Android Central Verdict
The Magic 5 Pro has a gorgeous design that is sure to turn heads, and it is rocking the latest hardware, bringing it on par with the best phones available today. You also get a vibrant screen that's one of the brightest around, excellent battery life with fast wired and wireless charging, and all the extras you could want. The three 50MP cameras at the back take outstanding shots in any lighting situation, and there's just one issue with this phone: the software. I don't like the lack of refinement here, and MagicOS 7.1 doesn't do enough to integrate all the latest features Google introduced in Android. That said, if you need an alternative to what Samsung and Xiaomi have to offer in this category, you'll find that there's a lot to like.
Trio of 50MP cameras take outstanding photos
Excellent battery life with fast charging
All the extras you need
Software isn't as refined as rivals
Why you can trust Android Central
The last Honor device I used with any regularity was the Honor 10. It had a striking iridescent pattern at the back, a decent set of cameras, and the software had plenty of customizability.
But Huawei's trade ban affected Honor just as much, and the brand withdrew from most global markets. Thankfully, Honor divested itself from Huawei back in 2020 and became its own entity, and it has managed to release a slate of interesting products — including the Magic Vs foldable — and is slowly amassing lost market share.
The Magic 5 Pro is Honor's latest offering, and it goes up against the best Android phones. It has the latest Qualcomm silicon, a stunning design that will grab attention, a high-quality AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh, and a trio of 50MP cameras at the back. With the device now available in the U.K. and other western markets, let's take a look at what you're getting here, and whether you should consider it over the likes of what Samsung, OPPO, and Xiaomi are offering.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Price and availability
Honor unveiled the Magic 5 Pro at Mobile World Congress on February 27, and the phone is now up for sale in global markets. While Honor has divested itself from Huawei and sells phones that run Google Mobile Services out of the box, the brand isn't quite ready to make a return to North America just yet, so you won't be able to buy this phone in the region. That said, the Magic 5 Pro is available in the U.K. for £949 ($1,182), and it is in line with the likes of the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Galaxy S23+.
The variant sold in the U.K. comes with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage, and Honor also has the Magic 5 Pro available with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. In its home market, the device is sold in 8GB/256GB, and 16GB/512GB variants as well.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Design
Honor clearly didn't miss the memo regarding large camera housings, and like its Chinese brethren, the brand went with an oversized camera island at the back. The circular island is massive and takes up a sizeable chunk of size, but to its credit, Honor did a good job with the design — it doesn't feel quite as busy as the housing on the OnePlus 11.
What's particularly interesting is the way the camera island rises out of the chassis; the effect is quite similar to that of the Find X5 Pro, and I like it quite a bit. Another key attraction at the back is the choice of color. The Magic 5 Pro is available in Black and Meadow Green variants, and the latter looks downright gorgeous. The frosted glass finish brings out the richness of the hue, and it ensures the device doesn't pick up any smudges.
Like other flagships, the Magic 5 Pro follows a dual-curved design, but the curves at the back and front are minimal, so there's more than enough room on the mid-frame to hold the device comfortably. The device has flatter sides at the top and bottom, and you'll find the SIM card tray at the bottom, the power and volume buttons on the right, and there's even an IR blaster. As you'd imagine, the mid-frame is made out of aluminum, and the in-hand feel is excellent.
The only thing I would have changed is the texture; the mid-frame has a glossy finish, and I feel like a matte texture here would have elevated the design, while complementing the finish at the back. Regardless, the device looks and feels every bit as premium as other flagships. I was worried about the weight distribution considering the oversized camera island at the back, but Honor did a good job balancing the weight, and while it is on the heavier side at 219g, it doesn't feel unwieldy in the least.
The best part is that the Magic 5 Pro features the same level of ingress protection as the best Android phones; you get IP68 dust and water resistance as standard here, and that's great to see. Overall, Honor nailed the design brief, and the large camera housing combined with the striking Meadow Green color option makes the Magic 5 Pro stand out just that bit more against its rivals.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Screen
The front of the Magic 5 Pro is different to just about every other device I've used in 2023, and that's down to the pill-sized camera cutout that houses two modules. All other brands have switches to a single camera at the front, but Honor bundles a time-of-flight sensor for biometric authentication in addition to a 12MP front camera, and the cutout is located to the left.
The cutout is wider than I'd like, and while there's still adequate room for status icons to show up to the right, Honor could have done a better job with the layout — a centered design makes more sense with such a wide cutout, because there's screen real estate being wasted to the left of it as well.
That said, it isn't quite as distracting after a few days of use, and to its credit, Honor did well to shrink the bezels; the top and bottom bezels are among the thinnest you'll find, and the side bezels are only marginally wider.
As for the screen itself, you're getting a 6.81-inch OLED with a resolution of 2848 x 1312 and 120Hz refresh, and Honor touts 1300 nits of brightness in auto mode, going up to 1800 nits for HDR content. The screen has 2160Hz PWM dimming that's activated when the brightness goes under a threshold, and there's a blue light filter mode that enables warmer hues at night to reduce eye strain.
