Hands on with the new foldable Magic VS from Honor, its first release outside of China

The Honor Magic VS is a new foldable smartphone from the former Huawei sub-brand that is currently scheduled for release outside of China. It uses a similar design to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold devices, pairing a large 7.9-inch internal foldable display with a smaller 6.45-inch cover display for use while the device is closed.

“The Honor Magic VS will be our very first foldable flagship to debut in overseas markets and we are confident that it will deliver tremendous advances, transforming the way people around the world use their smartphones,” said Honor CEO George Zhao . International pricing and release details are yet to be announced, but in China the device will start at ¥7,499 (about $1,048) for the lowest spec model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage and will ship on November 30th. Honor says it expects a global release early next year.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 text-gray-63 dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge and Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge

I had a chance to use Magic VS before its official release to get a feel for the hardware. Since the phone doesn’t run the final software, Honor has requested not to test any features of the software, including multi-window modes, app extension, or the camera. An ongoing problem with recent foldouts is that app support for Android tablets remains weak, and at this point it’s unclear whether Honor’s first international foldout will be able to fix that.

What I I am able to speak is how the Magic VS feels to hold and how its foldable screen and hinge behave. Honor claims its folding mechanism is sturdier this time around and is rated to withstand 400,000 folds, double that of the original Magic V. That translates to a lifespan of up to 10 years if you unfold and fold it 10 times. per day.

Granted, I’ve only managed to fold and unfold the phone a few dozen times in my limited time with the device, but so far the mechanism feels as sturdy as any foldable I’ve used. There are no squeaks or creaks as I unfold and fold it, and it feels very stiff when unfolded. Honor claims the display is “wrinkle-free” when unfolded, which is simply not true as you can see from the photo above, but like other foldables I expect you won’t notice this much in normal use.

The Honor Magic VS, folded in half.

The screen size of the VS is unchanged from its predecessor. The internal display is 7.9 inches with a 90Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 2272 x 1984, and a peak brightness of 800 nits, while the external display is 6.45 inches with a higher refresh rate of 120Hz, a resolution of 2560 x 1080 and a peak brightness of 1200 nits. However, it received a slight bump in specs over Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, while its predecessor used the non-Plus version.

Folded, the Honor Magic VS looks like a slightly heavy, slightly thick and slightly long smartphone thanks to its 21:9 display. The phone has a weight of 261g and a depth of 12.9mm when folded, which is heavier and thicker than my personal iPhone 14 Pro at 206g and 7.85mm thick. But that’s less than Samsung’s Z Fold 4, which weighs 263g and 15.8mm at its thickest point when folded. While the outer screen is a little tight, it felt quite usable during my time with the phone.

Opened up, the phone looks like a relatively small tablet, with an almost square aspect ratio. The usefulness of this screen real estate will ultimately depend on software support, but that’s still a very open question at this point. Both displays are OLED and appear adequately contrast-rich and colorful as a result.

The big news with the Honor VS over the Magic V that the company launched earlier this year is stylus support, similar to what we’ve seen with Samsung’s S Pen stylus on its recent Galaxy Z Fold devices. I haven’t been able to experience phone stylus support in my time with the device.

Folded Magic VS from below.

Honor Magic VS, folded, hand held.

Powering the Magic VS is a 5,000mAh battery (a slight improvement over the 4,750mAh battery found in the Honor Magic V), which can be charged at the same 66W fast charging speed. It is powerful enough to fully charge the phone in 46 minutes, says Honor. Available colors include orange, black, and a blue-tinged cyan, which is the model photographed on this page.

Although Samsung is now selling its fourth generation of foldable devices, it has faced relatively little competition in global markets. Other companies like Xiaomi and Oppo have more or less limited their foldable devices to the Chinese market, while ongoing sanctions mean Huawei’s internationally released foldable devices have been unable to ship with key apps and services. by Google. While the Honor Magic VS is unlikely to ship to the US, Europeans may finally see some competition in the foldable market.

Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge

Update November 23, 7:50am ET: Updated with hands-on impressions of the phone’s hardware.

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