Honor made a convincing pitch to join big players of the smartphone world last year, with the launch of the Magic 4 Pro – its first flagship smartphone to launch outside of China.
It was a strong step in the right direction, and Honor now wants to build on that momentum with the new Magic 5 Pro. It’s a flagship phone with flagship specs, and Honor isn’t playing it safe. The company has big ambitions, and its launch event content suggests it very much has Samsung’s Galaxy range in its sights.
For that reason, there have been some strides forwards this year in terms of on-paper specs, which have won some impressive accolades already too. How that all plays out in use, of course, remains to be seen in our full review.
Until then, we’ve got our hands on it to get some first impressions.
Honor Magic 5 Pro
Honor’s new flagship phone looks very promising indeed, with a premium design, promising specs and an impressive camera setup that we’re can’t wait to put to the test.
- Nice design and build
- Impressive room selection
- Powerful hardware
- Rear camera design may divide opinion
- Dimensions: 162.9mm x 76.7 x 8.77mm (HWD)
- Colours: Meadow green and black
- Weight: 219g
From a design perspective, the Honor Magic 5 Pro takes some things from with the Magic 4 Pro and has learned some lessons, too. For a start, it’s offering a matte back panel option to reduce the fingerprints we found the mirrored Magic 4 Pro to pick up. This is only available in the new color way though – a rather fetching Meadow Green – while the ever-popular black retains its glossy credentials for those who love that look.
Like the 4 Pro, the edge of the display and the back panel have a slight curve to them – something Honor calls its Symmetrical Design – which helps it to sit nicely in your hand. The edges themselves are flat, though, to add a little extra grip and hold just two physical controls – a volume rocker and a power button on the right hand side.
The evolution of “The Eye of the Muse” design seen in the Magic 4 Pro and Magic 3, is present and correct in the 5 Pro too. This refers to the bold camera design on the phone’s rear panel, and this year that camera bump sits a little more prominently than it was on the 4 Pro. It’s a centrepiece of the design without a doubt and is a statement compared to how some of its competitors do it. We don’t mind it though, and considering the emphasis on the cameras in this phone, for it to be such a prominent part of the design is no real surprise.
As with the Magic 4 Pro, there’s no expandable storage in the 5 Pro, with just a SIM card slot along the bottom edge. There’s also a speaker here, next to the USB-C charging point, which teams up with the earpiece speaker to offer stereo sound for a more immersive experience. There’s also support for DTS: Ultra but we haven’t had the opportunity to test that out as yet.
- 6.81-inch LTPO display
- 1312 x 2848 pixels, 461ppi
- 1-120Hz smart refresh rate
- Up to 1800 peak brightness
Like the Magic 4 Pro, the Magic 5 Pro offers a large 6.81-inch LTPO display with a smart refresh rate up to 120Hz. There are some differences and improvements though, which we’ll get to shortly.
As we mentioned above, it has the quad curve display, which looks lovely and feels great to hold. However, as we mentioned in our 4 Pro review, it isn’t always the best option for usability – sometimes edges can be a little less responsive to touch, which could cause some headaches for gamers. It’s unarguably lovely to look at though, so there’s no complaints from us at this stage, although that pill-shape cutout for the front-facing camera, brought over from the Magic 4 Pro, will continue to divide opinion.
But now to the tweaks. Firstly, it’s brighter. While Magic 4 Pro could achieve 1000 nits of brightness, the Magic 5 Pro can go to 1300 nits, and packs Novel Display Luminance Enhancement technology to push that up to a peak HDR brightness of 1800 nits.
This means it should be better in bright or direct sunlight and also offer an improved HDR performance to boot – for which it supports HDR10+ and has the IMAX Enhanced certification that should ensure pictures that look as the filmmaker intended.
Color accuracy in particular has been a big focus for the Magic 5 Pro, and the result is that it has the lowest Delta E score – which measures color difference between the native color and how it appears – of any smartphone.
This is backed up by dual-luminance calibration, set at a typical 120 nits indoor brightness and 800 nits outdoors brightness, to ensure the colors you see are automatically adjusted accordingly depending on where you are looking at them.
This is all supported by a new discrete display chipset, which promises to improve the quality of video and gaming across the board, thanks to delivering a higher frame rate and improved video enhancement for smoother, more detailed images. The result of all of this is it is currently sitting at the top of the DXOMARK ranking for smartphone display, with a score of 151. By comparison, the Samsung S23 Ultra scored 148.
