Honor Magic 4 Pro review
While Honor’s been making camera phones for almost a decade, the Magic 4 Pro is a landmark device. It’s the first flagship from the Chinese smartphone maker to launch in the West since it parted ways with Huawei – the superbrand that spawned Honor in 2013.
While it isn’t the first Huawei-free Honor phone we’ve seen – the Honor 50 is a premium midrange phone that launched in 2021 (and failed to wow us), Honor’s hoping that its flagship Magic line can bedazzle smartphone buyers ready to upgrade.
Honor’s done a good job getting its phone on sale in Europe and the UK. When it launches, Brits will be able to buy one with a contract in Three and Carphone Warehouse stores. It’s also available on Amazon, at Argos and Currys, as well as from Honor’s own store, hihonor.com. Chinese phones don’t always get picked up by major networks, so this bodes well.
Costing £949, roughly $1,250, the Honor Magic 4 Pro goes toe to toe with the Pixel 6 Pro and undercuts the best from Apple and Samsung. But can a phone with no OIS on its primary camera really hope of being one of the best camera phones or 2022, or is the Magic 4 Pro out of luck before it even launches?
Honor Magic 4 Pro design and screen
The Honor Magic 4 Pro is a great-looking smartphone when you get a freshly polished one. Made of glass that’s curved around the front and back of the phone, as well as a metal frame, it does a great job of feeling the part. However, just like the Find X5 Pro (in black) and the iPhone X, Honor’s new flagship can look very fingerprinty very quickly.
Luckily, when you unbox the phone, a transparent, soft plastic case sits underneath the device and helps ward off unsightly smudges.
The glass tapers into the metal sides, making the phone feel more elegant than the relatively chunky 9.1mm thickness would have you believe. It’s also got a bit of weight to it – 215g, placing it somewhere in between the 240g iPhone 13 Pro Max and the 204g iPhone 13 Pro.
Most striking from a design point of view is what Honor terms the Eye of Muse camera, which describes the camera array – a circular camera surround with a periscope camera dead in the center. Honor reckons this is how to get the best balance when flitting between lenses.
As for the screen, it’s a zingy 6.8-inch LTPO OLED panel, and gets bright at up to 1,000 nits with a resolution of 1312 x 2848. That means it’s about as big as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and with its 120Hz refresh rate, it’s as smooth as Samsung’s flagship too.
The tiny bezel that frames the curved display ensures Honor’s Magic 4 Pro displays an immersive picture, and the bold colors produced make content look great, whether watching, gaming, or photo editing.
You can get brighter screens, and you can get sharper ones too, however, at its price, there’s nothing to complain about when gazing at the Magic 4 Pro’s screen – except, perhaps, for the punch hole selfie camera. It’s a big, pill-shaped cutout in the top left, and it may not be to everyone’s tastes, even if we got used to it pretty quickly.
Honor Magic 4 Pro camera
The wide and ultra-wide cameras of the Magic 5 Pro are both 50MP, but not all 50MP cameras were created equal. While the primary 50MP camera enjoys an f/1.8, 23mm lens, and a modest 1/1.56″ sensor with 1.0µm pixels, the ultra-wide camera’s 50MP sensor is much smaller at just 1/2.5”. It does enjoy an expansive 122-degree field of view, as well as autofocus and a macro feature, but will unlikely stack up against the IMX 766-packing Oppo Find X3 Pro’s ultra-wide.
What’s interesting, and a bit disappointing is that the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s main camera misses out on OIS. While we did see evidence this holds the phone back in extremely dark scenes, for the most part, Honor’s very smart photo processing compensated for this brilliantly.
When it comes to range, the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s telephoto periscope camera matches its 90mm focal length with a 64MP resolution and an f/3.5 aperture for a roughly three and a half times zoom equivalent. There’s also a ToF camera on the back and front, and a 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera.
Shooting modes include Photo, Portrait, Night, Video, Movie, Aperture, Pro, Slow-mo, Panorama, Time-lapse, Stickers, Documents, Super macro, Multi-video, High-res and Story.
The most interesting mode is definitely Pro video mode. In addition to offering manual control over ISO, shutter speed, exposure, focus, and white balance, it also supports LOG capture for easy editing and nine pre-installed LUTs. These can be applied in the phone’s editing suite too – a much simpler take on pro video than that offered by Sony phones like the Xperia 1 III.
Honor Magic Pro 4 camera review
Photos from the Magic 4 Pro’s camera look great when captured in bright, outdoor environments. The lack of optical image stabilization is only noticeable in the darkest scenes, and in turn, the Magic 4 Pro’s primary camera didn’t feel like a compromise in our time with it. On the contrary, its photos packed a natural balance to them.
The primary camera is versatile enough to take close-up photography, tag-teaming with the ultra-wide to capture different styles of macro shots with varying shallow depth.
Sharpening isn’t too aggressive from any camera, though the telephoto camera’s photos crisp up a bit beyond 10x zoom, which employs a combination of 3.5x optical zoom with digital zoom. This takes advantage of the high-resolution 64MP sensor and does a great job of besting the iPhone and OnePlus 10 Pro’s telephoto cameras while falling not too far behind that of the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
When compared to the best phones around, the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s camera stacks up well, especially when it comes to dynamic range. Additionally, the selfie camera does a respectable job of separating foreground and background objects, keeps skin tones looking warm, and captures plenty in frame with its wide 100º angle of view.
We ended up doing most of our video shooting in Pro mode, given how enjoyable we found retro-fitting different LUTS to our LOG footage. This video, which we captured at 60fps in 4K resolution looked steady when handheld. Unsurprisingly, though, we reliably got the best results when capturing video steadied on a tripod.
Honor Magic 4 Pro: Specs and Battery
This flagship phone gets flagship power, and Honor puts the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and either 8GB or 12GB RAM inside the Magic 4 Pro. It also runs with Android 12, and Honor’s Magic UI 6 over the top. This is very similar to EMUI from Huawei, and in our experience, is a stable interface, though is heavier than some more stock UIs from Motorola and Sony.
The headline-grabbing feature of the Magic 4 Pro is its charging speed, specifically, wireless charging, which climbs up to 100W. That means it powers up by 50% in as little as 15 minutes when placed on a compatible Honor charging pad. Before you get too excited – those speeds will cost you. The 100W wireless charger needs to be bought with a 135W charging brick, and the combination of both will set you back around £150 (roughly $180).
There’s a 4600mAh battery in the Magic 4 Pro, which is smaller than the 5000 mAh power we’re used to seeing, but we found the phone to get us through a full day comfortably, with heavy days draining it to around 10 percent, and light days leaving us with around 20 percent when we called it a night.
The Magic 4 Pro represents more than the sum of its parts. It’s a taste of what Honor can do as an independent phone maker, and a well balanced flagship.
That means with full access to the Google Play Store, a top-tier spec roster, premium design, and a smart camera set-up, the Magic 4 Pro should check a lot of boxes for many. Add to the mix its incredibly fast 100W wired and wireless charging, and even the phone’s flagship price makes sense.
While the whole phone comes together very well – the screen being a highlight, we’re most impressed by the camera. While not quite the best camera phone of 2022, it is one of the best options for the price. Honor’s photo processing has also clearly come a long way, and the Magic 4 Pro succeeds where other phones have failed, delivering hybrid zoom with truly impressive results, and an excellent, versatile camera mix.