Honor Magic 4 Pro back in hand

Honor Magic 4 Pro review: Obsoletely fabulous

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is a powerhouse smartphone at a competitive price, but for every one thing it does right, there’s an equally frustrating caveat.

The Honor Magic 4 Pro made its original appearance at Mobile World Congress 2022 and is now heading into European consumers’ hands. Boasting a smorgasbord of high-end specifications, Honor’s “Eye of Muse” camera array, and a price that slightly undercuts the industry’s premium players, there’s a great deal of promise here. The Magic 4 Pro is also Honor’s first flagship to retail outside of China since the brand’s split with Huawei. Hence, perhaps, why Honor has gone all out to cram all of its showcase technology into this phone. Importantly, it comes complete with Google app and service support, unlike current Huawei handsets. So let’s dive into Android Authority’s Honor Magic 4 Pro review to see if Honor’s 2022 flagship is worth picking up.

What you need to know about the Honor Magic 4 Pro

Honor Magic 4 Pro wireless charging dock

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Honor Magic 4 Pro (8GB/256GB): £949 / €1,099
  • Honor Magic 4 Pro (12GB/512GB): TBC

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is packed full of flagship features by any comparison. Key talking points include a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6, 5G capabilities, and a humongous 6.81-inch 120Hz LTPO display. Speaking of 5G, the handset supports sub-6GHz bands but no mmWave networking (typical for a non-US phone). All in all, this is a very competitive setup for a premium-tier 2022 smartphone.

There’s a selection of more unique features onboard too. Honor’s latest flagship packs a reasonable 4,600mAh battery that charges with a blistering 100W of power through your choice of wired or wireless accessories. A triple camera package comprises 50 megapixel primary and ultrawide image sensors, a 64MP periscope camera with a 3.5x optical zoom, laser autofocus, and a dedicated flicker sensor. A very competitive setup once again, but the on-paper specifications aren’t quite as robust as Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra photography powerhouse, a phone with which this directly competes. We’ve given the Honor Magic 4 Pro camera its own section because there’s a lot to talk about — skip down the page for our deep dive.

Other notable features include an IP68 rating against water and dust ingress, an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, 3D face unlocking, dual TEE OS, and an independent security chipset. Stereo speakers flank the top and bottom of the handset, though they lack bass and the bottom-firing speaker is easily blocked. The phone ships with Honor’s Magic UI 6 interface based on Android 12. Honor plans for two years of OS and security updates, the latter being far less than virtually every other company offers to date. The Magic 4 Pro falls well short of the industry standard of three OS and four years of security, and even further behind Google and Samsung, which take the latter to five years. Honor notes that it’s in the process of reviewing its update policy and may revise it as the handset rolls out globally.

You have a choice of black, white, gold, and cyan colorways for the glass model, although UK customers are limited to cyan and black. There’s also a vegan leather version available in orange. The Honor Magic 4 Pro will be available to pre-order in the UK from May 14 and in selected regions across the rest of Europe shortly after that. The handset won’t be making its way to the US, at least not through official channels.

What’s good?

Honor Magic 4 Pro in hand showing rear of phone

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Right out the gate, performance is rock solid. Classic benchmark results race to the top of the pack, making this one of the better Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 implementations we’ve seen. In the hand, the phone flies through apps, multitasking, and playing heavy games. It’s an all-around great performer. That said, Honor is a little aggressive on battery management, particularly when running out of juice, which sees performance drop significantly.

The Honor Magic 4 Pro performs OK under stress, making it a solid option for gamers. 3DMark Wildlife Stress Test results below show the handset maintaining peak performance for far longer than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and even better than the Oppo Find X5 Pro. The phone eventually sees significant performance throttling, but it runs at its peak for a little longer than the competition.

Battery life is similarly good. Honor efficiently extracts a full day of heavy use from the 4,600mAh battery, and lighter users may make it through two days of screen-on time. If not, 100W of charging power makes the Honor Magic 4 Pro incredibly quick to top up. It takes five minutes to hit 25%, 12 to 50%, and just under 30 minutes to 100% in wired mode.

