Honor since splitting from Huawei has launched a good number of devices to expand its portfolio. The brand is trying to find its feet post its separation from Huawei in November 2020. The latest to enter the fray are three devices from its Magic series, the Honor Magic3, Magic3 Pro and Magic3 Pro Plus.
All three devices were announced on an August 12 event but at the time of writing, the Magic3 Pro is the only device to have seen an official launch while the least and most powerful variants are scheduled for a September 2021 launch.
With Huawei struggling to stay afloat between US sanctions and refusal by Google to allow them to use their services, it was quite logical for Honor to head for a separate kitchen or risk a ban themselves. The decision then frowned by many has reaped the benefits as Goole Play Services is available in all Honor devices. Let’s look at what the Magic3 series has to offer.
The reason to not approach the specifications of each device separately is that a lot of hardware is common in these devices, the Display being the first of them. All three devices sport the same 6.76-inch super curved OLED display that supports a billion colours and comes with a 1334 x 2772-pixel resolution. They have the exact 94.9 percent screen-to-body ratios and 456ppi. The PPI count is a little on the low side given that the devices are being marketed as flagships by Honor.
The display is HDR10+ compliant and comes with a rather modest 120Hz refresh rate. Just enough we would say when comparing with other flagships. The display size comes with a 18.5:9 aspect ratio which means the screen is taller than it is wider with slim bezels on either sides. The physical dimensions of the phone are similar to a device sporting a 5.5-inch screen and an aspect ratio of 16:9.
- 6.76-inch flexible OLED
- DCI-P3 wide colour gamut
- HDR10+ certification
- Colour accuracy DeltaE<0.8
- 1920Hz high frequency PWM eye protective
- TÜV Rheinland eye comfort certification
A standout feature available with the Magic3 series is Honor’s tie-up with IMAX Enhanced that would bring DTS audio-enabled 4K HDR content to be played on the HDR10+ enabled screens. This is surely a pathbreaking move as the Magic3 series becomes the first smartphone to support such a high resolution and premium format.
In terms of design, each smartphone brings something new to the table that’s better than its sibling. The Magic3 comes in four different colours. The Golden and Blue coloured variants come with a vegan leather finish and are expected to cost more when launched. There is a premium feel offered from the textured leather. The other two variants are simple Black and White coloured units with glass bodies. The Magic3 Pro ditches the Blue variant and would be available in just three colours. The Magic3 Pro Plus ditches both the vegan leather variants all together for a ceramic back that is laser engraved for a multi-textured finish. The Pro Plus comes in Ceramic Black and White colours, see image below.
At the back, we see the camera modules in a circular format labeled Eye of the Muse by Honor. The front is dominated by selfie cameras on the left corner and extremely thin bezels that house the earpiece speakers. The right edge houses all the necessary physical buttons and the fingerprint sensor is located under the display. At the bottom edge, you can see another set of speakers completing the stereo set-up, the USB Type C 2.0 charging port that also serves as the audio out port and the sim tray. Camera modules protrude out of the back panel especially with the Pro Plus variant and the company aptly provides a leatherette case to save the device from occasional bumps.
Honor has opted for peak performance using Qualcomm’s most powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset in the Magic3 and Snapdragon 888 Plus in the Magic3 Pro and Pro Plus variant. Although the chipsets are nothing new and seen in many flagships, Honor has leveraged more performance from these units with some software tweaks at targeted areas such as OS Turbo X meant for faster general performance, GPU Turbo X for enhanced gaming performance and Link Turbo X for an overall snappier internet and connection speed.
All three devices come with Android 11 out of the box with Honor’s Magic UI 5 skin on top. The main difference between the chipsets would be the primary Kryo 680 core performing at a slightly lower 2.84GHz in the Snapdragon 888 in comparison to 2.99GHz of Snapdragon 888+. However, the real-world usage difference should be negligible between the two chipsets during both regular use and gaming.
Speaking of gaming, all three Magic3 phones use Adreno 660 that offers excellent performance in games. However, with a lack of Touch Sampling data, it is not hard to imagine that the flagships are not gaming focussed and are best suited only for leisure gaming.
