Honor View 20: A worthy flagship phone?

Could the Honor View 20 make its mark among flagship smartphones?

Honor’s View 20 is a venture into flagship territory for the company. While renowned for offering great value for money phones, the company now wants to do this at the highest end of the spectrum. And following today’s launch of the phone in Paris, can it make an impact in the market?

Design and multimedia

This phone from Honor is a breath of fresh air. It comes in at just 8.1mm thin and retains characteristics like the glass and aluminium build of a typical flagship. The back of the phone sports an aurora finish, which is an incredible sight among the usual power buttons, volume rockers and, surprisingly, a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Figure 1: The aurora glass blue finish is a sight to behold

But it is the front of the phone that also gets a lot of attention. We are looking at a 6.4-inch Full HD display with a punch hole-style cut-out notch for the front camera. This makes the phone offer a true bezel-less experience without a slider design and is a valid solution until cameras can start going under the display. And yet, we were surprised Honor has managed to keep the LED notification light intact.

Figure 2: Pixels can sometimes be seen on the Full HD display

As far as the screen is concerned, its viewing angles are not the greatest and the LCD panel is a bit lacklustre in terms of colours compared to an OLED panel. Another notable omission is dual-stereo speakers, which dilute the media experience further. It is a shame we do not see a Quad HD panel but that is a sacrifice to keep the cost of the phone low alongside the lack of official IP water and dust resistance.

User experience

Inside the View 20, you will find Huawei’s Kirin 980 7nm octa-core processor alongside the Mali G76-MP10 GPU. This combination is a high-end one and functions well with Honor’s proprietary Magic UI 2.0 atop Android 9.0 Pie.

Figure 3: Honor’s Magic UI borrows a lot of elements from EMUI

The gesture navigation controls work smoothly and the various theme support and customisation is a bonus. You are able to truly fine-tune settings to your liking, which is a great bonus. The majority of Magic UI’s elements are borrowed from EMUI, which means it comes with its fair share of bloatware. But if you can get past that, there is nothing majorly wrong with the software.

Figure 4: The notification bar becomes rather large to encompass the front camera

The punch hole notch also adapts well to software elements. Very rarely is it in the way of a button or information. That’s because on such occasions, the notification bar becomes slightly bigger to encompass the hole. While neat, this defeats the purpose and just results in a large software bezel.

Figure 5: The phone offers a smooth and responsive experience

But sometimes, that extra screen real estate comes in handy. Split-screen applications are better to use and they function smoothly. Our variant of the Honor View 20 comes with 8GB RAM, which is plenty for heavy multitasking as well as gaming, which is enhanced by the software GPU Turbo 2.0 feature on it. Honor has an official partnership with Fortnite wherein they will be the first to launch the game with a consistent 60fps alongside a custom in-skin game. Variants with 6GB RAM are also available but come with lower storage option of 128GB, which may prove insufficient in the long run as the phone does not offer any expandable storage via microSD.

Camera

We think the Honor View 20 comes with an unusual camera set-up. It has dual-cameras with a 48MP and 3D TOF stereo sensor useful for AR applications. With it, the pictures it takes during the day are excellent. It can also handle dynamic range scenarios with ease. Oddly, between a normal 12MP sample and a 48MP sample, we could not tell much of a difference.

Figure 6: The camera experience from the Honor View 20 focuses a lot on AI

While taking night-time photos, the camera is average and inconsistent. Some of the shots it takes are muddy, whereas at other times they are slightly better. Even when using the Night Mode feature on the camera, the changes it makes most of the time lower the quality of the picture further. I think this is a case of how the software and AI powered by its dual-NPU hardware interact with the camera and may improve with future software updates as this unit we had was a pre-production model.

The front 25MP camera is quite impressive. It handled pictures both during the day and night well with good skin tones. However when taking portrait selfies, the camera over-enhanced the skin and made for an artificial look. For more image samples, take a look at our video.

Battery

In battery technology nowadays, 4,000mAh capacities seem to be the standard. And that is exactly what the View 20 offers. You can get a day’s worth of moderate to heavy use,  involving browsing, multimedia consumption and light gaming.

Figure 7: Charging the phone is fast with Huawei’s Supercharging

The great thing about the battery is that is comes with Huawei’s Supercharging technology. With it, the View 20 is capable of going from 0-55 per cent in 30 minutes of charging. This is on par with many high-end flagships. However, the phone does not offer any wireless charging capabilities.

Conclusion

The Honor View 20 targets a sector of the market that is currently occupied by phones such as OnePlus’ 6T. It offers a very impressive suite of specifications yet does not make any deal-breaking sacrifices. Available starting from 549 (Dh2292.3), it is sure to disrupt the market and make a name for itself.