Honor Magic 5 Pro reviewon May 24, 2023 at 11:53 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

One of the best displays aroundExcellent battery lifePowerful triple camera

Cons

Clunky softwareUneven performance

Our Verdict

The Magic 5 Pro is a fully-featured flagship which can match most rivals on display quality, battery life, and even camera performance – but Honor still has ground to cover on the software side.

Price When Reviewed

£949.99

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Updated 24 May to correct the detail that the ultrawide camera can record video at 30fps.

Once the budget wing of Huawei, Honor is now its own, independent beast. And that independence has freed it to move up from the cut-price mid-range market and into selling its own full-on flagships. 

This year has already seen the company release the Magic Vs, a rare global challenger to Samsung’s foldable dominance, but the Magic 5 Pro is a little more traditional: a big slab of glass with some very powerful cameras on the back. 

But just how powerful are they – and is there enough on offer here to tempt buyers away from the likes of Samsung, Google, and Apple?

Design & build 

Large but surprisingly slender IP68 water-resistance Striking circular camera module 

The Magic 5 Pro fits comfortably enough into modern flagship phone design trends: a huge slab of curved glass and metal with an outlandishly large, round camera module on the back. 

This is a phone that wants some attention

The 6.81in screen is most of why the phone is so large, and at 219g it’s pretty heavy too. In fairness to Honor it’s only 8.8mm thick though, making it more slender than the other large slabs out there, and a little more comfortable to hold as a result. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The cameras are the most striking element – on both sides. On the front, Honor remains the rare company to include a depth sensor alongside the selfie camera, creating an iPhone-esque pill-shaped cut-out, though here it’s tucked into the corner rather than front and centre. 

Then on the back you’ll find an enormous circular camera dominated by its three lenses, which the main body slightly slopes up to join. This is especially striking on the green model, where the black lenses jump out from the body in a distinctive triangle. It’s not subtle, but it’s clearly not trying to be – this is a phone that wants some attention. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

I’ve been reviewing the Meadow Green model, which comes with a slight sparkle to its matt glass finish, though there’s also a glossier black model available. Blue, purple, and orange finishes have launched in China too, but are unlikely to be widely available elsewhere. 

One downside is that Honor hasn’t made any claims about using Gorilla Glass or other toughened alternatives to protect the phone from damage – though a pre-applied screen protector will help save the display. The phone is IP68-rated however, so should be safe from dust and water. 

Screen & speakers 

6.81in quad-curved 1-120Hz OLED Emphasis on eye comfort Slightly tinny stereo speakers 

If you go by Honor’s marketing, the Magic 5 Pro has two key strengths, and the screen is one of them. 

You can see where the company is coming from, as it really has thrown everything but the kitchen sink in here. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The large 6.81 panel is an OLED (of course) using the latest LTPO technology to scale refresh rate from 1-120Hz on the fly, delivering silky smoothness and optimised battery life. 

The screen is curved on each of the four edges for a symmetrical look and comfortable feel. It packs a high resolution of 1312×2848, and a dedicated display chipset to help drive its impressive colour accuracy and HDR10+ support. 

Is this the best screen in any phone right now?

That’s not all though. Honor has also leant hard on eye health features, promising that this screen is one of the best around for comfortable long-term use. Dynamic dimming tech, a circadian-friendly certification, and reduced screen flicker all supposedly combine to look after your vision – and sleep cycle. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

In a week with the phone, I can’t say I’ve noticed any particular difference, so I’ll have to take Honor’s word for it that my eyes will thank me. I can at least confirm that the panel looks great: it’s bright, colourful, and crisp, with deep contrast and irrepressible smoothness.  

Is this the best screen in any phone right now? I don’t know. But it should definitely be in the conversation. 

Sadly I can’t quite say the same for the speakers. The stereo set-up here isn’t bad, but it’s far from a stand-out feature, and tinny by flagship phone standards. It’ll do the job in a pinch, especially just for watching a bit of YouTube or Netflix in bed, but don’t expect to be wowed. 

