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Honor Magic 5 Pro review: a touch away from greatness

Honor Magic 5 Pro in hand.
Honor Magic 5 Pro
MSRP $1,030.00
“The Honor Magic 5 Pro is not a perfect smartphone, but for the right person, it comes very close to being magical.”
  • Incredibly comfortable for its size
  • Lovely OLED display
  • Super-loud speakers
  • Powerful performance
  • Excellent battery life
  • Versatile camera setup
  • Problem with shutter speed in portrait shots
  • Average selfie camera
  • Some software quirks

The Honor Magic 5 Pro was announced on February 27 at Mobile World Congress, but it’s only now that the device is officially going on sale in the U.K.

At 950 British pounds in the U.K., the Magic 5 Pro undercuts other top-tier flagships like the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. But is it the true S23 Ultra killer you’ve been waiting for? Let’s take a look.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: design

Honor Magic 5 Pro in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro is one of the most comfortable phones to hold for longer durations. I’m an e-reader and can spend hours on end reading articles online or one of my Kindle books. Unlike the iPhone 14 Pro Max, holding the Honor Magic 5 Pro doesn’t cause pain in my wrist or hurt my pinkie finger thanks to the curved sides of the phone.

The edges are still flat, but they are accompanied by curves that make it easy for me to hold the device. Out of the Honor Magic 5 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, iPhone 14 Pro Max, and Xiaomi 13 Pro, the Honor phone is the most comfortable to hold. It weighs 219 grams, which is on the lower side when talking about big flagship phones. The power button and volume rockers on the right side are easy to reach without the need to fumble with your grip.

The Magic 5 Pro is built with glass on the front and back. Honor doesn’t specify if it’s using the Corning Gorilla Glass on either side, but I’ve accidentally dropped the phone a couple of times, and it didn’t scratch or break — it’s a solid device. The circular camera module on the back is big and unlike those on any other phone — it gives the Honor flagship a distinguished look.

I like the matte finish on the green color variant, which helps keep the smudges away. You have the option to opt for the black color, but it’s glossy and prone to smudges. I’ll recommend using it without a case, but if you are a case person, you get a TPU case inside the box, so you don’t have to go looking for a new one for your phone.

Honor Magic 5 Pro pill-hole.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

My only gripe with the design is the presence of a pill-shaped cutout for the selfie camera, paired with a 3D depth sensor. It helps in facial recognition, but I don’t really like the big cutout at the top-left corner of my display. I did get used to it pretty quickly, and it doesn’t hinder me while viewing content on the screen.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro also features an IR blaster, which can be used to control appliances and other electronic items. It’s a helpful addition, which I found myself using on the OnePlus 11R as well. The fingerprint sensor inside the display is responsive and unlocked the phone 10 out of 10 times for me.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: display and audio

Honor Magic 5 Pro display.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro features a 6.81-inch LTPO OLED display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It features a 120Hz smart refresh rate and supports HDR10+. It offers a 2848 x 1312 resolution, which is sharp. The Honor flagship also sports a discrete display chip for better visual quality of moving images by offering motion blur. It also helps in HDR processing.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro sports a big display, and I love it. It comes with a 92.33% screen-to-body ratio, thanks to the slim bezels. I like curved displays because I find them more premium. The Magic 5 Pro features curved sides and has no issues with ghost touching. As for my experience with viewing content, it is vibrant, sharp, and colorful. Consuming content on Amazon Prime Video, as well as Netflix, was a good experience.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro boasts one of the loudest speakers on a smartphone.

The display is easy to view in direct sunlight, thanks to the 1800 nits peak brightness. It also comes with TÜV Rheinland low blue light certification, which theoretically helps alleviate eye strain. While I can’t tell if that’s true, I did feel that reading at night was easy on my eyes.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro boasts one of the loudest speakers on a smartphone. It features a stereo system with dual speakers (one on top and one at the bottom) and DTS: X Ultra sound. I usually connect my smartphones with the Marshall Emberton II portable Bluetooth speaker, but I was comfortable leaving the speaker behind and listening to music on the Magic 5 Pro’s speakers. They’re that good.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: performance and battery

Honor Magic 5 Pro back.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, paired with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. I had no issues with scrolling through the UI, opening and closing apps, and other day-to-day tasks. I didn’t notice any stutters or lag to bog down my experience.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro can run whatever you want. It gets warm during longer gaming sessions, but doesn’t get uncomfortably hot to hold. It also comes with GPU Turbo X graphics optimization to add more frames between existing ones in the gameplay. Overall, I had a smooth gaming experience. As for calls, I could hear the other person well and didn’t have connection or GPS issues.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro packs a 5,100mAh battery with support for 66-watt wired charging and 50W wireless charging. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is responsible for good battery life on this year’s flagships like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Xiaomi 13 Pro, OnePlus 11, and the iQOO 11.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro has brilliant battery life.

Before testing the Magic 5 Pro, the S23 Ultra had the best battery life on an Android smartphone in 2023. The Honor flagship is right up there. It lasted me an entire day, which isn’t usual for a power user like me. The Honor Magic 5 Pro has brilliant battery life that is among the best on any Android phone in 2023. If you only have minutes to charge, the 66W fast charging means there’s no need to worry about time constraints.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: camera

Honor Magic 5 Pro camera module.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro sports a triple rear camera setup that includes a 50MP primary camera with OIS (optical image stabilization), a 50MP ultrawide lens with super macro mode, and a 50MP periscope telephoto camera with OIS — offering 3.5x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom. It comes with features like Falcon motion capture to reduce the shutter speed and capture moving objects with the utmost clarity. The camera system is Imax enhanced (like the Magic 3 and Magic 4 series) to offer better colors in video recordings. Here’s how the camera performs.

