HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019!

Vyncent Chan
14 Min Read
HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019!
  • Appearance - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Efficiency - 8/10
    8/10
  • Features - 8.2/10
    8.2/10
  • Materials - 8.6/10
    8.6/10
  • Performance - 7.7/10
    7.7/10
  • Portability - 8.8/10
    8.8/10
  • User Experience - 8.7/10
    8.7/10
  • Value - 8.8/10
    8.8/10

Summary

HONOR has set the bar quite high for any upcoming flagships in 2019 with the HONOR View20!

Overall
8.4/10
8.4/10

Pros

+ Beautiful back design
+ In-screen camera is a practical stopgap solution to increasing screen area
+ Performance is more than sufficient for any practical application at the moment
+ 48MP AI Ultra Clarity mode is seriously amazing
+ Excellent value

Cons

– No support for external storage

[section label=”Introduction”]

Introduction

HONOR is well known to offer the latest hardware at affordable prices. It has been the case for their flagships. Today we are looking at the HONOR View20, which is the latest flagship from HONOR. The device comes with all the latest technologies the world has to offer, including a 48MP Sony Exmor IMX 586 and an in-screen camera. Sounds interesting enough? Let’s take a closer look.

[section label=”Unboxing”]

Unboxing

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 6

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 6

So the packaging of the HONOR View20 is pretty attractive. It features a pretty fancy pattern as well as the new HONOR logo. HONOR moved on to this new logo recently and are pretty proud of it.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 7

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 7

As we received a review sample rather than a retail unit, our packaging lacks the documentation that the official unit will come with. In the box is the HUAWEI SuperCharge power adapter, USB cable, SIM ejector pin and our Midnight Black HONOR View20. The HUAWEI SuperCharger here is the older 22.5W variant and not the latest 40W version that comes with the HUAWEI Mate 20 series.

[section label=”Appearance”]

Appearance

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 8

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 8

This device looks pretty cool even from the front. With the flood of notched smartphones in 2018, it is nice to start 2019 with the HONOR View20 with a hole in the screen.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 9

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 9

HONOR does not disappoint when it comes to the design of their flagships. Most of them features interesting finishes on the back, and the HONOR View20 is no different. You can’t really see it in this photo, which is why I attached the .gif animation below which showcases it better.

Isn’t it pretty? So apparently HONOR achieved this effect via photolithography, and here are actually countless little dots which refract light to give you an interesting design. While the blue and red variants have chevrons in their specific color, the black one offers a rainbow of colors. It’s pretty cool to be able to play with light and have a look that’s always in flux, so kudos to HONOR!

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 10

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 10

The frame of the HONOR View20 is smooth metal, but HONOR shakes it up a little by throwing in a textured power button. It’s always nice to have a little texture, just for a change.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 11

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 11

On the top edge we find a 3.5mm jack, which is getting rarer and rarer at this point. There’s also an equally rare IR blaster up here. One of the holes is actually the proximity sensor, which is a cool yet necessary choice by HONOR simply due to the fact that there are no bezels on the front of the device for a proximity sensor.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 12

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 12

Here we find a USB-C port, the loudspeaker and primary microphone. Unfortunately this speaker will do all the heavy lifting as the HONOR View20’s earpiece does not do double duty as a loudspeaker.

As a whole, the HONOR View20’s design is pretty cool. The back design is pretty fancy, and this isn’t even the fanciest color option yet. The in-screen camera looks amazing and is definitely a pretty cool change from notches, all without affecting usability.

[section label=”Specifications”]

Specifications

[table style=”table-hover”]

CPU/Chipset: Kirin 980 (2 x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6 GHz + 2 x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8 GHz), 7nm FinFET
GPU: Mali-G76MP10 @ 720 MHz
RAM: 6GB LPDDR4x
Display: 6.4″ FHD+ (1080p) LTPS LCD display, 91.8% screen-to-body ratio
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1
Camera: Main Camera(s)
48MP f/1.8, Sony Exmor IMX 586, 0.8μm pixels
3D Time-of-Flight (TOF) sensor
AIS, PDAF, laser AF, LED flash, Portrait mode, AI Ultra-Clarity, Night mode, Aperture mode, HiVision
Front Camera
25MP f/2.0
AI beautification, AI HDR, Portrait mode
OS: Magic UI 2.0.1 based on Android 9 Pie
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
SIM: Dual nanoSIM
Battery: Li-Po 4000 mAh (non-removable)
22.5W HUAWEI SuperCharge fast charging
Dimensions: 156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 180 g

[/table]

In terms of specifications, the HONOR View20 really has no faults. It has one of the highest end chipsets, the latest camera sensor and a large battery. From the spec sheet, the HONOR View20 is really amazing.

