For most of 2022, Samsung was unchallenged in the foldable phone market outside of China. That was - of course - until the end of the year when other companies started adding some heat to the flexible smartphone segment.
Motorola launched the latest version of its Razr to compete with the Galaxy Z Flip 4, and now Honor has unveiled the Magic VS to compete with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It's not available in Europe just yet, but we've had our hands on an early pre-production unit and early signs are very promising for when it eventually lands on store shelves.
- 160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1mm (unfolded)
- 160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9mm (folded)
- Glass front and back - magnesium alloy frame - 261g
What's interesting about Honor's approach to this book-style foldable is that the company has taken an approach that's more like its former parent company, Huawei's, foldable than Samsung's. That's to say it's got quite a big display on the outside, and a larger one inside, and that means it's quite a big phone. It's 5.5mm wider than the Z Fold 4 when shut, and more than 11mm wider when open.
For a device of this style, it's quite slim though, and that really helps the phone feel less chunky than you might expect. That's only aided further by the fact that the two halves of the display close virtually flush. There's no gap near the hinge, and so there's that sense that it's an even thickness across the entire phone. It doesn't get wider at the spine like Samsung's.
It feels pretty sturdy too, thanks to the durable metal framing around the edges, and a hinge built from titanium alloy which seems to open and shut smoothly on first impressions.
This particular model features a frosted glass rear, but Honor will be selling vegan leather options too, so you will find there's a slight difference in weight and dimensions depending on whether you go glass or fake leather.
Display(s) and software
- 7.9-inch folding OLED display - 2272 x 1984 resolution - 90Hz refresh
- 6.45-inch exterior OLED display - 2560 x 1080 resolution - 120Hz refresh
- 1.07 billion colours
- MagicOS 7.0 based on Android 12
As display specs go there, the two screens on the Honor Magic VS should offer top-tier performance. A big part of the appeal of this phone will - we think - be the size of them.
The front display offers a large 6.45-inch panel that's much closer to a standard smartphone aspect ratio than the long, narrow screens we've seen from Samsung. It's not quite 18:9, but at 21.3:9 the size and aspect ratio will make it a lot less cramped than the main competition.
We've only used it a short while, but we can already tell it's going to be much more useful for doing everyday tasks than the Galaxy Z Fold's. Those times when you don't need the big internal display, or you're in a hurry and want to reply to something quickly, will feel less like a compromise on this screen we think. Of course, we're going to need more time with it to say for sure.
As for the internal display, that measures nearly 8 inches and offers a large surface area. It's coated with a special anti-reflective coating to help avoid one of the biggest problems with plastic-covered screens: reflections. Plus, the hinge design means the crease in the middle of the screen is not too obvious when the screen is on.
It's too early to give our full thoughts on the screen performance since this is a non-final unit, but it's got some strong specs. There's HDR10+ support, 90Hz refresh rates and a bright, vibrant OLED panel. It's got a lot going for it. The software is Magic OS 7 running on Android 12.
- Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
- 8GB/256GB, 12GB/256GB or 12GB/512GB
- 5000mAh battery - 66W wired charging
Internally, there's everything you need to get flagship performance. At least, on paper. That means the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is running the show and - if it's like other phones we've tested with that platform - it should mean really fast and efficient performance.
It's joined by 8GB or 12GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage. Again, that means plenty of memory for efficient performance and lots of storage space for files, media and apps.
When you add the 5000mAh battery to the picture, it really brings home the fact that this is trying to offer you all you'd expect from a proper top-tier Android phone, without any compromises. And in a folding phone too. Add 66W wired fast charging to the picture and the only thing you're really missing is wireless charging.
- 50MP f/1.9 main camera (IMX800 sensor)
- 50MP f/2.0 ultrawide camera - macro mode
- 8MP f/2.4 telephoto zoom - 3x optical
We haven't had time to thoroughly test the cameras, but yet again, it's got everything that it needs - on paper. There's a primary 50-megapixel camera with a big Sony sensor for high-quality images with lots of detail, dynamic range and colour.
That main lens is joined by two others: an ultrawide which also doubles as a macro. Again, that's 50 megapixels, so Honor hasn't gone down the route of offering a useless low-resolution macro camera. Add a 3x optical zoom telephoto camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and that means you get the variety and versatility in focal lengths to suit most conditions.