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Honor Magic V2 review: "a gorgeous display in a super skinny form factor"

 Honor Magic V2 unfolded in reviewer's hand against a wooden desk.
Honor Magic V2 unfolded in reviewer's hand against a wooden desk.

The Honor Magic V2 was first unveiled last October, just months after the original model hitting the shelves. The newer device has already been available in other markets for some time, but with its European debut it's in the hands of more foldable fanatics than ever.

With an older but still powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor at the helm, the Honor Magic V2 isn't just a tricked out flagship. The larger screen, 120Hz refresh rate, and 16GB RAM mean it's knocking on the doors of some of the best gaming phones on the market. I took the latest foldable out and about for two weeks to see how it fares.

Design

Honor Magic V2 half unfolded on a wooden desk
Honor Magic V2 half unfolded on a wooden desk

If you've been curious about the appeal of a foldable phone, but been put off by the extra bulk those early models packed on, fear not. One of the biggest selling points of the Honor Magic V2 is its super thin design. At just 9.9mm folded, the Magic V2 is just over 4mm thinner than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and shaves 2mm off the Google Pixel Fold's footprint. I've lugged a Z Fold 4 around for a couple of weeks before, and the in-pocket difference here is huge.

The Magic V2 still manages to feel sturdy in its unfolded 4.7mm form as well. There's a solid rigidity to the unfolding process that never made me nervous when putting the device into big-screen mode and gives me every confidence that this hinge can go the distance. There is a slight creak noticeable when closing the phone, but it doesn't sound deep enough to be mechanical and is more likely the settling of the screen.

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Honor Magic V2 folded on a wooden table
Honor Magic V2 folded on a wooden table

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Honor Magic V2 unfolded on a wooden table
Honor Magic V2 unfolded on a wooden table

The balancing is particularly well refined here. I was able to comfortably hold the unfolded display in one hand when reading or browsing the web. Meanwhile, the width was just right for typing with both thumbs and accessing all on-screen controls during gameplay.

Of course, you've got an edge to edge screen on both sides here, with under-display cameras hiding out well on both the cover and internal screens. While visible during everyday operation, the lens itself is small enough to be forgotten about when browsing the web or playing games. It was only the odd top-down notification on reading apps that suffered here.

Honor Magic V2 in black PU leather from the back
Honor Magic V2 in black PU leather from the back

The rear comes in a range of finishes, from purple matte to the black PU leather model I received. This softer finish is particularly pleasing in the hand, and added additional grip that I quickly came to appreciate compared to the purple glass model I was initially sent. That device was sent back for software updates, but I was glad - I would wholeheartedly recommend grabbing the PU model instead. Honor does supply an additional case in the box should you prefer the lighter aesthetic of the purple or white models.

Features

The Honor Magic V2 ships with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset paired up with an Adreno 740 graphics system. That certainly bodes well for gaming right now, but with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 already making its way to devices like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro those looking to future proof as much as possible may benefit from a later 2024 release. As it stands today, though, that's going to see you through even the most demanding mobile releases and Xbox Game Pass streaming alike.

16GB RAM is par for the course for those after a gaming phone, as is the 512GB SSD storage option available on the new V2 as well. That's on par with the rest of the market, though if you're looking to keep everything on one device it's worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 can bump things up to 1TB.

Onto the star of the show, though - that display. The internal screen boasts a higher resolution than both Samsung and Google's latest foldable entries, while also coming in a little larger overall as well. That makes for a super crisp panel with super smooth 120Hz scrolling and gameplay making reading and gameplay (in particular Marvel Snap) a delight. This is one of the best screens I've ever used on a smartphone - and it's not just that wow factor of its sheer size.

Honor Magic V2 open on a GameRadar webpage showing screen crease
Honor Magic V2 open on a GameRadar webpage showing screen crease

Text is beautifully defined, colors pop with remarkable vividity, and motion is super fluid. Not only that, but the crease down the middle is pretty much invisible on darker backgrounds, only showing on particularly white screens. The internal screen is, obviously, nicer to use overall (I'm used to a wider main display on my iPhone 14 Plus), but the cover screen certainly doesn't slouch for notifications and quick actions.

