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Honor Magic6 Pro review: Hate AI? Look no further than this flagship phone

By Liu Hongzuo - 28 Apr 2024
Launch SRP: S$1399

Overview, Handling, User Experience, Imaging

Note: This review was first published on 15 April 2024.

Honor Magic6 Pro.

Everything you want, less the price

On paper, it sounds like the Honor Magic6 Pro is out to foil overpriced, overmarketed phones. 

For S$1,399, Honor said the Magic6 Pro (12GB RAM + 512GB storage) comes with 2024’s premium flagship-grade processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3), and it’s not skimping on everything else that its expensive rivals have — mainly, AI smarts and imaging chops.

It comes with a powerful triple rear camera system (Honor Falcon Camera System): a 50MP main camera with a variable aperture and customised sensor for 210% enhancement in dynamic range, a 50MP ultra-wide, and a 180MP Periscope Telephoto with 2.5x optical zoom and in-sensor zoom technology for 5x and up to 100x digital zoom.

TL;DR version: Doesn’t have the AI smarts we wanted, but it’s still one of the most 'affordable' premium flagship options we have now.

Inside is Honor’s MagicOS 8.0 (Android 14) interface, offering full Google Mobile Services compatibility and even MagicLLM powering its AI smarts. Of note is Magic Portal, which is said to throw helpful shortcuts at you when you highlight text or image content, and Magic Capsule, which is supposedly Dynamic Island notifications that you can control with your eyes. There’s a lot more to this, which you can find summarised here

On the front, you get a 6.8-inch LTPO OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. It also supports HDR10+ and is compatible with Dolby Vision. Honor also sent the Magic6 Pro to receive a whole slew of TÜV Rheinland certifications in case you ever doubted their display quality.

Honor Magic6 Pro's Falcon Camera System.

Topping it all off are all the finer details you’d expect from a true premium flagship handset, like its larger-than-before 5,600mAh battery with 80W wired and 66W wireless fast charging, IP68 resistance against dust and water, both Wi-Fi 6 and 7 support, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port.

How did Honor pack everything you could want under S$1,500? Is there anything about it that’s off? Should other manufacturers be worried about a possible dark horse? Here’s where we take a closer look at Honor’s claims.

  Honor Magic6 Pro
  Honor Magic6 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From S$1399
Network:
  • Up to 5G NR
Operating system
  • Android 14 (MagicOS 8.0)
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Built-in Memory
  • 12GB RAM
  • LPDDR5X
Display
  • 6.8-inch, LTPO OLED, 2,800 x 1,280 pixels, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, HDR10+, 5,000-nits peak brightness
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main, f/1.4 to f/2.0 adjustable aperture, OIS
  • 50MP ultrawide, f/2.0
  • 180MP Periscope Telephoto, f/2.6, 2.5x Optical, 100x Digital, OIS
  • Front:
  • 50MP, f/2.0
Video Support
  • Up to 4K60FPS
Connectivity
  • LTE / 5G NR
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax/be, dual-band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 5.3
  • GPS, AGPS GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
Storage Type
  • 512GB
  • UFS 4.0
  • No microSD card slot
Battery
  • 5,600mAh
  • 80W Honor Supercharge wired charging
  • 66W Wireless Supercharge
Dimensions
  • 162.5 x 75.8 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 229g (Glass), 225g (PU)

Classic design, fast device

Honor Magic6 Pro.

Let’s go through the basics first. The phone fits nicely in hand, with our Epi Green model featuring a textured rear that feels secure in our grip. Honor clearly prioritised its handling over appearances because the phone feels a little heavy (229g), the camera housing is weirdly centred, and it has a outdated curved design for the sides. 

It looks a little old-fashioned by modern standards, but it's not offensive.

However, we don’t mind these things since it does everything else quite well — it has surprisingly excellent default speaker audio (clean, crisp, and balanced), highly responsive input acceptance, a fast in-display fingerprint sensor, and fluid general use. The phone operated smoothly in day-to-day usage, with no hiccups, no matter what we threw at it.

Honor Magic6 Pro.

If we had to pick one thing to complain about, it would be its 6.81-inch LTPO OLED panel. Even with the naked eye, it’s quite clear its HDR tuning is biased towards reds and blues, giving the phone an odd pink-purplish cast that’s most visible when you check the photos you’ve taken via the default Gallery app. A quick trip to the Settings app and manually adjusting the colour temperature fixes that, so it’s not a major problem.

Sides that curve towards the rear and front plates screams old money.

As seen above, we've tried using maximum brightness (which Honor claimed 5,000-nits peak brightness) under the great Singaporean outdoors, and it shows up real bright. Anyone who's lived on our island and experienced the Sun in these parts would tell you this is an engineering feat.

Not the smartest AI phone in the shed

Honor Magic6 Pro.

For our review period, the Magic6 Pro had the latest MagicOS 8.0 firmware available after retail, which gave us access to some of the MagicLLM-powered features that came with the phone. There’s little need to expound on MagicOS 8.0 because it’s deliberately made to look similar to Huawei’s EMUI interface, without any restrictions to Google Mobile Sevices and its accompanying apps. 

(For a better understanding of Honor’s smartphone AI approach, read this summary).

Sampling Magic Portal with Honor's very own launch event invitation.

First up is Magic Portal. Our experience with it differed slightly from what was promised, even though the feature worked flawlessly.

