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Honor Magic 4 Pro review: Huawei-like hardware with Google apps

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is much bigger than it first appears. If you’re familiar with the Honor brand, it’s probably Huawei’s former budget sub-brand. Things have changed drastically on this front lately.

Due to the ongoing political sanctions imposed on Huawei, Honor retired on its own in May 2021. It is now essentially picking up where Huawei left off, providing Android hardware and custom software of similar quality, but with access comprehensive to Google applications and services.

This all brings us to the Honor Magic 4 Pro, which is the brand’s first flagship phone to be released in the West. The question is, can a full-fledged Huawei flagship phone (in all but name) still compare to the flagship class of 2022?

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Honor Magic 4 Pro review: what you need to know

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is fully equipped for an assault on the Android major leagues. Its base specs include a slick glass and metal design, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, and a large 6.81-inch 120Hz OLED display.

More notable is a triple-camera system in which the 50MP wide and ultra-wide sensors aren’t even the main event. That privilege goes to a 64MP periscope telephoto lens with 3.5x optical zoom potential.

The provision of dual 100W charging support is also eye-catching. That’s 100W wired and 100W wireless, the latter supplied via a special fast charger (sold separately).

Honor Magic 4 Pro review: price and competition

There’s only one Honor Magic 4 Pro model in the UK, which comes with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM, and it costs £949.

This puts the phone against the starting prices of the iPhone 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus. It’s worth pointing out, though, that you’ll need to spend £999 and £1,049 respectively if you want to boost these phones up to the same 256GB capacity.

The OnePlus 10 Pro (£799) and Google Pixel 6 Pro (£849) crowd in the opposite direction. Upping these rivals up to 256GB will cost £899 and £949 respectively, putting them in direct competition with the Magic 4 Pro.

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Honor Magic 4 Pro review: design and key features

The Honor Magic 4 Pro doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo on the 2022 trend for subtle matte or frosted finishes. While the phone blends in with the Xiaomi 12 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro in many ways, it looks quite different.

The glass-covered rear is covered in a hyper-reflective tinted mirror finish. The camera module, meanwhile, is a veritable attention-grabber – a huge black circle with wide, ultra-wide and depth sensors surrounding a prominent telephoto lens.

There’s also a somewhat distracting camera module on the front of the phone. Honor is one of the few Android makers to provide an equivalent to Apple’s Face ID authentication system. The resulting enlarged punch-hole notch might not be the prettiest, but being able to quickly and securely unlock your phone at a glance is bliss, especially for someone who uses an iPhone. 13 Pro when not revising.

Unlike Apple, Honor has also provided the option of an in-display fingerprint sensor, so everyone is taken care of.

It’s a big phone at 164 x 75 x 9.1mm. I weighed it at 216g, which is heavier than the OnePlus 10 Pro and Google Pixel 6 Pro. Unlike the Xiaomi 12 Pro, it also doesn’t drop the ball on dust and water resistance, with IP68 certification present and taken into account.

You also get a good set of stereo speakers. None of them are up front, but they get decent separation and crisp highs, if not particularly rich lows.

Software-wise, Magic UI 6 (installed on Android 12) sticks to its Huawei EMUI roots, with a familiar level of display and a few too many pre-installed apps for its own good. It doesn’t sink as much as rival UIs, and there’s an annoying lock screen shortcut menu that clashes with the swipe-to-unlock gesture.

But it’s otherwise reasonably clean and fast, and unlike EMUI, it has full access and integration with Google Play Services. Google Feed is on the left of the home screen, Google Play Store is your source for apps, Chrome is your primary web browser…it’s a completely normal Android experience, in other words. That should be a blessed relief for anyone who loved Huawei’s late-day hardware, but just couldn’t stand its compromised software.

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Honor Magic 4 Pro review: Display

The Honor Magic 4 Pro features a large 6.81-inch OLED display with a somewhat unusual 2,848 x 1,312 resolution. This sits right between the QHD+ and FHD+ options that other Android manufacturers opt for, but matches the 460ppi pixel density of the iPhone 13 Pro.

We also get the full 120Hz refresh rate processing, with LTPO panel technology that can drop down to 1Hz depending on the task. A maximum brightness of 1,000 cd/m² is just a little short of some of its rivals. The OnePlus 10 Pro can reach 1,300 cd/m², for example, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus goes up to 1,750 cd/m² in direct sunlight. Still, I measured a peak measured luminance of 558cd/m² with auto-brightness off, which is perfectly fine.

One thing Honor claims to have improved over its rivals is a flicker rate of 1,920Hz, which is four times higher than the iPhone 13 Pro’s 480Hz. Honestly, I can’t say I noticed a difference, but any reduction in eye strain is likely to be subtle and beneficial over a longer period of time.

