Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Vs. Honor Magic V2: Thinner And Thinnest

This week IFA kicked off with a keynote from Honor at which the phone maker launched a new foldable phone, the Honor Magic V2, and SlashGear was there to cover the phone's official debut. This is a sequel to the Honor Magic Vs from earlier this year and its most obvious competitor is the highly refined and polished Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. Both are book-style foldables with similar proportions, but there are also a number of key differences between the two.

Since we have both phones in our labs for testing, we wanted to take a look at them side-by-side and see where each one stood as compared to the other. The software on the Honor V2 has a few caveats, so we won't look at the software between the two here. But the hardware is remarkable, more on one side than the other. One phone also has a distinct advantage in terms of availability, so without further ado, let's dive in.

What is the Honor Magic V2?

The Honor Magic V2 is the latest book-style foldable from Honor. Honor used to be a subbrand of Huawei before being spun off as its own entity back in November 2020. Since then, Honor has made phones focused on being affordable and appealing to a younger audience. We reviewed the Honor Vs back in March of this year, and even since then, a lot has changed with this device.

The Honor Magic V2 phone that we have been testing is still using pre-production software and besides that, it's software that was never meant for U.S. shores, so we won't talk about that aspect too much here. Still, the phone will be coming to the rest of the world in the not-too-distant future. It will never be sold in the U.S. but what it brings to the table is significant enough that it might (and should) affect brands that are marketing devices in North America.

What is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the latest flagship, book-style foldable from Samsung. It is currently on its fifth generation of foldable, and unlike Honor foldables, this phone has been available in the U.S. since day one. In fact, you've been able to buy every Samsung Galaxy foldable phone in the United States. As a result, Samsung owns the market here, which is in a good position to be in.

Also because of that, we have seen little in the way of innovation in Samsung's foldables over the last three generations. All of them had similar specifications that were updated for the current year in terms of processor, RAM speed, and the like. 

Another way to look at that is that Samsung has been refining its design over the past five years and it has yielded a remarkable foldable. Everything from the build quality to the software to the support behind the scenes is lined up to make Samsung the foldable phone to beat, not only in the U.S. but around the world. However, the time for laurel-resting is over, and the Honor Magic V2 is a big reason why.

Impossibly thin

It sounds like rhetoric to say that the Honor Magic V2 is impossibly thin, but when you're holding it, it really is. When folded, it looks and feels like a normal slab smartphone, measuring just 9.9 mm thick when closed. When opened, the phone is around 4.5 mm thick. The camera bump on the back of the phone almost doubles that with an additional 4 mm. Despite that, the Honor Magic V2 manages to pack in a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts a very long time.

The cover screen on the Honor Magic V2 has a 20:9 aspect ratio. Combine that with a folded thickness that is noticeably less than the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and you have a very usable phone with the cover screen while closed. Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's cover screen aspect ratio of 23.1:9 and thickness of 13.4mm when closed, and it's no contest.

Quite simply, the Honor Magic V2 is better in every way on the cover screen. It's more usable as a closed phone, though Samsung has an advantage in one-handed use — if that's your use case, then that's a win for Samsung. Everyone else will probably vastly prefer the Honor Magic V2 when it's closed, with Samsung bringing up the rear as a distant second.

Great displays

Both phones sport great displays on both the cover screen and the inner screen. The inner displays are very similar to each other in terms of aspect ratio. That is to say, both are very close to square. The Honor Magic V2's screen is a bit bigger at 7.92 inches compared to 7.6 inches for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. Honor's screen is also more pixel-dense at 402 ppi compared to Samsung's at 374 ppi.

Both screens can run at up to 120 Hz refresh rates and dynamic refresh rates that go all the way down to 1 Hz when called for. Both phones have stylus support, though only Honor ships a stylus in the box. That is limited by region, with some areas shipping with a stylus and others not. Samsung, on the other hand, does not ship a stylus in the box. Instead, Samsung sells a $100 case that very conveniently holds the stylus in a slim form factor — unlike last year's case that stored the S Pen, which looked a little too much like a waterproof phone case..

Both screens are very bright and easy to read in the sunlight and both support HDR10+. The inner screens here are a bit of a push with neither decisively beating the other.

Cameras have a clear winner

Both phones have a triple camera setup on the back of them. The Honor Magic V2 has a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 20-megapixel 2.5x telephoto sensor, and a 50-megapixel ultrawide sensor. Meanwhile the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 counters with a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 10-megapixel 3x optical zoom sensor, and a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor. It's also important to remember that the Honor Magic V2 is still on preproduction software which to a certain extent includes the camera.

The photo samples below have Samsung photos on the left and Honor photos on the right.

Both phones perform great in the daylight and what's most notable about the Honor phone is the amount of detail that the ultrawide and telephoto cameras are able to capture. Samsung can't really compete on that end, but that is where the Honor Magic V2's advantage stops. 

What's really remarkable here both during the day and at night is how smooth the image stabilization is on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. Samsung is known for stable video during the day, though this footage seems somehow even smoother. At night, you get the same effect, virtually erasing footstep judder that you typically see in video footage at night.

Even though the Honor's software is not final, it's hard to imagine that it will catch up to the Z Fold 5 in this particular area. Samsung is just simply too good.

Price, availability, and final verdict

When it comes to being able to buy the phone, both phones hold a distinct advantage over one another. The Honor Magic V2 will be available globally — except in the United States — for roughly $1,250, varying from region to region. Meanwhile, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 anywhere in the world, but it'll cost you $1,800. That is quite the premium above the Honor phone, and it's getting harder and harder to justify.

While Samsung performs better in the camera department, the Honor Magic V2 outperforms the Z Fold 5 everywhere else. From a simple day-to-day usability standpoint, the Honor foldable is superior. It's a little ironic that the value proposition of a foldable phone is how much you can use it while it's closed. It's like that for the Moto Razr Plus and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 as well.

The simple fact of the matter is the more you can keep these phones closed, the better. The inner screen is for those times that you have both hands to use the phone, which is not common. The Honor Magic V2 has that in spades while the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's cover screen is borderline unusable.

So it comes down to what's most important to you. If you value refinement, camera, and support, pick the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. If you value closed usability, ridiculous thinness, and killer battery life, the Honor Magic V2 is your champion. Of course, if you live in the United States, you only have one choice to begin with.