Honor Magic 4 Pro Review
The Honor Magic 4 Pro is a very capable all-round phone, which packs a great camera, strong performance standards, a very good screen, and mind-blowing fast charging. The style might not be to everyone’s tastes, but the substance surely will.
- Great battery life
- Phenomenal fast charging
- High performance standards
- Strong camera
- Limited software support
- Polarising design
- UKRRP: £949.99
- EuropeRRP: €1099
- 100W wired and wireless chargingThis handset charges up extremely quickly whether you plug it in or pop it on a pad
- Triple rear cameraThere’s a wide, ultrawide, and telephoto sensor in the rear camera module of this handset
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsetThis phone runs on Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line mobile processor
Honor has already won a good reputation for high-performing budget phones, but since gaining its independence from Huawei it seems to have expanded its aim to include the premium section of the market, with the Honor Magic V foldable being one remarkable statement of intent, and the Honor Magic 4 Pro being the brand’s first “true flagship” device.
The snazzy flagship has since been usurped by the newer Honor Magic 5 Pro, but that phone doesn’t yet have a release date or pricing. So the question for now is, how does the Honor Magic 4 Pro fare a year later?
There are several standout specs from this handset that ensure that moniker is no idle boast, from a top-tier Snapdragon processor to a high-resolution multi-sensor rear camera and blistering 100W wireless charging. But can all these specs come together for a satisfying whole?
Design and Screen
- Polarising design
- IP68 rating
- Excellent screen
First impressions last, and unfortunately the look and feel of the Honor Magic 4 Pro got me off on the wrong foot – but I accept that such judgements are subjective and that it will have its fans too.
The camera module, dubbed “eye of muse” by Honor, is a giant black disk that looks uninteresting but unavoidable, and the reflective rear panel is a magnet for greasy fingerprints. Personally, when paying as much as this, I want it to look good, in the same subtle but assured way as the new Samsung Galaxy S23 or 2022’s Xiaomi 12 Pro.
When prompting my friends for their opinions, there were a couple that liked it and some that were in agreement with me, so it seems just to be polarising in the looks department.
Beyond the looks, it’s also relatively bulky, being 9.1mm thick and weighing 215g. That might not sound like much, but you do feel the difference in your hand when compared to its more manageable peers.
However, in practical terms it does at least boast an IP68 rating which means that it should stand very strong against dust or water ingress. On the other hand, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or SD card for expandable storage – but then, these days that’s par for the course with flagship smartphones.
When it comes to the screen there’s another design choice that I don’t agree with. The radical curves at the side are just not for me as they leave apps trailing off the edge. But its quality is undeniable.
This LTPO panel measures 6.81 inches, and it boasts a laundry list of impressive specifications. The maximum resolution is a sharp 1312×2848, although by default it will be adjusted depending on the apps that you’re running at the time in order to conserve the battery.
The refresh rate pulls the same trick, with an upper limit of 120Hz for very smooth scrolling when you’re flicking your way down social media feeds, but a dynamic change as low as 1Hz when the screen is not in use. That’s a particular plus point as, even in 2023, not all flagships can drop to such low refresh rates.
The screen also boasts over 1 billion colours and HDR10+ support, so when you’re watching compatible video such as nature documentaries, it really does seem to be teeming with life and vibrancy. Make no mistake, this is an excellent display that’s right up there with the best of them.
- Brilliant main camera
- Strong telephoto sensor for zoom
- Distorted ultrawide lens
The enormous camera module looms like a black hole on the rear of this device, and for such a design statement to have a chance of working, it simply must back itself in terms of performance. Fortunately, it does exactly that.
There are three main sensors here; a 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 50-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 64-megapixel telephoto sensor. Additionally, there’s a time of flight sensor, and a ‘flicker sensor’. The former determines depth, while the latter detects the frequency of pulsing light so the camera can reduce possible banding effects.
The main camera delivered very strong results, as you can see above, with images that were full of detail yet very natural-looking too, avoiding the over-saturated effect that we often see from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The images are good, appearing to be very balanced and lifelike.
When shooting with Night Mode in darker conditions, some colour is restored to the image; but even without this mode applied, results are still very good.
The ultrawide takes good quality pictures, but with a 122-degree field of view, I didn’t appreciate how distorted the pictures were around the edges, with almost a fish-eye effect at play in the two above photos.
The telephoto sensor was more to my taste, with a 3.5x optical zoom that is then taken further with digital zoom capabilities. I tried this out for these two very unfriendly but colourful geese, which I didn’t want to approach much more closely for fear of a very embarrassing obituary. The 3.5x zoom gave a clear and crisp shot, and I made use of the 10x digital zoom to get even closer, with results being once again very strong and detailed.
The only spec plastered on the module is 100x zoom, which refers to its maximum digital zoom capacity. This seems like Honor has clearly thrown down the gauntlet to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which also boasts this feature. On both of these devices, however, it’s a hollow boast due to the severe loss of detail. My advice would be to stick to 10x zoom, which is still very capable.