If there is something every device in the Magic3 series excels in, it is the imagery front. This is the same front where the devices differ most from each other. All Magic3 devices offer breakthrough multi-camera computational photography with cinematic video recording. Everything captured is AI-powered. The ultra-pixel embedded 50MP wide main sensor is common across the three devices in the line-up and works beautifully in tandem with ultra-wide angle, telephoto and monochrome lenses to produces professional grade Super HD images.
The Magic3 comes with a triple camera setup at the rear and a single-front snapper. The rear module consists of a 50 MP Wide primary sensor with an f/1.9 aperture and omnidirectional auto-focus, a 64 MP Monochrome sensor with f/1.8 aperture and a final 13 MP, 120-degree Ultrawide sensor with f/2.2 aperture. At the front, there is a 13MP, 100-degree Ultrawide sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The rear camera manages 4K video recording at 30/60fps with gyro-supported Electronic Image Stabilization. The front camera can do Full HD video recording at 30fps.
The biggest difference between the standard Magic3 and Magic3 Pro smartphones is the addition of two extra sensors for the rear camera setup switching from triple camera setup to 5 camera setup with 3.5 optical zoom for up to 10x hybrid zoom and depth sensor. And, just when you think, that is plenty for optics, the Pro Plus handsets switches up the 120-degree Ultrawide sensor to 126-degree Ultrawide sensor with phase detection auto-focus.
The Magic3 Pro takes the game a notch higher by adding a 64 MP Telephoto sensor (periscope) with an f/3.5 aperture and adds Optical Image Stabilization with 3.5x optical zoom and 10x hybrid zoom (lossless) into the already impressive mix of the Magic3. Expect extremely stable shots with better detailing on zoomed images including up to 100x digital zoom and telephoto picture-in-picture support. Also added to the mix is the revolutionary Time of Flight 3D sensor for depth sensing. The improvements allow professional-grade videography on the Magic3 Pro. Video capture parameters however remain the same with all three devices in the line-up. The same depth sensor is added to the selfie snapper for better front camera imagery although video capturing parameters remain constant across the line-up.
Finally, when you are already salivating at the prospects of owning a flagship camera of Magic3 Pro, you are taken aback by the penta-sensor setup of the Magic3 Pro Plus. The 13MP Ultrawide sensors is swapped for a 64MP 126-degree Ultrawide sensor with phase detection auto-focus. This specifically brings in professional videography to Hollywood levels with 3D LUT, AI scene identification. The same sensor also support HD Macro photography for more ways to shoot stills. The Pro Plus shares the same front camera set-up as the Pro version. As more samples come out post the launch of the two other variants, we would get to know more about the exemplary capabilities of the Magic3 series’ camera.
Some of the promotional photos taken with Honor Magic3 Pro and Pro Plus.
Battery, Storage and Connectivity
The smartphones come with a variety of storage and RAM combinations to choose from with the storage capacity ranging between 128GB and 512GB. None of the devices offer expandable memory slots. Battery capacity is the same for all the devices, a non-removable fast charging supported 4600 mAh battery. The devices come with a 66W fast charger while wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are supported only in the Magic3 Pro and Pro Plus.
The smartphones are equipped with all the necessary sensors and come with Ultra-Wideband support. In terms of wireless connectivity, there is dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 with LE and aptX HD support for lossless audio transmission. NFC finds its way but radio and infrared support is missing.
As far as pricing is concerned the Magic3 should be made available around a 900 Euro price point while the Magic3 Pro is currently retailing at around 1100 Euros. Expect the highest speced Magic3 Pro Plus to be available for 1500 Euros.
The Magic3 series from Honor are flagship devices with a lot of similarities between them but it’s the photography section where each excels over the other. The new flagships come with excellent imagery and cinematic videography capabilities. They are splash and dust resistant thanks to an IP54 rating on the Magic3 and IP68 rating on the Magic3 Pro and Pro Plus. The company promises 1 major Android update over the currently installed Android 11 which is underwhelming in comparison to other flagships but the features offered in the Magic3 series offer good value for money.