Honor split off from Huawei in 2020 and has proven that it’s been able to find its feet as a separate entity impressively quickly; producing some of the most advanced and capable phones on the market (just take a look at our rundown of the best Honor phones for some examples).

At the start of 2022, we were introduced to the company’s first play into the foldable space, with the Honor Magic V – a book-style foldable akin to Samsung’s category-defining Galaxy Z Fold series – that served as a strong first-generation device. The Magic V arrived in January 2022.

Fast-forward to late November and the company unveiled the revised Honor Magic Vs, boasting a more powerful chipset, a refined folding form factor and a revised camera system, and unlike the original Magic V, the Vs is set to launch beyond Chinese borders, making our opportunity to go hands-on with it all the more important.

Honor Magic Vs price and availability

Honor Magic Vs hands-on unboxing contents on table

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The Honor Magic V made its Chinese debut on January 10, going on sale a week later on January 18. Ten months later and the company brought forth the Magic Vs on November 23, with regional availability kicking off from November 30. But what about elsewhere?

Honor was clearly emboldened by the initial reception the Honor Magic V received, represented not only in its decision to produce a successor so soon afterwards but by its plans to take this latest foldable international. During our Honor Magic Vs briefing, Honor UK’s marketing director, Olivier Dobo, confirmed to TechRadar that the phone “will come overseas, including to the UK.”

As such, don’t expect a release in the US or Australia anytime soon, but a UK release is confirmed, and other parts of Europe are likely.

Beyond hardware upgrades, one of the notable shifts between the Magic V and Vs is a welcome drop in price. The base 256GB Magic V cost CNY¥9,999 (approximately $1,435 / £1,180 / AU$2,150), while the 512GB version cost ¥10,999 (approximately $1,580 / £1,295 / AU$2,360).

The Magic Vs starts at a relatively reasonable ¥7,499 (approximately $1,075 / £885 / AU$1,610) for the 8GB RAM / 256GB storage model (undercutting fresh-faced rival, the new Oppo Find N2), ¥7,999 (approximately $1,150 / £945 / AU$1,720) for 12GB of RAM, or ¥8,999 (approximately $1,290 / £1,060 / AU$1,930) for 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

There’s also the Ultimate Edition, which packs a whopping 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and boasts stylus support (something not available to the standard Magic Vs), priced at ¥10,888 (approximately $1,560 / £1,285 / AU$2,340); which is still less than the 512GB Magic V from earlier in the year.

As for the actual price, when the Honor Magic Vs does officially launch in the likes of the UK, expect a notable hike from the direct currency conversions listed above; these seldom translate well, as they don’t account for the shipping and taxes such devices are affected by when releasing overseas.

For reference, Huawei’s last vertical foldable – the Mate Xs 2 – cost ¥11,499 (around $1,650 / £1,350 / AU$2,470) in China for the 8GB RAM / 512GB model, which eventually landed in the UK priced at £1,799.

The same near-£450 premium would land the starting price of the Honor Magic Vs at approximately £1,335 ( still less than even the base Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4) , but hopefully we won’t have to leave that figure to speculation for much longer.

Honor Magic Vs design and display

Honor Magic Vs hands-on half open angled back

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Honor is delivering exactly what you’d hope from a second-generation foldable: less weight, smaller bezels and tighter dimensions, without compromising on display size.

The Magic Vs sports the same 6.45-inch 21.3:9 120Hz external display and 7.9-inch 10.3:9 90Hz folding main display as its predecessor, in a smaller body that’s also significantly lighter, at 261 grams (that’s a 27-gram reduction on the Magic V).

Despite packing a larger battery compared to the V, it’s undoubtedly the new magnesium alloy hinge that’s allowed Honor to trim the fat so effectively; in terms of both weight and volume.

Unlike its predecessor, the hinge of the Magic Vs is now gearless; reducing the number of components from 92 down to just 4. Honor claims that this new hinge design is not only 62% lighter, but also rated to withstand up to 400,000 folds; equivalent to 100 folds a day for 10 years. With no official certification, water and dust ingress are still wholly possible problems that users might run into.

In terms of real-world feel, it does present a fractional amount of play when folded part way or opened completely flat, but not to any degree that undermines the user experience. However, it does raise questions about how the mechanism might feel over time and whether it’ll retain the same tension after extended use. The fact that, when closed, the phone boasts a zero-gap design, is unquestionably impressive, though.

