Honor Magic4 Pro review: hardware highs, software stumbles

Honor Magic4 Pro review: hardware highs, software stumbles

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Photo by Jon Porter / The Verge

This flagship has immoderate neat ideas, but it’s lacking polish

Once a sub-brand of Chinese telephone elephantine Huawei, Honor has been going it unsocial since being spun retired successful precocious 2020. So far, it’s released the midrange Honor 50 globally, but assorted difficulties person prevented the institution from coming retired with a existent flagship smartphone successful the westbound since becoming an autarkic company. It adjacent went arsenic acold arsenic to denote planetary pricing for the Magic3 past August, but the telephone ended up lone being disposable successful China.

That changes with this year’s Magic4 Pro, which volition beryllium disposable to preorder successful the UK from May 13th and volition vessel connected May 27th from £949.99. (Honor says it presently has nary plans to merchandise the telephone successful the US.) It’s a terms constituent that sees Honor’s telephone vie straight with Samsung’s fantabulous Galaxy S22 Plus, the 256GB retention variant of Google’s accomplished Pixel 6 Pro, and Apple’s ever-reliable iPhone 13 Pro. Those are 3 fantabulous choices for prospective telephone buyers and correspond pugnacious contention for Honor’s latest.

On paper, the Magic4 Pro is competitive. It’s got a trio of high-resolution rear cameras, super-fast 100W wired charging, and enactment for 100W wireless charging, arsenic good arsenic a large bright, colorful surface with a accelerated refresh rate. But portion I liked a batch of these features individually, Honor’s bundle struggles to clasp up its extremity of the bargain.

From the front, the Honor Magic4 Pro looks similar astir different Android flagships successful 2022. It’s got a ample 6.81-inch OLED show with a solution of 1312 x 2848, a highest brightness of 1000 nits, and a maximum refresh complaint of 120Hz. It gets plentifulness bright, and it’s beauteous and colorful. There’s a pill-shaped hole-punch cutout connected the apical near for a 12-megapixel selfie camera and 3D look unlock hardware, and there’s an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor astir two-thirds down the display.

Honer is calling this a “quad-curved” screen, but it lone truly curves astir the near and close sides of the phone, and I privation it wasn’t curved astatine all. Sure, the curves arguably springiness the telephone a much premium feel, and I didn’t person immoderate problems with accidentally touching its sides similar with immoderate curved surface phones. But ultimately, I conscionable ended up losing the sides of apps and the apical and bottommost of videos astir the curved edges, with precise small benefit. The telephone has an IP68 standing for particulate and h2o resistance, which means you shouldn’t person immoderate issues utilizing it successful the rain.

Out of the box, the Magic4 Pro runs Android 12, but Honor is lone committing to 2 years of Android updates and 2 years of information updates. In contrast, Samsung present offers up to four years of Android updates, Google offers three (or 5 if you see information updates), and Apple is inactive releasing caller iOS updates for 2015’s iPhone 6S.

The show curves circular the near and close sides of the phone.

I don’t usually walk overmuch clip talking astir the biometric information options built into phones these days, but the perfectly unspeakable clip I had mounting up fingerprint unlock connected the Magic4 Pro is worthy mentioning. During archetypal setup, I encountered a bundle bug that led to my attempts to registry my close thumbprint failing implicit a twelve times. Curiously, erstwhile I manually added 3 much fingerprints successful settings aft archetypal setup, I didn’t brushwood immoderate specified issues, truthful I fishy the occupation is software-based alternatively than with the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 that Honor’s utilizing successful this phone.

The Magic4 Pro’s 3D look unlock diagnostic is much seamless and, successful a side-by-side trial with an iPhone 12 Pro, was lone a fraction of a 2nd slower successful perfect conditions. But erstwhile conditions were much challenging, specified arsenic erstwhile unlocking successful a acheronian room, erstwhile looking from an angle, oregon erstwhile wearing a hat, Honor’s look unlock would sometimes stumble, and overall, its implementation didn’t consciousness arsenic reliable arsenic Apple’s.

Battery beingness with the 4,600mAh compartment is reliable, and the phone’s 100W accelerated charging is adjacent much so. I averaged a small implicit 5 hours of surface connected clip retired of the Honor Magic4 Pro and would routinely extremity the time with implicit 40 percent of complaint left. It took a time of dense usage, including a half-hour video telephone and an hr and a fractional of utilizing the telephone for cycling directions, for maine to spot the telephone scope zero astatine astir 11PM. When I did a charging test, the 100W charger that Honor provides successful the container did a large job. It deed the 46 percent people conscionable 15 minutes aft I enactment it connected complaint astatine 0 percent (aka conscionable capable clip to instrumentality a shower) and reached 100 percent conscionable aft the half-hour mark.

The Honor Magic4 Pro besides does 100W wireless accelerated charging, which successful my trial charged the telephone to 54 percent successful conscionable 15 minutes of charging and to 100 percent astatine the 31-minute mark. But I’d beryllium amazed if galore radical really marque usage of this diagnostic due to the fact that really getting these speeds involves buying some Honor’s 100W wireless charging basal and its 100W-capable powerfulness ceramic separately (the powerfulness ceramic that comes successful the container for the wireless charging basal tin lone grip 80W accelerated charging). Honor did not respond to questions astir the pricing of these 2 accessories, but I’d wager they’re improbable to travel cheap.

