Chipset: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Screen: 6.81in OLED, 2848 x 1312
Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C
Dimensions: 162.9mm x 76.7mm x 8.77mm
The first thing you’ll notice about the Honor Magic 5 Pro is its camera bulge. It’s vast, a saucerful of lenses protruding like an island from the back of the phone, its triple cameras seeming black and dark as if they go down a long way.
And, well, in a way they do. One of them, anyway. Having a periscope zoom which can go as close as 3.5x with optical stabilisation on a 50MP sensor is a great thing to see on the back of a phone (we wouldn’t bother with the 100x digital zoom though), and it’s backed up by 50MP wide-angle and ultrawide lenses.
Add a large battery, powerful internals and a great screen, and the Magic 5 Pro might be one of the best camera phones we’ve reviewed recently.
Honor Magic 5 Pro review: Design and screen
From the front, the Magic 5 Pro isn’t much to look at, though its dual front-facing camera (one a 12MP lens for pics, the other a depth sensor) set in an offset island is at least more interesting than some, but from the back it shines. That massive camera bulge, which rises up from the phone’s glass rear broad and flat like Olympus Mons, the glass surface puckering around it, has its three lenses joined by an LED flash, another depth sensor and what looks a lot like a mic hole. It’s distinctive, prominent, and busy, especially when compared to the more restrained triple-camera-plus-friends arrangement on the back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Elsewhere, you get speakers nicely positioned at the top and bottom, a USB-C port, a bottom-mounted SIM tray, the usual lock and volume switches, and precisely zero headphone sockets. So far, so standard. Our review model is a frosted green on the back, the colour of mint ice cream, with a shiny aluminium surround. Plain old black is also available.
The display - 6.81 inches of colourful OLED with a resolution of 2848 x 1312 for a 20:9 aspect ratio - has a scalable refresh rate that changes from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the needs of the content you’re viewing. The bezels are thin, the corners softly curve, and it’s also properly bright, able to hit 1800 nits at its peak. Using the phone in bright sunlight shouldn’t be a problem, assuming we get any in this most British of springtimes.
The screen is also tuned for eye health, with dynamic dimming and reduced flicker, and Honor has managed to obtain TÜV Rheinland Circadian Friendly Certification thanks to the phone’s blue light filtration and ability to adjust its colour temperature. It all adds up to a phone you won’t feel so guilty about being glued to all evening while your other half watches TV.
Features and battery
Beyond the camera, which we’ll come to, and the processor specs, which we’ll also come to, and the screen, which we’ve covered, there's little else on the physical phone of note except for its storage, which comes as a stonking 512GB as standard. We’re not sure what you’re meant to do with this amount, which beats many laptops’ spec, aside from shooting lots and lots of 4K video, or perhaps downloading the entire Google Play Store. It’s great to have, however, and helps the phone live up to that ‘Pro’ moniker.
The phone runs Android 13, overlaid with Honor’s MacicOS 7.1. It’s a smooth and friendly place to do phone stuff in, quite similar to vanilla Android but contains enhancements for those who have multiple Honor devices, such as the ability to drag files from your Honor phone to your Honor tablet using the mouse and keyboard on your Honor laptop. It also syncs message notifications and has a clever ‘Intelligent App Folder’, the content of which changes depending on the time of day and where you are. So if you always open an airline app when at the airport, or a taxi company app at 3pm, you’ll find it in the folder at that time or place.
Honor promises three Android OS updates for the phone, and five years of security updates, giving the phone some useful longevity.
Battery life is excellent, the 5100 mAh unit built into the surprisingly slim phone means it can run for two days under light usage conditions, and anyone who really loves to use their phone won’t be reaching for the charger until evening. There's a 66W charger in the box, and it’ll take 50W of wireless charging too.
Probably the main event of the Honor Magic Pro 5, the triple camera array on the back of the phone contains three 50MP sensors, two of which have image stabilisation. The main, wide-angle camera has an f/1.6 aperture and a 1/1.12in sensor which is quite big as phone camera sensors go, but not the biggest out there. The one in the Xiaomi 13 Pro is bigger.
Photos from the wide camera are crisp and colourful, with perhaps a hint of over-saturation that we don’t really mind at all. They’re resampled down to 12.2MP, though you can choose Hi-Res mode from the camera menu to enable 49.9MP files. These are generally fine, but lose definition in low-light situations as they don’t have the benefit of the processing that goes along with the pixel-binning process.
The ultra-wide camera is another 50MP sensor, producing 12.6MP files. This camera distorts quite heavily at the edges, has a smaller sensor, a slightly narrower f/2.0 aperture, and lacks OIS. Its images don’t have the saturated pop of the main camera’s, and it can struggle in low light, but overall it’s not bad.
Then there's the zoom, a periscope design that gives up to 3.5x magnification, with digital zoom options beyond that all the way to 100x. It’s stabilised, but the aperture is f/3.0, which cuts into low-light performance. A 10x zoom option is displayed on the screen, and images taken at this level are generally fine, but going any further means files that display artefacts and other evidence of digital manipulation. The zoom isn’t going to replace a mirrorless camera and 600mm lens for shooting birds in flight, but it’s a nice option to have if you’re trying to get closer shots of something on the beach on a sunny day.
On the front, you’ll find a 12MP camera that’s good for selfies and video calls. It’s also used to unlock the phone using face recognition, which we found to be fast and accurate.
Powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 eight-core chipset, the same one seen in the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11. It’s the top-end chipset of the moment, and backed by 12GB of RAM - more than you’ll find in many laptops - it’s an absolute beast. In the Geekbench 6 benchmark, the Magic Pro 5 beats the S23 Ultra slightly in the single-core test, and is beaten by it, again slightly, in the multi-core test. It’s a score draw.
What all this means is that it’s a performant phone that feels speedy in use. Unlocking is fast whether you use face recognition or the fingerprint reader, apps open swiftly, and we used it to edit images and play games with no sign of slowdown. It doesn’t even get particularly hot, though perhaps we just weren’t pushing it hard enough.
At £949, the Magic 5 Pro is firmly positioned as a flagship phone. It’s a little more than the Google Pixel 7 Pro, a little less than the iPhone 14 (especially the 512GB version of Apple’s latest) and Galaxy S23+, and quite a lot less than the S23 Ultra.
You do get a lot of phone for your money, however. The Magic Pro 5 challenges the flagships from other companies for specs and camera, and the screen on the front is good enough to attract those for whom the ability to watch a movie in HDR is a tempting proposition.
Should I buy the Honor Magic 5 Pro?
If you’re in the market for a flagship phone, absolutely. Spending almost £1,000 on a phone isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and as a result people are drawn to the reputations for quality enjoyed by Apple and Samsung, but this latest Honor model takes the fight to them and lands some significant blows, particularly in terms of its screen and cameras.