Honor Magic V2 Review: Raises the Portability Bar for Foldables
The portable Magic V2 nudges foldable phones closer to the mainstream with its thin lightweight design and solid features.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Honor's Magic V2 impressed me as soon as I took it out of the box. From the lightweight design and bright, expansive displays to the respectable cameras and dependable battery life, there's a lot I like about it.
However, my favorite part about the Magic V2 is its portability. Honor proves that a foldable phone can be a powerful productivity machine without burdening you with its size and weight. Since the Magic V2 is extraordinarily portable, it doesn't necessarily feel like I'm holding a foldable phone unless I slide my thumb over the place where the screens meet.
The Magic V2's hardware backs up my real world experience. The V2 is the lightest and slimmest book-style foldable phone available, even though it launched last year. When folded, it's just 9.9 millimeters thick, making it slightly thicker than a bar phone and convenient to carry around. For reference, Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5, a direct competitor, is 13.46 mm thick when it's closed.
Exceptionally lightweight and slim
No IP rating for water and dust resistance
Software needs more polish
No wireless charging support
Processor and Android OS from 2023
The Magic V2 weighs 231 grams. That's 2 grams less than Samsung's new Galaxy S24 Ultra and more than 50 grams less than the Google Pixel Fold. The V2's thin and light design makes it feel more like a regular phone and less like an experiment. (I should note that the OnePlus Open, which my colleague Eli Blumenthal reviewed last year, comes close to matching the V2's svelte, lightweight build.)
Despite the phone's compact size, Honor has packed it with flagship specs, including last year's still-peppy Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, a triple-camera module complete with a telephoto lens and a large battery that supports 66-watt fast charging. It also comes with four years of Android software upgrades and five years of security updates, which is the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and OnePlus Open. We're expecting the rumored Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 to be supported for seven years if Samsung follows the same approach as the Galaxy S24 series.
But as compelling as it is, the Magic V2 has its shortcomings. It lacks some of the fancy finishing touches I'd expect from a book-style foldable of this price and caliber. For one, it doesn't have an official IP rating for water and dust resistance. The Galaxy Z Fold 5, by comparison, is rated IPX8 for water-resistance and can be immersed under 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes. Nearly all foldables, including the Magic V2, lack dust resistance apart from the IP52-rated Motorola Razr Plus, which offers some resistance against dust and water splashes.
The Magic V2 also lacks wireless charging support, a feature that is present in most of its rivals. And lastly, not all apps are optimized for the V2's screens. This is a similar issue my peers experienced when reviewing other foldables. The CNN app, for example, isn't yet optimized for the inner screen when you download it. But the black bars on the sides of the screen disappear once you change the resolution in the Settings panel.
The Magic V2 went on sale in parts of Europe and the UK, in late January for £1,700 (converts to roughly $2,160 or AU$3,280) or 1,999 euros. This is a lower starting price in the UK than the £1,749 Galaxy Z Fold 5 ($1,800, AU$2,559), but the Z Fold 5 costs 1,899 euros. Honor says there are currently no plans for a release in the United States.
Using the Magic V2
Thanks to the abundance of screen real estate, the Magic V2's large internal display makes it a better multitasker than my normal bar-shaped phone. I could watch a YouTube video in one window, browse Instagram on the other, and type out an email in a third floating window. I could also take notes while on Zoom calls since I can overlay a Zoom video on top of a document.
The Magic V2 runs on MagicOS 7.2 based on Android 13, which Honor says adds a slew of smart features to aid in multitasking. However, virtually every flagship phone released in 2024 runs on Android 14 instead of Android 13. This is probably because the Magic V2 was released last year, but Honor hasn't said when Android 14 is expected to arrive.
The Magic V2's AI features
Just about every major smartphone maker is taking advantage of the AI hype cycle, and Honor is no different. It introduced several new AI-based features to the Magic V2 this year, including a unique addition called Privacy Call. It's an AI-based "directional sound technology" designed to prevent sound leaking, or instances when the person you're talking to on a call can be heard by people around you even if they're not speaking loudly. Honor says the screen and the receiver work together to adjust the volume of the incoming audio to suit different environments. I tested it out and it seemed to work as marketed. I had a friend call me and asked her to speak loudly on the phone. I asked my husband if he could hear the conversation or any of the words she was saying, but he said he could not.
Honor also introduced a feature called Magic Text, which reminds me of the iPhone's Live Text feature from iOS 15 in 2022, tha recognizes text content on an image and converts it into editable text. Like Live Text, I'd expect this feature would come in handy if you have hand-written recipes or notes that you want to digitize easily, as long as the handwriting is legible and clear. In my experience, it was intuitive to use and it's definitely a welcome addition. All I had to do was tap and select text in an image in the Gallery app, hit copy and then paste it into an email or wherever I needed the text.
