Honor has just launched its Magic3 series, which comprises three handsets, the Magic3, Magic3 Pro, and Magic3 Pro Plus. These are the first phones in the premium and high-end segments since Honor is running as a new legal entity, separated from former parent company Huawei.
Honor phones run on Android and feature Google apps and services, just like any other Android phone. Since most computing-related purchase decisions start with the platform, supporting Android at 100% is hugely important.
In the high-end, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 holds a virtual monopoly and is pretty much the mandatory high-end computing platform for Android phones (with minor exceptions). The chip’s performance is stellar, and as a differentiator, Honor has selected the slightly faster 888 Plus version for the Magic3 Pro and Pro Plus phones.
The Magic3 series has many strong points, such as the DTS speakers, near bezel-less display, 50-66W fast-charging, or custom software optimizations like GPU Turbo. However, it is undeniable that Honor is aiming to become the new leader in mobile camera performance.
Honor’s new Eye of Muse camera system is the phone aspect that I am most interested in since it might fare well in our CAMERA HW and CAMERA IQ benchmarks. Additionally, Honor has done a great job setting expectations with the camera module design, which I would agree is “iconic.”
Both Magic3 and Magic 3 Pro cameras are based on a common configuration: a 50MP f/1.9 primary camera, a 13MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera, and a 64MP f/1.8 monochrome camera. The wide and ultrawide modules are very competitive.
As of late, there’s a bit of a comeback for monochrome camera modules after the mobile industry promoted then abandoned them almost entirely for the past 3-4 years.
We have yet to see how that extra module is used and how it contributes to the image quality (IQ). Honor seems to be putting quite a bit of resource into it, so I’m intrigued.
As you can expect, the Magic3 Pro’s camera gets even more hardware: it has a 64MP long-telephoto Periscope camera module that promises to deliver decent zoom performance, but the actual intent is portrait photography.
A direct Time of Flight (dToF) autofocus assistant should make autofocus faster in some conditions. dToF is a 3D sensing technology that is superior to previously used laser-based AF assist as it covers a broader area, which is an essential aspect for AF accuracy.
Usually, dToF and laser AF can quickly determine if the subject is very far or very close. In between, the phase-detection AF of the sensor takes over.
The camera’s multi-spectrum color temperature sensor should provide better metering and yield more accurate photo and video colors for tricky scenes like sunsets. Some OEMs have been able to do well without one, but generally, it is a better color-temperature data source than RGB sensors.
Finally, the Honor Magic3 records HDR video in log format, the best tradeoff between video quality and file size.
Log has been developed in the movie industry and popularized by HDR broadcast content. However, mobiles are still overwhelmingly recording in MP4 linear format (H.264/H.265), which is just as good for HDR content.
In practice, we need to see how the log support will extend beyond the phone (in laptops, web sharing) since log video files require an extra processing step by applying lookup tables (LUTs) before displaying them on a screen.
The new Honor Magic3 series is exciting and very promising in many ways, and we’re looking forward to taking a closer look. You can watch today’s launch below: