Honor is aiming for Samsung's throne with the "Eye of Muse"! We had the opportunity to test the new flagship from the former Huawei subsidiary at MWC 2022, and you can check my first impressions in this hands-on.
- Exciting camera array with periscope zoom
- Focus on videos
- Crisp, bright display
- 100-watt quick charging
- Back very susceptible to greasy fingers
- "Eye of Muse" on the back is very large
- Really expensive
Honor Magic 4 Pro in a nutshell
Honor unveiled the Magic 4 Pro on February 28 at MWC 2022. Honor made its fans' mouths water, but we do not know an exact release date in the West yet. The new Magic 4 series is supposed to be launched in the summer of 2022, and the prices should be quite expensive. And as usual for this Chinese launch on MWC, the Magic 4 Pro is not expected to be sold in North America.
The Magic 4 Pro with 8 gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes of internal storage will be launched on the global market for 1,099 Euros (approximately 1230 USD). Prices will vary according to the market, but for my hands-on, I have the price tag of just under $1250 in mind, and I also orientate myself exactly on that in my first impression.
Design & Display: What is the "Eye of Muse"?
Honor wants to cause a stir with a camera arrangement on the back called "Eye of Muse". The camera module is massive, circular, and places the 64-megapixel periscope camera exactly in the center. The smartphone measures 163.6 x 74.7 x 9.15 millimeters and weighs exactly 215 grams according to the spec sheet. The design is determined by a 6.81-inch AMOLED display that refreshes images at 120 hertz.
What I liked:
- Robustly built.
- "Eye of Muse" a unique selling point regardless of taste.
- IP68 certification.
What I disliked:
- The back is very prone to fingerprints.
- Seems very "chinaesque" overall.
- Fingers cover cameras very quickly.
With a price of 1100 Euros, Honor finally attacks manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. In comparison, however, Honor's new premium smartphone does not look quite as high-quality and as if it is made of one piece. Even though the build quality is very high and the phone even manages an IP68 certification, a knock on the smartphone's back sounds quite dull.
Honor's design language in 2022 fully relies on curves - the camera module on the back called "Eye of Muse", for example, looks a bit like a crop circle and even the casing's corners are rounded. The display also blends into the sides of the casing a bit.
The 6.81-inch OLED display has a really good display-to-case ratio. The display is a feast for the eyes anyway - you get an LTPO display that dynamically adjusts the refresh rate between 1 and 120 hertz, displays over a billion colors thanks to 10-bit support, and is certified for HDR10+ with a peak brightness of 1000 nits. The resolution is also super high with 1312 x 2848 pixels and a pixel density of 460 PPI.
By default, however, the Honor Magic 4 Pro turns the resolution down a bit too far - because when I first looked at the smartphone, I was puzzled why everything looked so blurry. That worries me a bit about the battery life.
Software: Android 12 with Magic UI 6 on board
Even though I could not really delve deep into the Magic 4 Pro software for this hands-on, there were a few exciting points during the announcement. Fortunately, the phone includes the Google services, just like the Honor 50. Beyond that, Android 12 is already used, on top of which Honor puts its own Magic UI 6.
Honor also equips the new phone with some AI magic. One of them is called Privacy Calling and is supposed to understand where your ear is located during calls. The sound will then be directed to your ears more specifically, which should minimize the so-called "sound bleeding" during calls.
Honor also wants to fully utilize the hardware via a new AI optimization. Of course, we can only test how well the whole thing works when we have the smartphone in our editorial office.
Honor Magic 4 Pro performance
The Honor Magic 4 Pro is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which is supported by 8 gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes of internal storage. There are no alternative hardware configurations and you cannot expand the storage by buying a microSD card.
What I liked:
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 looked promising in Oppo Find X5 Pro review.
What I disliked:
- Storage is quite limited at 256 gigabytes.
As expected, the Magic 4 Pro ran nice and smoothly when we tested it at the show. The review sample only made one mistake - when zooming, the phone got stuck for almost 20 seconds and did nothing. However, it is quite possible that this is due to the model on display, which might not quite represent the finished version of the phone yet.
