Honor Magic5 Pro hands-on-review

Honor’s latest flagship smartphone sees the Chinese firm elevating its game with class-leading camera capabilities, build quality and performance. At £949, though, it faces tough competition from established firms such as Apple and Samsung.

Prior to its 2020 split with Huawei, Honor was mostly known as a firm that produced well-priced mid-rangers alongside the more capable devices made by its parent company.

Since going it alone, the firm has rapidly taken a Samsung-style approach, with a broad smattering of devices across different price ranges. Alongside its more experimental foldable, the Honor Magic Vs (reviewed last month), the Magic5 Pro attempts to wow in all areas that a flagship phone should.


First impressions are positive: solid build quality with a gentle tapering of both the display and the glass back that meet the aluminium frame in the middle. While its display is attractive enough - taking up the front of the device with minimal bezel - the massive camera sensor on the back could be divisive.

At its MWC-reveal, Honor made quite a song-and-dance about the “Gaudi-inspired” curves on the back that meet in the huge, circular camera bump.


Unfortunately, for those looking for the best smartphone cameras, such protrusions are inevitable, as larger lenses are capable of taking in more light which can produce better shots. While not subtle, the centrally placed camera bump makes the phone usable when laying flat on a desk without rocking around. The back panel’s gentle curve into the camera bump also makes it easy to slip into a pocket without getting snagged on the rim.

Performance-wise, the Magic5 Pro is using the same Snapdragon chip found in pretty much all Android devices competing at the top end, so performance is smooth during daily usage and when switching quickly between apps. The larger display also lends itself nicely to split-screen app usage with no noticeable performance hiccups.

Honor devices tend to fall short when it comes to the firm’s Android variant, MagicOS. While still usable, the notification shade and settings panel resemble older versions of Android, sticking rigidly to circular icon design. While Samsung always tries to fit as many features into its OneUI OS as possible, Honor adopts a more pared-back approach with minimal extra features compared to stock Android. MagicOS may not be the most feature-filled or aesthetically pleasing version of Android, but it gets the job done smoothly without performance hitches.


At 5100mAh, Honor has managed to stuff one of the biggest battery capacities of any smartphone into the device - even beating the likes of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which is physically larger in every dimension. Despite this, the Magic5 Pro can only squeeze out around two days of average usage between charges. Battery life doesn’t disappoint per se, but neither does it excel. The Chinese variant of the device, however, comes with a new silicon-carbon battery chemistry that allows for a slightly larger 5450mAh capacity.

Honor says the new technology can bring higher energy densities of up to 13 per cent when compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries. As the first mainstream device deploying the new tech, it will be interesting to see how the batteries hold up with long-term usage. This review is focused on the European version of the device, which does not use the new battery types.

Honor has gone for broke in placing great emphasis on the camera capabilities of the device, which currently sits at the top of the DxOMark’s smartphone rankings - beating all other competing flagships.

All three cameras – the primary, the ultra-wide and the telephoto – have 50MP sensors which means you are not sacrificing detail and quality no matter which you choose to use for a given shot. This allows for a higher degree of flexibility than other equivalently priced devices, such as the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which have lower MP sensors on their secondary cameras.


Daylight shots yield excellent colour reproduction


Even at 10x zoom, image quality is maintained


But not so great at 100x zoom

Daylight shots look great with colours that ‘pop’ without seeming artificially vibrant – a critique that has long been levied at Samsung phones and Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

The Magic5 Pro's long-distance capabilities are also very impressive, even if Honor’s attempt to offer a 100x digital zoom falls flat. Zooms up to 10x continue to offer pleasing detail and colour reproduction while avoiding excessive noise that can result in a blurry picture. Pictures based on the 100x zoom, however, look muddy and lack enough detail to really be useful.

The camera is no slouch when it comes to night photos: it accurately replicates the ambiance of the shot without too much artificial brightening that can bring a 'fakeness' to photos.


The aperture mode artificially blurs the background of shots in order to create that DSLR bokeh-esque aesthetic that’s great for capturing portraits of people. The effect isn’t perfect, though, and occasionally small details like an earring or the end of a finger can end up incorrectly obscured by the artificial blur.


Great detail on close-up aperture shots

The Magic5 Pro captures video well enough all the way up to 4K at 60FPS with a gyroscopic OIS that keeps things steady, although performance dips a bit in lower-light conditions.

Honor has really pushed the boat out this year in its attempt to match the market leaders in terms of its build, performance and camera capability. Its version of Android – MagicOS – is where the device is most lacking, opting for a slightly dated aesthetic with fewer added features when compared to Samsung’s OneUI. Longevity is also slightly disappointing when considering the device packs a 5100mAh battery.

The build quality impresses with zero flex, high-quality materials and slight curves on both sides that allows its large frame to sit comfortably in the hand, but it's the camera capabilities where the Magic5 Pro really shines, offering market leading performance as a point and shoot and excellent granular controls if desired.

At £949.99, it still doesn’t come cheap, but is £50-£100 less than similarly spec'd devices from Apple and Samsung. Honor has committed to delivering three major OS upgrades and five years of security patches for flagship devices, which is slightly less than Samsung’s pledge to deliver four major OS upgrades.

Honor Magic5 Pro


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