There are some notable exclusions in this feature list, though. Most crucially, the Honor Magic V2 doesn't list an IPX waterproofing rating on its site, and doesn't offer wireless charging capabilities. That's a blow to everyday use for some, though if you're used to the world of gaming phones this isn't going to be a surprise. These drops do put the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 ahead of the V2 for those after an everyday device, though.

There's a saving grace - the Honor Magic V2 shelters a 5,000mAh battery which I managed to eek out for around two days of casual use before having to plug in. On more gaming intensive test days, this battery lasted a few hours in big-screen mode with everything turned up to 11.

Camera

I certainly wasn't expecting the Honor Magic V2 to pack this kind of camera prowess. On paper, these specs are already looking good. While that 50MP wide camera sits inline with most of the market already, there's an impressive 50MP ultrawide lens packed in here, with a 20MP telephoto option to boot. Even the 16MP front selfie camera is miles ahead of other models.

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Lego Bowser's Muscle Car on a patio with grass in the background
Lego Bowser's Muscle Car on a patio with grass in the background

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low light shot of street lamp and a tree with Honor Magic V2
low light shot of street lamp and a tree with Honor Magic V2

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camera test of lightbulb on Honor Magic V2
camera test of lightbulb on Honor Magic V2

In practice, brighter well-lit shots offered up vibrant colors and crisp definition. Low light images do drop this clarity, with software enhancements falling behind other flagship models. This is a solid camera system overall, your shots aren't going to look noticeably worse than the majority of other smartphones on the market, though like for like shots against top end flagships do show some weaknesses in processing and correction.

Gaming Performance

Honor Magic V2 playing Marvel Snap on a wooden desk
Honor Magic V2 playing Marvel Snap on a wooden desk

Everyday performance of the Honor Magic V2 is slick and smooth, with enough power under the hood to manage big-screen multi-tasking without once lagging or crashing out. Gaming is a similar story, though extreme pressure does cause the system to buckle somewhat.

Everyday gaming never suffers for this. I was able to cruise through Call of Duty Mobile without a hitch, though never quite reached the silky smoothness some high-end, purpose built gaming phones can offer. That said, the 120Hz refresh rate was more than enough here, hitting the 120fps cap these kinds of games often run with. Slower titles like Marvel Snap and Magic: The Gathering Arena both ran well, with that super crisp display helping card text and art to pop particularly well. A full MTG board animating left, right, and center managed to keep its cool, only occasionally juddering with more demanding stacks.

Both PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile opened my eyes to how much I miss the touch triggers available in gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro and Black Shark 5 Pro. Going back to more traditional on-screen controls didn't exactly feel like taking a step in the past - after all, I was doing so on a massive foldable display. However, the more everyday nature of the Honor Magic V2 was felt in the overall feel of each game here. Similarly, the lack of dedicated cooling tech meant things got a little sweaty when the heat was really on - which also contributed to lower performance in more demanding titles like Black Desert Mobile.

Should you buy the Honor Magic V2?

Honor Magic V2 folded on the home screen on a wooden desk
Honor Magic V2 folded on the home screen on a wooden desk

The Honor Magic V2 isn't marketed as a gaming phone, but it does pack the internal specs to see you through the majority of daily thumb tappers in style. Everything is super slick and smooth here, and the improvements in display and battery under the hood make it a must-see when compared to loftier releases like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. The lack of waterproofing and wireless charging could sway some who don't mind a thicker form factor over to Samsung's camp, though.

Of course, enthusiast mobile gamers will want to invest in a device that offers dedicated trigger controls, more in-game software functionality, a more substantial cooling system, and the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. In this case, the step away from a foldable form factor is necessary, though, and you likely won't find a camera setup like this on dedicated gaming phones.

How we tested the Honor Magic V2

I used the Honor Magic V2 as my main smartphone for two weeks, using the device for all day to day web browsing, streaming, photography, and gaming. In that time, I mostly tested across Marvel Snap, Pokemon Go, Call of Duty Mobile, and MTG Arena, however also stress tested using PUBG, Black Desert Mobile and 3D Mark's suite of system benchmarks. For more information on how we test gaming phones, check out the full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.

If you're after a larger screen, it's well worth checking out the best gaming tablets on the market right now. Or, for a more substantial portable experience, take a look at the best gaming handhelds. We're also rounding up all the best mobile controllers to make the most of a dedicated device as well.