Hands On With Honor's Magic 'AI Phone'

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LAS VEGAS—The Honor Magic feels like magic, even before you turn it on. The new "AI phone" from Honor, a division of Huawei, is designed to use cloud services to predict what you want to do. But I was blown away by its physical feel.

The Honor Magic is out in China, but CES is the first chance anyone in the US gets to hold it. It has a 5-inch, quad HD screen, a Kirin 950 processor, and dual 12-megapixel cameras. It packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, so the specs are pretty up to date.

The form factor is what sets it apart physically, though. It's very curved. The front glass and the back both curve on all four edges, pinching to a rose-colored metal band around the edge of the phone. The result is a phone that's 5.75 inches high by 2.75 inches wide, narrower than most phones and a joy to hold in your hand.

Honor explained some of the "AI" features, which are why the phone is only out in China. If you buy a train ticket and step into a train station, or buy a movie ticket and step into the movie theater, your ticket pops up. Thanks to Honor's integration with various partners, it can combine your GPS data with its knowledge about the purpose of certain locations to push out information proactively.

In the future, the phone may store and recognize your habits. For instance, I listen to news radio every morning when doing the dishes. So the Magic might suggest turning on 1010 WINS at the habitual time, Honor reps said.

Without the cloud services, the Magic doesn't have that software magic. The one feature Honor could show me is that in a dark room, a flashlight icon pops up.

Whether or not the cloud services come to the US, I hope the form factor does. The super-curved, almost pinched glass-and-metal body really stands out. Here's to hoping that this will be the look for the upcoming Honor 9 later this year.

Also this week, we got a look at the Huawei Honor 6X, which offers a lot of Android bang for your buck, besting last year's model in just about every way.

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