The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is about to get a serious new rival

A photo shown full screen on the open Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung has won foldables for 2023 with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5, right? Both phones are expertly crafted, lovely to use, and have been highly praised since their launch.

Well, maybe not, because at the IFA technology trade show on September 1, Honor is going to launch not one but two new folding smartphones — meaning Samsung won’t be the newest foldable game in town for very long this year.

Honor? IFA? What?

A person opening the Honor Magic Vs.
Honor Magic Vs Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Before we get into why this is a potentially big deal, time for some background. Honor doesn’t sell its smartphones in the U.S., but it does in the U.K. and elsewhere in the world. The IFA trade show happens annually in Berlin, and last year it was the launchpad for the Honor Magic Vs big-screen folding phone, which was subsequently released in the U.K. in early 2023. This means the devices announced at this year’s IFA show will almost certainly get a wide global launch.

Long-time mobile fans will remember Honor was once part of the Huawei family but was sold off so it could survive on its own when the U.S. decided to restrict sales of components to Huawei, cutting it off from Google and other U.S. tech companies. Since then, Honor has released a variety of devices, from phones to smartwatches, complete with Google Services and 5G connectivity.

The Honor Magic Vs was its most ambitious and high-profile release yet, and although the software wasn’t quite up to the standard we expect from the brand, there’s no doubt the hardware is excellent. It’s also quite a lot cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and the Google Pixel Fold, its two main rivals. Honor has always been great at design, and the sleek Magic Vs proved it hasn’t lost its touch since separating from Huawei.

What’s new?

A press shot showing the different Honor Magic V2 models.
Honor Magic V2 Honor

For 2023, Honor is returning to IFA, and it’s coming with two new foldable smartphones. Better yet, we already know what one of them will be, as earlier this year, Honor announced the Honor Magic V2 in China. A tweet announcing the IFA event from Honor’s official account included the Magic V2 hashtag, so there’s no question it’ll be on the roster.

It’s an incredibly thin foldable, measuring just 4.7mm unfolded and 9.9mm folded up, making it far thinner than the competition. It’s light at 231 grams too. It also has all the right specs we want to see in a 2023 flagship, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a 50MP main and wide-angle camera, plus a 20MP telephoto camera, a 5,000mAh battery, a 7.92-inch inner screen, and a 6.43-inch cover screen.

A press shot of the Honor Magic V2 Ultimate in black.
Honor Magic V2 Ultimate Honor

If the Magic V2 is a given, what is the second folding smartphone Honor will bring to Germany? This is still a mystery, but it’s not a stretch to imagine it may be a compact folding smartphone to take on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr 40, and Motorola Razr Plus. If it is, then it’ll be the first major brand to release both a large and small folding smartphone to take on Samsung outside China. For example, Oppo only released the Oppo Find N2 Flip in the U.K. but kept the Oppo Find N2 for China.

Don’t get carried away just yet

The invitation to Honor's IFA 2023 event.

Before we get too carried away, there is a slight chance Honor is playing fast and loose with the way it’s counting the number of new foldables coming to IFA. There are actually two versions of the Honor Magic V2, a standard model and the Honor Magic V2 Ultimate, which has an eco-leather back, more RAM, more storage, and a stylus called the Magic Pen included with it. Depending on how you look at it, that is two new foldables — just not two distinctly different new foldables.

Either way, there’s a lot riding on the Honor Magic V2 and the mystery second phone. The Magic Vs went from being a really exciting phone to one that was released too late and with a less-than-impressive camera. Honor needs to get the Magic V2 right this time and into stores this year, preferably soon after its launch at IFA, if it wants to be a viable alternative to the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

We’ll find out which folding smartphones Honor has for us on September 1, when it will hold an event at its IFA booth. It says the event will be a “beautiful fusion of tech, fashion, and sustainability.” We’re excited about it, as we’re still keen to have more competition in the foldable space, and will bring you all the news on the day.

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