Design and displays
The Honor V2's supremely lightweight design is a standout feature. The hinge is made from a titanium alloy that not only keeps it light but should also make the phone more durable, according to Honor. The company also claims the phone can withstand up to 400,000 folds. That theoretically means the hinge will provide 10 years of use (assuming 100 folds per day), although whether the flexible screen itself would last that long remains to be seen. CNET hasn't been able to independently verify that claim. By comparison, Samsung says it's Galaxy Z Fold 5 can handle around 200,000 folds.
The Magic V2 is easy to use when folded, as its 6.43-inch cover screen is similar to the screen size of a standard nonfolding phone. Its peak brightness of 2,500 nits made it easy to watch videos in sunny environments, although not under direct sunlight.
Inside, you'll find a 7.92-inch display with a crease that's barely noticeable. I had to maneuver the phone to specific angles to even see the crease, which is impressive. I watched videos and read the news seamlessly without the crease feeling intrusive. This is a big improvement over the older Magic VS, its predecessor, which had a clearly visible line running down the middle.
The inner display of the Magic V2 was bright enough at 1,600 nits, making it easy to watch YouTube videos outdoors.
The Magic V2's five cameras
The Magic V2 has five cameras. There's a 50-megapixel main camera, 50-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 20-megapixel camera with a telephoto lens on the back of the phone. You can also use this trio to snap selfies thanks to the Magic V2's foldable design, which enables the cover screen to function as a viewfinder. There's a 16-megapixel camera on the cover screen and a second 16-megapixel camera under the display of the inner screen. Take a look at the photos below to see the cameras in action.
In general, photos from the V2 are respectable but not the best you'll get from a phone. While photos taken with bright light were sharp and colorful, images taken in indoor or low light environments looked shadowy. But if you're not a diehard photographer, the V2's cameras should be just fine for taking snaps. CNET's Patrick Holland reviewed the rival Galaxy Z Fold 5 phone last year and found that while images were crisp in bright environments, the phone tended to oversaturate colors.
Foldable phones' cameras tend to be a weakness compared to similarly priced non-foldable phones. You're mainly paying for the phone's flexible display rather than for the kind of top-of-the-line cameras you find on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Pixel 8 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Magic V2 battery and performance
Honor crammed a 5,000-mAh silicon carbon battery into the Magic V2's slim and svelte frame. In my experience, the battery lasted throughout the day after moderate use: quick phone calls, social media scrolling, reading emails, watching YouTube videos and listening to music.
I ran a battery endurance test in which I streamed a YouTube video for 3 hours on the phone's internal screen. In that time, the battery dropped from 92% to 77%, which is 15%. By comparison, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 drained just 10% and the Pixel Fold lost 24% of its battery when we had put those phones through the same endurance test.
Since it was released in 2023, the Magic V2 runs on last year's top-of-the-line processor from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. My test phone could handle virtually everything I threw at it, including graphic-intensive games such as Genshin Impact and running Zoom video calls while taking notes. It's a shame Honor didn't refresh the international version with the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, which is powering new flagship phones in 2024.
Geekbench 6 single-core
Geekbench 6 multicore
Honor Magic V2
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Google Pixel Fold
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Overall, I was impressed with the Magic V2 folding phone. It has slick hardware that makes Honor's Magic V2 the most portable book-style foldable phone I've ever used. Size and weight have been a drawback for book-style foldable phones, and the Honor Magic V2 is a compelling attempt at solving that. It's also backed up by high-end specs, including a zippy processor, a versatile camera module with a telephoto lens, an inner screen with a hard-to-find crease and fast charging. However, for a phone of this price, I'd expect it to run on the latest version of Android and a processor from this year. Additionally, the Magic V2 lacks some desired finishing touches such as an official IP rating and wireless charging support.
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra
Every phone tested by CNET's reviews team is actually used in the real world. We test a phone's features, play games and take photos. We examine the display to see if it's bright, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and build to see how it is to hold and whether it has an IP-rating for water-resistance. We push the processor's performance to the extremes, using standardized benchmark tools like GeekBench and 3DMark as well as our own anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution videos and playing graphically intense games at high refresh rates.
All the cameras are tested in a variety of conditions, from bright sunlight to dark indoor scenes. We try out special features like night mode and portrait mode and compare our findings against similarly priced competing phones. We also check out the battery life by using the phone daily as well as running a series of battery drain tests.