we took in hand this “affordable” folding handbag smartphone

A few weeks ago, Honor lifted the veil on a new smartphone concept: the Honor V Purse. A “handbag phone” with a particularity: its screen folds, but outwards. We were able to take a prototype version of the device in hand to give you our impressions.

In a handbag, what can take up space is obviously your papers, money to pay, etc. Identity card, bank card, health insurance card: all these elements are becoming more and more dematerialized. Enough to do without it, provided you have your smartphone with you, with an Internet connection and battery. Suffice to say that in 99% of situations, this poses no problem. What if the smartphone replaced the handbag? In any case, this is the idea that Honor believes in, since the brand unveiled a smartphone concept at IFA 2023: the Honor V Purse.

Honor was able to lend us a prototype version of its V Purse. This is why certain elements should be taken with a grain of salt: our experience with it does not necessarily reflect that which buyers of the phone will have. Because yes, there are many buyers, since the phone is marketed in China.

The Honor V Purse folds outwards

The Honor V Purse looks exactly like the Huawei Mate Xs 2, released last year in China. And that’s probably OK: the two companies, while officially separate, still seem to have some things in common, including expertise and inspiration.

On what we can call ” the back » of the smartphone, we see a piece of screen, with a plastic bar on the left side « glossy “. It contains the mechanism of “ closing » of the device, but also the photo sensors and part of the electronic circuits. The photo modules are completely integrated and do not protrude.

On the other side, it is a screen that faces us, with curved borders on the sides, but which are not used: the screen stops a little before, which is a shame. An immaculate screen, except with the punch-shaped photo sensor in a slight pill shape, a trademark of the most expensive Honor smartphones. By unfolding the screen, we see the “ TRUE » back of the smartphone.

Made of rough white plastic, it is separated in two by the screen hinge, here in gray.

8.6 mm in the folded position, half as much when unfolded: like the Honor Magic V2, this foldable smartphone is thin compared to other models of the same type. Its competitor could be the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3, although the latter is a little thicker. All for a weight of 214 grams, a very classic weight for a smartphone, offering a good diagonal screen/weight ratio.

For grip, the right edge, thicker than the rest of the back of the smartphone, seems perfect for holding it in the hand. The problem is that its angle is not sharp, so fingers can slip. In addition, it is made of smooth plastic: if you have sweaty hands, it can slip.

Let’s also talk about the hinge, an essential element of the V Purse. Honor says it is made up of 1.2mm springs as well as gears with a diameter of 1.73mm. The manufacturer guarantees that the screen can be folded 200,000 times. To prevent the screen from leading its own life, when it is folded, it is held in place by a latch. To open it, simply press lightly on a button located on the back, right next to the screen (on the back). Then, the screen unfolds partly, maintaining an angle of 135° (or 45° on the other side): in certain positions, it can go up to 90°, but it is up to us to finish the unfolding.

The Honor V Purse does not have the good taste of remaining flat when fully unfolded: the screen can be flat but it tends to fall slightly. To fold it, simply press the left part of the screen backwards, pushing it all the way. Then, the latch will fit into it, in order to lock its position.

In the unfolded position, the screen offers a particular format of approximately 10.5:9, while in the folded position, it is a format of approximately 19.4:9. As for the borders, they are present, especially on the sides: at the top and bottom, they are relatively thin for a foldable smartphone. The folded screen gives a different format from that of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 for example, often criticized for its narrowness. Here, that’s not the feeling we have at all.

As for the fold of the screen, from the front it is not visible, and not necessarily from other viewing angles either. To the touch, however, it feels good. Moreover, when you press on the fold, you can feel what looks like an air bubble. This is undoubtedly a technical necessity and not a design flaw.

The format is almost square, but designed for productivity. In certain games, this can even be a handicap: they are not designed for this format. The same goes for videos: in full screen, it’s impossible to avoid black bars. As for the grip, in the folded format you only need one.

But as soon as you want to unfold or fold the screen, you need two. Which is normal, since it’s closer to a tablet than a smartphone.

A single screen

Unlike almost every other folding smartphone, the Honor V Purse only has a single screen, folding to about a third of its width.

It is a 7.71-inch Oled panel (6.47 inches unfolded) with a 2K definition (2348 by 2016 pixels unfolded, 2348 by 1088 pixels folded) and a maximum brightness of 1600 cd/m². The maximum refresh rate is 90Hz and is adaptive. Also, HDR10+ compatibility is required.

Software: not everything is (yet) available

No big surprise: here we are entitled to Android 13 with Honor’s overlay, MagicOS 7.2. Quite a particular element that we don’t necessarily find on other Honor smartphones (apart from its foldables): the separation between quick settings and notifications.

Whether in the folded position or in the unfolded position, the two are separate. For notifications, you have to slide your finger from top to bottom on the left, same thing on the right for quick settings. Like on Xiaomi smartphones in short.

