We go hands-on Honor’s newest flagship!
Honor had one last surprise launch for 2018: the Huawei sub-brand officially took of the wraps of their most ambitious phone yet during a gala event in Beijing two weeks ago. The Honor Magic 2 builds on the foundations of the company’s first concept phone, and delivers an almost bezel-less display along with a six(!) cameras spread out evenly at the front and back of the device.
Packaging and contents:
The Honor Magic 2 ships in a blue box (the brand’s official color) with the model name printed on the front. Inside, you’ll see the phone, a hard back cover, documentation in Chinese, along with a fast charger and a USB Type-C cable.
It’s important to note that our Magic 2 review unit was sent direct from China, and is not the global version.
That design looks familiar.
Yeah, it does. To achieve the all-screen front, Honor had to get creative when it came to designing the Magic 2. Since transparent displays that cameras can see through isn’t a thing yet, Honor went with another approach – putting the cameras in a sliding mechanism, similar to Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3.
It’s a similar approach to the same problem, though Honor’s implementation of the sliding mechanism is different: the Magic 2 uses a butterfly multi-track mechanism that clicks securely into place, quite different compared to the Mi Mix 3 which uses neodymium magnets to keep the mechanism locked into place.
Sliding down the Magic 2’s front require deliberate effort, and once it’s down it stays firmly locked in place.
We’re not even going to speculate which one is better or more durable at this point in time, as both implementations of the manual slide functionality feels solid when deployed.
Looking at the rear, the Magic 2 has quite a bit of the design DNA of the P20 Pro, especially with the protruding triple camera module. Honor’s AI Vision tech replaces the prominent Leica branding that’s usually written near the bottom of the triple camera module.
The back is made from glass and is very shiny, and like the P20 Pro the Magic 2 comes in a variety of colors as well as gradient finishes.
Going around the phone, the Magic 2 has its power and volume buttons on the right, while the SIM tray is on the left. There’s an IR blaster on the top of the phone, while the bottom holds the USB Type-C conector and speaker grille. Like most flagships nowadays, the Magic 2 doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack – if you want to listen to your music with wires, you either buy one with a USB Type-C plug or use the Type-C to 3.5mm dongle included in the package.
There isn’t a physical fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone, instead the Magic 2 utilizes an in-screen one that’s embedded in its 6.39-inch full-view HD+ (2,340 x 1,080 resolution) AMOLED display. The phone also utilizes face unlock tech, but that requires you to slide the display down to reveal the cameras.
As far as that display goes, they look pretty damn good. Like we said earlier, the display is almost bezel-less and doesn’t have a distracting notch on it.
Let’s talk about the cameras on the Magic 2. There are six: three in the rear and three in the front. The three rear cameras are composed of a 16-megapixel f/1.8 man camera, a 25-megapixel f/1.8 monochrome camera and a 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra wide-angle camera. Nothing surprising here so far.
The front camera is composed of a main 16-megapixel f/2.0 main shooter and two secondary depth sensors. Why Honor felt the need to add two additional cameras to the mix we can only speculate. Better bokeh effects for photos? Probably – we’ll have to keep testing the phone to really see what the cameras can do.
The Magic 2 is as capable as Huawei’s new flagship, as its armed with their new Kirin 980 chipset with dual NPUs. Our review unit came with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, though Honor sells an even beefier 8GB/256GB model.
What really sets the Magic 2 apart is the integration of Honor’s own AI, dubbed “YOYO”, described by the company as an “all-in-one smart-living enabler possessed with mind-reading and machine-learning capabilities.”
Unfortunately, we couldn’t use YOYO as the interface to set it up was in Chinese, which isn’t surprising since our review unit came straight from China. Speaking of China, despite not having Google Play Services out of the gate, the Honor Magic 2 was surprisingly easy to sideload with the Google Play APK, which allowed us to install all of the stuff that we use for work, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive and more.
And that’s pretty much it for the Honor Magic 2. We’re still playing with it and will be giving you our full take on the device once we’re done. While Honor hasn’t officially announced if the phone is making its way to the Philippines, the phone was sent by the brand themselves so we know they’re at least thinking about bringing it over. The phone is priced at RMB 3,799 or around 29K without taxes for the 6GB/128GB version, so it’s a great budget flagship for people looking for an alternative to the usual suspects.
Honor Magic 2 specs
- HiSilicon Kirin 980 octa-core processor
- 6GB/8GB RAM
- 6.39-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display, 2340×1080 resolution
- 128GB/256GB internal storage
- Triple rear cameras: 16-megapixel f/1.8 main camera, 24-megapixel f/1.8 monochrome camera, and 16-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera; with PDAF, dual tone LED flash, 4K video recording, Night mode
- 16-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with 2x 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensors
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth, Dual band GPS, NFC
- In-display fingerprint scanner, IPX2 Rating, Yoyo assistant
- 3400mAh battery with 40W Magic Charge
- Android 9 Pie (EMUI 9)