Honor Magic4 Pro review: Far Eastern Beauty - PhoneArena

Honor Magic4 Pro review: Far Eastern Beauty

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When Huawei sold Honor, back in 2020, many people were skeptical about the divorce, and suspected some kind of an affair still going on behind the curtains. There were even allegations that the Honor Magic 3 Pro model is just a rebranded Huawei Mate 50, although both companies firmly denied those rumors.

Holding the Honor Magic 4 Pro in my hands, I can see where all this is coming from. There certainly are similarities between some devices from the ex-married couple but at the end of the day, It really doesn’t matter all that much from a consumer's point of view.

I highly doubt that anyone could ever know the 100% truth behind the split. The practical result of it, however, is the fact that we now have another high quality brand to compete with the usual suspects, and this time with Google Services on board.

The Magic 4 Pro looks like a high-end flagship through and through, and it should tick all the proverbial technology boxes. From the 6.81-inch LTPO OLED display to the 100x zoom telephoto lens, this phone holds a lot of promise. Time to go deeper!

Table of contents:


Design



In a world where smartphones are slowly flattening their displays, the Honor Magic4 Pro is still waving its curves proudly. The phone features a “quad-curved” screen (as if the side curves weren’t enough), which means there’s a slight curvature at the top and bottom.

Fortunately, the top and bottom curvature is so gentle that it could very well fall under the 2.5D category. The pill-shaped cutout in the top left corner houses two selfie cameras, and there’s an almost uniform bezel around the screen.


Things are much more interesting at the back, where we find the huge circular camera bump that has its own name. “Eye of Muse.” I’m not really sure what it means, but it’s definitely a catchy name, and the bump itself is quite fascinating. The center-positioned telephoto lens gives the illusion of looking right inside the eye of a… muse, I guess?


All jokes aside, I find the design fresh, especially with the Cyan-painted glass back - it really gives the impression of an eye. The back is also curved, though - making the metal frame extremely thin on the sides. Consequently, the volume rocker and power buttons are also quite thin and a bit stiff. They’re quite clicky, though.

The frame flows into quite a flat surface at the top and bottom, housing a SIM tray, USB-C port, loudspeaker, and a mic (on the bottom), and strangely - a speaker grill, IR blaster, and another mic (on the top).

Display



One of the main features of the Honor Magic4 Pro is its 6.81-inch OLED screen with variable refresh rate. It’s capable of pinging the image all the way between 1 and 120 times per second, and that’s a fancy way of saying that it matches the LTPO tech used by other flagship phones.

Honor claims that this is the first phone to sport a 1920 Hz PWM (Pulse Wide Modulation), the highest in any LTPO screen on the market. Now, this calls for some explaining. There are two ways to make a smartphone display dimmer or less bright.

One is to make it flicker at a certain rate (Pulse Width Modulation) - the human eye then perceives the result as a less bright image overall, and the second one is called DC (Direct Current) dimming - basically giving less energy to the diodes makes them lose brightness (just like turning down the dial on your dimmer light in your bedroom).

Obviously, the DC dimming method is easier on the eyes, as no flickering is involved but it is also problematic with OLED screens - when organic diodes receive less current, they tend to shift colors, switch off outright, etc. There are however AMOLED phones with DC dimming - the OnePlus 7 Pro being one.

So, the 1920 Hz PWM means that the screen of the Honor Magic4 Pro flicker at a higher rate (most manufacturers use 480 Hz or 960 Hz PWM) and should be easier on the eyes when not at full brightness.

The display is plenty bright at a glance, and it also looks crisp and really smooth. Honor also boasts that the display of the Magic4 Pro covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and is also HDR 10+ capable.


The display benchmarks only confirmed what I already suspected. There's a high-quality OLED panel inside the Honor Magic4 Pro. Subjectively, it's one of the brightest phones under direct sunlight I've ever tested, and the measurements confirm that.

There are two color presets for the screen - Normal and Vivid. As you might've guessed, the Vivid one boosts the colors to be more pleasing to the eye, while the Normal sports the best color accuracy (quite good at deltaE 1.41). You can also set the color temperature either by manually dragging a point on a color disc, or choosing one of the three presets - Default, Warm, and Cool.


You can toggle the refresh rate between three manual settings - 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz respectively, and there's also a Dynamic mode, taking full advantage of the LTPO tech and exploiting all the range between 1 and 120Hz, depending on the scenario. There's also an Always-on mode that's highly customizable - you can choose when to display it (Tap to show, Scheduled, or All day).

Overall, the display of the Honor Magic4 Pro is impressive, and absolutely flagship-worthy. The curved sides might not be everyone's cup of tea but the quality is outstanding.

Performance and Software


The Honor Magic4 Pro is unsurprisingly equipped with the latest Qualcomm silicon - the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 - coupled with 8GB of RAM. The built-in storage is 256GB with no trace of a microSD card slot (it’s a dual SIM phone, though).

The overall performance seems to be really smooth, with no hiccups whatsoever, which is to be expected from such a configuration. It’s worth noting that the under-display fingerprint scanner works really well, and fast. I’m normally not a fan of these (as some of you might already know) but the implementation here is actually quite good.