Specs & performance 

Latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip Lags a little behind other flagships in benchmarks Loads of RAM and storage 

The Magic 5 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the fastest chipset around right now for Android phones. Honor pairs it with a generous 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage in the only version of the phone launching internationally. 

Unsurprisingly then, the phone is fast. It can handle plenty of multi-tasking, demanding games, and most things you throw at it. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Still, I have two caveats for the phone’s performance. The first is that I’ve experienced stuttering and even freezing with a few specific apps, including Google Maps and Translate. This is presumably a software issue, but it hampers the promise of the hardware. 

Second, in artificial benchmarks the Magic 5 Pro clearly lags just fractionally behind every other 8 Gen 2 phone we’ve tested, suggesting Honor has some work to do on optimisation. For most people this sort of difference really – really – doesn’t matter, but if you’re a gamer or power user hoping to push their phone to the limit, it does look like other manufacturers are pushing Qualcomm’s chips a little further and faster. 

On the connectivity side, the phone of course supports 5G, along with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC. 

Biometrics include face unlock using the selfie camera, or a reliable fingerprint scanner built into the display. 

Camera & video 

Triple 50Mp rear camera Single selfie camera – with an extra depth sensor 

Remember I mentioned Honor’s push for the phone’s two key strengths? Well, meet the other one. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The Magic 5 Pro’s comprehensive display specs are more or less matched by what it offers in the camera department, with a triple rear camera comprised entirely of 50Mp lenses. 

The main camera uses a large 1/1.12in sensor – not quite as large as the IMX989 sensor that’s appeared in the Vivo X90 Pro, Oppo Find X6 Pro, and Xiaomi 13 Pro this year, but not far off. 

It’s paired with a fast f/1.6 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS), and that combination means this is capable of capturing an impressive amount of light, which is key for all photography, but especially at low light, where the 5 Pro manages to preserve both detail and a natural colour range – a struggle for even the best phone cameras in dim lighting.

I’ve taken crisp, punchy shots in all manner of lighting conditions with this main camera and been impressed by the results. Colours skew a little to the saturated end of the scale, but not aggressively so, and excellent dynamic range means the Magic 5 Pro can capture beautiful shadows and mixed lighting. 

The main lens is joined by a 50Mp ultrawide, using a smaller sensor and a slightly slower f/2.0 aperture – though in fact that’s still faster than average for a lens this wide.  

Shots here can’t quite match the main camera. Colours are more subdued, with photos generally coming out a shade or two darker than you’d think, with a definite drop-off in dynamic range which leaves shadows and dark spots lacking in detail. With no optical stabilisation, this is also the only lens of the three to really struggle in the dark. It’s not bad overall, but I expected better. 

I’ve taken crisp, punchy shots in all manner of lighting conditions

Finally, a 3.5x zoom periscope lens comes equipped with an f/3.0 aperture and OIS. This is a bit of a halfway-house zoom – shorter than many other periscopes, but too long to use comfortably for portraits or similar. 

Still, once you get to grip with distances, photos are impressive. At the default 3.5x focal length shots are detailed and well-exposed, even in low or challenging light. You can even crank it up to 10x zoom with little obvious drop in quality, though I wouldn’t trust it to go much further than that.

Flip to the front and you find that dual selfie pill – though, again, there’s only one actual camera there, with a time of flight depth sensor alongside it. Curiously, Honor offers three default zoom options here: 0.7x, 0.8x, and regular, though the latter two are presumably just crops on the sensor.

The 12Mp shooter doesn’t do badly, even doing a passable job of the split exposure for my shots taken from my balcony in bright light, facing back into my much darker living room. The ToF sensor clearly pulls its weight in the portrait mode too, with a natural-seeming bokeh supporting by frankly excellent edge detection, only erroneously blurring one or two stray hairs. This is a great phone for selfies.

Finally, video. You can record at up to 4K and 30fps from the front camera, jumping up to 4K and 60fps on the rear. There’s no 8K option, but I suspect few users will care about that. The ultrawide lens is limited to 4K and 30fps however – and, strangely, completely disappears as an option if you have 60fps enabled rather than automatically dropping the frame rate for you.