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on open angled in hand back

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed angled in hand back

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on open angled in hand front

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on open USB-C

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on half open top down

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on half open angled

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on half open Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back angled 3 4 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back angled Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back straight Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed front angled

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed USB-C

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back angled

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back angled 2

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Honor Magic Vs hands-on closed back side

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Also like its predecessor, you can pick the Magic Vs up in a number of finishes that adopt a glass back, set against a polished metal frame; with cyan replacing the Magic V’s silver colorway; joining an orange and a black option. The aforementioned Ultimate edition can be had in a textured gold or a black with gold accents. That metal frame also conceals a reworked wraparound antenna design, that should result in more resilient connectivity too.

As with every foldable out right now, there’s no in-display fingerprint sensor, with the power button on the right side doubling as a means of biometric authentication. The main query we encountered was the high volume rocker placement above the power key, which seems awkwardly positioned, regardless of whether you’re operating the Vs with one or two hands.

It would have been nice for a bump to 120Hz on the phone’s main folding OLED display, but it still sports plenty of smart technology, like the 1920Hz PWM dimming (on both displays, in fact) – designed to reduce eye strain, alongside stylus support, although that’s a premium feature reserved for the Ultimate edition that we suspect won’t make its way to international markets, unfortunately.

The Magic Vs also joins a still relatively exclusive club of devices (almost entirely comprised of other Honor phones) that serves up IMAX Enhanced audio from its stereo speakers.

Honor Magic Vs performance and software

Honor Magic Vs hands-on open front Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Honor Magic Vs (left), Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

This hands-on was conducted using a device running pre-release software, so despite being able to download apps from the Google Play Store and perform other actions not usually possible on a device running on a Chinese ROM, Honor hasn’t yet finalized the software experience for the international market; meaning we’re unable to comment on how the phone handled in our time with it (stay tuned for the full review for that).

The Magic Vs launches with Honor’s latest MagicOS 7.0 (which still runs atop Android 12; like the company’s previous user experience), which features a bevy of foldable-specific additions to make the most out of the phone’s extra screen real estate; more on that in future too.

Under the hood, memory now starts at 8GB of RAM and (if you include the Ultimate edition) tops out at 16GB, compared to its predecessor’s range-wide allocation of 12GB, while the chipset has received a timely bump from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. It’s assumed that the Magic Vs was already too far into development for Honor to fit it with Qualcomm’s fresh-faced Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Honor Magic Vs hands-on unboxing contents

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Honor has also, once again, included a Dual TEE Security System, which features a dedicated chip, built in partnership with Qualcomm.

Even with the weight loss, compared to its predecessor the Magic Vs also boasts a larger total capacity dual battery design. There’s still no wireless charging, but with the company’s 66W SuperCharge tech, the phone’s 5,000mAh battery is quoted as being able to refill to 100 percent in just 46 minutes.

Honor Magic Vs camera

Honor Magic Vs hands-on camera close up

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

As with the Magic V, the Vs sports a triple rear camera setup with the same distinct ‘triple star ring’ design, however, it looks to be a different beast to its predecessor’s trio of 50MP sensors.

Instead, the phone leads with a 54MP Sony IMX800 sensor (as found in the Honor 70), paired to a familiar 50MP ultrawide (which doubles as a macro camera) – with a 122-degree field of view, while the third sensor is now an 8MP 3x optical zoom telephoto unit, instead of the Magic V’s dedicated 50MP Spectra-enhanced sensor.

The front cameras have also been shifted, from 42MP down to 16MP, with the hope that the sensors at play offer better light response and dynamic range.

The cameras are perhaps the most prominent unknown quantity on the Magic Vs at this time, but we’ll have to wait until the phone’s 2023 launch to establish whether they’re flagship-class and worthwhile.

Early verdict

Honor hopes the price / performance balance that the Magic Vs strikes is enough to convince curious buyers that this is the foldable you can live with, as it looks as though it’ll be more affordable than the select group of internationally-available rivals, without compromising on capability.

There’s already evident room for improvement, with ‘only’ a 90Hz refresh rate on the Vs’ main display, a lack of IP-certified protection against dust and water ingress, and stylus support that’s locked to an exclusive variant that looks set to remain a Chinese-only release for the foreseeable.

Regardless, this first encounter with the Honor Magic Vs shows promise and proves that the company isn’t just existing in the space, it’s keen to push to envelope and take on the biggest and best foldables out there.

First tested: December 2022