It’s been a year and a half since Huawei sold Honor, launching the former subsidiary as an independent organisation. Although Honor has achieved plenty in that time, it’s taken until now for it to globally launch what it considers to be a true flagship phone: the Magic 4 Pro.
First unveiled at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona this February, the Magic 4 Pro is a premium piece of hardware that is intended to hold its own against the most expensive (non-folding) phones from Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi.
For the most part, it does. Truly powerful cameras, a great display, and excellent charging speeds make this one of the most impressive flagships around, all at a price that just undercuts a few key competitors.
A lack of polish shines through though – inconsistent results with third-party chargers, fiddly software, the clunky design – and while these will be minor flaws to most, they feel more like dealbreakers on a phone that costs close to a grand.
Design and build
- Big and heavy
- Enormous, ugly camera module
- IP68 rating
I’ll be honest: I don’t love the way the Magic 4 Pro looks.
Like many high-end Android phones, this thing is big. With a 6.81in display this is similar in scale to the Pixel 6 Pro or Galaxy S22 Ultra, and at 9.2mm it’s actually slightly thicker than either of those, though weighs around the same: 215g.
This is not the phone for you if you prefer smaller handsets, or even if you regularly use your phone one-handed – the scale of it demands both hands for anything more than quickly checking an email or replying to a text.
My bigger issue is simply with the obnoxiously large camera on the phone’s back. The circular design here is what Honor calls the ‘Eye of Muse’, and I can’t say I’m a fan. How to make an enormous multi-camera module look good is a challenge tripping up the best in the industry right now (even Apple and Google can’t crack it) but Honor’s solution is a particular eyesore – to my tastes at least.
When the phone was first unveiled, it was in a range of colours: cyan, gold, black, and white models with a glass rear, and an extra orange version finished in fake leather. As it stands, only the cyan (pictured) and black variants are on track for an international launch as far as we know.
In any case, the colour probably won’t matter that much: this glossy glass is such a consistent fingerprint magnet that you’ll probably want to throw the phone into a case as soon as possible (start with the free transparent plastic option included in the box).
You may also want to use a case because unlike most rivals, Honor doesn’t make any claim to have used Gorilla Glass to protect the phone’s display or rear from cracks and scratches, so it may be a little more vulnerable to drops than most. There is however an IP68 rating, guaranteeing top-tier protection from dust and water.
Display and audio
- ‘Quad-curved’ 6.81in OLED display
- LTPO with 1-120Hz variable refresh rate
- Pill-shaped dual selfie camera cut-out
- Stereo speakers
I’ve already said that the Magic 4 Pro’s display is big – in fact it’s one of the biggest displays on the market right now, and that’s saying something.
There’s much more to it than that though. It’s not only curved at the sides, but ‘quad-curved’ – meaning the top and bottom edges are rounded too. The effect is more subtle here though – so much so that you may not notice it at all, especially with the pre-applied screen protector on – and is less about wrapping the visuals round the body and more about smoothing the edges while you swipe.
The display’s other tech specs are impressive: a high (though not quite QHD) resolution of 1312 x 2848, a max refresh rate of 120Hz, and LTPO tech that allows the phone to scale that responsiveness down as low as 1Hz to save power.
The peak brightness of 1,000 nits is lower than some rivals, but I’ve had no problems at all using the phone even in direct, bright sunlight (well, as much of that as the UK can muster at least). It’s also bright enough to run the phone’s included HDR10+ support.
In fact, my only real complaint about the Magic 4 Pro’s screen is the large pill-shaped selfie camera cut-out. It takes up a lot of the phone’s notification tray space and is a bit distracting. It’s especially frustrating as it’s not for the sake of two proper selfie cameras – the second lens is only used for depth sensing and biometrics. Personally, I’d rather have the screen space back.
On audio, you won’t be surprised to hear that there’s no headphone jack. There are stereo speakers though, and they aren’t bad: loud, bright, and fairly punchy, but not the crispest or cleanest sound around. They’ll certainly do in a pinch though.
Specs and performance
- Flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip
- Exceptional performance
- 5G and Wi-Fi 6
There’s certainly nothing to complain about when it comes to the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s performance.
The phone is powered by the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, paired in my review unit with 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage – though in some markets the phone goes up to 12GB RAM and 512GB storage.
Whether it’s in benchmarks or real-life use, performance is excellent. Outside of dedicated gaming phones with extra RAM or the new overclocked 8+ Gen 1 chip you essentially won’t find any faster Android phones than this in 2022, with the performance margins between flagships pretty marginal.
The 8 Gen 1 also brings with it impressive networking. 5G is here of course, along with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and ultra wideband.
As for biometrics, there’s a reliable ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display, and face unlock from the selfie cameras. This will be more secure than in most Android phones thanks to that extra depth sensor – the trade-off you get for the big pill cut-out.
Cameras and video
- Powerful triple rear camera
- Middling low light results
- Decent selfie camera, but poor portraits
Despite the enormous circular rear module studded with sensors, the Magic 4 Pro really only has a triple rear camera: a 50Mp main camera, a 50Mp ultrawide, and a 64Mp periscopic zoom.
Honor opted to use high resolution sensors for all three lenses, and for the most part results match that promise.
