HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G: Lite only in name or performance too?

HONOR, once a subsidiary of Huawei, now an independent phone brand has continued to release phones left right and centre and has recently announced the Magic 5 line-up. The HONOR Magic5 Lite sits at the lower end of the device list under the Magic5 and Magic5 Pro. But does this Lite device pack a punch?

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G
+ FOR
  • Massive battery
  • Great display
  • Well rounded device
- AGAINST
  • Speakers aren't the best

Buy the HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G

Disclaimer

HONOR sent out this device free of charge for a review however no money has changed hands. The review period was 9 days in total. The phone was tested on version 6.1.0.135 build C431E1R2P2

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Overview & Unboxing

The HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G which will I will refer to as the Magic5 Lite going forward is delivered in a pretty plain box. It reminds me very much of the boxes Apple provides refurbished devices in. Whilst a box usually isn’t seen for a significant amount of time after a device is opened, it is usually nice to see some cool imagery of the device. But I guess doing plainer boxes lowers the cost of the overall boxes and subsequently the device. It also probably lowers the carbon footprint of the overall package a little as well.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G Box

Inside the box, you have the phone in a plastic pouch right at the top. Below that, you have a box with the sim ejector tool. As my device is a review sample it didn’t include any documentation but your retail unit will likely have some regulatory info and a quick start guide. Below that you have a USB A to C cable with the USB A side having an orange insert.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G Box Contents - USB A to C Cable and SIM Ejector Tool

The last time I reviewed an HONOR device was the View 20 which was quite a few years ago and that featured a purple insert. Still, after a quick bit of research I found that Honor sells the same cable on its site. It is a USB 6A cable which features additional power protection to allow for up to 6A to be passed through the cable but this would be using an Honor SuperCharge Wall Charger with up to 66W of throughput. Huawei, its ex-parent company also sells this with the same so it seems HONOR is still ‘licencing’ its technology. Officially the device only supports up to 40W of power via the Honor SuperCharge technology.

There is also plenty of spare space in the box so it seems like HONOR could have reconfigured the box to make it a bit taller and reduce the volume by up to 50% to ensure they are being more efficient in their device packaging.

Moving onto the device itself now. The first thing I noticed was how unique the design of the rear of the phone was, it features a circle which houses the triple camera setup made up of 64MP, 5MP and 2MP sensors and the LED flash. The centre has some text ‘MATRIX AI VISION CAMERA’ which I am not a huge fan of personally as it makes the device look cheaper and simply the HONOR logo towards the bottom of the phone would keep the device looking sleeker.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G - Rear Side - Sat on a tree branch resting against the main trunk

Flipping the phone around you have the 16MP front-facing punch-hole camera encased within the 6.67” AMOLED display. The left side is free of buttons whilst the right-hand side has the volume rocker and power button. Up top, you have an IR blaster and microphone. Lastly, on the bottom, you have the dual nano SIM card slot, USB C, microphone and loudspeaker.

Rear of phone on wooden planks

Turning the device on, the Android setup was pretty standard with the language selection, followed by region, terms of use, WiFi and device protection including facial unlock and fingerprint. The latter of which was a little finicky to set up but after a few tries I got it set up.

The device is powered by Android as the sanctions that were applied to Huawei no longer apply to the HONOR brand as it was bought by Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology which is a majority state-owned company controlled by the Shenzhen municipal government. As such HONOR was now able to buy processors from Qualcomm and their devices could run and have access to Google Mobile Service which they previously couldn’t.

