Honor’s Magic 6 Pro Phone Has Fascinating Features but Uneven Performance

The Honor Magic 6 Pro is a strange phone. It folds innovative new AI features, secure 3D face unlock, cutting-edge battery tech, and a powerful camera into an expensively sleek body. But the MagicOS software is buggy, the camera is inconsistent, and it’s one of the most expensive Android phones on the market. (It’s also not officially available in the US.)

While the Honor Magic 6 Pro has delighted and impressed me over the past couple of weeks, it has also frustrated and confused me. It can be oh-so-slick one minute and trip up the next. So is it smoke and mirrors or innovative magic? The answer seems to be a bit of both. If you crave innovation and don’t mind a few quirks, the Honor Magic 6 Pro delivers.

Now With More AI

At the launch, Honor talked up the AI-powered features in the Magic 6 Pro, a lot. We tried Honor’s eye-tracking at MWC, where my colleague glanced at commands in an Alfa Romeo app to start and stop the car and even have it drive forward and back. When this rolls out, it will let you do slightly more mundane things, like expand a notification with a glance when your hands are full.

While eye-tracking is not available yet, there were a couple of AI features I played with for my review. Magic Text lets you quickly extract text from an image. If there’s a phone number in there, you can tap to dial it. You can also drag and drop extracted text into another app. So far, so handy.

With Magic Portal, you can touch and drag content, such as a passage of text, an image, or a screenshot, over to the right and drop it into another app, like Gmail or Notes. The screen you are in folds away, and a vertical row of possible apps appears on the right as you hover. It can be useful for stuff like addresses, which you can drag into Maps for directions. It looks super slick, but I’m not sure how often you’ll remember to use it.

These new features hint at how much more important AI will become on our phones. It’s worth noting that they are processed on-device using Honor’s MagicLM, its very own large language model. Honor is also working on a new AI-powered tool that can use your photos and text prompts to generate video, which sounds intriguing and leads us neatly to the other headline feature of the Magic 6 Pro: the camera.

Classy Camera

Crazy-big, powerful cameras are all the rage in China’s flagship phones (see the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Oppo Find X7 Ultra, and Nubia Z60 Ultra). The Honor Magic 6 Pro is no exception. It has a 50-megapixel main lens with a variable aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.0), a 180-megapixel periscope telephoto lens that offers 2.5X optical zoom but goes up to 100X digitally, and a 50-megapixel ultrawide. Around the front is a 50-megapixel camera paired with a 3D depth camera in a central pill-shaped cutout at the top of the screen.

The telephoto lens is easily my favorite thing about the camera. While it technically only supports 2.5X optical zoom, it can achieve 5X lossless zoom by cropping shots from the 180-megapixel lens. The 5X zoom shots I took with the Magic 6 Pro are my favorites, capturing bags of detail and realistic colors. The main camera is also solid, with impressive dynamic range, depth of field, and good low-light performance.

Color inconsistencies and some weird processing mar an otherwise excellent camera. The weakest link is the ultrawide, which lacks the optical image stabilization present in the other lenses, sometimes stretches the edges of shots, goes overboard with smoothening, and dials the color vibrancy way up. The color matching across the trio is generally poor, and the processing is sometimes heavy-handed, ironing out the noise but veering into oil painting territory, particularly if you zoom in beyond 5X.

You can record smooth video in 4K at up to 60 frames per second with any of the main camera lenses. The autofocus is swift, and there’s a Movie mode option for a more cinematic feel. There’s also a Pro mode in the camera if you want to shoot RAW or dig deeper into the settings. Selfies taken with the front-facing camera are above average, and it can also capture 4K video, though it tops out at 30 fps. The Honor Magic 6 Pro can snap lovely photos, but I had to delete misfires a little too often.