A Triumph for Budget Smartphone Buyers
The Honor Magic5 Lite is the latest handset from the Chinese brand and, despite being the budget handset in the Magic5 series, it is an excellent contender for your investment. Selling at only £329.99 (around $400), it has plenty to shout about, not least that incredible 5200 mAh battery, which gives you two days of juice, and a gorgeous curved OLED display. Get your wallet out and get it bought, if you’re currently thinking about upgrading your phone with an inexpensive yet market leading handset.
- Brand: Honor
- SoC: Qualcomm SnapDragon 695
- Display: 6.67-inch curved OLED
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB
- Battery: 5200 mAh
- Ports: USB Type-C
- Operating System: Magic UI 6, based on Android 12
- Camera (Rear, Front): Rear: 64MP main, 5MP wide, 2MP macro; Front: 16MP
- Dimensions: 161.6 x 73.9 x 7.9 mm (6.36 x 2.91 x 0.31 inches)
- Colors: Emerald Green, Midnight Black, Titanium Silver
- Weight: 179 grams (6.31oz)
- Charging: 40W fast Charge
- Price: £329 (around $400)
- Rapid operation
- Looks great
- Can use for light gaming
- Burns through everyday tasks
- Lovely OLED screen
- MASSIVE 5200mAh battery
- Excellent budget handset
- No IP rating
- No wireless charging
MWC 2023 is just around the corner (at the time of writing), and this can mean one thing and one thing only; Honor’s latest handsets are coming to market outside of the brand’s native China. REJOICE!
The first horse to bolt the Honor stable is the delectable Honor Magic5 Lite (which means a Pro version is almost certain to surface at MWC in Barcelona), a budget handset that has oodles of premium prowess with a purse-friendly price point.
The device is available to pre-order now from the Honor Store and will retail at £329 (around $400). Let’s look at why this handset is a serious contender for your cash.
Unpacking the Honor Magic5 Lite
Pretty much everyone knows what you get in the box with a smartphone nowadays, but to avoid any doubt, the box contains:
- Honor Magic5 Lite smartphone
- USB-C charging cable and charger
- Protective plastic case
- Sim tray tool
- Device literature
You also receive a pre-applied screen protector, so your luscious display won’t pick up any nicks or scratches in your pocket. My review unit didn’t come with a case, but Honor assures me this will be present at retail. So, what does the handset look like out of the box?
Honor Magic5 Lite Aesthetics
I am happy to report that the Magic5 Lite is a gorgeous handset in both appearance and hand feel. Don’t forget, this is the budget smartphone in the Magic5 Series (there’ll be a Pro and, most likely, an Ultimate, going from 2022’s Magic4 Series). As a result, it will differ in aesthetics from the flagship versions of the handset.
We received the Emerald Green variation of the device, but you can also get it in Midnight Black and Titanium Silver (which appears to have an elegant iridescence to its rear fascia). The emerald green colorway is nice and has a metallic sheen to the rear face with a brushed finish.
The phone is sized 161.6 x 73.9. You notice how thin the device is in hand, too; only 7.9mm at its thickest point, which is where the camera island sits. Because the rear face is plastic, the 5 Lite is just that—lightweight—tipping the scales at a featherweight 175g.
This is very light but doesn’t cheapen the feel of the handset at all. Personally, I find it refreshing that the handset isn’t a super heavy flagship; it reduces strain on your wrist as you hold it in front of your face. I did find that the plastic rear face made the handset a tad tough to grip in hand, but fitting a case would see to that issue anyway, so it doesn’t concern me at all.
To the front is the lovely 6.67-inch curved screen, which features the punch-hole camera up at the top center. The bottom edge of the handset has the Type-C port, sim tray, mic pinhole, and a loudspeaker grille, with the right edge carrying the volume rocker and the power button. Up top is an IR sensor and another mic pinhole
The back of the device carries the camera island, which is similar in appearance to the Eye of Muse (Honor’s poetic name for the camera bump) that dominated the back of the Magic4 series handsets. This is at the top and is a circular island, containing the three sensors and a flash.
Overall, I really love the look and feel of the Honor Magic5 Lite, and I would recommend it to anyone who puts phone aesthetics as a priority for purchase, especially at this price point.
Honor Magic5 Lite: A Competitively-Specced Smartphone
Onto the Magic5 Lite specs, and we’re looking at a device that matches competitors in some respects, and wipes them out in others, even giving flagship handsets a run for their money in some cases. Obviously, the phone runs on Android 12, reskinned with Honor’s proprietary Magic UI 6.1.
First, that display. We’ve got a gorgeous 2400 x 1080 OLED curved screen up front, which is an improvement on last year’s Magic4 Lite, which only had an IPS LCD screen. The 5 Lite has a 93% screen-to-body ratio (compared to the Magic4 Lite’s 89.3%), which is excellent for a phone at this price. It displays 100% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum, meaning it can pour 1.07 billion different hues into your eyeballs.
Speaking of eyeballs, the 5 Lite is also TUV Rheinland Low Blue Light certified, so your peepers won’t be straining looking at this display. The screen has a nippy 120 Hz refresh rate and a 300 Hz touch-sampling rate.