Phone against tree trunk

Spec Sheet

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G (6 nm) with Adreno 619 GPU
  • 6.7” Display
    • 2400 x 1080 Resolution with 395 PPI
    • 20:9 Aspect Ratio
    • AMOLED with 1.07B colours
    • 120Hz Refresh Rate
    • 800 nits
    • Under Display Optical Fingerprint Scanner
    • 9% screen-to-body ratio
  • 128GB Storage
  • 6GB RAM
  • Android 12 with HONOR Magic UI 6.1 Skin
  • 5100 mAh battery
  • 40W charging support (Honor SuperCharge)
  • Rear Cameras:
    • 64 MP, f/1.8, (wide), PDAF
    • 5 MP, f/2.2, (ultrawide)
    • 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
  • Front Camera:
    • 16 MP, f/2.5, (wide)
  • USB C 2.0 with OTG support
  • NFC support
  • Dual Nano SIM Cards
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 ac / Wi-Fi 5
  • Bluetooth 5.1

Performance & Use

Display:

The HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G features a 2400 x 1080 120HZ AMOLED display and when I looked at those specs initially I honestly felt like this phone would be priced at a lot more than it is because that combination can’t be cheap. HONOR hasn’t skimped out when picking a screen and this is great to see especially as this is what you will interact with most.

The colours are vibrant but without seeming oversaturated or artificially increased. This is key, especially considering the camera as many devices make the colours look better than they are and when you export the image then you are left with a pretty dull image which is not representative of how it looked when it was captured. I wouldn’t expect professional photographers to be using this phone as a primary camera so it is not the end of the world but just something to bear in mind.

When the brightness is turned up to the max, it can cause some discomfort to your eyes as the display gets bright! Although it is ‘only’ 800 nits compared to the peak brightness of some other devices which can be 1200 nits, this doesn’t necessarily rely on HDR to get to that upper level and as such your normal maximum brightness is significantly higher. I would only really recommend full brightness when outdoors and the rest of the time about 70% brightness should suffice.

The display however isn’t perfect. It features curved edges on both the left and right-hand side of the displays which is very reminiscent of Samsung devices of the past. If you look at the phone straight on, this curved display causes some odd visual effects with a weird fringing effect on both sides. When you look at it side on, the side closer to you tends to look a little lighter too with the other side looking darker.

HONOR Magic5 Lite showing display fringing issue

The viewport of most modern websites (the visible area on the display) tends to have smaller margins and as such some of the text often ‘falls off the screen’ with less than a millimetre of space between the edge of the display and the text starting. Hence it can be a little bit annoying when reading articles. Our site seems to be immune from this thankfully so if you do purchase this device, your favourite tech site will continue to work perfectly 😎!

As this is an AMOLED panel, HONOR has integrated an Always On Display which can display a series of animations and graphics on the lock screen. I would probably turn this off in the longer term as it displayed the time which I could just as easily find out by pressing the power button or lifting it to wake the device. This would help battery life and also reduce the risk of burn-in on the display.

Benchmarks

Upon installing the AnTuTu benchmark, I was presented with a different name for the device. Whilst I have seen names which are internal unique identifiers for the devices, this seemed like a retail-facing name. The name presented was the Honor X9A. So it turns out that the HONOR Magic5 Lite is a rebranded HONOR X9A for the most part. The X9A does seem to have a couple of storage and RAM configuration options which the Magic5 Lite lacks but apart from that if you put both devices next to each other, I don’t think you could tell the difference. The X9A is however targeted for the Asian markets and as such is a bit cheaper than the UK/European pricing for the Magic5 Lite.

Antutu

Overall Score: 398413

CPU: 120115

GPU: 100605

Memory: 65906

UX: 111787

Geekbench 5

Single Core: 662

Multi-Core: 1888

GPU Compute (Vulcan Score): 1197

Geekbench 6

Single Core: 894

Multi-Core: 2063

GPU Compute (Vulkan Score): 1140

Benchmark Detail

Antutu’s overall score puts this device around the Realme 10 which features the MediaTek Helio G99. This puts the device around the 114th place in the Antutu leaderboard which isn’t terrible, but when devices such as the Galaxy S10 and Pixel 4 XL which are flagships are available for less money brand new but handily beat out the performance of the Magic5 Lite, the pitch for this item becomes a little more difficult.