The screen has excellent color vibrancy and contrast levels out of the box, and there's plenty of customizability when it comes to tweaking the colors. The Vivid mode is enabled out of the box, and the Normal mode automatically switches between sRGB and DCI P3 based on the content being shown on the screen.
You can manually adjust the resolution and refresh, and similar to other flagships, you'll find LTPO tech here, with the device able to go down to 1Hz for static content. I had zero issues with brightness levels even under intense sunlight, and the Magic 5 Pro held its own against the S23 Ultra in this regard.
The Magic 5 Pro gets stereo sound as well, and it is loud and detailed. It's more than adequate for playing the occasional podcast or gaming, and there's no harshness even when you turn up the volume.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Performance and battery
The bar is very high this year when it comes to hardware, and thankfully, Honor hasn't omitted any features. The device is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and it the global variant has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. As is the case with all the other Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones available today, the Magic 5 Pro does an outstanding job in just about any situation — whether that's mundane tasks like browsing or playing visually demanding games.
You also get all the efficiency benefits Qualcomm baked into its latest silicon, and when it comes to performance, you'll find zero issues here — there's no lag anywhere, high-end games run without any stutter, and overheating isn't a problem. That said, the phone tends to be a bit more aggressive when it comes to throttling the cores versus some of the other 8 Gen 2-based devices I've used this year.
|Honor Magic 5 Pro
|MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
|6.81-inch 120Hz OLED (2848 x 1312), LTPO
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 1 x 3.2GHz Cortex X3, 2 x 2.8GHz Cortex A715, 2 x 2.8GHz Cortex A710, 3 x 2.0GHz Cortex A510, Adreno 740, 4nm
|256GB, 512GB UFS 4.0
|Rear camera 1
|50MP f/1.6 1.4um pixels, OIS, 4K at 60fps
|Rear camera 2
|50MP f/2.2 wide-angle, 122-degree FoV, autofocus
|Rear camera 3
|50MP f/3.0 telephoto, OIS, 3.5x optical zoom
|Front camera 1
|12MP f/2.4 1.22um pixels, 100-degree FoV
|Front camera 2
|IP68 dust and water resistance
|Global Sub-6 5G bands, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
|In-screen optical fingerprint module, secure face unlock
|Stereo sound, USB-C, 24-bit/192kHz audio
|5100mAh battery, 66W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
|162.9 x 76.7 x 8.8mm, 219g
|Meadow Green, Black
Continuing with the hardware, the Magic 5 Pro comes with global 5G bands, so even though the device isn't sold in select parts of the world, it will connect to most mobile networks — as long as they're leveraging Sub-6 connectivity. There's also Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, and you get NFC, global GPS connectivity, and the AptX HD codec.
Interestingly, Honor says it is using a new antenna architecture that reduces interference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and in my use, and I didn't see any issues with wireless connectivity when using the likes of the Nothing Ear (2) with the device. That said, this hasn't been a problem in general.
As for security, there's a standard in-screen optical module located underneath the screen, and while it is fast to authenticate, it is placed a bit too low on the screen, so you'll need to do some maneuvering to unlock the device if you're using it one-handed. That said, the fact that you get secure face unlock means that's the option most users would use (myself included).
Face unlock is incredibly fast, and it works unerringly even in situations with little to no ambient light. The fact that isn't based on software and uses the hardware ToF module gives Honor an edge in this area.
Switching to battery life, you'll find a 5100mAh battery under the hood, and the phone offers 66W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. Thankfully, Honor includes a 66W charger in the box, and it takes just under 18 minutes to hit a 50% charge. A full charge takes 52 minutes, and while it isn't quite as fast as the likes of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, it handily beats anything by Samsung and Google.
Battery life itself is terrific, and I routinely got well over a day's worth of use from the Magic 5 Pro. This will be a familiar narrative if you've read other reviews of devices featuring Qualcomm's latest silicon, and the efficiency gains of the 8 Gen 2 combined with the massive battery means you'll never have to worry about running out of power before the day's out.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Cameras
Honor rolled out a significant camera upgrade with the Magic 5 Pro, and the phone sports a trio of 50MP cameras — similar to Xiaomi. Sure, you don't get a crazy 1-inch module here, but the camera hardware is definitely on par with its immediate rivals. The main 50MP f/1.6 lens has OIS, and it's joined by a 50MP f/2.0 wide-angle with a 122-degree field of view, and a 50MP f/3.0 telephoto with OIS and 3.5x optical zoom.
The camera interface is nearly identical to what you'll find on most other phones; you get the shooting modes laid out in a ribbon at the bottom, and there are toggles for the various lenses, flash, timer, beauty effects, and AI-assisted scene detection. An interesting addition is the ability to track motion; the phone does a decent job locking in on a moving subject and ensuring it is in focus.
