HUAWEI SUB-BRAND Honor launched its flagship handset, the Honor View20, earlier this month at an event in Paris. It marked the phone’s official availability across the world, after flashing it briefly at CES in January.
On paper, the Honor View 20 is quite an impressive bit of kit on paper. It’s one of the first flagships to bost a ‘punch-hole selfie cam, meaning no more need for a notch. But does it work well in real-life scenarios? Here’s our full review.
In a bid to distinguish itself from other flagship smartphones on the market, Honor has attempted something a little different when it comes to the View 20’s design. The firm has given the handset something it’s calling an “Aurora Nanotexture pattern” design; this basically means it boasts a unique laser-etched reflective “V” pattern behind the glass, which is obviously indicative of the phone’s branding (in China, it’s simply known as the Honor V20). While not to everyone’s tastes, at least Honor is trying something out of the ordinary.
Another way in which the View 20 is making a statement in terms of design is by getting rid of the “notch” – something we’ve seen from pretty much every smartphone maker of late. Honor has avoided the need for the cutout with quite a bit of impressive engineering; inserting the front-facing camera within the screen in the form of a small hole punched out in the top-left corner.
This was apparently achieved by combining the hole within the layers of the LCD itself, rather than just drilling space in the pixels. Very smart indeed. And yes, we have already seen this in the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy A8, but here the display hole is smaller, measuring 4.5mm in diameter compared to Samsung’s 6.7mm.
Overall, the phone looks super slick and it makes us happy that Honor has made this design achievement; it’s what innovation is all about.
And if you’re prissy over exact measurements, the View 20 is 75.4mm wide and 8.1mm thick. It’s not a small phone, but no flagships are nowadays. Still, it does feel premium, despite its plastic chassis, which doesn’t feel so plasticky, to be honest.
The only downside is that the Honor View 20 doesn’t have an IP rating. This is something you find on most flagship phones these days, so we’re pretty peeved not to see it here. It could be a real dealbreaker for some people, and we think it could be a major factor for potential buyers when looking at rival smartphone offerings.
As a flagship device that comes in at £500, we weren’t expecting anything too out of the ordinary in terms of the Honor View 20’s display. It boasts a 6.4in Full HD+ LCD display with a super-wide 19.25:9 aspect ratio, and while not exactly cutting edge, it is still a pleasure to use.
The screen is lovely and vibrant, with excellent brightness levels making it ideal for Netflix on the go. Although, we should probably note that movie watching isn’t always optimal as the 19.25:9 aspect ratio means that when viewing standard movies and TV shows you’ll have black bars left and right.
One thing we were looking forward to testing out in a full review was if the hole-punched selfie camera got in the way when viewing content. Well, the good news is that it really really doesn’t. It’s not even noticeable. It’s also perhaps why Honor gave the View 20 such a wide aspect ratio – so the punch hole is hidden by the black bars when watching standard content.
The Honor View 20 is powered by the same high spec processor as seen in Huawei’s super powerful Mate 20 Pro smartphone – the Huawei Kirin 980 chipset. This processor is quite the beast, so we’re quite surprised to see it here in the Honor View 20. Yes, it’s the firm’s flagship, but Honor is still widely regarded as a budget phone maker, so getting this kind of power makes it a really good deal.
Alongside this top-notch processor are either 6GB RAM paired with 128GB of internal storage for £499, or 8GB RAM and 256GB for £579. Both models run the Android 9 Pie operating system.
In terms of general performance, we found the device impressively nippy, with no lag even when we ran power-demanding apps with augmented reality features.
As for software, it feels nice to navigate, with Honor’s skin not making too much of a major difference to Google’s Android interface. However, Honor has switched out its Emotion UI, the Huawei-borrowed skin it would normally use (known as EMUI) with an Honor-exclusive “Magic UI”. There’s no difference here apart from the name change. Our guess is that Honor has just done it to try to differentiate itself from Huawei.
In terms of benchmarking, the Honor View 20 scored an impressive 278,879, defeating 83 percent of all other major phone benchmark averages.
The Honor View 20 packs a sizeable 4,000mAh battery and the juice it gives you from just one charge is just as impressive. We might even go as far as saying it provides among the best real-world stamina you can get from a mid-range phone.
Using the phone to send messages from time to time and check social media notifications, we found that the battery lasted on average just short of two full days before running out of juice.
Obviously, the battery life depends on how you use the phone over the course of a day. With the Honor View 20, using it almost constantly on full brightness, watching videos, browsing the web, and listening to music, for example, its battery still had around 40 percent left by the late evening after being unplugged early morning, around 8am. It didn’t even need charging overnight if it hadn’t been used heavily throughout the day.
It’s worth noting that the Honor View 20 uses Huawei’s SuperCharge tech for charging. This is a proprietary system that increases both voltage and current to max-out charge speed and sees the Honor View 20 charged to full in just over an hour. It’s pretty incredible, really.
However, be aware there’s no support for wireless charging here.
We’ve already talked at length at the tech behind the front-facing camera, but how does that, and the rear-facing snapper that joins it, fare in terms of actually photo-taking?
For starters, the Honor View 20 touts a massive 48MP rear-facing camera made by Sony witan an f/1.8 aperture and a 78-degree angle lens, and around the front is an impressive 25MP cam.
All in all, we were very impressed with the performance of the phone’s snappers, and a test of both offered good results. Images appeared well saturated and clean.
Something we noticed was that the automatic beauty mode might require a retune when first used, as it does tend to want to blur the hell out of your face to make you look better. Another potential issue is that no wide or zoomed rear lenses, so don’t expect those premium features here.
Still, images are good and colors are strong but we wouldn’t exactly say they’re class-leading or anything. Don’t expect the “wow factor” you get with some market-leading flagships because results aren’t on the level seen on some of the other big contenders in the smartphone market right now.
Take the photo capabilities of the Huawei P20 Pro or Pixel 3, for instance. They just aren’t matched here on the View 20. But for a considerable couple of hundred pounds lower RRP, we’re not too surprised, nor fussed.
Overall, we are very impressed with what Honor has managed to engineer here with its latest flagship. With a £499 starting price, we couldn’t ask for more; well, apart from perhaps the addition of some IP certification.
Honor’s hole punch front-facing camera design is fresh and exciting for the industry, and we welcome new innovation with open arms. Good on Honor for pioneering this design and we’re looking forward to seeing what will come next from the company.
The Honor View 20 is available worldwide from today priced at £499 or £579 and comes in red, blue and black color variants.