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Honor Magic 4 Pro Is the Flagship Phone Huawei Wishes It Could Make

With a powerful processor, good camera and fast charging, the Honor Magic 4 Pro has a lot to offer.

The back of the Honor Magic 4 Pro
The back of the Honor Magic 4 Pro is defined by a centered circular camera bump.
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Honor's phones have typically been budget-focused, offering decent-enough specs for modest prices. But not so with the Magic 4 Pro; it's got all the top tech you'd expect of any of today's flagship phones, including multiple potent cameras on the rear, 5G, a lightning-fast processor and a glorious, vibrant display. 

So why the change in strategy? Well Honor used to be a subsidiary of Huawei, producing affordable phones while Huawei churned out the exciting flagship models. But with Huawei not able to use Google services or 5G due to ongoing restrictions imposed by the US, its flagship phones -- like the P50 Pro -- simply can't compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro

Honor Magic 4 Pro

Like

  • Powerful processor
  • Fast charging
  • Solid rear cameras
  • Vibrant and sharp display

Don't Like

  • Images can look oversaturated
  • Battery life is good, but not great

Back in 2020 Honor was split off from Huawei to be its own company and isn't currently bound by the same restrictions, meaning it's free to use Google services and 5G like any of today's other Android phones. As a result, its new strategy seems to be picking up the "flagship" baton where Huawei dropped it, making the top-end phones its once parent company is no longer able to. 

And at £950, the Honor Magic 4 Pro is unquestionably priced among elite flagship rivals. Right now the phone isn't available in the US and there's no word on whether that will change. For reference though, that UK price to converts to $1,160 or AU$1,670. Thankfully there's a lot to like in the phone that goes a long way to justifying the high price tag. 

Its design is attractive, with the cameras clustered in a circular unit in the center on the back, rather than being pushed to one side. The body is made from metal and glass while the display curves gently at the edge, all of which makes it feel like a premium phone when you hold it in your hand. 

A vibrant display, a powerful processor

The display measures a generous 6.81-inches and it's bright, vibrant and pin-sharp thanks to its maximum 2,848x1,312-pixel resolution. This can be set to automatically reduce down to 2,136x984 pixels in some tasks in order to preserve battery, but even at the lowest resolution I could barely tell the difference, at least not in basic tasks like emailing or general web browsing.

Inside the phone is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, backed up by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It put in some blistering scores on our benchmark tests, easily competing with the performance from the impressively fast Galaxy S22 Ultra and comfortably edging out the Pixel 6 Pro, powered by Google's own Tensor chip.

Honor Magic 4 Pro performance comparison

Honor Magic 4 Pro
1,211
3,406
11,338
Pixel 6 Pro
1,038
2,834
10,416
Galaxy S22 Ultra
1,190
3,206
11,299

Legend:

Geekbench 5 (Single Core)
Geekbench 5 (Multi-Core)
3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars equal better performance

It's nippy in everyday use, with no annoying lag when navigating around the Android 12 interface. Demanding games such as Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG played without any noticeable slowdown, even with the graphics settings on the highest available. 

The Honor Magic 4 Pro's circular rear camera bump

The Honor has three rear cameras.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

A decent rear camera

The big circle on the back houses three main cameras; a 50-megapixel main camera, a 50-megapixel ultra-wide and a 64-megapixel telephoto offering 3.5x optical zoom. 

Example image showing people eating at outdoor tables

Good exposure and punchy colors. Lovely stuff.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET
Camera test image showing a house in a park

Taken with the standard lens, this shop is well exposed with rich colors.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET
Camera test image showing a house in a park

Using the ultrawide lens, the camera maintains the good exposure but the colors become so vibrant as to look a little unnatural.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Shots from the main camera are bright, well-exposed and packed with detail. Colors are vibrant and punchy, only sometimes bordering on being a bit oversaturated for my tastes. The dynamic range is generally excellent, with bright skies kept under control and shadowy foregrounds still being easily visible. 

Camera test image showing a cruise ship on the sea

Taken at 10x hybrid zoom, this image has noticeably degraded, with fuzzy details seen on the ship.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET
Example image showing buildings next to a river

This 10x hybrid zoom shot is good enough for Instagram or sending to friends over WhatsApp, but the fine details are quite mushy.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The ultrawide camera maintains the same vivid color balance and does a good job of achieving an even exposure, even in high-contrast scenes. The telephoto lens meanwhile delivers beautifully crisp and clear shots at 3.5x zoom although at 10x hybrid zoom (optical and digital zoom combined) shots start to noticeably degrade.

It's a solid camera system overall that'll suit most everyday photographers well, especially those of you wanting to achieve vibrant, colorful images right from your phone without having to apply any kind of filters to your shots. If zoom is important to you though then you'll still be better served by the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, whose 10x zoom is still the best around on a phone. Like the S22 Ultra, the Magic 4 Pro boasts zoom levels up to 100x but the resulting shots are so poor quality that this is a mostly redundant feature. 

The Honor Magic 4 Pro's home screen

The Magic 4 Pro runs Android 12.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

All-day battery with fast charging

Powering the phone is a 4,600-mAh battery, which is capacious enough to offer a full day of use, as long as you're reasonably careful how you use your phone. In my own tests I found the battery dropped from full to 96% remaining after one hour of streaming a YouTube video, with it dropping to 89% after a second hour. That's similar to what I've seen from the Pixel 6 Pro, although both the iPhone 13 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro did better here. 

If you do run out of juice later in the day then getting the power back in shouldn't be an issue. The battery supports 100-watt fast charging which will take it from empty to full in just 30 minutes. You'll need to use a compatible charger, but one is supplied in the box. 

The Honor Magic 4 Pro's settings and specs

The Honor is packed with some of the best 2022 Android specs and features.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Should you buy the Honor Magic 4 Pro?

The Magic 4 Pro isn't a revolution in mobile technology and doesn't offer any particular "must-have" features that separate it from its rivals. But it doesn't really need to. It's a high-performance flagship Android handset that ticks all of the boxes of a top phone thanks to its great performance, solid camera, fast charging and 5G connectivity. Its price is high, but it undercuts the S22 Ultra while costing almost exactly the same as the Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro (with 256GB of storage). 

While I think the Pixel, with its stock Android 12 interface has a smoother user experience on a day-to-day basis, the Honor has a more potent processor and offers significantly faster charging speeds, the latter being of particular use if you frequently forget to fully charge your phone overnight. 

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