The front of the phone has a dual selfie camera, occupying a pill-shaped notch in the top of the screen. This is to house not just the 12-megapixel ultrawide selfie camera, but also a time of flight sensor to assist with a genuine (rather than software-enabled) bokeh effect, which causes the subject to ‘pop’ out of the frame with a blurred background. Whether you choose to apply the bokeh (as above) or not (as below), you’ll find that selfie shots are very good, once again being well-balanced and natural.
If you like shooting video, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can capture 4K footage at 60fps with the main camera, and the results are again very pleasing to the eye.
- Strong benchmark results
- Some app crashes
This handset runs on the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which we’ve previously seen used to great effect on other 2022 flagships like the OnePlus 10 Pro and the Xiaomi 12 Pro among others. This is another statement of intent which puts this phone among the best Android phones you can get, though it’s worth noting that the older A15 and newer A16 Bionic chips found in the latest iPhones still remain peerless as far as performance is concerned. There’s also the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in 2023 flagships that’ll give newer phones the edge in benchmarks, but I very much doubt it’d be noticeable in everyday use.
The benchmarking scores posted by this phone are, as you can see from the table below, undeniably impressive. It more than holds its own among other top-tier handsets from 2022 such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra when compared by CPU performance and GPU performance. The former of these is measured by Geekbench, while the latter is measured by 3D Mark.
It’s also got all the wireless connections you could want, including 5G, dual-band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.2.
However, despite all that, the overall performance was far from perfect.
On start-up, the phone is full of bloatware, including apps such as Booking.com, that I have no intention of ever using, yet clog up the interface. There were also quite a few times when apps crashed, particularly when I’d gone back to them after having them running in the background, which might indicate an overly-aggressive RAM management system.
More importantly, and disappointingly, Honor has only guaranteed a piddly two years of software support after release. This pales in comparison not just to Apple, but even to direct Android rivals such as Samsung, which now offers four years of software updates and five years of security updates. When you’re forking out this much money for a phone, you deserve a much longer software lifespan.
- Strong battery performance
- Incredibly fast wired and wireless charging
The Magic 4 Pro’s rated battery capacity is 4500mAh, which is a little smaller than the 5000mAh you might ideally like to see on the specs sheet for a flagship handset of this calibre. It’s also worth noting that the newer Honor Magic 5 Pro boasts a larger 5100mAh battery in its place. However, I found that even with a small-ish battery, it punches above its weight in this regard – perhaps because of the aforementioned RAM management, and auto-adjusting resolution and refresh rate.
I found that this phone consistently got me through a day of intensive usage, giving me as much as five and a half hours of screen-on time (while streaming music over Bluetooth on top of that). For another point of reference, one hour of Netflix streaming on standard settings saw me lose 7%.
What’s more, when you need to charge it back up again then it offers some of the most stunning fast-charging capabilities in the business. Not only does it pack 100W wired charging, which would be extremely impressive in itself, but it is also capable of charging at exactly that same rate even via wireless charging, when using a compatible charging stand or pad.
I found that this method of charging completely topped up the battery, from drained to 100%, in around half an hour – which is truly incredible. While this is theoretically a major convenience to the user, do bear in mind that you’ll have to pay extra for a charger or wireless charging stand with 100W output; but the charging brick that comes supplied in the box is still nothing to sniff out, giving you 80W charging.
Should you buy it?
You’re looking for a first-rate flagship phone that excels across the board. This handset is powerful, gives you a strong camera, has a great screen, and has good battery life.
You are turned off by the design or software. The divisive design might have some fans, but the measly two-year software support will disappoint everyone.
As Honor’s first “true flagship”, the brand has got off to a very good start with this one – so much so that it remains a tempting option in 2023, especially if you can save a bit of cash on its RRP.
Though it doesn’t undercut its rivals on price, as many other Honor handsets in the range tend to do, it still delivers in all the key areas that you’d want to see from a top-level device, with great camera results, strong performance standards, a great screen, good battery life and outstanding fast charging.
I only have a few reservations about this phone; firstly and most importantly, it guarantees just a measly two years of software updates, which is poor for such an expensive device. Beyond that, I found the software more generally to be a bit irritating, stuffed with bloatware and prone to app crashes, while the design is also not to my tastes.
If you’re looking to spend big bucks on an impressive device such as this then do bear those limits in mind, but I very much doubt you’ll be disappointed in the hardware.
How we test
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Used as main phone for eight days
Tested the camera in various surroundings
Mixture of benchmarks and real-world use
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It’s available in Cyan and Black
It runs on Android 12, with the Magic UI 6 user interface
Yes, it’s IP68 rated, meaning that it can withstand dust, dirt and sand, and is water resistant to submersion, up to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to thirty minutes.
Trusted Reviews test data
mAhAn abbreviation for milliampere-hour and a way to express the capacity of batteries, especially smaller ones in phones. In most cases the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last but this isn’t always the case.
OLED and AMOLEDTypes of displays that use self-lighting pixels to provide greater contrast and more vibrant colours than a typical LCD display, as well as sharper blacks.
5GOffering faster download and upload speeds when compared to 4G. Great for game streaming and HDR video playback. Not supported everywhere yet and speeds vary wildly.
Qi Wireless Charging
The most common format for wireless charging and the one supported by the majority of devices. Charge speeds vary a lot by the phone.