From our understanding, Magic Portal was supposed to use AI and figure out which helpful app shortcuts you need, based on what you’ve copied. For example, if you copied out a date and time snippet, Magic Portal should have prepared apps for emailing, texting, or scheduling. In our trials, it worked more like a standard sidebar shortcut similar to the first iteration of Edge Panels found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Hold down and drag it to the side for Magic Portal app shortcuts to show up.It's helpful, but where exactly are the AI smarts in these steps?

In the Magic6 Pro, you hold down a finger to grab the text, and drag it over to a panel of apps that are pre-selected during Magic Portal setup (hence, none of the guessing smarts we expected). Dropping it into Gmail or a note-taking app simply plonks it into the body of the text field. Dropping it into messaging apps like Telegram lets you share that with multiple recipients. If it’s an address, plonking it into Google Maps gives you driving directions. It’s a similar deal for screenshots and images dragged to Magic Portal, where the phone serves up the same apps you’ve chosen for this feature.

Magic Portal also gains access to Google’s Image Search when copying images or photos. However, it’s nowhere as sophisticated as Circle To Search with Google on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. If the photo isn’t on a supported app or is in a video, you’ll need to screenshot it first before dragging it out of your default Gallery app.

Trying the Magic Portal feature out with images. On unsupported apps, you have to use a screengrab and portal it out of your Gallery app.You can do a Google Image Search without fiddling with manual uploads to the search engine.

Does Magic Portal work flawlessly? Yes, for both images and texts. But it’s ultimately not the expected experience because we were promised AI decision-making. The decent amount of third-party app support helps to ensure it’s at least helpful, even without AI helping you identify the best fit for your copied items.

We’ve also tried Magic Capsule. It’s similar to Apple iPhone’s Dynamic Island notifications, and it’s not the first time an Android phone brand has imitated this feature.

This is what an idle Magic Capsule notification looks like on your home screen.

Currently, Magic Capsule works as intended with time-sensitive default apps like Timer and Alarm. However, it has extremely limited functionality since it doesn’t support more than four first-party apps (the others are Screen Casting and Calling). 

Tapping Magic Capsule notifications once would show more controls.

It’s also sad that the amazing eye-tracking concept didn’t make it into the Magic6 Pro, even after grabbing all the latest firmware updates. It would’ve truly changed how we used these notifications. 

With limited app support and no eye-tracking controls, Magic Capsule lacks the wow factor. It’s even harder to convince iPhone, Samsung, Xiaomi, or even OPPO users, who are already spoilt by healthy third-party app support across various foldable and standard smartphones.

Put together, it feels as if Honor oversold Magic Portal and Magic Capsule a little and overpromised and underdelivered on its AI implementation. Fundamentally, they work, but they don’t do anything new or significantly improve how we already use phones.

Imaging Performance

Honor Magic6 Pro rear cameras.

The Honor Magic6 Pro uses a triple rear camera configuration. The main camera (50MP) shares the same megapixel count as its ultra-wide camera (50MP). The resulting image sizes for both would be similar or identical, so choosing either camera depends on your needs.

Main camera.

The 180MP Periscope Telephoto Camera is in charge of zoomed-in photos. It has 2.5x optical zoom by default but can reach 100x digital zoom. Magic6 Pro relies on “in-sensor zoom” technology for photos between 5x and 100x. This means photos taken at these ranges would crop away the sides of the sensor’s input to retain sharpness and detail (as opposed to digital zoom, which digitally fills in the gaps but degrades the quality of the image).

Main camera.

Other perks include the main camera’s f/1.4-f/2.0 self-adjusting aperture for realistic-looking bokeh in your photos and the All-range AI Motion Sensing Capture for fast-moving subjects, which Honor said was suited for sports photography. In our review, we’re more interested in finding out if the Magic6 Pro can do the basics well, so we’ve only tested the imaging quality of its three cameras in different lighting conditions to check for any strengths and deficiencies.

Main camera.

Besides the weirdly low default exposure, there’s little to complain about regarding the Magic6 Pro’s imaging quality.

From our samples, it was clear that indoors, outdoors, and low-light conditions mattered little to the phone, retaining detail with great ease while keeping noise levels absurdly low. If anything, the ultra-wide camera seems to be the weakest link with its limited light-capturing abilities, but it’s only noticeable if you’re comparing shots side-by-side like we are right now.

Main camera.

Ultrawide.

2.5x zoom.

5x zoom.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Magic6 Pro’s imaging isn’t very consistent at reproducing the same shots from the same camera, even just seconds apart. This is because the software struggled right after you triggered a snap. It’s worth retaking some shots and picking the best of the bunch (the samples we have are a mere fraction of its actual number of attempts).

We’d love to see Honor improve its contrast handling for photos and perhaps dial back a little the aggressive algorithms helping to separate subjects from the background. But that’s just us nitpicking—Honor Magic6 Pro can be the envy of all your friends viewing your snaps on social media.

More sample shots below.

Main camera.

Ultrawide.

2.5x zoom.

5x zoom.

Main camera.

Main camera.

Main camera.

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8.5
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9
The Good
Affordable SD8G3 premium flagship phone
All-rounder great main camera and decent telephoto
Responsive daily driver
Good battery uptime
The Bad
Display has pink-purple cast
AI smarts are not apparent
Outdated design, weird bump position
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