Battery & charging 

1-2 day battery life Fast-ish charging Wireless too 

The 5100mAh battery in the Magic 5 Pro is one of the largest you’ll find in any phone these days, and the good news is that it shows.  

A score of 11 hours and 44 minutes in the PCMark battery test is strong for a flagship phone, but more impressive is that the phone will comfortably run for a full day and often for a second. 

I’ve gotten used to going to bed with as much as 70% battery left, and on one occasion even had 30% left at the end of the second. That was with relatively light use by my standards, but I’m confident that even demanding users will find this a full-day phone. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

When you do need to top it back up, the 66W charging is fast enough, though won’t set any records. It restored 75% of the battery in half an hour in my test, and will get you to full in less than an hour, so it is at least nippy enough to spare you from the need to charge overnight. 

Even demanding users will find this a full-day phone

You can only hit the 50W wireless charging speeds with Honor’s official charger, which is sold separately for £85/€99. If that’s too steep for you, it will charge at lower speeds on just about any Qi-certified wireless charger you already have about – and if you don’t have one yet, they cost an awful lot less than Honor’s. 

Software & updates 

Ships with Android 13 Runs Honor’s clunky MagicOS Three Android OS updates promised 

The Magic 5 Pro ships with Android 13, the latest version of the operating system, with Honor’s bespoke MagicOS skin on top. 

I don’t love MagicOS, which I find busy and clunky compared to the software on rival phones. I also suspect the software skin is to blame for the performance wobbles I had on a few specific apps, mentioned above. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

There’s also a little bloatware to contend with. Honor pre-installs apps ranging from TikTok and Netflix to lesser-known options like TrainPal and WPS Office. You even get both Trip.com and Booking.com’s apps, giving you a double whammy of unwanted holiday options. 

In its favour, the company at least offers a healthy mix of its own software and the Google options when it comes to core apps – you’ll be expected to use Honor’s calendar and calculator, but messaging, email, and other basics are Google by default. 

For some reason Honor has also added in a few gesture controls with the Magic 5 Pro, allowing you to scroll or take screenshots by waving your hand about in the air in front of the phone. These are rubbish, and thankfully switched off by default. Don’t bother turning them on. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

To end on an upbeat note, Honor has promised that the phone will receive three Android OS updates – so that’s to Android 14, likely later this year, and eventually to 16 – plus a full five years of security patches. That’s not quite the best software support in an Android phone, but it’s close, and ensures some longevity if you pick a Magic 5 Pro up. 

Price & availability 

The Magic 5 Pro is out now in the UK and Europe, where it costs £949/€1,199.

In the UK you can pick it up from the official Honor site, or from Three, Amazon, Argos, and Very. Here are the best contract deals we can find right now:

That price is firmly in flagship territory, though falls short of the absolute top tier models like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max.  

Likely competitors are the Galaxy S23+, iPhone 14, and Google Pixel 7 Pro. The Honor beats the bunch on battery life and display quality, and holds its own in the camera department, making it a surprisingly capable competitor at the top end of the market. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Check out our full pick of the best phones out now for more options, or the best Honor phones to see what else the company has to offer. 

Verdict 

The Magic 5 Pro is an excellent return from Honor, and a sign that the flagship form it found in last year’s Magic 4 Pro was no fluke. 

On display and battery life this phone can duke it out with the best, and the camera does enough to earn its place in that conversation too. 

It’s strange that performance runs a little cold compared to other 2023 flagships, and I’ll admit that the striking design didn’t really win me over.  

The main thing to give you pause should still be the software though, with MagicOS an acceptable but uninspiring take on Android. It gets the job done, but Honor’s big name rivals still deliver more when it comes to pure polish. 

Specs 

6.81in 1-120Hz LTPO OLED display Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 12GB RAM 512GB storage Camera: 50Mp, f/1.6 OIS main camera 50Mp, f/2.0 ultrawide camera 50Mp, f/3.0 OIS 3.5x telephoto camera 12Mp, f/2.4 selfie camera 5100mAh battery 66W wired charging 50W wireless charging 5G Wi-Fi Bluetooth IP68 162.9 x 76.7 x 8.8mm 219g 

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