Abracadabra: This new ‘Magic’ phone knows who you are and what you want (hands-on)

Plenty of companies think their phones “magically” do what you want without having to lift a finger, but Huawei backs its new Honor Magic — the prettiest Honor phone we’ve seen — with a whole lot of built-in settings you don’t usually get.

The company says it’s using AI to respond to physical sensors, like the proximity sensor, to make the phone know who you are, what you’re doing now, and what you might want to do next.

A few examples of the Magic’s powers:

You pick it up and its infrared sensors scan your face. Coupled with the fingerprint reader in the home button, it will only surface notification messages when the phone has verified it’s you, so that nosy neighbors don’t get to see who’s pinging you or why.

If it’s dark (or if you cover the ambient light sensor), the phone can surface a flashlight option on the lock screen. You can swipe to turn it on. Once you turn it off, you can’t toggle it on again. Having the flashlight at your fingertips is one of those anticipate-your-needs functions, which will theoretically make it faster and easier to find and use.

I haven’t had a chance to see this in action, but another feature is where GPS meets your calendar and other apps to pull up stuff you need to reference at a pertinent moment. For example, your tracking number should surface on screen when you get to the post office, or perhaps your boarding pass pops into view when you arrive at the airport.

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Hands-on Huawei’s ‘Magic’ phone

Huawei also points out some capabilities that seem like rebranded features from Google Now on Android, like pressing and holding the home screen button to find out more information about a topic or place (Huawei calls this “deep think”). On the whole, though, we haven’t seen sensors programmed to quite this extent — there’s an entire submenu dedicated to apps and services that the Magic can tap into, anything from flights and taxi information to streaming entertainment.

The phone’s selling in China right now, but it isn’t clear how much integration we’ll see carry over into other countries where the Honor Magic could go on sale.

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Honor Magic specs

  • 5-inch screen with a resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels
  • 12-megapixel dual-lens camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Android 6.0 with Magic Live software layer
  • 2.3GHz octa-core Huawei Kirin processor
  • 2,900mAh battery with quick charge: 70 percent charge in 20 minutes
  • 64GB internal storage/4GB RAM
  • Colors: golden black, porcelain white

First published Dec. 16, 2016, 9:40 a.m. PT.

Update, January 3, 2017, 4:30 p.m. PT: Added details from CES 2017.

SOURCE:https://www.cnet.com/products/huawei-honor-magic/preview/