The best folding phones market continues to grow, with Honor revealing its Magic VS will be the company's first foldable to launch outside of China. I've been playing with the Magic VS following its reveal, which it's clear from the off is a key Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 competitor.
Key to the Magic VS is that Honor uses Android software proper (albeit disguised somewhat as Honor's MagicOS 2), including Google Play Store access, so there's no hangover from the Huawei blacklist from days gone by.
That, plus a presumably attractive price point, will be the lure for punters in the West looking for a new folding phone. However, what you and I will need to pay is still to be confirmed: the ¥7,499 price in China would equate to around £870 by today's exchange rate, but there's no chance the handset will be that affordable in my view, especially given the spec on offer.
But before I get into that, just take a look at the Magic VS. I've included a gallery below and, well, isn't it a good-looking slab of folding phone? I think so, especially in this Cyan finish, which is really delicate on the eyes, resistant to fingerprints (love that), and gently metallic in its appearance. Orange and Black variants are also available, but I've not seen those in person.
In terms of raw specification, Honor isn't messing about when it comes to the Magic VS. It'll easily go head-to-head against the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, thanks to both handsets featuring Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. No, it's not the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the launch of which I attended just last week (and that'll surely end up in the Galaxy S23 series), but flagship chipsets have got so powerful now that I don't think it's of major concern to would-be buyers.
Interestingly the Magic VS is a bit larger than the Z Fold 4, the latter which I used for a number of weeks this year and became rather fond of. Not dramatically though: Honor's 6.45-inch 90Hz exterior screen and 7.9-inch 120Hz interior unfolding panel make the phone around 5mm taller and the same 5mm wider than the Galaxy equivalent. I'll have to see how that pans out after more extended use.
There are some things I'm not totally sure about though. While the software of the Magic VS isn't final for this market, and I can't be critical of that at this stage, the position of the fingerprint scanner on the side button feels a little in the way, I've been pressing it just when trying to open the phone, but failing to sign-in. The haptic feedback also doesn't feel/sound right to me either.
Otherwise, Honor has done a great job in terms of build here: not only that lovely Cyan finish, but a hinge mechanism that's smaller than its Magic V predecessor and it's so neat and tidy that you don't notice it at all when in the unfolded position. Sure, the main screen still suffers from the 'central crease' as per all folding phones right now, but no more or less than any competitor.
If you've been following Honor's recent journey then you may be familiar with its use of Sony's IMX800 54-megapixel camera, as found both here in the Magic VS, but also in the earlier Honor 70 flagship. That's paired up with a 50MP wide-angle and an 8MP 3x zoom, so there's significant range here, again much like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 setup in many respects.
Can Honor hold its own in the battle of the folding phones? We'll find out soon enough, as come spring 2023 the handset will receive its official European launch, complete with price and presumably pre-order promotions, then we can see whether this well-made slice of Honor hardware will have would-be Galaxy fans reconsidering their options on account of price... a real 'VS', you could say, eh?