HONOR Magic Vs review: Galactic Outside, Harmonious Inside
A mix that works but could be better
The HONOR Magic Vs is kind of a big deal for the company. It is their very first foldable smartphone that will debut outside of China. To say there’s a lot riding on this release would be an understatement.
We see 2023 as the year that many other brands finally launch a full-on assault to challenge Samsung’s unchallenged dominance in the foldable space. HONOR might just have one of the best contenders on their hands with the Magic Vs.
Enhanced Galactic design
One look at the HONOR Magic Vs, especially the black colorway we used on this review, and you’d think it’s the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4. That’s not a knock on HONOR though. They likely won’t be the only smartphone makers following this book-style foldable. But, unless you’re holding and/or looking at it up close, you won’t be able to spot the differences right away.
The difference starts to become apparent the moment you start using it. Especially the Cover Screen. It’s a 6.45-inch OLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate, support for HDR10+, and maximum brightness of up to 1200 nits.
It’s wider and easily much more enticing to use than the cover screen on the Galaxy Z Fold4. I’ll go into more usage details later on but for now, HONOR easily one ups Samsung in this department.
Unfolded, you get a 7.9-inch screen with slightly lower specs. Here you get a 90Hz refresh rate and up to 800 nits of brightness.
Folded vs Unfolded
The true beauty and genius in the decisions that HONOR made in the dimensions of the HONOR Magic Vs is how it truly achieves the smartphone-to-tablet user experience.
This whole mechanism is built on the super-light, gearless hinge. It folds and unfolds smoothly, has a gap-free look, and should be able to withstand up to 400,000 folds according to HONOR.
In actual daily use, it is flexible without feeling flimsy. The 400,000 number was floating at the back of my head during my first few days with it, but after a while, I just stopped minding it.
Smartphone-ish when folded
I can go an entire day without unfolding the Magic Vs and I would never feel like I didn’t maximize it. That’s how good the cover screen is. Like the OPPO Find N2, it created this clear delineation in my brain on when to use it folded vs unfolded.
Folded, it’s like your regular slate of a smartphone. Doom scrolling on socials, watching vertical K-Pop fancams, chatting, and winding down on TikTok are all quite convenient.
Of course, it’s taller and thicker than your usual smartphone, but the height and heft were surprisingly easy to get used to.
This is where the experience feels mostly new. Unfolded is more for reading, watching longer videos, and taking advantage of the multi window feature.
I have mostly been using it unfolded when re-reading the Inter-High arc of the Slam Dunk manga. Had the urge to do so after watching the The First Slam Dunk movie recently. The same is true when reading Webtoons. The form-factor lends itself nicely to this format of media.
It’s also great for reading on websites that are able to adapt to any screen format. Like GadgetMatch! (wink wink).
Watching videos in 16:9 or 21:9 aspect ratio will take some getting used to, though. Since the format means you’ll see black bars while watching. But again, it’s one of those things that you get used to after some time with the device.
The crease is also only noticeable at certain angles. Most of the time, when you’re staring directly at the screen while watching, you won’t even notice it.
The only time I really did was when I was rewatching episodes of Kuroko’s Basketball during my flight to Barcelona. It noticed it for two reasons: first, the animé is pretty bright so any slight changes in your angle of viewing will reveal the crease. Second, it gets tiring holding the foldable a certain way in a cramped space so I resorted to unusual but more relaxed angles.
If you’re just sitting through a single episode of a show, even if it’s a little over an hour long, you should be just fine. But if you’re looking to catch-up on the latest MCU flick or any other movie that runs for two hours or more, it’s best to find a really comfortable position.
A full sound
The fine print says HONOR put IMAX Enhanced-certified Dual Speakers on the Magic Vs. I normally dismiss these branded tie-ins, but it appears they really came through here.
I am thoroughly impressed with the speakers on the HONOR Magic Vs. The stereo speakers are placed symmetrically on both sides when unfolded. This makes it so no matter which way you hold it, sound comes through nice and clear when you’re not watching with headphones on.
It gets loud without the sound being distorted. At every volume level, you get audio that’s clear, round, and full. As full and round as it can get on smartphone speakers.
In fact, they’re so good I hardly connect them to my bluetooth speakers at home when I feel like awkwardly dancing to TWICE’s “Moonlight Sunrise” or NewJeans’ “OMG”.