Color accuracy is strong, with 93.2% of the sRGB space versus a full 93.3% in the phone’s Normal mode, which I switched from the more pronounced pop of the default Vivid mode. An average Delta E of 1.48 is also decent, but not as close to the ideal 0.9 as the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Honor Magic 4 Pro review: performance and battery life

One thing that hasn’t been brought since Huawei’s days is the latter company’s own HiSilicon Kirin processor. Instead, Honor equipped the Magic 4 Pro with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

That’s as close to a safe pair of hands as you can get in Android’s flagship space, and it means the Honor Magic 4 Pro performs as well as most of its competition. Geekbench 5 scores 979 in single-core and 3,311 in multi-core, on par with the OnePlus 10 Pro.

This is also largely true of the GPU benchmark tests, although the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s lower display resolution may explain a higher score of 116fps on the Manhattan 3.0 screen test.

In regular use, I didn’t experience any issues with the performance of the Honor Magic 4 Pro. The famous scalable Genshin Impact defaults to Medium/30fps, but I was able to bump that up to Highest/60fps without sacrificing playability – albeit with the odd dropped frame.

One potential issue is the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s smaller-than-average 4,600mAh battery. Most Android 2022 flagships have increased their cells up to 5,000 mAh for comfortable all-day use.

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I was able to spend a full day with the Magic 4 Pro with the display set to the high refresh rate setting, but it can be hard to call it comfortable. In a day that I would call fairly moderate use (3.5 hours of screen time), I had about a third of a tank left. More heavy use will drop this to a level that requires you to search for a wall outlet.

In our extended loop-based video test, the Honor Magic 4 Pro lasted 19 hours 9 minutes, which is far from disastrous, but also far from the best. It falls about 2 hours 30 minutes ahead of the OnePlus 10 Pro, roughly matches the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, and beats the Google Pixel 6 Pro by almost two hours.

The phone charging supply however is extremely competitive. With a 100W charger included in the box, it’s capable of getting you from 0-100% in less than 30 minutes. I recorded getting to 59% in just 15 minutes.

Equally noteworthy, Honor has also supported 100W wireless charging. However, you’ll need to purchase a special charger for the job, and the cooling fan does make a bit of noise while it’s running.

Honor Magic 4 Pro review: Cameras

Honor has bet on its camera offering, and I’m not just talking about that important camera module. This triple-sensor setup (quadruple if you count the TOF 3D depth sensor) certainly packs some pixels.

The wide and ultra-wide sensors are both 50MP, with the wide in particular measuring 1/1.56″ and containing an advanced 7P lens element. But the main attraction here is a 64MP periscope telephoto lens, which achieves 3.5x optical zoom.

Thanks to OIS, Honor’s AI enhancements and extended cropping, this zoom can be extended up to 100x. As with any other extended digital zoom system, however, I wouldn’t recommend going beyond the 10x which is presented as the maximum zoom in the camera UI. You have to tap and drag further to go beyond 10x, which is an obscure reveal system.

The Magic 4 Pro’s main camera more than holds its own with the iPhone 13 Pro and Xiaomi 12 Pro when it comes to natural, balanced shots in good light, and blows the garish OnePlus 10 Pro out. some water.

Low-light performance is acceptable, but well below the iPhone 13 Pro. The Magic 4 Pro tends to overbrighten dark scenes, while lacking the crisp detail and depth of Apple’s low-light maestro. I also prefer how the Xiaomi 12 Pro preserves shadow in such scenes. There is slight blurring on very difficult dark shots, which could be explained by the curious lack of OIS on the main sensor.

The ultra-wide results are a little cooler and flatter than the wide, which isn’t unusual, but it’s still reasonably crisp and well-exposed. Thanks to autofocus, it can also be used as a macro camera, if you like super close-ups.

The 12-megapixel front camera is a decent performer, preserving skin tones and limiting bright areas quite effectively. It also offers a much wider 100 degree angle than most selfie cameras, making it useful for landscape selfies and group shots.

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Honor Magic 4 Pro review: Verdict

The Honor Magic 4 Pro represents a very strong flagship debut from the former Huawei sub-brand. It takes a lot of what we’ve always liked about Huawei’s top-end hardware, with a sleek design, great screen and good all-around camera system, but restores that reassuring support from Google – even if Magic UI continues to tweak it. to be a second-tier Android skin at best.

The phone’s endurance is a bit lower than some of its rivals, which is disappointing, but Honor partly makes up for that with 100W wired and wireless charging support.

Overall, the Magic 4 Pro falls just a little behind the best that Apple, Google, and Samsung have to offer, but it has enough unique flourishes to make it a viable left-field alternative to one of them.