Honor, like most flagships in 2022, relies on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 - Qualcomm's current top processor. The SoC is supported by 8 gigabytes of RAM and there is 256 gigabytes of internal storage for photos, videos, and more. You cannot expand this with an alternative configuration or a microSD card.
This is exactly where I see a problem with the Honor Magic 4 Pro - because the internal storage will fill up quickly, especially when recording videos. The fact that there is a trend towards fixed 256 GB storage in 2022 feels a bit worrisome for me!
Camera: Triple camera and 10-bit videos
Honor's Eye of Muse features a 50-megapixel main camera, an ultra-wide-angle camera with another 50 megapixels, and a periscope telephoto camera with 64 megapixels. The whole thing looks quite decent on the spec sheet - but I find the 10-bit LOG videos that you can record with the smartphone much more exciting.
What I disliked:
- Solid camera setup without superfluous sensors.
- Exciting video capabilities.
What I disliked:
- Scattered cameras are quite prone to being covered up.
- The telephoto camera could be a bit low-light at high resolutions.
- Again: Little memory for videos.
The focus [ed: pun unintended] of the Honor Magic 4 Pro is on the installed cameras, which the manufacturer places in a unique arrangement on the back. I do not need to mention that the whole thing is called "Eye of Muse" again. And the fact that it is spearheaded by two sensors with 50 megapixels and a periscope camera with 64 megapixels.
While the main camera and the ultra-wide-angle camera are quite fast with f/1.8 and f/2.2, the periscope camera falls far behind in this respect. Although Honor only offers a 3.5x zoom, which would not even necessarily require a periscope camera - see Samsung and the Galaxy S22 Ultra - the lens used only offers an aperture of f/3.5.
In combination with the high resolution, I guess the telephoto camera could produce a lot of noise. And that's just to put a 100x digital zoom to match Samsung... You can see how the image quality behaves in the following gallery. But since the exhibition halls are really dark, it wasn't the best place to judge the camera's quality.
However, I also find the placement of the cameras on the back unfavorable. Because the huge camera hump, on which the lenses are evenly distributed, makes it easy to cover the lenses with your hand.
Last but not least, the Honor Magic 4 Pro supports an IMAX-certified video function that supports 4K at 60 frames per second and even 10-bit LOG recordings. This gives you more options for color grading, but it remains to be seen how good it is in practice and whether LUT files are actually available for the smartphone.
Honor Magic 4 Pro battery
As usual, there is little to say about the battery in the hands-on : It has a nominal value of 4,500 mAh, which can be quickly recharged with 100 watts. And that output power works whether you opt for a wired or wireless charger, as long as you have a compatible adaptor, both charging technologies are supposed to work with up to 100 watts.
Of course, we cannot yet judge how good the battery life is. But especially in connection with the large, high-resolution and smooth display, I see a long battery life as critical. According to the manufacturer, the 100 watts should also provide charging times from 0 to 100% in 30 minutes. That is decent, but still behind Xiaomi and the Xiaomi 11T Pro.
So how did I like the Honor Magic 4 Pro in the hands-on?
I find the smartphone difficult to recommend, especially in view of the price tag. If the Magic 4 Pro is actually launched for just under 1,100 Euros, most users will probably find the phone too expensive. After all, Honor was the cheaper alternative to Huawei for a long time, and this reputation still sticks to the company despite the split.
Maybe it is my own experience with Honor, but the smartphone with its reflective back and fingerprint magnet effect does not really feel high-quality. The hardware is solid but quite weak with a maximum of 256 gigabytes of internal storage. I would have liked an alternative with 512 gigabytes, especially for videos.
I also find the Eye of Muse difficult with its low-light 64-megapixel telephoto camera. This only offers a 3.5x magnification and does everything else digitally, which usually does not look very good. Honor would have had enough room to integrate two tele cameras like Samsung, because the periscope lens is not really necessary with a 3.5x zoom.
My last point of criticism: With 4,500 mAh, the smartphone's battery is quite weak, keeping the powerful display in mind. We still have to test the phone, but I don't have high hopes for a long battery life.
What is your opinion on the Magic 4 Pro? Is the phone something for you or do you understand the concerns I raised over this hands-on? Let me know in the comments!