The Honor Magic VS is a new foldable smartphone from the former Huawei subbrand that’s actually planned for release outside China. It uses a similar design to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold devices, pairing a large 7.9-inch internal folding display with a smaller 6.45-inch cover display for use while the device is folded shut.
“The Honor Magic VS will be our very first foldable flagship to debut in overseas markets and we are confident that it will deliver huge advancements, transforming how people all around the world use their smartphones,” said Honor CEO George Zhao. International pricing and detailed release information is yet to be announced, but in China the device will start at ¥7,499 (around $1,048) for the lowest specced 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.
I had a chance to use the Magic VS ahead of its official release to get a feel for the hardware. Since the phone isn’t running final software, Honor requested that I not test any software features including its multi-window modes, app extender, or camera. An ongoing problem with recent foldables is that Android tablet app support remains weak, and at this point it’s unclear whether Honor’s first international foldable is going to be able to fix that.
What I am able to talk about is how the Magic VS feels to hold in the hand, and how its foldable screen and hinge perform. Honor is claiming that its folding mechanism is more sturdy this time around and is rated to withstand 400,000 folds, double that of the original Magic V. That results in a theoretical lifespan of up to 10 years if you unfold and fold it 100 times a day.
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 I’ve used. There’s no creaking or crunching sound as I open and fold it, and once unfolded it feels plenty rigid. Honor is claiming that the display is “creaseless” when unfolded, which is simply not true as you can see from the photo above, but like other foldables I expect that you wouldn’t notice it much in normal use.
The VS’s screen sizes are unchanged compared to its predecessor. Its interior display is 7.9-inches with a 90Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 2272 x 1984 and a peak brightness of 800 nits, while the external display is 6.45 inches with a higher 120Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 2560 x 1080, and a peak brightness of 1200 nits. It has, however, received a slight spec bump to Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, while its predecessor used the non-Plus version.
Folded, the Honor Magic VS feels like a slightly heavy, slightly thick, and slightly long smartphone due to its 21:9 cover display. The phone is 261g in weight and 12.9mm deep when folded, which is a heavier and thicker than my personal 206g, 7.85mm thick iPhone 14 Pro. But that’s a less than Samsung’s Z Fold 4, which is 263g in weight and 15.8mm at its thickest point when folded. Although the external screen is a little narrow, it felt usable enough in my time with the phone.
Unfolded, the phone feels like a relatively small tablet, with an almost-square aspect ratio. The usefulness of this screen real-estate is going to ultimately come down to software support, but that’s still a very open question at this point. Both displays are OLEDs and look suitably contrast-rich and colorful as a result.
The big new addition with the Honor VS compared to the Magic V the company launched at the start of the year is stylus support, similar to what we’ve seen with Samsung’s S Pen stylus on its recent Galaxy Z Fold devices. I was not able to try out the phone’s stylus support in my time with the device.
In standard flagship fashion, the phone offers three rear cameras; a 54-megapixel main camera, a 50-megapixel ultrawide (which also doubles as a macro camera), and an 8-megapixel telephoto with a 3x optical zoom. For selfies, the foldable has a 16-megapixel sensor. The camera performance of Honor’s recent smartphones like the Magic4 Pro hasn’t particularly impressed me, but I was unable to test out the camera on the Magic VS.
Powering the Magic VS is a 5,000mAh battery (a slight improvement on the 4,750mAh battery found in the Honor Magic V), which can be charged at the same 66W fast charging speed. That’s powerful enough to fully charge the phone in 46 minutes, Honor says. Available colors include orange, black, and a blue-hued cyan, which is the model photographed on this page.
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 limited their foldable devices to the Chinese market, while ongoing sanctions mean that Huawei’s internationally-released foldables haven’t been able to ship with Google’s all-important apps and services. Although the Honor Magic VS is unlikely to ship in the US, Europeans might finally see some competition in the foldable market.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge
Update November 23rd, 7:50AM ET: Updated with hands on impressions of the phone’s hardware.
Correction February 15th, 2:51PM ET: This article originally stated that the phone is rated to survive be unfolded and folded 10 times a day for 10 years. It’s actually 100 times a day. We regret the error.