Given the absence of most major smartphone OEMs from IFA 2023, HONOR grabbed most of the headlines. And it didn’t disappoint, launching two products that were sure to get people talking: one a masterpiece of engineering, and the other, a masterpiece of thinking outside the box.
HONOR Magic V2
First, we have the Magic V2, HONOR’s latest foldable smartphone that comes only six months after its Magic Vs was launched internationally at MWC 2023. But as we learned from HONOR executives, why wait when such a leap in technology has been achieved? This was quite a poignant statement in an era when most smartphone vendors launch new devices annually, usually without any major upgrades to shout about.
HONOR certainly does have something to shout about with the Magic V2, as the hardware is simply staggering. HONOR has managed to produce a smartphone so thin that it seems to defy physics: at 4.7mm thick when unfolded and 9.9mm thick when folded, the V2 is only slightly thicker than a standard smartphone even when folded. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 measures 13.4mm thick when folded, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is 8.9mm thick. Similarly, at 231g, the HONOR Magic V2 actually weighs less than the iPhone 14 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and significantly less than Samsung and Google’s foldables respectively. Overall, it’s the closest to a standard candybar smartphone than any other foldable on the market. And since the dimensions of the front screen are similar to a normal phone, not tall and thin like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, it’s easy to forget it’s a foldable!
But a foldable it is, and the hinge is superbly slick. It occasionally fails to hold itself in an upright position, but it feels solid and leaves no gap at all. The internal screen is beautiful with a 2K resolution, a super-smooth adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, and the crease is hardly noticeable. It feels very premium indeed. The camera is yet to be tested, but the 50MP main, a 50MP ultrawide, and a 20MP 2.5x telephoto lenses, plus AI Falcon Capture, on-paper at least, put it ahead of the Galaxy Z Fold5 and even the Google Pixel Fold. Of course, the latter has Pixel Fold benefits from Google’s image processing technology, but the Magic V2 looks like it will be a very capable snapper.
There are a few downsides. First, the Magic V2 has no IP rating, compared to the Galaxy Z Fold5 IPX8 rating. And secondly is the question of software. Previous HONOR foldables have featured polished software in the way they handle apps and images on the internal screen, but scaling and optimisation are areas for improvement. Time will tell if HONOR has improved with the V2, but I suspect things may still lag the Samsung experience.
However, HONOR has still produced what I think is the best book-type foldable smartphone the industry has seen so far. Sadly, it may not be coming to international markets until next year, which does leave me wondering why HONOR decided to “launch” it now. If the tech is ready (and it’s already available in China), then why not launch it now and get the jump on Samsung? Leaving it until next year gives Samsung a few extra months to try to catch up.
HONOR V Purse
HONOR’s other major announcement at IFA, and the one that attracted most of the headlines was its concept outward folding smartphone, the HONOR V Purse. The device features interchangeable straps and chains that allow it to be carried like a purse or a handbag and uses its outward-facing display to show wallpapers designed to mimic different purse styles.
Little else is known about the device, including whether it will actually be put into production, and to be honest, I don’t think it will be taken very seriously. The personalization possibilities are fun, but I can’t really picture anyone using it with the strap as a “clutch bag” and whacking it on every surface. Also, having such an expensive device clearly on display is asking for trouble.
Even so, it’s a nice example of creative thinking from HONOR, and a welcome attempt to differentiate in a segment where devices are already all looking the same.