With 100W wireless, the Pro hits 25% capacity in around seven minutes, 50% in ~15 minutes, and 100% in 33 minutes. That said, the power levels here are a case of rather inflated marketing. Honor’s 100W wireless is sustained for mere seconds, with the bulk of the cycle clocking power at a still very reasonable 50W. Likewise, Honor’s wired charging hits just over 90W for a very brief period, but we couldn’t hit 100W despite numerous attempts at temperatures below the 25°C Honor says it used in its lab testing conditions. There are more concerning downsides to Honor’s charging setup, however. We’ll get to those shortly.

Read more: 100W, 150W, 240W? Charging power has become meaningless

The phone’s biometric hardware is a particular highlight. The in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is one of the fastest and most accurate I’ve tested. If you prefer face unlock, Honor uses its front-facing 3D depth camera to improve on the insecure optical image unlocking we see on most phones, all without sacrificing speed. The two are very powerful security options that, when paired up with Dual TEE OS that combines regular OS security and Honor’s Independent Security Chipset, make the Honor Magic 4 Pro a good pick for the privacy-conscious.

The Honor Magic 4 Pro’s snappy biometrics keep your data secure but also in easy reach.

Honor’s Magic UI 6 is fairly good too. It’s still reminiscent of the EMUI Huawei/Honor days, particularly where the UI’s styling is concerned. But Honor has put its stamp on the software with cards (widgets), Honor Share, icon packs, and always-on display customization. There’s nothing to write home about in its latest iteration, but it’s a perfectly functional Android OS skin that’s lightweight on the surface yet customizable enough to set things up just how you like.

What’s not so good?

Honor Magic 4 Pro Magic UI 6 app icons

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Despite many awe-inspiring features onboard, there are a lot of caveats hidden in the fine print.

For instance, the handset’s LTPO display will only clock down at low as 1Hz to save power when the display brightness is maxed out. We regularly observed the display flicking between 90 and 60Hz, with 120Hz reserved for just a handful of apps. As such, apps don’t feel as silky smooth as they do on some of the best displays in the business. Thankfully, battery life is already excellent, so the sub-optimal refresh rate variance doesn’t impact the phone’s endurance.

The display is predominantly an sRGB panel, despite the spec sheet claims. The touted DCI-P3 color space and HDR10+ capabilities only kick in with required pictures and video. That’s not too unusual, but this display’s out-of-the-box wide gamut is heavily oversaturated in the green and blues. It’s not going to ruin your general viewing experience — colors look nice and punchy, but betray the creator-oriented credentials that the handset is keen to flaunt. I also didn’t notice what all the fuss was about with the panel’s 1,920Hz PWM brightness dimming. Suffice to say that colors continue to look nice at low brightness levels too.

Similarly, you must manually enable Honor’s HDR upscaling Video Enhancer and Frame Rate booster features. The toggles are nice, of course, but the list of supported apps isn’t huge. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, VLC, and YouTube make the cut, but Crunchyroll, Disney Plus, Plex, Jellyfin, and many others don’t support these enhancement features.

100W of wireless charging power sounds impressive, but there’s a catch again. The charger provided with the phone gives you 100W of wired power but only supplies 80W to the wireless dock (sold separately). To hit 100W wireless power you need to purchase an additional 135W plug. Honor tells us that some regions may offer these two as a bundle, but availability will vary. Furthermore, the Magic 4 Pro doesn’t play nicely with third-party chargers. Despite supporting USB Power Delivery PPS, we couldn’t record more than 10W with other plugs. Likewise, the phone sat at about 6W on the second-generation Pixel Stand. So you’re stuck with official Honor products if you want to charge up in under an hour.

It’s rare to see the display hit 1Hz or charging hit 100W. They’re marketing numbers rather than game-changers.

There aren’t any glaring hardware problems with the Honor Magic 4 Pro. It’s well built, performant, and genuinely innovative in places. However, several minor caveats stop the phone from reaching its full potential.

The most grievous problem, however, is the update policy. Just two years of OS updates and security patches is a big negative in our book, especially for a phone charging the same premium as the big players that offer four-to-five years of security support. In fact, phones that cost half as much — or in some cases less — than the Magic 4 Pro offer at least three years of security updates.

Honor did qualify its update commitment by saying it’ll receive “at least” two years of support, hinting that it could go beyond it, but that’s certainly no guarantee things will improve. You have to ask yourself; are you prepared to buy another ~£1,000 phone in just two years if this one is no longer secure?

Read more: It’s 2022, phones should be built to last five years or more

Honor Magic 4 Pro camera review

Honor Magic 4 Pro rear view showing cameras.

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Our early impressions of the Honor Magic 4 Pro’s “Eye of Muse” camera package were generally positive but with a few drawbacks. That opinion remains unchanged, even after having spent much more time with the handset.

Colors, detail, and exposure from the 50MP main Sony IMX766 camera are good to excellent. The 1/1.56-inch sensor, while not the largest in the industry, and wide f/1.8 aperture provide solid capture in low light. The primary camera can take some stunning pictures that rival the best in the business and the selfie camera is pretty great too, albeit with worse dynamic range and noise than the main camera. An incredibly powerful HDR and Night effect are available to ensure you’ll always capture highlight and shadow detail. However, these modes can produce a few odd artifacts, noise, and contrast stretching if you crop in closer, and color tends to oversaturate in these scenes.

I’m a big fan of the phone’s portrait and selfie results. They can be a little soft, as Honor does some image cleanup even with the various beautification options turned off, but skin tones are top-notch. There’s a bit of noise from the selfie camera in low light, but Honor still manages exposure well enough.

The ‘Eye of Muse’ doesn’t quite rival what you get from many other phones around the £1,000 mark.

Unfortunately, focusing is a problem for this camera package, despite including an 8×8 time-of-flight laser autofocusing system. This is particularly pronounced with the periscope camera, which can’t focus for macro shots at all, but the main sensor also struggles more than other phones I’ve used. It’s a minor annoyance that detracts from an otherwise decent experience.

The 64MP zoom and 50MP ultrawide cameras are less impressive. Details are not as good as the primary camera, the ultrawide tends to underexpose, and both have lens-based issues. There’s notable chromatic aberration from the periscope camera which the phone does its best to correct, while the ultrawide’s extreme 122-degree field of view produces a distorted perspective. They’re both serviceable cameras but some way behind the best in the business. Certainly don’t believe the 100x zoom text etched into the phone’s back; it’s way beyond this camera’s capabilities.

Turning to video quality, footage captured from the main sensor looks great and smooth, thanks to OIS. However, I noticed a few frame rate stutters while recording at 30fps. The phone becomes very hot while recording 4K 60fps video for over five minutes, and there’s no 4K 60fps option in the phone’s Movie mode that features the fancy LUT color grading options. Unfortunately, you’re capped at 4K 30fps if you want to use the ultrawide and zoom lenses for video, and there’s a notable switch when transitioning between them on the fly. The features and quality are definitely there if you’re into more serious videography, but you’ll have to work around the overabundance of shooting modes.

Overall, the camera package is better than some, but the list of caveats means it doesn’t quite rival what you get from many other phones close to the £1,000 mark. Check out this Google Drive link for a closer look at the images included in this Honor Magic 4 Pro review.

