Reviews

HONOR Magic 2 | Full Review


The HONOR Magic 2 is one of the very few smartphones that made a comeback with the return of the slider phone but it isn’t necessarily the same slider mechanism that we remember from back in the days. The Magic 2 is a fascinating device and may as well be one of the trendsetters for smartphone designs in 2019. It has a slider design, six cameras, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, and a notch-free bezel-less display.

How does the Magic 2 fair with daily usage and can the phone withstand the challenges of everyday tasks? Let’s find out in our Honor Magic 2 review.

DESIGN

From the exterior, the HONOR Magic 2 may just look like another average flagship device. It is assembled with glass panels on the front and the rear with a metal frame holding it all together.

The phone feels heavy in the hand but understandably so since the phone consists of two huge slabs, one on top of the other, to enable the sliding magic to happen. With rounded corners, sides, and thinner edges, the Magic 2 was able to maintain its sleek appearance.

HONOR was able to achieve a near bezel-less screen with no notch to be seen and the front facing cameras hidden away, thanks to the butterfly multi-track sliding system. The Magic 2 feels tough and solidly houses the front and back half of the phone into place regardless of whether the phone is opened or closed. The sliding mechanism also prevents the phone from being water and dust resistant. Throughout my review period, dust actually accumulates pretty easily in the areas exposed when the slider is open. I tend to find myself having to wipe the dust off every now and then.

The Magic 2’s body comes in gradient color schemes. The model I’ve been using is the Gradient Black edition and to be honest, it looks more silver than black. The Magic 2 also comes in red and blue variants. Moving from the top half to bottom half of the phone, the  back of Gradient Black model presents a bright silver color to a dark blue color. The gradient color is gorgeous and eye-catching. However, the reflective back makes the Magic 2 a hardcore fingerprint magnet. Just minutes into holding the phone, the back of the phone is already covered with my fingerprints. The camera lenses on the back which protrudes out are also a magnet for dust and just as difficult to keep clean. Personally, I prefer using the Magic 2 with the included aluminium alloy back cover.

DISPLAY

What you’ll see from taking a glance at the Magic 2 is the large 6.39” Full-View 2,340 x 1,080 AMOLED display with thin bezels surrounding all sides. Again, the device has no notch, giving users the fullscreen experience with no cutout whatsoever. The display is just gorgeous and colors are pretty vibrant. Browsing content on this display has been enjoyable and text are easily readable. Viewing angles aren’t bad but rather fantastic. The screen is sharp and crisp AF. Outdoor visibility also was not an issue as it gets plenty bright to comfortably see in under direct sunlight.


HARDWARE

The hardware on the Magic 2 is nothing out of the ordinary. There is a USB Type-C port and a single speaker at the bottom. The Magic 2 does not come with a headphone jack which is why the adapter was included in the box. The device does not have wireless charging and micro SD card expansion but the Magic 2 does offer internal storage of either 128GB or 256GB. The Magic 2 also does not have a proper IP6 waterproof certification.

You won’t see a physical fingerprint sensor on the Magic 2 but you will find a in-display fingerprint sensor underneath the screen. There is a small area of the display that is illuminated with what appears to be a fingerprint graphic to indicate where to place your finger to unlock the device properly. Although the in-display fingerprint on the Magic 2 looks cool and futuristic, there is a noticeable slowness and inconsistency when unlocking the device which is inherently common in all in-display fingerprint sensors. It may not be frustratingly horrid to use, per se, but when compared to a standard physical fingerprint sensor, it just isn’t as good. Understandably so as this technology is still in its early stages and will improve substantially over time (fingers crossed).


SOFTWARE

The Honor Magic 2 comes with the latest Android 9.0 Pie with Magic UI 2.0 on top. Well, Magic UI is essentially the same interface as EMUI which is found on other Honor/Huawei devices. The only difference is that it has been rebranded for the Magic 2. So if you’ve used EMUI before, then everything should feel familiar on the Magic 2. But if you’re not really a fan of EMUI, well, the Magic 2 won’t do much to convince you otherwise.


Under the hood of the Magic UI 2.0, you can find Honor’s very own AI assistant called “YOYO.” YOYO is a machine-learning capable AI assistant and is said to have mind-reading capabilities, which sounds a bit odd at first. Unfortunately, I was not able to test this feature, as YOYO currently only understands Mandarin which makes sense since the Magic 2 was only marketed in China. You’ll shouldn’t be surprised to find many Chinese applications pre-installed on the device too.

PERFORMANCE

The HONOR Magic 2 doesn’t lack behind in performance as well since it shares the same chipset with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – the Kirin 980 paired with 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM. The Kirin 980 is one of the most powerful chipsets on the market, so it shouldn’t come a surprise that the Magic 2 fairs pretty well in benchmarks and real-world use.