The main camera is, as you’d expect, the best. Details are excellent, and thanks to the fairly large 1/1.56in sensor and f/1.8 aperture light capture impresses too. Dynamic range is superb, and colours are vibrant but remain true to life.
The ultrawide drops ever so slightly. With its own 50Mp sensor the details are still strong, but the smaller sensor and tighter aperture mean that dynamic range suffers. In fact, I’ve noticed a tendency for this camera to over-expose scenes and pump up the brightness, perhaps a result of Honor’s software over-compensating for the sensor’s dimmer direct capture.
Then there’s the periscope. This is an unusual setup: high resolution, but at a 3.5x zoom distance – shorter than the 5x and even 10x lenses found in some rivals, including even the regular Honor Magic 4, which uses a 5x periscope.
Honor is essentially banking on compensating for the shorter zoom with higher detail, using digital zoom to supplement the optical. Within the app, the default zoom settings are the lens’ own 3.5x distance and then a further 10x, and results up to this level are impressive. Not only do shots remain crisp and detailed, but the colour profile is generally a close match to shots out of the main camera.
The camera module itself is emblazoned with a ‘100x’ marker, and you can pinch to zoom in that far. Results here are acceptable enough for proving a point, but far too soft and shaky to make it onto your Instagram – this is far behind the results Samsung managed with the S22 Ultra this year at the same zoom distance.
Night mode is available on all three cameras, but results don’t impress much by flagship standards. The main camera holds up best, but it’s clear that Honor is using aggressive smoothing to clean up low light shots, and results look artificial. Low light and night mode performance then drops sharply on the other two lenses, which can’t produce photos worth using.
As mentioned above, the large selfie camera cut-out really only contains one lens: a 12Mp, f/2.4 camera. It’s pretty good, with more detail than you might expect from the megapixel count, and an attractive colour profile – though it struggles a little handling challenging lighting. Unfortunately despite that extra depth sensor, portraits are poor – the bokeh effect cut off half my hair, and in one portrait shot the camera completely failed to expose the scene correctly.
As for video, you can record at up to [email protected] on the rear camera and [email protected] from the front, with a video night mode available for the main rear lens and a movie mode that offers more complex cinematic options. Videos results are basically fine, though there’s an occasional stutter that suggests some wonky stabilisation – though it’s certainly not a dealbreaker.
Battery and charging
- Good but not great battery life
- Exceptionally fast wired and wireless charging
- Works unreliably with third-party chargers
With a 4600mAh battery, the Magic 4 Pro is an all-day phone, but not much more than that. It lasted just under eight hours in the PCMark battery test we use – less than most comparably specced rivals – and over my two weeks with the phone I’ve definitely found I need to charge it daily.
The good news is that said charging is fast. The phone supports 100W speeds for both wired and wireless charging, making it the fastest wireless charging phone on the market right now.
Wattage isn’t everything of course, and thanks to increased efficiency the wired results remain faster – I saw the phone charge to 60% in just 15 minutes, and the phone was full before the half hour mark. Using the official 100W wireless charger by contrast, the phone was ‘only’ at 81% after half an hour.
The other contrast is that while Honor includes the 100W wired power brick in the box, you’ll have to buy the official wireless charger separately to take advantage – currently priced at £85/€100. To make matters worse, while the charger included with the phone is 100W, it will only supply 80W to the wireless charger stand – so to get the max speeds from it, you’ll need to also buy Honor’s 135W charging brick – another £70/€80. This is getting expensive.
You may want them though, if only because I’ve found the phone unreliable with unofficial chargers, both wired and wireless. Even with third-party kit that uses accepted charging standards like PPS or Qi, the Magic 4 Pro sometimes refuses to charge at all, and at other times continually starts and stops charging. I’ve learnt not to even try charging the phone on anything other than the chargers that came with it – a frustration if you keep multiple chargers around the house, or use different kit when you’re on the go or at work.
Software and updates
- Android 12 and Magic UI 6
- A few pre-installed apps
- Only two years of software support
The Magic 4 Pro ships with Android 12 and Honor’s Magic UI 6 skin on top.
If you’ve used a previous Honor or even Huawei phone before then the experience will be broadly familiar. Beyond the aesthetics, Honor hasn’t done too much to change the structure of the core Android experience – though you may find you want to change a few of the default settings, which at times feel like a halfway house between Android and iOS.
The phone ships with a fair few pre-installed apps you may not appreciate. These include Honor’s own, such as the Honor Club and Honor Store apps, but also third-party apps ranging from well-known options like TikTok and Netflix through to stranger fare like TrainPal and Trip.com. Fortunately just about everything can be uninstalled if you’re willing to take the time.
The bigger problem is Honor’s commitment to supporting the phone long term. So far the brand has only promised two years of Android version updates – so Android 13 and 14 – and the same coverage for security patches.
This isn’t the worst promise around – some brands still don’t commit to anything – but when Google will give you three updates and Samsung promises four plus a fifth year of security patches, Honor’s promise feels paltry. Do you really want to drop a grand on a phone that could become completely insecure in just two years’ time?
Price and availability
The Magic 4 Pro has launched in the UK, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The most notable exception is North America, where…