I can’t directly compare the Geekbench 5 results anymore as Geekbench has replaced the results on their site with only ones sourced from Geekbench 5. But comparing it to some of my previously reviewed devices such as the Oppo Reno 2 which got a single core score of 540 and multi-core of 1681. My review then stated the Snapdragon 855’s single core score was 120 points higher, putting it around the 660 mark, so in theory, the Snapdragon 695 is identical to the flagship devices of 2018 and 2019. The multi-core score is a bit higher than the Realme 8 5G’s MediaTek Dimensity 700.

Geekbench 6 was a look easier to compare and hence it is easier to compare due to the benchmarks being readily available. The single-core score of 894 sits exactly alongside the Snapdragon 855 found in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 and is ever so slightly higher than the Google Pixel 4.

Whilst overall the benchmarks are not outstanding and it’s odd to see that HONOR have chosen to keep the processor the same even though they updated other aspects of the device. I guess part of this could be attributed to the general chip shortages and Qualcomm may have had plenty of these lying about or have the manufacturing capacity to meet the demand from HONOR. But how do these benchmarks impact day-to-day usage?

Usage:

The device didn’t feel old or underpowered during my general testing. I think the 120Hz AMOLED display helps to eliminate some of the sluggishness which I would have otherwise seen during animations if there was a 60Hz. The keyboard felt incredibly natural to type on due to the 6.67″ screen which is the slightest bit smaller than the 6.68″ of my Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. The aspect ratio is 20:9 which is slightly taller than I am used to and whilst this device isn’t a 1 handed device by any means, it means I can have more flexibility of my thumbs when holding the device.

There were a few system animations that didn’t flow perfectly at all times, but for the most part, they were fluid. There were a couple of stutters here and there but nothing major which would detrimentally impact my usage.  An animation I liked included the icons on the home page falling over the waterfall effect of the curved display.

Networks:

This test was carried out with Vodafone’s 4G and 5G networks in the southwest of England. All tests were carried out in Mbps and the Ookla Speedtest application with the server being Iomart Maidenhead which was 11 miles away from me.

DeviceHONOR Magic5 Lite 5GApple iPhone 12 Pro MaxOppo Find X3 Lite 5G
4G5G4G5G4G5G
Test 1Download64.135050.7411108225
Upload31.277.928.753.718.259.1
Test 2Download6331851.3376104268
Upload28.277.936.850.320.963.2
Test 3Download70.2294101445126226
Upload25.978.837.747.119.349.7
AverageDownload65.77320.6767.67410.67112.67239.67
Upload28.4378.2034.4050.3719.4757.33

The results for this were an interesting mix. The 4G download score for both the HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G and Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max were neck and neck – the HONOR seemed to be more consistent in its score whereas the iPhone saw 2 scores together and one significantly different. The 4G uploads were better than I expected and around 50% faster than the X3 Lite.

On the 5G side of things, the iPhone handily beat out the Magic5 Lite by about 30% on the download speeds. This was also expected and follows trends I have seen before on other devices. The Oppo however fared poorly in comparison with the iPhone being nearly enough half the speed. When evaluating upload speeds the HONOR Magic5 Lite surprised me, it beat out the iPhone and the Oppo with ease.

WiFi:

This is a new one for me to test as I have never really had decent broadband speeds up until the end of last year but it is something I will be including moving forward. In this instance, this test was carried out outside of my home but using Cisco WiFi 6 access points at a distance of about 10m. This phone is not capable of WiFi 6E and neither is this specific access point so it won’t be an issue.