[section label=”Performance”]

Performance

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 13

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 13

It seems that from the time we reviewed the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro, HONOR has managed to optimize the Kirin 980 to give a much better score than before. All benchmarks are run without enabling Performance Mode, and it still manages to trounces its pricier cousins.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 14

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 14

It seems that the optimizations aren’t in the CPU though, as it falls behind the two HUAWEI Mate 20 devices we have reviewed.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 15

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 15

3DMark is where it creates quite a sizable gap, especially in the Sling Shot and Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark runs.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 16

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 16

It also ekes out a win in PCMark. We still see the HONOR View20 falling behind Snapdragon 845-packing devices though.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 17

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 17

The large 4000 mAh battery gives it quite an advantage over its peers in the flagship class. It does fall behind the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro and HUAWEI Mate 20 X though, but both of them do feature larger batteries than the HONOR View20 here.

In my usual usage I am getting more than 5 hours of screen-on time over more than a day. I am pretty satisfied with what I am seeing. Charging it up is also a pretty quick process, with 30 minutes giving me an extra 52% of charge to play around with.

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HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 18

In case you missed it, HONOR did claim that they used the NINE Cooling System. Now the device did not feel cooler than any other flagship I have used for my frequent PUBG Mobile sessions, but it did not throttle, and that’s all that matters in mobile gaming. It maintained a smooth gaming experience even when I was clocking around 2 hours, so I am pretty sure it did the job.

[section label=”User Experience”]

User Experience

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HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 19

The screen is really vibrant for a LCD display. Brightness is top notch as well, so no complaints here. There is however a little flaw, where the screen is dimmer along the lower edge of the display. It might be an issue with our specific unit though. Holding the device in my hand was a pretty comfortable experience, where the 6.4″ display doesn’t feel nearly as big in hand due to the minuscule bezels around it.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 20

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 20

Interestingly, HONOR managed to cut the display perfectly here, and there is no bleeding nor dimming around the camera hole. The HONOR View20’s front facing camera does allow you to use facial recognition to unlock the device, but it doesn’t work in darkness. Without 3D mapping, security is also somewhat compromised, so if you are particular about your privacy, make use of the fingerprint scanner on the back, which is really quick and accurate.

[section label=”Software”]

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HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 21

HONOR appears to want to distance itself from its parent brand, and instead of EMUI, the HONOR View20 packs Magic UI. It will be quite familiar to anyone who has used a HUAWEI or HONOR device in recent times, as it is pretty much the same thing. Magic UI in China has a few extra perks but as of now, the international version is virtually the same. It looks rather outdated in the face of more recent Android skins, but it still better than most Chinese-designed user interfaces.

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 22

HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 22

Moving on into the camera UI, it is pretty familiar. However this one clearly shares its DNA with the rest of HONOR instead of HUAWEI. It has an AI mode which enhances the saturation of your images, but in its current iteration seems to lean towards overdoing it. There are plenty of modes to play around with here, and you can even do an AR Qmoji which is like Animoji but less accurate due to the lack of 3D IR sensors.

[section label=”Camera”]

 

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HONOR View20 review — what a way to kick off 2019! 23

The 48MP f/1.8 camera on the back is actually assisted by a laser AF system, and accompanied by the 3D Time-of-Flight camera. The 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor shoots 12MP images by default, where it combines 4 pixels into 1. That gives it an equivalent pixel size of 1.6μm. To put that into perspective, the Sony IMX 363 which is very popular in flagships only has a pixel size of 1.4μm. So how does it fare?

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