Practice with Honor’s new foldable Magic VS, which was launched for the first time outside of China

Honor Magic VS is a new foldable smartphone from Huawei’s predecessor brand that is planned to be released outside of China. It uses a similar design to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold devices, pairing a large 7.9-inch foldable display with a smaller 6.45-inch Cover Screen for use while the device is closed.

“Honor Magic VS will be the first flagship foldable phone to be launched for the first time in overseas markets, and we are confident that it will bring tremendous developments, and change the way people around the world use their smartphones,” said Honor CEO George Zhao. International pricing and detailed release information haven’t been announced, but in China, the device will start at 7,499 JPY (about $1,048) for the lowest selected model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, and will ship on November 30th. Honor says to expect a global release early next year.

Honor Magic VS folds and unfolds.
Photo by John Porter/The Verge Photo by John Porter/The Verge

I had a chance to use Magic VS before its official release to get familiar with the devices. Since the phone isn’t running on final software, Honor has requested that I not test any software features including multi-window modes, the app expander, or the camera. A persistent problem with modern foldables is that Android tablet app support remains poor, and at this point it’s unclear if Honor’s first international foldable will be able to fix that.

what am I A.m It’s possible to talk about how the Magic VS feels in the hand, and how its foldable, hinged screen works. Honor claims its folding mechanism is even more robust this time around and is rated to withstand 400,000 folds, twice that of the original Magic V. That leads to a life of up to 10 years if you open and fold it 10 times a day.

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Granted, I’ve only managed to fold and unfold the phone a few dozen times in my limited time with the device, but so far the mechanism feels as sturdy as any other foldable device I’ve used. There is no squeaking or crackling sound when I unfold and fold it, and once it is unfolded it feels very solid. Honor claims the display is “wrinkle-free” when unfolded, which simply isn’t true as you can see from the image above, but like the other folds, I expect you won’t notice it much in normal use.

The back of Magic VS.

The Honor Magic VS half folded.

The Honor Magic VS half folded.

VS screen sizes have not changed compared to its predecessor. Its internal screen is 7.9 inches with a 90Hz refresh rate, 2272 x 1984 resolution, and 800 nits peak brightness, while the external screen size is 6.45 inches with a higher 120Hz refresh rate, 2560 x 1080 resolution, and 1200 nits peak brightness. However, it received a slight spec bump for Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, while its predecessor used the non-Plus version.

When folded, the Honor Magic VS looks like a slightly heavy smartphone, a little thick and a little long due to its 21:9 cover screen. The phone weighs 261g and has a depth of 12.9mm when folded, which is heavier and thicker than the personal iPhone 14 Pro at 206g, It has a thickness of 7.85 mm. But that’s less than Samsung’s Z Fold 4, which weighs 263g and is 15.8mm at its thickest point when folded. Although the external screen is a little cramped, it felt usable enough in my time with the phone.

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Unfolded, the phone looks like a relatively small tablet, with an almost square aspect ratio. The usefulness of this screen real estate will eventually come down to software support, but that’s still a very open question at this point. Both screens are OLED and look suitably contrast-rich and colorful as a result.

The big new addition with Honor VS compared to Magic V that the company launched at the beginning of the year is pen support, similar to what we saw with Samsung’s S Pen on its recent Galaxy Z Fold devices. I haven’t been able to experience phone stylus support in my time with the device.

Folded Magic VS Bottom.

There is almost no gap when the phone is folded.

Honor Magic VS folded and held in the hand.

In the hand, the Magic VS feels like an ordinary non-foldable smartphone.

In standard flagship fashion, the phone offers three rear cameras; A 54MP main camera, a 50MP ultra-wide camera (which also doubles as a macro camera), and an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. For selfies, the foldable device has a 16MP sensor. The camera performance of recent Honor smartphones like the Magic4 Pro didn’t particularly impress me, but I wasn’t able to test the camera on the Magic VS.

Powering the Magic VS is a 5,000mAh battery (a slight improvement over the 4,750mAh battery found in the Honor Magic V), which can charge at the same speed as 66W fast charging. That’s powerful enough to fully charge the phone in 46 minutes, Honor says. Available colors include orange, black, and sky blue, which is the model pictured on this page.

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Although Samsung is now selling its fourth generation of foldable devices, it has faced relatively little competition in global markets. Other companies like Xiaomi and Oppo have more or less restricted their foldable devices in the Chinese market, while the ongoing sanctions mean that Huawei’s internationally released foldable devices have been unable to ship with all-important Google apps and services. Although the Honor Magic VS is unlikely to ship in the US, Europeans may finally see some competition in the foldable market.

Photo by John Porter/The Verge

Update November 23 at 7:50 a.m. ET: Updated with the phone’s hardware impressions.

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