The primary camera captures a good amount of detail in every situation. The human skin tones are on point as well. When shooting in daylight, I noticed a good dynamic range, and it didn’t blow out the highlights. The fast shutter speed helps capture moving objects well, but it doesn’t work sometimes. I also noticed that the software overly sharpens lowlight pictures most of the time.

It captures detailed shots at night as well. I like the night mode on the Honor Magic 5 Pro because it doesn’t try to make scenes look overblown with extra light; it keeps the night feel and colors of the shot.

The Magic 5 Pro shoots excellent portrait shots. It’s got good edge detection with a natural-looking blur. However, there’s a major problem in capturing portrait shots – if you instantly move the camera after clicking the shutter button, you’ll notice that the image is delayed by a few milliseconds.

As a result, I got a lot of blurred portrait shots. You have to keep still for another second after you’ve clicked a portrait image. It seems like the Falcon capture feature doesn’t work in portrait mode. And it’s even worse on 2x portrait shots. The problem is fixable through software updates, but I don’t know if Honor is actively working on it yet.

The telephoto camera clicks pictures with plenty of details until 10x zoom. The 10x digital zoom on the Magic 5 Pro isn’t as good as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom, but it’s still neat. You also get the 100x zoom for moon shots.

Night shot of lamps.
Random noisy shot at 3.5x zoom. Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

At times, 3.5x zoom at nighttime produced noisy photos. I believe it’s the same problem as the portrait shots, and my habit of point-and-shoot and moving the camera as soon as I click the shutter button doesn’t help in such situations either.

The ultrawide camera has good dynamic range, and like the other two sensors, it captures detailed shots. I like the fact that colors across the three lenses are consistent.

On the front is a 12MP selfie shooter alongside a 3D depth sensor. It is an average camera, which can be improved. I also noticed the same problem with shutter lag in portrait mode.

The Honor Magic Pro is capable of shooting 4K HDR10+ videos at 30 frames per second (fps). These videos have good quality in terms of colors, details, and HDR.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: software

Honor Magic 5 Pro software.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro runs MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13. It’s quite different from what Samsung, Google, or Xiaomi offer. By different, I mean it’s got a few minor annoyances throughout the UI, but you get used to it.

I believe it’s only annoying to me because I’m used to other UIs more than I am to MagicOS. For instance, I couldn’t figure out a way to turn off the phone because pressing and holding the power button beings up Google Assistant. I eventually realized that you have to persevere in holding the power button to reach the power menu.

Once you swipe down from the top and swipe down again, you are greeted by a quick settings panel that could seem overwhelming. It doesn’t have pages, so you are stuck with loads of icons in the panel that covers all of your screen.

It doesn’t have downsides — it is just different than what you’re likely familiar with.

You get plenty of customization options – from icons to fonts to themes to adorable always-on display screens, you can personalize everything to your liking. I love the multitasking capabilities of MagicOS 7.1. It lets me access one app over another. For instance, when I’m in Google Sheets creating an invoice and need to calculate numbers, I can trigger the calculator app to run over Sheets. A similar feature is also available on Xiaomi phones.

Another feature I like is the e-book mode that turns the Chrome page I’m reading to black-and-white to make it closer to an e-book reader. Link to Windows is another feature that is natively present and is immensely helpful if you are using a Windows machine with your Android phone. Unlike the Honor Magic Vs, the app drawer option is present here.

Overall, the Honor Magic 5 Pro UI can feel a bit annoying for the first couple of days, but you get used to it. It doesn’t have downsides — it is just different than what you’re likely familiar with. However, things like accessing the power menu should be easier or at least give a prompt the first time a [erson presses and holds the power button. The good news? Things can improve over time. Honor is promising three years of Android updates and five years of security updates for the Magic 5 Pro.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: price and availability

The Honor Magic 5 Pro is priced at 950 British pounds in the U.K. It will be available for preorder starting April 19 on Hihonor and Three, with sales beginning April 28 through Hihonor, Three, Amazon, Argos, Very, and Currys in the U.K. You can use the promo code AM5PRO80 to get 80 British pounds off when purchasing on Hihonor. It will soon be launched in the other EU countries, as well as Latin America and Asia-Pacific markets, but is definitely not coming to the U.S.

Honor Magic 5 Pro: verdict

Honor Magic 5 Pro smartphone against a blue background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The Honor Magic 5 Pro offers good value for the money. It features a gorgeous display, some of the best battery life on a 2023 smartphone, good performance, and a versatile set of cameras. It has a few annoyances in the UI, and the problem with shooting portraits hinders an overall great experience. It’s so close to being great — but is not there yet.

At 950 British pounds, its main competitor is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus, which lacks a periscope telephoto camera and has worse battery life. The Xiaomi 13 Pro clicks brilliant portraits, and I prefer its cameras over Honor’s, but it costs an extra 150 British pounds. And then there’s the Galaxy S23 Ultra with a better camera setup, display, and UI experience — but it crosses the 1,300 British pounds mark for the 512GB storage variant.

If you are looking for a flagship phone under 950 British pounds in the U.K., and your priorities are comfortable design, good display, no-compromise performance with all-day battery life, and a versatile set of cameras, the Honor Magic 5 Pro is for you.

Editors' Recommendations

Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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