The Honor V Purse is not sold in Europe and probably will not be. However, it could be since the brand is no longer affected by the American embargo on Google services. Moreover, our test device has Google services: we can download applications from the Play Store.

Also, the translations seem correct: only a few elements remain in Chinese.

There is a multitasking mode allowing you to view up to two applications simultaneously. Here, Honor does less well than other manufacturers: it is quite complicated to launch it and above all it seems that there is only one way to do it. You must open an application wide, then slide your finger from the top of the screen to the middle to place said application where you want it. Then, a menu opens on the side displaying all the applications that can be opened. This only applies in the case where you want to display two applications in vertical format: putting two in horizontal format is possible, but it is even more complex and above all only a few applications are compatible.

For its V Purse, Honor has fashion ambitions. This is why customizable screens imitating the design of a handbag are available. Everything can be decorated with handles that can be changed, which are sold by Honor. Unfortunately, we were unable to test the screens, they were not available on the model loaned to us. Neither do the Hanses. Too bad, we’ll do it fashion week later.

Correct, but uneven performance

To operate this pretty phone, we find the Qualcomm 778G SoC engraved in 6 nm and coupled with 16 GB of RAM (plus 7 GB of virtual RAM). For classic navigation, no doubt: it’s very fluid, the applications launch quickly. No, what’s more interesting is in terms of the video game: we were able to install Fortnite and play it. With graphics settings set to “ AVERAGE “, we can reach 60 FPS, but only during certain phases of play. In combat or in areas rich in detail, the phone can drop to only 20 FPS, which makes the game difficult to play. Also in play, the Honor V Purse heats up a lot, without it being alarming all the same.

A quick word about the battery: it has a capacity of 4500 mAh. According to Honor, its V Purse can last up to 8.7 hours of video playback, 10.6 hours of reading articles or 16 hours of listening to music. All when the smartphone is unfolded.

Photography: it gets the job done

In total, there are three photo sensors on the Honor V Purse:

  • A 50 Mpx Sony IMX800 main sensor;
  • A 12 Mpx ultra-wide-angle sensor (which acts as a macro);
  • An 8 Mpx, f/2.0 selfie sensor.

What we see is that there is a real colorimetric difference between the main sensor and the ultra-wide-angle. When the first produces pretty, fairly bright colors (especially on the grass or yellow elements), the other produces much paler colors, sometimes too white, or even overexposed. Portrait mode is pretty good, mainly on clipping.

The colors are however not very good and the “ embellishment », activated by default, quite strongly smoothes facial features. As for night mode, it fulfills its role, although there are chromatic errors. Ultimately, the Honor V Purse looks like a good mid-range smartphone in the photo, but no more.

Could the Honor V Purse spawn other models?

The Honor V Purse may be marketed in China, but it remains a “ phone concept » and not the first model in an important series from the brand. It is obviously too early to judge the success of the smartphone and its format with a single screen that folds outwards.

There are indications that this may remain just an idea, which has been explored. What’s striking about using the V Purse is that you’re afraid of damaging it. With a screen that goes all the way around the device, it is highly exposed to scratches. Impossible to store it in a pocket with other metal objects. Especially since foldable screens are logically more fragile than classic panels. Another doubt: the opening system. With its button, it’s not the most practical there is.

But at least, Honor (and Huawei) has the merit of opening up the field of possibilities with a third format of foldable smartphones. After the format “ book » and the format “ flapper », here is the format… which has no name. At least not yet, unless it never will, due to lack of public interest. The strength of the Honor V Purse is not so much technical as conceptual. It is the idea of ​​the smartphone replacing the handbag that makes it so charming and interesting.

Or should we look elsewhere? As for the technical sheet, ultimately very mid-range of the phone. Only two photo modules, a single screen, a Snapdragon 7 series chip. And if more than the glamor card, Honor was preparing the ground for a folding smartphone in book format, but much more accessible, and therefore, why not, popular.

Where we expect Honor, it is not necessarily on new smartphone concepts, although it is always a nice surprise to see some. No, where we expect the manufacturer is on a folding smartphone in clamshell format. The brand, like many others, covers all price ranges. In addition, it marketed its Magic Vs in France and could do the same with the Magic V2 presented recently. With an Honor “ Flip », the manufacturer could attack the price of foldable smartphones, an area in which Samsung seems not to want to go, and which is deserted by the departure of Oppo from the French market and therefore of its Find N Flip. Only Motorola is still there with its Razr 40 which arrived a few months ago.

Honor V Purse price and availability

The Honor V Purse is currently available in China for pre-order at the price of 5,999 yuan, or 772 euros according to the current price, for the version with 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Even excluding tax, this remains decidedly low for a folding smartphone. Note that there is also a version with 512 GB of storage.

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