All tests were carried out in Mbps and using the same VeloxServ Communications location as a speed test server using the Ookla Speedtest app. The Scale was set to 100 and the connection type is Multi.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5GApple iPhone 12 Pro MaxApple iPhone 12Oppo Find X3 Lite 5G
Test 1Download37.193.791.250.4
Upload68.418818046.2
Test 2Download54.778.799.546.6
Upload65.717718562.1
Test 3Download54.974.883.551.5
Upload68.815718062.0
AverageDownload48.9082.4091.4049.50
Upload67.63174.00181.6756.77

Travelling Along the Middle of the Road

This was quite an interesting test to carry out as it showed similar trends to the 5G and 4G tests I have done in the past. It showed that the devices that were more budget oriented tended to have WiFi chips that were capable of less throughput in real-world usage. This could mean on slower broadband connections this device could end up being throttled in comparison to more powerful devices. The download speeds on the Magic5 Lite were about 60% of the flagship devices, whereas the upload speeds were around 30-35% which was a bigger surprise. Potentially HONOR expects those users to be more content consumers than content creators so are unlikely to be uploading as much so it wouldn’t be as stark a difference, but the 5G upload was faster so I guess it could all be a coincidence

Biometric Authentication:

The phone features an in-display optical fingerprint sensor which is good to see and has become standardised even on lower-end hardware. This is a little lower on the display than I would have liked as it fits outside my natural holding position so I often had to readjust my grip to get a good hold of the phone. I found the fingerprint sensor to be accurate about 95% of the time with a couple of failed tries here and there.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G Fingerprint Scanner on Always On Display

The facial recognition does seem to be faster than the fingerprint sensor sometimes as by the time I have even readjusted my finger/hand to place it on the sensor, the facial unlock has already unlocked the device. Even if I had my finger in the correct place, it would also sometimes unlock faster so overall super fast. I would probably turn this off in the long term just due to its lower level of security compared to the fingerprint scanner.

Speakers:

The primary speaker on this device wouldn’t be considered exceptional by any means. It is a mono bottom-facing speaker and this means the sound stage is limited. Even though the earpiece is a fairly considerable size, it for some reason isn’t used as a speaker.

HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G - Bottom Side - Sat on a fence post

The volume output of the speaker is fairly decent and maxes out at around 123 decibels. In terms of the audio quality, it tends to feel quite hollow and the vocals often felt murky. Whilst this speaker works for your Instagram reels and TikTok videos, for any serious music listening sessions you would be best putting a pair of headphones on. One thing to note is that it isn’t easily blocked and even if you put your finger on the speaker holes when the volume is maxed out, there is plenty of sound leakage and the hollow-sounding audio almost increases the volume even if the decibel level isn’t the absolute highest.

Call Quality:

The earpiece takes up about 50% of the top bezel of the display but is super narrow and so can be easily missed at first glance especially if you aren’t looking at the top under a direct light. It was plenty loud but was a bit tinny.

Camera & Samples

The camera wasn’t a stand-out feature of this phone in my opinion. It performed very averagely and overall the images looked pretty standard. I will let you take a look at the photos and make your own judgement.

The selfie camera was far better than I expected and the sensor and processing made me look a lot more lifelike.

Video is also capped at just 1080P 30FPS which is also very odd. The stabilisation on the camera was also not fantastic.

Software

Magic UI has been slimmed down significantly since the View 20 and this is to be expected especially since it’s been such a long time since that device came out. The apps still have custom icons which bring a pop of colour to the OS, they do however lack a single design language with apps like the calendar, contacts and messages looking very flat whereas My HONOR, App Market and Settings all have a 3D style look. HONOR could work on unifying this. There are a few odd translations I noticed around the place such as within the My HONOR app where it states ‘Hi master, 5G Cellular Phone always stays with you. Thanks for your company’ – I am not too sure what this exactly means.

Battery

HONOR has equipped the Magic5 Lite 5G with a 5100 mAh cell which I am surprised about as I can’t tell how they managed to fit it within the slender body of the phone. This honestly defies certain laws of physics as far as I am concerned.

The standby times were great with only 5% battery lost over 8 hours overnight – albeit this was with reduced notification levels.

I got around 1.5 days out of the HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G as I do tend to push my devices a little more than most so that is a great figure to end up with. Especially as I am playing around with the device more and tinkering about with it quite a lot.