We didn’t get long enough with the phone to watch any video or game on it but certainly the display looked bright and vibrant, and we’ll be looking forward to testing it further in our full review.
There has also been a pretty heavy focus on eye comfort in the Magic 5 Pro, which isn’t a bad thing considering how long we spend in front of our phones. But Honor has implemented several technologies to try to ensure our eye health is a priority.
Firstly, it has the industry’s first LTPO display with 2160Hz PWM dimming technology, to minimize screen flickering and help improve eye fatigue. It’s something the company started with the Magic 4 Pro, but it’s pushed further still this year. It’ll be one of those things you might not notice the benefits of until you’ve been using the phone for a while, but it’ll be there doing its bit for your anyway.
There has also been a reduction in blue light output (and a certification from TÜV Rheinland for being Circadian friendly to boot), plus the inclusion of dynamic dimming that simulates the natural light and adjusts your display to suit.
While we understand the aim with the latter, we do sometime find these automatic dimming features a little bit frustrating, so we’re happy to see that this is something that can be turned off.
Triple main camera system
- 50MP Wide Camera (f/1.6, customized 1/1.12 inch sensor)
- 50MP Ultra-wide Camera (f/2.0, 122-degree FOV)
- 50MP Periscope Telephoto Camera (f/3.0, 3.5x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom, Sony IMX858 Sensor)
Front facing room:
- 12MP(f/2.4 aperture)
- 3D Depth Camera
As we’ve come to expect from flagship phones, there’s a wide selection of cameras on the rear of the Honor Magic 5 Pro, packing in three big sensors on the back.
It’s 50MP all round, with a return to the periscope-style telephoto lens that we saw on the Magic 4 Pro. That promises the same 3.5x optical zoom and an impressive-sounding 100x digital zoom – and a new computational optical algorithm promises to drastically improve image clarity at these huge zoom ranges. We’ll see how that fares in our full review.
There is a larger sensor this year too, which Honor says can take in 24 per cent more light than the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and 13 per cent more than the S23 Ultra, for improved low light performance. We liked the night-time images we captured on the Magic 4 Pro, so this is very promising indeed.
As usual, the three cameras will all work together, as well as on their own to get you the best photo possible in the conditions, and the Magic 5 Pro will switch up the lens automatically to ensure you get the best results. The all-new Millisecond Falcon Capture algorithm promises to ensure that it happens quickly too, even at night, thanks to the new Super Night Capture mode.
AI Motion Sensing aims to provide stable, clear pictures of moving images too, so whether you’re trying to capture dogs, kids, sports or anything in between, the hope is that they should be nice and sharp.
The result of all of this is another DXOMARK stamp of approval. Currently, the Magic 5 Pro is sitting at the top of the global camera rankings with a score of 152, compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max at 146 and the Google Pixel 7 Pro at 147.
We have to say the selfie camera was one of our least favorite parts of last year’s camera set up, and on paper it looks to be the same. We’ll see if it’s managed to up its game performance in our full review.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 12GB RAM
- 512GB storage, 12GB RAM
- Adreno 740 GPU
- 5100mAh battery, 66W wired charging/50W wireless
The Honor Magic 5 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, with a boost of 12GB of RAM from 8GB in the Magic 4 Pro and double the storage too, now up to 512GB.
Sadly, the Magic 5 Pro doesn’t get the 100W charging of the 4 Pro, but it still offers a very respectable 50W wireless charging capability/66W charged, and an improved battery capacity, up to 5100mAh from 4600mAh. Honor says that should offer a full day of battery, and that sounds about right to us – on paper at least.
The Honor Magic 5 Pro will run the latest MagicOS7.1, based on Android 13. We’ve had our issues with the software in the past, as well as how long it is supported, so we’ll be sure to find out what the support looks like for the 5 Pro and report back in our full review.
In the Magic 5 Pro, Honor has produced a smartphone that looks the part of a flagship device, with some impressive specs and interesting features – not to mention a few industry certifications to back it up.
While the hardware all looks pretty promising, its ability to rise to the high expectations that come with flagship status does rely on how well the software performs and how long it is supported for. If it can deliver here too, this could be a real competitor.