Multitasking was a breeze. Launching applications was swift. Browsing through the UI is a buttery smooth experience. Gaming on the Magic 2 was also great. Throughout the time spent with the Magic 2, I was able to test popular mobile games such as PUBG Mobile. Safe to say, it did not disappoint. Graphics were great and graphic settings were automatically set to HIGH. Frame rates were consistent. I did not notice any frame rate drops.

As for battery life performance, I must say I am quite impressed. Although the 3,400mAh battery may not be as huge as other flagship devices, it is more than sufficient for the HONOR Magic 2.

A combination of browsing social media, occasional gaming, reading emails, texting, taking pictures, and watching YouTube on the Magic 2 lasted me through a full day without having to reach for a charger or power bank. Screen-on time is about four to five hours which should be more than enough for most users out there.

The HONOR Magic 2 also comes with a 40W fast charger in the box. I absolutely love the supercharging and I have found it to be a life saver at times. A short 15-minute charge will give your battery a 50% charge. I always find myself leaving the phone for a quick charge when the battery drops to around 20% or 30% and coming back to collect the phone (after a toilet break). Supercharging FTW.

CAMERA

The Magic 2 has a total of 6 sensors. Yes, 6 sensors with three on the front and three on the back but not all of them are even directly usable when taking a regular photo or a selfie. On the back, the primary camera is a 16 megapixel f/1.8 lens, accompanied by a 16-megapixel wide angle sensor and a 24-megapixel monochrome sensor which is used for capturing black and white photos and portrait mode photography. The wide angle sensor really came in handy as there were countless times that I wasn’t able to capture the entire scene without moving back. With the wide angle lens, I was able to do that with ease.

The main front-facing camera is also a 16 MP sensor, surrounded by two additional 2 MP cameras. Only the main sensor is used for taking photos whereas the 2 MP sensors are used for portrait mode, portrait mode lighting effects, and 3D facial unlocking.


The 3D facial unlock feature works exceptionally well and extremely fast. It is almost as fast as the traditional slide-to-unlock on older devices. I find myself unlocking the Magic 2 via face unlock more than the in-display fingerprint sensor. Sliding the phone down reveals the camera, and the phone unlocks instantaneously. This is definitely a much more secure option for unlocking the Magic 2, and it’s much faster and more reliable than the in-display fingerprint sensor.

Both the cameras on the front and the back utilizes the Kirin 980’s NPU to integrate AI scene recognition. The AI scene recognition allows the camera to recognize scenes and objects such as people, food, plants, landscapes, animals, and more. The image that is taken will then be adjusted accordingly for best results. The AI scene recognition does makes a difference in the way the images look, however, it isn’t necessarily noticeable in every occasion. In some cases, you might prefer the photos without the AI enhancements. I recommend keeping it off if you prefer editing your images manually after taking them.

Here’s how the 3 different lenses help to capture the same photo in very different ways.

A collection of images taken with the Magic 2 during these 2 months of use.

SPECS

HONOR Magic 2
Display6.39 inches Magic FullView AMOLED~84.8% screen-to-body ratio1080 x 2340 pixels19.5:9 ratio403 ppi density
OSAndroid 9.0 with Magic UI 2.0
ChipsetHiSilicon Kirin 980
CPUOcta-core (2×2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2×1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)Dual NPU
GPUMali-G76 MP10
RAM6GB/8GBLPDDR4X
Storage128GB/256GBNon-expandable/No microSD expansion
Battery3,400mAh40 W SuperChargeNo wireless charging
Rear CamerasMain: 16MP f/1.8 sensorSecond: 16MP f/2.2 ultra wide angle sensorThird: 24MP f/1.8 monochrome sensor
Front CamerasMain: 16MP f/2.0 sensorSecond: 2MP f/2.4 sensorThird: 2MP f/2.4 sensor
ConnectivityWi-FI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4Ghz/5GhzBluetooth 5.0Dual frequency GPSGlonassBeidouGalileoQZSSNFCUSB Type-C
AudioNo 3.5mm headphone jack
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Dimensions and weight157.32 x 75.13 x 8.3mm206g
ColorsBlack, Blue, Red

CONCLUSION

Here’s a brief recap on what the Magic 2 has to offer. A notch free display, 6 cameras, an in-display fingerprint sensor, a beautiful AMOLED display and slider design offer a wonderful and unique hardware experience. It also performs much better than its competitors providing competitive performance, a more robust mechanism, and an overload of choices.

However, with a few perks comes a few quirks. From the lack of water resistance to the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack to the lack of an option to use the sliding mechanism for anything else, the HONOR Magic 2 is the closest device in making your ideal phone dream come true.

The unfortunate part is that HONOR has no plans to release the Magic 2 in Malaysia or elsewhere (at the time of writing). So it won’t be easy getting your hands on the device. Once again, we would like to thank HONOR Malaysia for sending us this sliding beauty of a review unit.

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