Honor Magic 5 Pro Review: Needs a Bit More Magic
April 6, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Update 6 April, 4PM: Honor Malaysia just revealed the local pricing of the Magic 5 Pro. The flagship phone retails at RM4,299, and the review has been updated to reflect this.

The Honor Magic 5 Pro is set to be launched in Malaysia sometime in April next month. Ahead of its local debut, I got to test out the phone extensively as my daily driver. For the most part, it’s a really good high-end smartphone – perhaps Honor’s best flagship phone to date.

However, Honor’s old habits are still very much present on the Magic 5 Pro. Its software experience isn’t particularly polished, and the phone’s much touted triple camera system…could use some work. But overall, I did enjoy using the Magic 5 Pro over the past few weeks, even if I’m not a big fan of MagicOS.

What It Is

Display6.81-inch LTPO OLED (2848 x 1312), 120Hz adaptive
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 3.19GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 740
Storage512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.6, OIS
50MP f/2.0 (ultra-wide)
50MP f/3.0 (periscope telephoto), 3.5x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom, OIS
Camera (front)12MP f/2.4
5,100mAh with 66W SuperCharge charging
Dimensions162.9 x 76.7 x 8.77 mm
OSMagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax/be (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C

Powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the Magic 5 Pro offers performance level befitting of a flagship phone. It also has a rather sophisticated triple camera system with up to 100x digital zoom, though not all of its sensors offer the best image quality – more on this further down the review.

But when it comes to battery life, the Magic 5 Pro is a very long-lasting smartphone, thanks to its 5,100mAh battery and power efficiency. It’s good to see that the phone has an IP68 rating as well, which is really a feature all flagship smartphones should have.

The Good Stuff

I’m quite a fan of the Magic 5 Pro’s design. Yes, the huge circular camera module protrudes out of the phone rather awkwardly – and the dual curved display is not ergonomically-friendly – but I do think it has a unique aesthetic with a nice matte finish on the back cover of this Meadow Green colour option.

A couple of my friends were actually intrigued by the looks of the phone, though I suspect it’s because of the large, circular camera module, for better or worse.

Since we’re already talking about the camera of the Magic 5 Pro, let’s get to the camera performance of the phone. For the most part, I do like photographing with the triple camera system. The interface is relatively responsive – even if it does stutter in more challenging lighting situations – and the end results look great in a variety of shooting conditions.

That being said, this is mostly applicable to the Magic 5 Pro’s 50MP main sensor. The 50MP ultra-wide camera and 50MP periscope telephoto lens do perform well under good lighting, but in low light conditions, they start showing their limits. I’ll further elaborate on this in the following section. In the meantime, take a look at these good-looking shots taken with the phone:

And then we have the Magic 5 Pro’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which provides a fast, responsive user experience. Throughout my time with the phone, there’s no hint of any slowdown, but it does show its limits in graphically demanding games like Genshin Impact. With the frame rate set to 60fps at maxed out graphics settings, there’s noticeably stuttering, though I can still get a smooth gameplay by just tweaking the settings a little bit.

Further enhancing the gaming experience of the Magic 5 Pro is its 6.81-inch 2848 x 1312 LTPO OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The high refresh rate lends to very smooth-looking animations – thanks to the extra frames – and the panel itself is great with bright, vibrant colours and wide viewing angles.

That being said, the default white balance is a bit too warm for my liking, though it’s easily adjustable from the settings.

Another absolutely amazing aspect of the Magic 5 Pro is its sheer longevity. The 5,100mAh battery can last me well over a day of use, and on certain days, I can even get nine hours of screen on time. This is very impressive, and I reckon some folks can get up to two days of use on a single charge.

The Bad Stuff

Honor put a lot of emphasis on the camera of the Magic 5 Pro, which is probably why I’m quite let down with the overall performance of the phone’s triple camera array. Yes, the 50MP primary shooter can take great shots, but the 50MP ultra-wide and 50MP periscope telephoto lenses leave much to be desired.

Judge for yourself with these sample shots:

Given ample lighting, both sensors can deliver good shots, but they struggle to deliver in low light conditions. Noise is very apparent, detail preservation takes a hit, and shutter speed slows down considerably too. Granted, with some effort, the two sensors can still take good shots, but they don’t feel “effortless” to photograph with.

Beyond that, there’s the software experience of the Magic 5 Pro. While MagicOS 7.1 feels relatively lightweight, it is also…quirky, to put it into word. The notification shade, for example, cannot be opened by swiping down on the home screen. On top of that, there’s also no key shortcut to quickly launch the camera.

I’ve tried double clicking on both the power button and volume rocker to summon the camera, and both methods didn’t work. There’s no option to enable it in the settings either.

But the biggest software issue I encountered throughout my time with the Magic 5 Pro is the fact that Netflix suddenly stopped working on my review unit, though my colleague’s unit didn’t have this problem. While this could be an isolated case, it’s still worth mentioning.

Is It Worth It?

Retailing at RM4,299, the Honor Magic 5 Pro is a decent buy, especially if you want a fast flagship phone with very, very long battery life and respectable camera performance. It is not quite a segment-leader – in my opinion – but it doesn’t cost quite as much either, which is good.

There’s no denying that Honor has come a long way since its inception back in 2013, and its range of flagship smartphones have only gotten better over the years. The Magic 5 Pro shows how much the brand has grown, even if it’s not a class-leading phone that can demand a premium price tag.

With that in mind, the Magic 5 Pro does somewhat stand out in the highly competitive smartphone market – especially in the flagship segment – with its value proposition. It may not offer the best value for money or user experience, but it’s still a phone I enjoyed using as my daily driver.