Last November, Huawei subsidiary honor launched a new line of notebooks inside China. The Magicbook line consisted of several models built on Intel, AMD, and offered a variety of memory and capacity variants, as well as choices in operating system. For the worldwide market, honor is simplifying its selection for expediency, and is set to offer AMD Ryzen 5 systems globally from as low as £650 (estimated).
This is all part of honor’s new 1+8+N strategy, where the company has its key smartphone product as the ‘one’, identified 8 key target markets (such as tablet, notebook, wearables) that complement the smartphone, and then ‘N’ for all the various IoT devices that can be connected or controlled through the 1+8 family.
The two models that honor is bringing to the global market are the Magicbook 14-inch and Magicbook 15-inch. What makes the devices uniquely honor is the target market and the styling. On the styling front, we have two colors (Space Grey and Mystic Silver), but the blue chamfered edge around the device is special. This is an Azure Blue chamfer, developed through a diamond cut. The blue styling matches the offcenter HONOR logo.
That target market is also special, going after the Gen X generation that wants good performance at a fraction of the price with the styling. To that end, both of the Magicbook 14-inch and Magicbook 15-inch are built on the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U APUs, offering four Zen+ cores and eight Radeon Vega compute units, offering 8 GB DDR4 and 256/512 GB PCIe SSD configurations. Interestingly enough, the SSDs in the demo units we played with had Samsung NVMe drives in.
The displays in both units are 1080p LCD displays, with a 4.8-5.3mm bezel around the edge. This resolution might seem low, but comes into honors strategy of affordable pricing, but also the company is claiming some very nice battery numbers – up to 10hr office productivity, 9.4 hours web browsing, and 9.5 hours video, all built on the 56 Wh battery. That battery supports 65W Type-C fast charging, giving 48-53% charge after only 30 minutes. These numbers seem really nice for a 14-15 inch Ryzen 3000 series laptop.
Honor made special mention of the weight of the notebooks, saying that its typical customer base wants a light design however there is a need to balance materials with cost. To that end, these devices are 15.9-16.9mm at the thickest point, weighing 1.38 kg for the 14-inch model, and 1.53 kg for the 15-inch model. Both models eschew the display webcam in favor of the function-key pop-up webcam (similar to what we’ve seen in Huawei notebooks), and they both have a fingerprint sensor based power button. Also of note is the lie-flat mode, with the Magicbook offering a 178-degree horizontal mode, allowing viewing comfort even at obtuse angles.
China has more models of the Magicbook available, including a Ryzen 7 unit, and Intel units. The market there are well known to honor, while the worldwide market is a slower rollout, hence the fewer models available. To that end, there will be questions as to why honor is releasing a Ryzen 3000U series notebook, when AMD just announced the 4000U series. Honor’s response was actually quite good and took two angles: firstly, the product category is still new to them, so it is taking time; the second answer is that they don’t expect to see a Ryzen 4000U notebook at this price point in the global market until later in the year, so they think there’s plenty of room at this price for a new stylish Ryzen 3000 model. Honor does have the next generation in the works, however the company would not comment on the hardware they’re going to use for that model.
A relatively new entrant to the notebook market, honor is a brand that promotes itself into the younger generation – users who might not be able to afford the best in the market, but still want a powerful stylish device that caters specifically to that market. To date honor is one of the most successful online-only brands for smartphones, with the strong user base in China now expanding worldwide. We’ve reviewed a number of honor’s key smartphone devices, including the Honor 20 Pro, the View 20, the Honor 8X, the Honor 8, and the Honor Play, and the same design ID is coming to the notebook market.
Ultimately this laptop was intended to be launched at Mobile World Congress, a big trade show in Barcelona, however that trade show was cancelled due to the concerns around the Coronavirus. Honor stated that the virus has affected its ability to manufacture units for a launch, with their subsidery factories not having sufficient personnel. By having only a couple of models for the worldwide markets, they’re hoping that ramping up production (when that happens) should be a simple affair. There will be a staggered launch depending on how many Honor will be able to produce, and honor will provide that information as and when it becomes available.