Honor’s Magic UI 6 bundle adds a mates of absorbing features to Android 12, but for the astir part, I got frustrated astatine the bloat. For starters, the telephone comes pre-installed with astir fractional a twelve third-party apps of questionable utility, specified arsenic Booking.com, TrainPal, Trip.com, and WPS Office, alongside first-party Honor apps similar Honor Store and Honor Club. In different places, I consistently stumbled into supposedly adjuvant shortcuts erstwhile I wasn’t looking for them. For example, the telephone asks you to descent your digit up connected the show to entree the location surface erstwhile it’s unlocked. But if you commencement your swipe excessively acold down, you’ll alternatively unfastened a shortcut paper with links to a dependable recorder app and calculator, and I accidentally activated this shortcut an annoying amount.

Another diagnostic is simply a telephone calling exertion it calls “Just Say to Me,” which aims to set the dependable coming retired of the phone’s earpiece during calls to marque it inaudible to those astir you. Honor says the diagnostic works utilizing “AI Directional Sound” technology, utilizing the surface itself to transmit debased and medium-frequency sounds, leaving the earpiece to grip precocious frequencies, allegedly resulting successful little dependable leakage. To my ear, it sounds similar it’s adjusting the EQ of the incoming voice, reducing the measurement of little frequencies that mightiness transportation further. The drawback is that it lone works erstwhile you person the phone’s telephone measurement acceptable to 60 percent oregon below. I recorded myself utilizing it, and it was surely harder to perceive the idiosyncratic connected the different extremity of the telephone with the diagnostic turned on, but it’s hard to cognize precisely however overmuch of this was conscionable down to the information that I had to crook the measurement down to get the diagnostic to activate.

In immoderate cases, it was imaginable to tweak distant immoderate of my annoyances with Honor’s software. There’s a elemental toggle to reintroduce the modular Android app drawer (disabled by default), and SwiftKey is casual capable to regenerate with Gboard. Honor’s bundle besides aggressively shuts down apps moving successful the inheritance if it doesn’t deliberation you’re utilizing them, which tripped up a jogging app I was utilizing to support clip — but thankfully, you’re capable to manually exclude each oregon conscionable immoderate apps from this behavior.

Its camera bump is simply a love-it-or-hate-it affair.

But adjacent erstwhile I tweaked its bundle to my liking, utilizing Honor’s Magic UI often didn’t consciousness similar I was utilizing a smartphone costing astir £950 equipped with Qualcomm’s latest flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. Its app drawer stuttered somewhat erstwhile I flipped it open, and apps would sometimes get confused and person to reload their contents erstwhile I switched to them quickly. They’re tiny hiccups, but fixed however bully midrange phones person gotten, it’s not large seeing these harvest up successful a premium flagship. Internally, the Magic4 Pro has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which puts it connected par with the Pixel 6 Pro.

This neatly brings america to the Honor Magic4 Pro’s camera system, which is housed wrong a ample circular camera bump connected the rear of the phone. People who I showed the telephone to were divided connected the design, but I similar the mode it makes a connection retired of its rear camera bump alternatively than trying to minimize it. You get 3 rear cameras connected the Magic4 Pro: a 50-megapixel main; a 50-megapixel ultrawide with a 122-degree tract of view; and a 64-megapixel telephoto with a 3.5x optical zoom. It’s bully to spot Honor subordinate the inclination of manufacturers pairing a high-resolution main sensor with overmuch little solution secondary cameras.

In practice, daylight photography is good, which is wherever astir smartphone manufacturers are astatine successful 2022. Honor’s tuning tends to prioritize punchy colors and crisp edges, but with its well-specced sensor, it’s got capable item to enactment with that I deliberation the effect works. It adjacent does a bully occupation with faces, leaving my tegument code looking earthy alternatively than overly brightened. The hi-res sensors down the ultrawide and telephoto lenses mean this show continues with the secondary cameras. Where different telephone cameras mightiness get grainy oregon low-detail, Honor’s shots support the aforesaid prime level.

I was little impressed with show successful debased light, wherever I struggled to get the aforesaid magnitude of item retired of the Honor Magic4 Pro. It did a bully occupation with colour accuracy, and astatine archetypal glance, I was impressed by the deficiency of disposable noise. But look closer, and it looks similar Honor’s bundle is trying to creaseless retired arsenic overmuch movie atom arsenic it can, and it tin marque images look similar brushed watercolors erstwhile you look closely. Switch to the ultrawide oregon telephoto cameras, and show is astir the aforesaid arsenic the main camera’s, which is really beauteous bully going considering the degraded show you often get from the secondary cameras successful different phones.

Honor has done a bully occupation astatine speccing retired the hardware of the Magic4 Pro. Its cameras are precocious resolution, it charges incredibly fast, its surface is beauteous (curved edges notwithstanding), and overall, the device’s hardware succeeds astatine having that premium flagship feel. If you privation a telephone that tin wirelessly complaint faster than galore different phones tin bash implicit a wired connection, past the Honor Magic4 Pro is precise blessed to oblige.

But I was ne'er won implicit by the acquisition of really utilizing the Honor Magic4 Pro. Whether it was the occasional bundle hiccups, the assertive inheritance app management, oregon the fastener surface shortcut that got successful the mode excessively often, it often felt similar wearing a brace of shoes that were conscionable fractional a size excessively big. When a telephone costs arsenic overmuch arsenic a Samsung oregon Apple flagship, you mightiness find a amended acceptable elsewhere.