal proportions of the outer display mean I could game on the Magic V2 fine when it was folded — you just have to get used to the extra thickness compared to a standard phone.

Honor Magic V2: Battery and charging

The 5,000 mAh battery capacity in the Honor Magic V2 is quite large for a foldable phone, beating the Galaxy Z Fold 5, OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold by several hundred milliamps. It's also a silicon-carbon battery, which Honor says has an efficiency advantage over standard lithium-ion cells.

After three hours of watching YouTube videos on the Magic V2's main display over WiFi, the battery dropped 23%. On the same test, the OnePlus Open lost 27% of its capacity, which would translate to a noticeably longer runtime for the Honor if you tried to drain it fully.

Honor Magic V2, folded from the back
Honor Magic V2, folded from the back

Like its last foldable, the Honor Magic V2 works with 66W charging, only there's no charger in the box. Using a 66W brick from a previous Honor phone, the Magic V2 powered up from 0 - 48% in 15 minutes, to 80% in half an hour and finally to 100% in 46 minutes.

The OnePlus Open's 67W charger fuels it to 50% in 15 minutes and 85% in 30 minutes, which is a little quicker but not by that much considering it has a smaller battery overall.

Honor Magic V2: Software and special features

The Magic V2 runs MagicOS 7.2, based on Android 13. It's unfortunate that Android 14 isn't available out of the box, but it should appear in due course. Honor's update policy is three years of full Android upgrades and five years of security updates, which looks a bit lacking compared to the four to seven years other manufacturers offer, but is still better than things used to be in Android world.

Honor's version of Android has its charms, like large folders to keep large numbers of apps tidy but still immediately accessible. However, it's light on foldable-specific features. You can split apps across the two halves of the inner display (but only vertically) with one floating window on top of that, and use Hover mode on certain apps, where the bottom portion of the display gains special controls while the phone is bent at 90 degrees, like a laptop. But overall that's a bit limited.

Honor Magic V2 part folded, using Hover mode in YouTube
Honor Magic V2 part folded, using Hover mode in YouTube

Having tried OnePlus Open's super-flexible Open Canvas system, or the 3+1 window system and S Pen compatability of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, this doesn't cut the mustard. Extra annoying is that Honor does offer stylus support on the Magic V2, but doesn't sell its compatible stylus in Europe.

Honor Magic V2 review: Verdict

Even with its delayed launch, the Honor Magic V2 has a clear vision of how to keep developing the large-format foldable to be a leaner device with fewer compromises. Even if the Honor trips up in some areas all the same.

The Magic V2 is definitely a stand-out product when it comes to hardware, offering some great quality displays with sensible aspect ratios for practical use folded and unfolded. Its cameras certainly do a good job too, particularly if you like your images color-rich.

Honor Magic V2, showing back
Honor Magic V2, showing back

But the combination of a higher than average price, and software that's a step behind the competition, make the Magic V2 harder to justify. Plus, with its older chipset this phone's going to look outdated in even shorter time than normal for a flagship device.

Unless you're a multitasking fiend, I think most foldable buyers who can purchase an Honor Magic V2 in their region will be well served by it, even if the OnePlus Open remains the best all-round foldable. Just keep in mind the potential reward of waiting a few months for fresher foldables is larger than normal in this case.