We’re finally there. If you want a foldable phone, one that opens up like a book to reveal a tablet-like screen, a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is no longer your only truly viable option. The Honor Magic V2 brings dimensions that aren’t dissimilar to a plan old flat phone, but delivers on performance and camera hardware.
It’s third gen versus fifth gen, the obvious choice versus the left-field pick. The real interesting part here is they aren’t carbon copies of each other, and Honor is actually nudging towards some people’s foldable dream. Does the Honor Magic V2 really have a chance of beating the foldable king, though? Let’s break it down.
Design & build: Tall and skinny for the win?
Samsung tried to make the Galaxy Z Fold 5 almost as narrow as possible when folded for easier handling. The Honor Magic V2’s whole deal is that it feels quite a bit like a normal phone when folded up. It’s wider, a still normal 74mm, but is just 10mm thick to the 13.4mm of the Samsung. Sure, that’s far chunkier than the average normal phone, but for a foldable? This is standard-setting stuff.
Honor has gone further with its weight-reducing tactics too. Where Samsung uses aluminium, the Honor Magic V2 reportedly has magnesium alloy and titanium. These metals are used in other gadgets to reduce weight. We see a lot of magnesium in laptops, titanium in high-end smartwatches. You also have the option of a vegan leather or glass backplate with the Honor Magic V2, and the fake leather shaves off a few more grammes, bringing the phone down to 231g.
A clean sweep for the Honor, then? Not nearly. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 looks a little more stylish to our eyes in parts, and aside from the use of fancy-sounding metals, the Honor doesn’t have the same rugged cred. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 also has excellent IPX8 water resistance, meaning it can take a full dunking in water at a depth greater than 1m. There’s no official water resistance rating for the Honour Magic V2.
Samsung uses top-tier Gorilla Glass Victus 2 toughened glass for its front and rear panels. Honor’s glass is of an unspecified brand, although there was word earlier in the year the company was working on its own formulation based on Huawei’s Kunlun glass.
In the previous generation, Honor had the advantage of a gap-free hinge mechanism, over the old Galaxy Z Fold 4, but in this comparison both have that clean, gap-free style.
Screen & sound: wide pride?
The key takeaway from these phones’ designs defines your first impression of their screens too. Samsung’s outer display is cast in the classic foldable mould. It’s dead skinny, with a 23.1:9 aspect ratio. At 6.2in it’s large enough to check your notifications and do much more besides. But it is not going to feel just like a normal phone screen.
The Honor Magic V2’s might. It’s a 6.43in, 2376×1060 pixel OLED. That may not be a familiar resolution, but its shape is basically the same as that of any regular old phone’s.
Specs-wise, the four screens here are quite evenly matched. The Honor Magic V2 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 use OLED panels all-round, with 120Hz refresh rates and support for HDR. As we noted in our review, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 looks plenty bright too, able to reach up to 1100-1200 nits with either display in bright conditions. Its theoretical max is 1600 nits, but you’ll probably only see anything close to than when viewing HDR video.
The Honor Magic V2’s eye-catching spec is the brightness of the outer screen, an ultra-high 2500 nits, while the inner is of the more familiar 1600-nit standard. We’re yet to see if it will actually reach those heights. Or if that extra punch is worth the battery drain. At the beach in the blazing sunshine? Maybe have a paddle rather than watching an episode of Bake Off.
Samsung has a slight technical advantage here, as it has a clever under-screen camera for the inner display, which demands a special bit of screen with lower pixel density. Honor just uses a traditional display cut-out.
Still, in both inner and outer displays you get a larger surface area with the Honor. Both screens also support Honor’s stylus. While Samsung is the master of styluses in phones and tablets, its Galaxy Z Fold 5 stylus only works with the inner screen, not the outer one.
Cameras: three-way dance
If you’ve looked into foldable phones before, you know the drill here. These are pricey handsets with capable camera arrays made to deal with just about any situation – but they aren’t quite going to match what you get with these companies’ flat flagships. Those’ll be the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Honor Magic 5 Pro.
Which is better here? We were fairly impressed by the Samsung at review but are yet to give the Honor Magic V2 the full review treatment.
Based on the specs, the Samsung has a better zoom lens, with 3x to 2.5x, but the Honor Magic V2 has higher sensor resolution. Its zoom has 20MP, to the Samsung’s 10MP. The Honor ultra-wide is much higher-res too: 50MP in place of 12MP. But, as any techy nerd would guess, this is a 50MP sensor designed for pixel binning. You can just as well think of it as a 12.5MP sensor.
Both primary rear cameras have 50MP sensors, with optical image stabilisation. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 uses the same sensor as the base Galaxy S23, a good ’n’ big 1/1.56-inch chip. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a slightly edge for video though. It’s capable of 8K capture at 30fps, while the Honor is capped at the more ordinary 4K, 60 frames per second.
Performance & battery: more than enough muscle
These two phones use the same core processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It’s as strong a processor as you could hope for, and both phone use a vapour chamber to help disperse heat from the CPU. This kind of power makes them both compelling phones for gaming. That said, Samsung gets a bespoke version of the chip that runs a little quicker, so could outmuscle the Honor in certain situations.
Under that sort of pressure you’d expect the Honor Magic Vs2 to last longer than the Samsung, as it has 15% higher battery capacity. It uses a 5000mAh cell, Samsung a 4400mAh one.
Honor also, and this should surprise no-one, supports much faster charging than Samsung. It can use up to 66W charging, while the Galaxy Z Fold 5 tops out at 25W. Thanks to the way fast charging works, using different charge rates throughout the cycle, the Honor Magic Vs2 won’t be 2.64x times faster, as those raw numbers suggest. But it will beat Samsung’s claim of 50% in 30 minutes.
Samsung hits back with wireless charging, which is not supported at all in the Honor Magic V2. It can reach 15W charging, and also reverse charge other wireless charging gadgets at 4.5W.
On paper, the Honor Magic V2 delivers similar punchy performance to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, just in a slimmer form factor – and one with a more phone-like outer screen to boot. It has camera hardware that should leave the Samsung behind, and its bigger battery aims to deliver longer life away from the mains. There’s even stylus support.
Samsung’s software is tried and tested, though, and Honor’s foldable-specific additions are still a bit of an unknown – as is the price. We’re betting Honor will try to undercut the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but by how much is a mystery. If it’s a lot more affordable, we reckon it could be a very close call as to which comes out on top.