Honor Magic 2 review: A slider phone with premium design but you can’t buy it in India

Honor Magic 2 comes with unique slider mechanism with high-end specifications. The smartphone, however, isn’t available in India. Read our review.

Honor Magic 2 comes with triple rear and front cameras
Honor Magic 2 comes with triple rear and front cameras (HT Photo)

Brand: Honor
Product: Honor Magic 2
Key specifications: 3,400 mAh battery, Kirin 980 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, in-screen fingerprint sensor, 6.39-inch display, 16MP+24MP+16MP Rear camera, 16MP+2MP+2MP Front camera
Rating: 3/5 


Remember the old good days of slider phones? They were cool and quite convenient. Slider phones vanished from the market after touch screens replaced the physical QWERTY keyboards in phones. Honor wants to bring back the trend of slider phones without compromising on the full-screen experience.

Honor Magic 2 is the company's first slider smartphone and is exclusively available in China. The smartphone features top-of-the-line specifications such as Kirin 980 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, and triple-rear and front camera setup.

The phone is not available in India at the moment and unlikely to launch anytime sooner. In China, the phone sells at a starting price of 3799 Yuan (38,600 approximately). We tried out Honor's slider Magic 2 phone for a few days and here are our takeaways.

Honor has raced to the top in the design department. Be it a budget smartphone or premium, Honor has succeeded in breaking the monotony prevailing in the smartphone space for last couple of years. With Honor Magic 2, the company has evidently stepped up its game.

At first glance, Honor Magic 2 looks like any other glossy glass-back phone out there. The front is dominated by the display which is as edge-to-edge it can get. There's glass on the back and metal frames on the sides. Volume and power buttons, located on the right edge, are well within the reach. Since it has in-screen fingerprint sensor, there's no dedicated slot on the back or the front. Honor Magic 2 looks quite beautiful with its rounded corners and glossy finish.

What sets Honor Magic 2 from rest of the phones in the world is unique slider which is tucked in the back panel. There's no separate button or indicator to let you know there's a slider within the hardware. To launch the slider, simple press the screen and drag it down while keeping fingers on the back. The slider houses three camera lenses and mic. Using the slider is quite fun and grabs everyone's attention.

A closer look at Honor Magic 2's slider design
A closer look at Honor Magic 2's slider design (HT Photo)

Though we're not very sure how the slider quality pans out on long-term usage. For now, it looks good enough. Note that you'll need to launch the slider whenever you have to take selfies unlock the screen, open an app. There are a bunch of software-based features for the slider.

Honor Magic 2 joins a small list of phones that have taken unique approach to deliver full-screen experience without using a notch. Oppo Find X and Vivo Nex are a few phones that deliver the best full-screen experience with hardware tweaks like motorised camera modules.

Only drawback in Honor Magic 2 is the weight. It's thick and quite heavy at 206 grams. In comparison, Apple's iPhone X Max weighs about 174 grams.

Honor Magic 2 comes with glass back
Honor Magic 2 comes with glass back (HT Photo)

Honor Magic 2 comes with three-rear cameras. The set up includes 16MP, 24MP, and 16MP lenses. The first 16MP camera is RGB lens whereas the secondary 24MP camera is monochrome. The third 16MP camera is ultra wide-angle lens. The camera is further augmented by Honor's in-house Kirin 980 processor. The chip uses various Artificial Intelligence algorithms to auto optimise the images.

Honor Magic 2 delivers pretty impressive results in daylight conditions. Images have rich details with balanced colours and contrast ratio.

Night mode (right) enhances brightness and colours without losing much of sharpness (image resized for web)
Night mode (right) enhances brightness and colours without losing much of sharpness (image resized for web) (HT Photo)

The phone does not disappoint when it comes to the lowlight performance. It's a bit of hit-and-miss with Honor Magic 2 in challenging light conditions. Fortunately, it gets most of the images right in such situation.

AI mode (L) improves sharpness and focus even in lowlight condition (image resized for web)
AI mode (L) improves sharpness and focus even in lowlight condition (image resized for web) (HT Photo)

Is it the best camera phone? Probably not. Google Pixel 3 XL and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 continue to be our top recommendations. One of the frustrating things is the camera UI. It's just complicated and requires way too many steps to shuffle between one mode to another. The bad UI makes it difficult for smartphone photography enthusiasts to make the most of the features this phone offers.

Display, UI, and performance
Honor Magic 2 has a large 6.3-inch fullview screen with AMOLED, 2.5D glass, and 1080 x 2340 pixels resolution. A notch-less screen is always refreshing. The screen is itself quite vibrant making the high resolution games and videos look very good. The autobrightness works pretty much fine on the phone.

The smartphone runs on EMUI 9.0-based on Android Pie out-of-the-box. The latest update to Honor UI brings a range of Android Pie's features. But it continues to be one of the heavily customised UIs out in the market. The model of Honor Magic 2 we had a bunch of bloatware. Fortunately, it's quite smooth and doesn't lag after some period. Honor can really cut down on customisations, especially the ones users don't really need. A clutter-free look or simple thing as app launcher (via default settings) could make it much more comfortable to use.

Honor Magic 2 has a vertically aligned triple rear camera set up
Honor Magic 2 has a vertically aligned triple rear camera set up (HT Photo)

The in-screen fingerprint sensor is also quite inconsistent as seen on Oppo R17 Pro and OnePlus 6T. In the hindsight, looks like it's the technology to be blamed. It's not as accurate as the dedicated slots for fingerprint sensors.

Performance wise, Honor Magic 2 doesn't disappoint. Running on the powerful Kirin 980 processor with up to 8GB of RAM, the phone handles graphic-intensive games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt with ease. The battery too on medium usage delivers day-long battery. But if you play a lot of games or stream multimedia, you may carry the charger.

Honor Magic 2 is a premium phone done right. Slider seems more of a novelty than a necessity in the phones right now. Unfortunately, the phone is not available in India and is unlikely to come in the near future. With capable phones such as Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Google Pixel 3 XL already around, we don't think you should take the pain of buying this phone from China for the just slider. And if you like the slider, you may consider Oppo's Find X.