It’s even more perfect at night when I want to sleep with soft music in the background. I just place it on my bedside table and fire up my Slow Jams playlist. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as tenderly falling asleep with Usher singing he wants to take things “Nice & Slow.”
Foldable software things
Like any self-respecting foldable, you get the usual feature of running apps simultaneously on the unfolded screen. On the HONOR Magic Vs, it’s called Multi-window.
Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold4 or even the OPPO Find N2, the HONOR Magic Vs doesn’t automatically snap the opened apps to pre-selected sections of the screen. Instead, you get floating windows that you can resize to your liking.
To trigger the feature, simply swipe from the right-hand side of the screen to the left and pause. This will bring up the dock where the first two will show the most recent apps you used and the rest favorites that you can add yourself. When you add favorites, it’ll only show apps that support the feature.
While I think that productive multitasking in this manner is still a myth, the feature is cool to have and does take advantage of the screen real estate.
Multi-window also showcases the capability of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 equipped on this thing. You’re allowed to run up to four (4) apps without the Magic Vs working up a sweat.
Gaming and battery life
Speaking of working up a sweat, the HONOR Magic Vs also plays the relatively demanding mobile game Genshin Impact pretty well. When you fire up the game, it automatically scales to the format of the Magic Vs. That means you get a full-screen experience.
HONOR’S Game Manager automatically comes up too. Initially, you’ll be in Balanced Mode. But for the best gaming experience, you naturally have to go switch to Game Mode. The Game Manager also gives you access to tools like Do Not Disturb (blocks all notifications), Screenshot, Screen Recording and more.
Running the game itself, I didn’t really do much. I just ran around and slayed some enemies and completed one quick quest to up my adventurer rank. It’s not very high, but I’m looking to play more soon.
I played for about 25 to 30 minutes and didn’t notice any major struggles by Hardware. The game simply ran smoothly. The battery percentage did dip a lot going from 65% to around 42% during that time. Still pretty impressive all things considered.
I’m the type to plug right away when the battery dips to below 50%. Charging the 5,000 mAh battery on a 65W charger, I typically get to 90% to 95% in about 20 minutes or so. Yes, the package comes with a 66W HONOR SuperCharge power brick. But I mostly resort to using my 65W GaN charger on devices I use daily.
On regular days, the battery lasts for a day and then some. It’s prudent to plug it in at the end or at the start of your day to keep things humming along.
MagicOS needs a little less Harmony
MagicOS is pretty inoffensive but there’s something about it overall that feels a little off. The animations don’t feel snappy and the icons on the default apps look washed. Functionally, it’s okay, but it can be better.
If you’re gonna spend the better part of a year or two with this device, it’s easy to do away with some of these things by changing themes, icons, or even running a different launcher. Niagara seems to be a favorite among foldable users. But there’s one feature that really irks me.
In literally every other Android OS skin, you simply have to tap and hold on the home screen to edit widgets and organize the apps. Meanwhile, HONOR still takes cues from Huawei with its pinch approach and it’s a baffling choice. To me, it seems like an attempt to be different just to be different. The gesture isn’t natural and should be done away with altogether.
Magic just needs to be more Magic and a little less Harmony, especially if HONOR really wants to distance itself from its former parent company.
The photo-taking experience on the HONOR Magic Vs is a mixed bag for me. I like that, when folded, the narrow body makes it easy to take quick snaps when you’re out and about. But the heft kind of makes it a chore to pull out of your pocket or bag to take pictures.
As for the lenses, here’s what the Magic Vs is packing:
- 54MP IMX800 Main Camera
- 50MP Ultra Wide & Macro Main Camera
- 8MP 3X Optical Zoom Camera
- 16MP Selfie Camera
Like many smartphones today, the HONOR Magic Vs takes more than decent shots in broad daylight. Natural light is still the best light source and you can see them in the many scenes above.
The Ultra Wide Angle also captures a fair amount of detail. The little bit of shakiness here is just me getting acquainted with colder weather.
Here’s another good example of the main wide camera getting a good amount of detail and a fairly accurate color reproduction.
The Telephoto lens is a hit or his. In the example above, it worked wonders.