Synthetic benchmarks are running as I type but I have no doubt that the Magic4 Pro will be up there with the big boys when it comes to test scores.

This phone comes with Android 12 out of the box (Google Services included), and on top of that we have Honor’s proprietary interface - Magic UI. The 6.0 version looks clean and offers some neat customization features.

Widgets are called Cards here, and there are a couple of useful ones - such as the All Notes widget (needless to say, it offers notes at your home screen), the Conversation card, the Weather widget, quick dial (very useful), and more.

You can choose your home screen style to sport an app drawer, or to show everything right on the home screen, customize the notification shade, the usual stuff. All in all, Magic UI 6.0 looks pretty and works smoothly. Nothing to complain about here.

Higher is better
Honor Magic4 Pro
913
Samsung Galaxy S22+
1156
OnePlus 10 Pro
984
Apple iPhone 13 Pro
1728
Sony Xperia 1 IV
1163

Looking at synthetic benchmark scores it's plain to see that the Honor Magic4 Pro is on par with the other top models, even though the phone is slightly behind in single-core performance. On the other hand, the graphics scores are quite impressive, especially the GFX score - the Magic4 obliterated the competition on this one.

Camera


We’ve arrived at the “Eye of Muse” finally! The Magic4 Pro proudly sports a triple camera system in this unusual arrangement, consisting of a 50MP Wide Camera, a 50MP 122° Ultra Wide Camera, and a 64MP Periscope Telephoto Camera.

There are also some sensors to aid those three, most notably an 8x8 dToF laser focusing sensor, and a Flicker sensor (that detects the frequency of pulsed lights and adjusts shutter speed and ISO accordingly).



It was extremely sunny and bright when I took most of the samples, and even though some of you might think that "bright and sunny" is the perfect shooting condition, sometimes this isn't the case. Colors can be overexposed and oversaturated, as they receive and extra oomph, and dynamic range when the sun is close to noon isn't the best you can get. With that being said, let's take a look at the samples from the main camera, featuring a 50MP, 1/1.56-inch, Sony IMX766 sensor with an f/1.8.


Very bright and colorful, right? Even though most of the shots were taken with the sun kinda opposite to the camera, the Mate4 Pro managed to resolve a lot of detail, and maintain good dynamic range. Colors are too poppy for my personal taste but I'd deem them on par with what an iPhone 13 Pro, or a Galaxy S22+ would've achieved (although a direct comparison would show where the Magic4 stands).

Now let's take a look at the ultrawide samples, shot with 50MP 122° camera of the Magic4 Pro. There's a slight shift in color tone - pictures taken with the ultrawide tend to be just a little bit colder but the change is very subtle. The Honor Magic4 Pro does a really good job with distortion correction in the corners of ultrawide shots. Pictures look great, though - nothing to complaint about.


The periscopic telephoto camera is capable of doing 3.5x true optical zoom, 10x hybrid, and 100x digital. The first option yields great results, and they progressively depreciate with the zoom levels. I was impressed by the 3.5x results, images maintain good level of detail and sharpness - absolutely usable and giving extra flexibility when making your composition.


The 10x hybrid shots are also quite decent, given the phone is stitching together true zoom and digital information. By the way, all images are being processed after you snap the photo, some to a greater extent, others - not so much. You can shoot RAW images but you need to engage the Pro mode in the camera app in order to do so. 


Now, we've arrived at the 100x zoom capabilities of the Honor Magic4 Pro proudly written on the camera bump itself. Some might say that this is just a gimmick, while other might find it really useful. I'll let you be the judges. One thing is certain, though. There's a heavy image processing going on after the shot has been taken, and you can see it for a split second while viewing the end result. For what it's worth, this mode is great for reading faraway street signs, shop signs, and other similar typography objects. Below you'll find an example of the magnification in question.


There's a Macro mode in the camera menu, and even though the phone doesn't sport a dedicated macro camera, you can achieve pretty decent (artistic) results. It's worth noting that bees are notoriously hard to shoot. The results are a bit blurry but if you have a steady hand and calm nerves, you could probably do better.


There are two selfie cameras in the pill-shaped cutout of the screen - one is a wide angle 100-degree lens, and the second one is a 3D depth sensor (for bokeh). Having a dedicated sensor doing the bokeh effect on the selfies certainly helps. 


The low-light pictures are pretty decent - mainly due to the larger sensor but there's a caveat here. It seems that there's some kind of processing going on behind the scenes. Even when Night mode is off, if the phone decides there's not enough light it will engage image stitching. I tried to get a really dark picture but outside Pro mode is simply impossible. Now, night shots are great - detailed, bright, and everything, but sometimes you might want a darker picture - for dramatic or artistic effect. Like a shadowy figure in a dark street, or headlights in the distance in the black of night. Well, no cigar! The Magic4 Pro will shoot and superimpose a couple of frames to light up your photo.



