Honor recently announced some new devices in London and whilst most of the focus has been on the higher end Pro model, it is worth noting not to overlook the Lite version of the phone as it packs some great specs at a much more affordable price when you compare to the competition.
Honor kindly sent a device out for me to do the review on and I had use as my daily driver for around a month before completing the write-up, something worth pointing out is the fact my model was running on Beta software so was not getting the latest software updates, however this should not have much impact on the overall review.
A big thanks to Honor for the invite to the event and for sending out a phone to be able to do the review.
Looking straight out the phone at the top. You have the front facing 16 megapixel camera which can record 1080p video. The quality as you’ll see by the samples are very reasonable and does a good job for most people as long as you’re in good lighting.
The front of the phone is taken up by a large 6.8 inch LCD display, which again does a very good job for most situations, including gaming.
However, you do get the usual LCD drawbacks such as not having an always on display as well as missing the punchy, blacks and colours you get from an OLED but I guess some sacrifices had to be made to get the price down, however on the flip side you do get 120hz refresh rate which makes scrolling as smooth as ever.
Looking over the left hand side, there’s actually no buttons whatsoever, It’s completely flat, where as over on the right hand side you get the power button which acts as a fingerprint reader as well as the volume up and down buttons, which can also be used as a camera shutter button if you prefer that clicky feeling when taking shots.
At the top you have one of the dual microphones used for noise cancellation and also for capturing stereo audio when in video mode or audio recording.
At the bottom you have the SIM tray which allows you to use two SIM cards at the same time as this is a dual SIM phone.
You also get the other microphone as well as the USB C charger port which has quick charging and the single loudspeaker so no stereo audio unfortunatly.
Turnover to the back and you see the circular camera design which houses the three cameras and the LED flash.
Something of a personal preference and this will be down to you entirely, but I wasn’t a big fan of the big writing on the camera that says matrix AI vision camera. This would have been much better left empty.
When it comes to the software side of things there is a bit of history worth pointing out with Honor.
The company used to be a sub brand of Chinese company Huawei which also meant they were impacted by the American government sanctions and not being able to use Google services, however, they are now their own separate company and with that means they do have access to all the Google goodies that people expect and this appears on the Honor Magic 4 Lite.
The phone comes with Android 11 installed out of the box with the custom on a skin called magic UI in this case version 4.1 however, it’s worth pointing out that the sample I was sent was a beta version and as such did not get any future updates that you would expect to see out of the box, improving any stability and performance improvements.
But from the version I was using I was still very impressed and didn’t find any issues with the software side and it was great to have Google back.
The Honor Magic 4 Lite comes with the Snapdragon 695 processor which is a mid-range chip but there’s more than enough to power a device at this price, which was good to see.
During my daily use I threw lots at it including some heavy gaming such as Call of Duty and Pokémon Go and it handled these with the breeze, so it proves you don’t need the top of the range processor to have a decent phone to use for daily tasks, even some gaming.
The Snapdragon 695 also comes with battery performance improvements which meant I was easily in able to get through a day of use also helped with the 4800 MAH battery which comes built into the phone and as expected is not removable but most phones don’t have removable batteries these days.
The phone may lack wireless charging but does at least have 66W fast wired charging when you use the included charger out of the box.
When it comes to networking performance my device had two SIM cards which also allowed for 5G support as well as Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth or the usual things you would expect on a phone
5G support was very good in my time with testing. I used both a Three SIM card as well as an EE SIM card and both performed very well.
The Three SIM card in my local town also gave me 5G speeds of around about 200 megabits per second. But of course this will vary depending on your location, but it was good to see speeds like this on a mobile device at this price
The version I had came with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of non removable or expandable storage, which means you’ll be relying on online storage should you want to expand any further. But 128GB is a great starting point and most people were very rarely fill this up.
For the price to Honor are asking, this is a very capable device and unless you want top of the range specs at a higher price, this will perform very well as a daily driver for most people.
The Magic 4 Lite also lacks any official IP rating so whilst the odd splash may be fine, don’t go taking it into the shower or into any type of rainy conditions unless you want to take the risk.
There is a lot of focus on the amount of camera lenses a phone has and many believe the more you have the better the photos will be overall but this is not true.
The selfie camera comes in at 16 megapixels and can record 1080p video. I would have hoped that the front facing camera would have been better quality because there are other manufacturers making selfie cameras around 32 megapixels which would have more than which would have doubled the resolution., but I suppose at this price some things had to be sacrificed.
Selfie quality is decent for posting on social media and sending to friends, which I suppose is the biggest use for this as well as recording videos for things like TikTok and Snapchat.
Don’t give me wrong, it’s not rubbish by any means, I was just hoping for slightly better performance but this could have been down to the software used, as I mentioned, I was using beta software
Honor went with picking three cameras for the back, however it is the main camera that gets most of the attention as the other two are more so for occasional use due to the quality.
The main camera is 48 megapixels which on paper should produce some decent quality shots when you’re outside in good sunlight and good conditions.
They are very reasonable, featuring good detail but colours at times as it does seem to be a little off, take the phone into less optimal conditions and you start to notice a bit of a drop in performance which was a shame.
The second camera on the back is a 2 megapixel macro lens for close ups, and whilst it is nice to be able to use this for some macro photography, the fact that it is only a 2 megapixel lens you should not expect amazing details or quality due to the sheer low resolution.
The third camera is another 2 megapixel lens and this one is for depth of field which helps you get decent portrait photos. Although how much difference this will make. I’ll let you decide when you look at the final pictures below
Video on the rear cameras has a maximum of 1080p 60 frames a second which does seem quite low considering that the phone has a 48 megapixel main sensor so I would have hoped for 4K resolution, especially as competing against devices like the iPhone SE which can record in 4K.
This may put a few people off buying, but if 4K isn’t necessary for you then the 1080p quality is decent enough.
I must admit most of my time with the devices was testing the Honor Magic 4 Pro, I was also sent the Lite to do a quick hands-on with and to give my general overall thoughts instead of doing a full review.
However, I decided as I had use of the phone for a month, I was at least put something together to give people feedback on my overall experience and what they can expect.
When it comes to feedback on software and performance, take this with a pinch of salt because as I have mentioned before, the device I was sent was on pre-released software.
Whilst all the hardware was final, the software was still running in beta version and hopefully some software upgrades on retail units will improve things here and there
I did enjoy my time with the device, It has a nice large screen with a decent size battery which meant gaming was very enjoyable, even if it was on an LCD display for day to day use the phone was more than reasonable, especially considering the price at £399 and unlocked here in the UK.
However, you can get the price down with a pay monthly contract on various networks should you want to do it monthly instead.
If an amazing camera isn’t your main focus on a smartphone and you just want a phone with a big screen, decent battery, good software and it all around good experience without breaking the bank then the Honor Magic 4 Pro is a good choice to go for.
It has a decent range of specifications, decent battery life, and good performance. It’s just a shame that two of the three cameras are more of a gimmick than anything else and the main sensor can be questionable in certain conditions.
But apart from that this is a good device from Honor and it’s great to see them back making their own smartphones in 2022 and sets them up for a great future.