Read more: The best camera phones you can buy

Honor Magic 4 Pro specs

Honor Magic 4 Pro

Display

6.81-inch LTPO OLED display
FHD+ (2,848 x 1,312)
476 PPI
1-120Hz variable refresh rate
19.5:9 aspect ratio

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Memory / Storage

8/12GB RAM
256/512GB storage

Cameras

Rear:
50MP main, f/1.8, 1/1.56-inch
50MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 1/2.5-inch 122-degree FOV
64MP periscope zoom, f/3.5, 3.5x optical zoom
ToF laser AF

Front:
12MP, f/2.4, 1/2.56-inch 100-degree FOV, 1.22um pixels
3D depth camera

Video

Rear: 4K HDR at 60fps

Front: 4K at 30fps

Audio

Stereo speakers
No headphone jack

Battery

4,600mAh
100W Honor SuperCharge (wired and wireless)

Durability

IP68 rated

Security

3D face unlock
Qualcomm 3D sonic fingerprint scanner (Gen 2)
Dual-TEE security system

Connectivity

5G (sub-6GHz)
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
GPS
NFC
Dual SIM

Dimensions / Weight

163.6 x 74.7 x 9.15mm
215g

OS

Android 12
Magic UI 6

Colors

Cyan, gold, white, black (glass)
orange (vegan leather)

Honor Magic 4 Pro review: The verdict

Honor Magic 4 Pro rear view in dock

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Honor set out to build a best-in-class flagship with the Magic 4 Pro and it’s a welcome return to the flagship space for the company. However, while Honor succeeded in most of its ambitions, it also missed the mark in several key areas that make it a tough sell.

The phone’s camera package excels at portraits and selfies but is less good for landscape detail and general flexibility. Performance and battery life are great, but the 100W charging promise is a bit of a gimmick. Magic UI 6 is a solid piece of software, but the company’s two-year update promise is a real concern for a phone that’s this expensive. I could go on. For everything the Magic 4 Pro does right, there’s a fine detail that Honor didn’t quite nail.

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Ultimately, there’ll be plenty of competition around the €1,099 mark when the phone comes to Europe, making the Honor Magic 4 Pro a tougher sell than it otherwise would be. Its £949 UK retail price is a little more palatable, but still a little too close to the competition for comfort.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus (£949) and iPhone 13 Pro (£949) are clearly in Honor’s line of sight but these phones are a little more consistent in their execution and have long-term update commitments that will keep them running safely for years to come. It’s the same case for other premium phones such as the Xiaomi 12 Pro (£1,049), Oppo Find X5 Pro (£1,049), and even the much cheaper Realme GT 2 Pro (£699) — these are all devices that are guaranteed at least four years of security patches and a minimum of three years of Android feature updates.

Wonderful portraits, all-day battery life, and snappy performance makes the Magic 4 Pro hard to ignore, but for every great feature there’s a frustrating caveat.

Honor has put together a superior hardware package to the Google Pixel 6 Pro (£849) in some regards, particularly in the charging and biometrics departments. Portraits and selfies aside, though, I’d argue that Google’s cameras still take the better pictures on average, while five years of security updates make the phone a no-brainer as a long-term investment. Better still, it’s £100 less than Honor’s latest flagship. If you’re looking to stay below the thousand mark, the OnePlus 10 Pro (£799) is also well worth a look, as it ticks similar boxes in the camera, display, and fast charging departments.

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is a powerhouse smartphone at a competitive price, but if you’re buying one you’ll have to put up with some quirks and make peace with the fact it could be vulnerable to security threats after just two years.

Honor Magic 4 Pro back in hand 2

Honor Magic 4 Pro

Honor’s first Western flagship in years

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is packed full of flagship features by any comparison with 100W wired and wireless charging and the ‘Eye of Muse’ camera.

Top Honor Magic 4 Pro questions and answers

Yes, like other recent Honor smartphones after its split with Huawei, the Honor Magic 4 Pro has access to Google’s Play Store and other popular Android apps and services.

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is IP68 rated against water and dust resistance.

You need to buy Honor’s 100W charging pad and a 135W power brick to max out the phone’s 100W wireless charging capabilities.

You should buy the Honor Magic 4 Pro if you’re a portrait and selfie lover, require multi-day battery life, and demand top-class performance and snappy biometrics. Give the handset a miss if you’re after a more well-rounded camera package, ultra-slick display, and long-term software support.

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