On the video front things are again pretty crowded - the Magic4 Pro can shoot 4K HDR 10 videos at 60fps, and also something called Log (Logarithmic video) at 4K. The latter is similar to what is RAW for photography - a flat format that’s perfect for post production and editing.




There’s also an IMAX-enhanced movie mode, and something similar to what Xperia has been doing with Cinema Pro - a preset of video filters to mimic classic and iconic Hollywood colors and moods. Here the system is called Cinematic 3D LUT (look up tables).

As you can see for yourselves from the samples above, the video quality is good, with 4K of course being the superior format in terms of resolution, detail, and overall quality. The 1080p sample is a tad smoother but there's pixelation and other low-res artifacts. Back to the 4K sample - it's not too choppy, and the autofocus and image stabilization both contributed to the quality of the image. Actually, I'm being overly critical here - the 4K video looks really good!

Audio and Haptics


The stereo system inside the Honor Magic4 Pro is splendid! I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality, and the amount of detail throughout the whole frequency range. Given that the speakers are bottom and top-firing respectively, the sound coming out of the Magic4 is well-balanced, with deep bass and clear high frequencies.

This thing also gets substantially loud with little to no distortion, and you can feel the bass vibrating though the chassis and in your palm. Even though Honor doesn’t say anything special about the speakers, I’m giving a solid “thumbs up” to the phone in that particular area.

On the other hand, vibration is a bit weak, and I just couldn’t manage to make the phone vibrate on touch or action. The UI only allows vibration for “key system events” (no idea what these are).

Battery life and Charging


The battery inside the Honor Magic4 Pro is rated at 4,600mAh, which is fine, I guess. We’re starting to see 5,000mAh cells in more and more flagship phones nowadays, but 4,600 should be enough to get you through the day. I’ve been poking the phone for half a day already, and the battery shows 75%, so I’m positive about the scores.

When it comes to fast charging, this phone is a monster! It supports up to 100W charging, and the beefy charger is included in the retail box (along with an equally beefy cable). Charging the phone from 0 to 100% takes only 32 minutes and this has been already tested.


Amazingly enough, the Magic4 Pro also supports 100W WIRELESS charging but you’ll need a 135W compatible charger to get to these speeds. Very impressive nonetheless.

Browsing test 120Hz Higher is better Video Streaming (hours) Higher is better 3D Gaming 120Hz (hours) Higher is better Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Honor Magic4 Pro 12h 4 min
10h 50 min
6h 38 min
32
Samsung Galaxy S22+ 15h 16 min
8h 18 min
9h 41 min
No data
OnePlus 10 Pro 13h 33 min
10h 47 min
9h 9 min
31
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 14h 44 min
8h 26 min
8h 5 min
No data
Sony Xperia 1 IV 10h 42 min
6h 32 min
5h 36 min
No data


In reality, the battery life is a mixed bag. The phone came first in the video streaming test, but it seems that the 120Hz mode is taking its toll - both in browsing and 3D gaming, the Magic4 trails behind the competition, barring the Xperia 1 IV. You'll absolutely get one full day of moderate to heavy usage, just don't expect miracles.

Competition


Well, with a price of 1,100 euro for the Pro model, the Magic4 aims for that ultra-premium smartphone class. Even though it might not be able to topple the Ultras of today, it can give the Pro models a run for their money. The Galaxy S22+ is an alternative, or more realistically it's the other way around - it's the main competitor of this phone. The Magic4 Pro has some aces up its sleeve, though - the screen is brighter, the fast charging is out of this world, and there's a true 3.5x telephoto camera onboard. 

The OnePlus 10 Pro is another valid option from the Far East. It has a bigger battery, a true telephoto lens (3.3x), almost identical fast-charging times, and most importantly - it's cheaper. That's it, I've said it - the price is actually the biggest drawback of the Honor Magic4 Pro, especially when there are more affordable alternatives. 

Summary and Final verdict


There's a lot to like about the Honor Magic4 Pro - it looks stunning, the fast-charging is amazing (every modern flagship should charge from 0 to 100 in 30 minutes, if you ask me), and the camera system is pretty versatile. The latest Qualcomm chipset makes this phone fly, and have I mentioned the screen? It's amazing - bright, easy on the eyes, crisp - one of the best in the business.

There are, however, a few caveats that come with this far eastern beauty. For starters - the price is very... premium. The Honor Magic4 Pro costs 949 pounds in the UK (US price to be confirmed), and that's a lot of money to blow on a phone with the Honor moniker. No disrespect toward the brand but when your main competitors are Samsung and Apple, and their models come in cheaper, you're in for a tough ride.


Pros

  • Pleasant design
  • Great build quality
  • Gorgeous 6.81-inch OLED display, bright, 1-120Hz refresh rate
  • Blazingly fast charging (100W wired/100W wireless)
  • Versatile camera system
  • Stereo speakers with decent quality
  • Fast under-display fingerprint scanner, 3D Face unlock
  • Buttery smooth performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Overly processed photos (especially in low-light conditions)
  • Battery life not spectacular
  • "Eye of Muse" camera bump design is polarizing

PhoneArena Rating:

8.9
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