But in this next one, the scene looks dull. A stark contrast to the scene captured by the main camera.
The sky looks more vibrant and the building looks sharper.
The Portrait Mode is a hit or miss. While I look good here (at least I’d like to think so), I think the bokeh is a little too aggressive especially for this focal length.
If you’re gonna take portraits, do it with the 2X Zoom. The focal length and aggressive bokeh works better with this look.
Dynamic Range varies too. These were taken seconds apart but the results are drastically different.
Night landscape is decent, but you can see the software is doing a lot of the heavy-lifting in sharpening and blowing up the brightness a little bit. This is the ultra wide angle lens, by the way.
The wide main camera fairs better although still not by much.
Indoors with decent lighting, you can get moody photos.
Have some croissant.
Is the HONOR Magic Vs your GadgetMatch?
While it’s a dead-ringer of the Galaxy Z Fold, the HONOR Magic Vs makes enough changes to make the form-factor work. Software-wise, Samsung’s ONE UI is a lot more mature since they have been at this for a while. In that department, HONOR still needs to work its Magic much more to pose a serious challenge to Samsung.
That said, the HONOR Magic Vs is plenty useable. The hardware does a lot in making this a device one could reasonably use for a while. The software needs work but isn’t a total dealbreaker.
What HONOR has with the Magic Vs is a challenger-in-the-making. They only need to stay the course and work out the software issues in order to truly stand against the reigning champion of foldables.
The HONOR Magic Vs retails for EUR 1599.
Xiaomi Wireless AR Glass showcased at MWC 2023
A cutting-edge AR device
At the MWC 2023, Xiaomi revealed its cutting-edge Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition, the brand’s first device of its kind.
The Xiaomi AR Glass has a free-form optical module. It comprises a pair of MicroOLED screens, and free-form light-guiding prisms that help users see a clear picture display.
When paired with a Xiaomi 13 or other Snapdragon Spaces ready device, the lightweight glasses connect with low latency, and offer a wide range of possibilities from a retina-level adaptive display which best simulates virtual objects as if they’re just seen by the naked eye.
The device also features an innovative micro-gesture interaction that enables users to utilize their inner fingers as basic keys for movement operations.
How this is done is the AR Glass detects the second joints of the hand’s middle and index fingers. Thumb-tapping is also used for text input.
In the future, Xiaomi is exploring how to take advantage of sliding and tapping motions to integrate it seamlessly as part of the glasses’ controls.
A more connected experience
Lastly, the AR Glass also supports a variety of large-screen applications, enabled by Mi Share’s app-streaming capability.
TikTok and YouTube, for instance, can optimize the display area usage of the glasses, turning them into a portable large screen which you can take anywhere with you.
Users may also transfer a stream from a television screencast and continue watching it on the glasses. Xiaomi’s integrated spatial audio also makes the listening experience part more immersive.
GCash represents Philippines, SEA at MWC 2023
An innovator in the fintech scene
The Philippines was well-represented at the recent MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain, with GCash President and CEO Martha Sazon delivering a keynote speech there.
Sazon’s talk revolved around emphasizing the e-wallet’s innovative and game-changing solutions aimed at financial inclusion, as she even called GCash “a national champion that helps transform a nation”.
The leading financial app in the country now has over 76 million registered users, and is believed to be one of few fintech solutions that are sustainable in the Southeast Asian scene.
As GCash and its parent company Globe Group were not only representing the Philippines but also the entire Southeast Asia at the event, the brand prided itself in being a benchmark for innovative financial services and solutions.
Likewise, the platform’s net promoter score (NPS), a gauge measuring customer experience and predicts business growth, has been at par with globally recognized brands at 83.9%.
This year’s MWC, the second in-person gathering since the pandemic, garnered over 88,500 total attendees.
motorola rizr Hands-On
Hello Moto! from my rollable
If you’re an oldie (but goldie) gadget nerd, you would probably remember the stylish slider Motorola RIZR Z3 from 2006.
Fast forward this 2023, we might actually hear “Hello Moto” in this new form factor.
Originally unveiled at Lenovo Tech World ’22, motorola’s rollable concept made its way through the eyes of many at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Are you excited to see the future of smartphones with rollables?
Here’s our brief hands-on with motorola’s rollable concept A.K.A the moto rizr.
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