The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 (6nm) SOC, which isn’t the newest chip on the market, but again I’ll cite the budget aspect of this phone as a reason this is insignifcant to me. The GPU is therefore an Adreno 619, and the CPU boasts two Cortex A76 clocked at 2.2 GHz and six Cortex A-55 clocked at 1.82 GHz. For RAM, you’re looking at 6GB (up to 15GB using virtual memory), and 128GB of storage.
In terms of camera specs, you’ve got a 64MP main sensor, plus a 5MP wide angle and a 2MP macro lens. The selfie camera up front is a 16MP sensor.
The battery is one of the best in class, boasting a mahooosive 5100 mAh capacity, which Honor says is good for two days. We’ll talk more about that later. It supports 40 wired fast charging, which is rapid enough at £329.99. Sadly it doesn’t charge wirelessly but, again, budget handset.
I will point out that Honor hasn’t published an IP rating for this handset, so I cannot provide one. As a result, I didn’t immerse it in water or anything for the purposes of this review.
Benchmarking the Honor Magic5 Lite
You know the drill with my reviews by now. I always benchmark devices when possible, but the caveat here is that benchmarking is theoretical performance. It is just a useful way to compare the device to other handsets on the market. However, it is the practical performance that really matters.
I first ran the PCMark for Android Work 3.0 and Storage tests with the following scores:
- 10285 for Work 3.0
- 15803 for Storage 2.0
I then ran the 3DMark tests on the handset so I can give mobile gamers an idea of what they’re looking at. It scored thus:
The 3DMark score you see here isn’t great. However, I feel using this test is a little erroneous with a budget handset, as it isn’t made for this level of graphic performance. If you want to know what it is like for gaming, see below, where I tried it out in practical terms.
Honor Magic5 Lite: Magical Performance in Use
With the number crunching out of the way, how did the Honor Magic5 Lite perform when I was actually using it? The second I unpacked the device, I started using it as my daily driver for work. I’m still running the Magic4 Pro as my daily personal handset, but I like to have two separate devices to keep a work-life balance as much as possible.
I found that the 5 Lite performed better than other mid-range handsets I have played with recently. Operation is nice and smooth, and I didn’t notice much in the way of sluggishness aside from when I was initially using the handset and it was installing a bunch of apps from the Play store. Other than that, it works a charm.
I said I used this as my work phone, so this involves using Slack on the device, along with sending emails from the Gmail app, using LinkedIn, sending messages, making calls (both voice and video), and using Chrome to access websites. It does all of this without breaking a sweat, so great for your everyday tasks.
Despite my disdain for on-screen controls. I installed Call of Duty Mobile to tell you how the phone performs with gaming. I wanted to see how the 120Hz OLED screen looked, and how responsive the 300Hz touch sampling rate was. I still hate on-screen controls, but the game ran perfectly fine, so if you’re after a budget handset you can also play games on, you’re golden.
That said, don’t expect this to have the same gaming chops as a smartphone designed specifically for mobile gaming. It doesn’t have any cooling tech to stop overheating if you plan to play intensive games for a long time, so keep that in mind. If you want a dedicated gaming handset, look elsewhere. But, for pick-up-and-play fun, you won’t go wrong with the Magic5 Lite.
The display looks fantastic when gaming and that 120Hz refresh rate keeps everything buttery to the eye. I also found that the touch controls were responsive, even if I am terrible at using them. I will say that, despite this, I performed pretty well, as my score in the image above attests!
Likewise, if you want to watch a movie on the handset, again, you’ve got a screen that is more than up to the task. The OLED display delivers deep black tones, which is great if you’re a fan of the horror genre like me. Also, colors pop with a vivid quality, so if you like anime or other brightly colored movies or TV series, they’ll look ace on the Magic5 Lite.
Media also streams very well. I experienced no stuttering with video or sound, which is good. Again, that 120Hz refresh rate is going to give the device a helping hand here, visually. I watched a few YT vids and launched Amazon Prime Video to check the media streaming capabilities and all is well.
The speaker on the base of the device is what you would expect from an external speaker on a smartphone. It is pretty tinny, with the bass very much understated. However, throw your Honor Earbuds 3 Pro in your lugholes and everything will be much better, sound-wise.
As for the battery: I consistently got around a day and a half from a full charge before it started moaning about being at 20%, so Honor’s two-day shout rings true. This is excellent and has great battery life for an inexpensive phone like the Magic5 Lite.
I found the camera to be ideal for taking snaps during the day. Detail is good and for a smartphone user on a budget, you’re gonna get some worthwhile shots in the right conditions. The selfie camera works fine, and the macro lens is OK too. The above image containing my cat, Leslie, was taken in a poorly-lit hallway while she was having catnip-based fun.
Go and Buy an Honor Magic5 Lite
So, on to my recommendation. Do I recommend the Honor Magic5 Lite? Yes, I certainly do. At this price point, the phone is a pitch-perfect performer. It is snappy in operation, looks really nice, and the screen is brilliant.
I can’t imagine anyone looking for a phone in this price bracket having anything to complain about if they plump for the Magic5 Lite, and this honestly makes me more excited to see what the Pro version is made of.