Charging

Unlike the HONOR phones of yesteryear, this phone lacks any included power adapter which is a shame especially as the USB C cable included is capable of 6A fast charging. This is likely a cost-cutting measure for the most part as the big brother of this device, the HONOR Magic5 Pro comes with one in the box. It also is a Type A to C cable which is a little annoying as it somewhat holds back the move to Type C on the wall plug side as users would have to purchase a power adapter regardless so they could have bought a type c adapter.

This also may be due to the target market of this device as they are much more likely to have USB A mains plugs lying around the house and their laptops are much more likely to feature USB A ports over USB C ones so this is likely the more useful cable.

The 5100mah battery is not a small one by any means and as such, it is expected the battery does take a while to charge. I did not have HONOR’s SuperCharge 66W power adapter to test the fast charging capabilities of up to 40W on this device. Hence I used a mid-level charger in the form of my Apple 18W power adapter that was bundled with my 2018 iPad Pro. This offers power outputs of 5V at 3A or 9V at 2A. This provided a good middle ground between the 5W 1A chargers that most people will have a dozen of lying around from older devices and the ultra-fast chargers. One thing to note is that this does use the USB C PD power standard which in theory would be universally built into all USB C-powered devices but that doesn’t always tend to be the case.

Charging Chart
TimePercentage
00:000%
00:032%
00:065%
00:086%
00:109%
00:1411%
00:2116%
00:2419%
00:2923%
00:3226%
00:3829%
00:4333%
00:5039%
00:5542%
01:0046%
01:0349%
01:0853%
01:3170%
01:5086%
02:0394%
02:0896%
02:1699%
02:18100%

These results are a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst 2 hours and 18 minutes seem long in comparison to most hyper-fast charging devices such as the Xiaomi 12 I reviewed last year which was fully charged in 43 minutes on the included 67W fast charger. In contrast, my iPhone 12 Pro Max is rated to charge up fully in 1 hour and 29 minutes on a 20W fast charger so maybe on the 18W charger I tested this with, it would take a little while longer. But the battery on this is 45% larger so it’s a bit more difficult to make a direct comparison especially as you will only really need to do this every other day based on my typical usage of the battery.

Miscellaneous

The pre-applied factory screen protector in my opinion is not up to scratch (pardon the pun. It scratched very easily with even minor nicks and marks. It seems to be of a very soft gel-like finish which feels great and my finger glides across the display (although less smoothly than glass or a glass screen protector. If I was to use this device in the longer term, I would pull this plastic one off and replace it with a tempered glass protector. As there is also no case included with the device, which is something I come to expect from certain manufacturers, it is prone to damage out-the-box however no more than devices from Apple and Samsung which lack the factory screen protector completely.

The rear of the phone has a cool finish with a smooth glass look but it appears differently coloured under different lighting conditions meaning that sometimes your device can look dark grey, other times it can look icy blue and the rest of the time it could like white. I like the finish HONOR has used on this and the textured HONOR badge is a nice finish. The phone is however a dust magnet and it took me forever between each shot to clean the phone as it had somehow picked up lots of lint and dust.

The SIM card ejector slot is also surrounded by very delicate metal and I managed to mark it up a bit when ejecting the tray for the SIM card

Final Thoughts

The HONOR Magic5 Lite 5G is an interesting proposition. It has some excellent elements like the display (for the most part) and excellent battery life but it is paired with some subpar elements. For example, whilst the optics look like they have had lots of time spent on them, they are subpar. If you aren’t too fussed about the camera and want a long battery life, a good-looking display and a well-rounded device, then HONOR Magic 5 Lite may be the device for you!

About Siddu Munjal

Reviewer & Partner Outreach for MobileTechTalk - Tech is a key part of my everyday life and I would probably be extremely lost without it.

2 comments

  1. I’m not sure what to make of this Honor Magic5 Lite 5G. It’s billed as a lite version of the Magic5, but it doesn’t seem to be as powerful as the full-fledged model. I’m not

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