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  • Fitri Aiyub

HONOR Magic 4 Pro Review: Real Magic Or Misdirection?

We've had a lot of phones on this channel, but it's always an "honor" to revisit brands after a long while. Wordplay aside, the Honor Magic 4 Pro is our reintroduction to the brand and it doesn't disappoint. Running on the latest 8 Gen 1, we recorded our first "Maxed Out" Vulkan score on our graphics performance test. With a periscope telephoto camera and a familiar resemblance to Huawei's P50 Pro, among other interfaces that might remind you of the "red petal flowers", it still carries some standalone characteristics as a flagship.

Could this still be a Huawei underneath? Can a little makeup, granted access to Google Mobile Services and a clean break change the dynamics of a smartphone completely? You might already have your own opinion on it, but where "magic" might just be a myth to some, there's surely some sprinkled all over the Honor Magic 4 Pro. Just by glancing at the glass finish at the back, it's a quick tell on how fingerprints will be a smudgy mayhem, especially in this black colour-way. You might get away without a cover in the Cyan and Gold colour-way that's also available, but with a glossy texture like this, fingerprints are inevitable. The huge round camera module at the top – similar to the rest of the Magic 4 Series, X9 or X30 – might have some split opinions whether it's aesthetically pleasing or an eyesore, so we'll leave that to you to decide. Despite that, it's hard not to be drawn to the big periscope camera at the centre. It's probably only then you'll realise how well all of this is packaged together and how symmetrical the majority of this phone is. Discounting this pill-shaped dual front facing camera cutout at the front however. Not the first we've seen in a phone of course, but we felt like it would've looked better if it were placed in the centre of the screen and not in the top left corner. There's something about the notification icons being squished toward the middle that makes the negative space feel a little awkward and doesn't sit quite right to our eyes. Holding it in the hands does feel slightly slippery and might be a drop hazard for those with smaller hands considering its longer and wider size and weighing 209g, it might be a handful to some. After all, you do get the benefit of enjoying the 6.81 inch LTPO OLED HDR10+ over-the-edge display which reaches up to 1000nits and considerably one of the brightest we've tested, promising over 1 billion colours and sits comfortably alongside some of the greats like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which in our opinion had the best display that's come out of this year so far. There's even further options within the settings to bring it a step further in your viewing experience by enabling Video Enhancer, Frame Rate Booster and setting Dynamic refresh rates to the highest of 120Hz, though obviously not advisable when conserving battery life. Audio experience however isn't the best we've heard coming from a stereo speaker construction placed on both the top and bottom of the phone. Most of the time, the speaker grills were blocked when playing games in its horizontal orientation and could've been adjusted to suit this type of hand placement. Outputs on the other hand were sub-par compared to most dual speakers and might need a little tuning to get that "thump" going. But where it doesn't lack, is in its processing power. With 8GB of RAM, Snapdragon's 8 Gen 1 processor and Adreno 730 GPU, our Geekbench scores were among the highest we've recorded, scoring 1002 for Single-Core and 3420 for Multi-Core. Even our Vulkan scores on 3D Mark WildLife test had its first "Maxed Out" reading which is rare to begin with, ranking it #18 for Wilde Life Extreme performance, doing better than 96% of the rest and 15% above average for all devices in Q2 2022. Inherently, the Magic 4 Pro will feel smooth in whatever graphics you throw at it and manages temperatures in a very linear manner. It didn't get hot to the touch even after extensive rounds of Call Of Duty or Sky Warriors.

This might have had an influence on better photo or video computations coming with its triple camera construction consisting of a 50MP wide, a 50MP ultra-wide and the very noticeable 64MP periscope camera in the middle. Results show very crisp and sharp images and have a magical touch in clarity for daylight performance. Colour balance when taken indoors might be slightly muted for skin tones but accurate when given a little TLC before snapping a photo by dropping exposure intensities just a tad bit less than suggested. A quick tap-to-focus and decreasing highlights should do the trick.

The 50MP ultra-wide wasn't as consistent as we'd like, losing some of the detail seen from the main 50MP wide angle. While it may look good as an overall picture, the transitions from both lenses are quite drastic – decreasing the amount of highlights captured by the sensor even with an aperture of f/2.2. But as long as photos are taken outdoors, the consistency among different focal lengths are impressive to say the least even at 10x zoom. Video captures are also a close hit, reaching up to 4K60 and also supports 21:9 aspect ratios for a wider angle, HDR functions and a 10-bit colour space. This also provides a very unique feature seen much less in other phones, which is Movie mode and LOG colour profiles for more post-editing flexibility. Something that's more prevalent in professional mirrorless cameras and dabbles into other video features such as toggles to switch between variable frame rates LUTs and for different looks to choose from.

We're quite pleased to see Honor has thought of more inclusivity among camera enthusiasts, seeing how talks often circulate around photo computations and less on the video aspect of things. So kudos to them for expanding their reach while taking advantage of great hardware in the Magic 4 Pro. After some extensive usage, battery life expectancy is around a day and a half with it's 4600mAh capacity but thankfully it comes with a 100W SuperCharge charger in the box getting you back to 100% in 30 minutes. Alternatively, there's also an option of the 135W power brick sold separately but can also be paired with Honor's SuperCharge Wireless Charger, which could also power other devices laying around that supports Qi Wireless Charging. The Magic 4 Pro comes with Android 12 ,options of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and internal storage options of 256GB or 512GB with a starting price RM3,999.

Whether you believe in magic or not, there are aspects that make a product deceptive or just another case of misdirection. Honor as a brand might have lost part of its identity after their departure from Huawei as of late 2020, and it's still in the midst of redefining it. For us, the Magic 4 Pro might wow you with its design or in the way it handles intense graphics, but ultimately it boils down to what this newly independent state-owned enterprise has to offer going forward. They've made some impressive expansions post-Huawei in just a few years with its first Google Mobile Services pre-installed in the Honor 50 announced mid-last year, but it still remains heavily compared to Huawei while losing out on Huawei's image computations IP. The new norm of so many sub-brand and now former sub-brand companies out there existing very close to each other, shows a lot of familiarity and similarities to say the least. The best we can do is to hope for more magic to happen in this very tight sphere of smartphones and honour the past which have led us to phones like these.


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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