The phone shoots 4K video at 60fps, but it isn't available on the wide-angle lens — a curious omission considering most other phones in this category now offer this feature as standard across all cameras. It holds up pretty well for 4K video thanks to decent stabilization, but there is noticeable grain in low-light scenarios.
As for photos, the main camera shoots 12MP stills, and the photos are predictably outstanding. You get plenty of detail and dynamic range, with saturated colors that look fabulous and great contrast levels. The phone is definitely on par with the S23+ and the Xiaomi 13 Pro in this area, and it excels in a variety of shooting situations.
The wide-angle lens also does a great job in all scenarios, and you get the same color balance as the main lens. The zoom lens does a great job up to 3.5x, and while there's a 10x mode on the device that uses digital zoom, it introduces a lot of noise.
The Magic 5 Pro holds up incredibly well in low-light situations as well, delivering shots with plenty of detail and minimal noise levels. It had issues with focusing at times, but there's a focus lock feature, and shots in general had decent highlight management and color retention.
Overall, the camera system on the Magic 5 Pro is on par with its Chinese rivals — Honor did a great job with the tuning.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Software
If there's one area Honor needs to fix right now, it would be the software. The Magic 5 Pro runs MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13, and there's nothing magical about the interface. The overall look and feel of the UI feels dated, and it is lacking the refinement that's offered by the likes of One UI and ColorOS.
Honor's first-party apps look like they're designed for Android 10, and there's no Material You influence here. The notification pane has round toggles and shows notifications in a unified view, and it could also do with a visual refresh. The overview menu scrolls horizontally and has a card-based interface, and dismissing apps has an animation straight out of the Holo era — a lot of work is needed here.
You also won't find Gboard installed out of the box, and Honor continues to offer its own phone dialer in lieu of Google's own. Thankfully, setting up the phone proved to be just as seamless as other phones — I was able to transfer data from my old Android phone (an S23 Ultra) over to the Magic 5 Pro without any hassle.
I initially wrote that the device will get two platform updates, but Honor has clarified that the Magic 5 Pro will receive three Android OS updates and five years of security patches, bringing it on par with Xiaomi and Google. Samsung and BBK brands still offer four Android OS updates, but three guaranteed updates is a great start, and it ultimately makes the phone much more desirable.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: The competition
It's a strong year for Android hardware, and there's an exhaustive selection of products available in this category. I like the Xiaomi 13 Pro quite a bit; the design is evocative, and Xiaomi did a brilliant job with the hardware. The cameras are also the best on a Xiaomi phone to date, with the brand using a large 1-inch module for the main lens and offering a much better tuning. You'll need to shell out £100 ($125) more than the Magic 5 Pro, but it is worth it.
Of course, the Galaxy S23+ is also a viable alternative if you want long-term software updates. The phone isn't too different to its predecessor, but you still get a good design, outstanding cameras, great battery life, and just about the best internal hardware of any phone today. Plus, Samsung's One UI is one of the best Android interfaces, and you get an exhaustive level of customizability.
Honor Magic 5 Pro: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a phone with a gorgeous design
- You need the latest Qualcomm hardware
- You want water resistance and fast wired and wireless charging
- You need standout cameras
- You're looking for a device that lasts over a day with ease
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You need refined software
- You want a phone to use in North America
After using the Honor Magic Vs earlier in the year and now the Magic 5 Pro, it's clear to me that Honor got a lot right on the hardware side of things. The Magic 5 Pro's design is exquisite, and it has the same caliber of hardware as the best that Android has to offer at the moment. The same is true for the cameras as well; the device has versatile cameras that take stunning photos in just about any scenario. The Magic 5 Pro also does a stellar job with battery life, and the vibrant OLED panel is among the brightest available today.
Where things aren't so rosy is the software. MagicOS 7.1 has a few good things going for it, but it just doesn't feel as refined as its Chinese rivals. There's still too much overt customization, and the interface is in need of an overhaul. I'm glad that Honor is offering three Android OS updates as standard, as the hardware is clearly built to last at least four years or more without any issues.
Ultimately, it's the software that's holding the Magic 5 Pro back. There's a lot of potential though, and if Honor plays its cards right on the UI front, it can manage to carve out a niche for itself — the hardware is really exciting. More than anything else, it's a viable alternative to Samsung, Xiaomi, and Google in key global markets, and that's always a good thing.
The Magic 5 Pro combines a gorgeous design with fabulous hardware and a phenomenal camera package, and if you need a phone that will turn heads, this is a great option.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
Loving my 5 Pro. Makes my pixel 7 Pro feel dated.Reply
My only concern going in was the software.
It's as good as any other tbh. No better or worse than oneui or pixel UI. Just different.
My main gripes early doors are - no universal swipe down for control centre/notifications. It has to be done from the top of the screen. Similar with swipe up for app drawer. From the bottom only.
It should be said that issues have already been addressed in the Chinese version of magic os 7.1 . So hopefully they are in the post. Also Nova et al solves.
Any other magic 5 pro users in the house?