Honor’s latest smartphone, View20, sports several firsts. Launched within days in Singapore after the announcement in China, the View 20 retails at S$699 for 6GB / 128GB variant and S$829 for the 8GB / 256GB variant.
Honor View20 uses the new logo in capitalized letters as well as rebrand of the UI under Magic UI 2.0, which is essentially still EMUI for now, but looks set to have a separate development track here on. If Honor is to leave behind the Huawei parentage, they ought to also relook at the many Huawei’s features – like HiSearch, HiTouch, HiVision – and Huawei FastCharge adapter. Is it also a coincidence that the Honor’s numbering follows the Huawei Mate series which feature the same Kirin processor?
One of the unique features is the front camera. When notch is passe, the 25MP camera is in the form of a “hole punch” at the top left corner of the 1080 x 2310 display. It may seem like an easy job to cut a hole beneath the LCD display, but the challenge is to allow light to go through the glass, as well as preventing light emitted from the display to refract into the camera. Do I think the hole-punch design is better than the notch? I don’t have any preference as I do not use the phone to watch video that much, but one drawback is that at first glance, I am unable to tell if I am holding the phone the wrong way until I turn on the display.
The rear camera is also bumped up to 48 MP (8000 x 6000 pixels) using Sony IMX586, and that is a lot of pixels to capture and utilize. The image quality is above average, well exposed, and features all the goodness that makes Huawei a new favourite for smartphone photography, including bokeh shapes, handheld night mode and 960fps super slow-motion. With the ToF 3D camera, there are potential support of augmented reality apps.
Image noise is cleaned up in good taste and does not make the images look too excessively blotchy. See below image cropped from the above.
While the pixel count is high, the sensor size remains small and will definitely not as detailed as large-sensor cameras. But for a smartphone, it delivers excellent images for non-professional use.
White balance is towards the cool side, adjusting tungsten lighting scenes whiter.
A.I. mode is easily disabled with the dedicated icon at the top of the camera app, something that I’d wish Huawei would adopt. But unlike the other Honor smartphones, the Honor View20 cannot disable AI from the gallery, something which even the new Honor 10 Lite could support.
Like all smartphone reviews, I used the View20 as my primary phone, spent a few moments to set up with all the essential apps restored via the Android Restore option. My wallpaper, call logs, SMS messages, app settings are mostly restored without much fuss. I just had to manually restore Whatsapp via the app. Also, I had to copy my favourite audio files and rearrange the homescreen icons.
Moving from my current Huawei P20 Pro to the View20 feels right at home. Performance wise, the View20 achieves a higher benchmark as it uses the flagship Kirin 980 processor. Overall, the View20 does not feel lesser than the Mate 20 Pro, but a few missing features differentiates from the Huawei flagship device, albeit minor. For instance, there is no option for a dark theme which turns the menu and drop-down page black. Nor is there always-on display and advanced display modes. It is also obvious that the Mate 20 Pro has better quality display panel with higher resolution. There is also no water rating and just a single speaker for audio playback. But it comes with 3.5mm headphone jack, and also supports EMUI Desktop mode, where plugging a HDMI cable into the USB-C port gets you a desktop view on an external monitor.
Battery life is also excellent. With 4000 mAh capacity, the View20 has over 40% remaining after 18 hours, even with Battery Performance mode enabled.
The Honor View20 blazes the competition both in processor performance and price. Some corners are cut to remind us why flagships are worth paying for, but the innovative design elements make the View20 an exciting smartphone to own. The retail price of S$699 is an attractive price for a phone with premium specs, but given Honor’s brand image as budget-like, it might take some convincing for new buyers. After my hands-on experience, I recommend it as better value for money compared to the equivalent Huawei models. Given there are several firsts introduced, the Honor View20 delivers performance and quality at more palatable price.
- Flagship processor at half the price of Huawei Mate20 Pro
- Excellent performance overall, including camera quality and battery life
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- For visual fanatics, display quality is not comparable to premium models
- No IP rating
Official product website: https://www.hihonor.com/sg/products/smartphone/honorview20/