Technology Mobiles and Tabs 11 Jun 2019 Honor 20 review: Bea ...

Honor 20 review: Beauty with beastly performances

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | AARON ALMEIDA
Published Jun 11, 2019, 12:23 pm IST
Updated Jun 12, 2019, 10:14 am IST
Honor 20 has just launched one of the best handsets of the year as it comes with looks to match its raw performance.
Built with an iconic glass back, the Honor 20’s rear comes with a mirrored finish that create subtle patterns and highlights that shine and move alongside its varied lengths.
 Built with an iconic glass back, the Honor 20’s rear comes with a mirrored finish that create subtle patterns and highlights that shine and move alongside its varied lengths.
Rating:

When it comes to smartphone technology married with precise design implementation, few brands can compare with Huawei and its offshoot brand Honor. Over the past few years, Honor has grown in leaps and bound and it has rapidly developed recognition for launching brilliant flagship smartphones at prices that rivals can’t touch.

The Honor 20 series is a testament to Honor’s understanding of the smartphone market and have launched not one but three flagships at varied price points that target a wide array of consumers. The Honor 20 Pro as the name suggests is the top-end model of the trio while the Honor 20i comes in with the most budget-friendly price tag. Sitting well placed in the middle of the bunch is the Honor 20 it comes with nearly identical features as the top of the line Honor 20 Pro; thereby giving it its flagship status but targeted at those who don’t want to shell out those few thousands for something as minuscule as a telephoto camera and a slight bump in battery capacity.

 

Having used the Honor 20 as our primary handset for the span of a few weeks, here are our thoughts on one of the best affordable flagships that have been launched in the first half of 2019.

Honor 7 review

Design, Build

Huawei and its offshoot brand Honor have built up a healthy reputation of launching smartphones that not only come with the best of specifications but also feature a design that not many can rival. Like Honor handsets of the recent past, the Honor 20 comes with a jaw-dropping and stunning design. This in itself makes us recommend the handset to those who are merely looking for a beautiful handset to show-off and the Honor 20 delivers it in spades.

The Honor 20 and 20 Pro look nearly identical and it’s quite difficult telling the difference between the two. This design thinking was intentional on Honor’s part as they wanted the slightly lower-end model to be as much of a flagship handset as the Honor 20 Pro. With this newly launched series of handsets, Honor has done what it does best and launched a handset with an industrial design that few can match up to.

Honor 7 review

Built with an iconic glass back, the Honor 20’s rear comes with a mirrored finish that creates subtle patterns and highlights that shine and move alongside its varied lengths. It is no easy feat to create this design and the brand’s R&D team has worked tirelessly to achieve this ‘Dynamic Holographic’ design.  Featuring a triple 3D mesh design, the rear plays home to three layers — a glass panel, a colour panel and a depth layer. By combining these three layers Honor is able to achieve a rear design that’s immersive yet having a wonderfully glossy finish. In most cases, we would baulk at handsets with a glossy back, but as is the case with the Honor 20, you get a depth effect that goes beyond being just surface level. Honor has stated that producing this rear panel is no small feat and most that were manufactured didn’t make it to the Honor 20 series and only a few were carefully selected.

The 3D mesh design on the rear panel isn’t the only highlight of the smartphone’s design. The Honor 20 also comes with curved sides; with the curvature being a lot more than found on another handset. This curved panel was done in order to make the handset easy to handle so it sits comfortably in the palm. Compared to rival smartphones, the weight of the Honor 20 is kept down to a minimum; this makes it all the more appealing. The brand not only managed to pack four cameras at the back, a pretty sizable 3750mAh battery but also a 6.26-inch screen here and still keep its weight down to a mere 182g.

The Honor 20’s rounded sides come bearing the brand’s industrial design and the only feature that stands out, or rather in, as is the case here is the power button that housed in a recessed groove on the side. This feature isn’t added for just aesthetic purposes as it also doubles up as the fingerprint sensor. While the fingerprint scanner is one of the fastest we have ever witness, it also doesn’t benefit those who are lefties as it’s more comfortable for those who are right-handed. We guess this a small oversight on the part of Honor and we don’t see them losing many brownie points over this design decision. With that being said, for those who are right-handed can benefit greatly from its positioning as it is easy to reach.

Honor 7 review

Being a 2019 handset and a flagship at that, the Honor 20 comes with a USB Type-C charging port with fast charging support. Next, to the charging slot, you get the speaker grille and the microphone. A cute addition to the Honor 20 is the inclusion of a notification LED that’s located behind the earpiece. Even though Honor eliminated the notch for a punch-hole display, they made sure that you don’t miss out on your notifications when the screen’s off. We really appreciate Honor for retaining the notification LED despite providing you with a nearly bezel-less display.

Overall, the Honor 20 is a pretty handset that’s definitely recommended. Coupled with its design and lightweight form factor, we see this handset becoming an instant favourite for many of you out there.

Display

The honor was one of the first in the world to introduce the punch-hole style displays that were later found on the Samsung Galaxy S10 series of handsets. The Honor 20, being a part of the brand’s N Series also comes equipped with this minimalistic display. While Samsung’s punch-hole camera cutout is fairly large, Honor’s take on it is pretty small giving it an all-screen look.

Honor 7 review

As mentioned earlier, the Honor 20 is identical to the Honor 20 Pro and this even includes the size of the display. The handset comes with a 6.26-inch IPS FHD+ LCD display that sports a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Featuring a punch-hole display that measures just 4.5mm in diameter, the Honor 20 comes with an 84.2 per cent screen to body ratio with a 19:5:9 aspect ratio.

The display on the Honor 20 is really good and there are absolutely no faults with it. Colours here have a slight bit of over saturation and this isn’t a bad thing as it makes the content onscreen appear more vibrant and lively. Playing games and watching videos are pretty great here and so are the viewing angles. While using the handset indoors, you get a beautiful bright display that represents everything onscreen to perfection.  In direct sunlight, content onscreen is a bit difficult to decipher as the handset uses an LCD panel. This is a small issue and nothing to really worry yourself over.

Honor 7 review

With that being said, flagship smartphones nowadays all come with OLED panels and because of it, you get deep blacks, an always-on display and various other battery saving features. The Honor 20, unfortunately, doesn’t have this panel onboard so there are the above-mentioned compromises you have to make. However, die to Honor using an LCD panel, the brand has managed to keep its price down to a minimum.

Software

The Honor 20 series runs on the Magic UI 2.1 which is based on Android 9 Pie and while it’s not as clean as a stock Android UI that’s seen on an Android One handset; it is pretty well optimized as well. This version of Magic UI gets the GPU Turbo 3.0 which is by far the biggest takeaway here as it helps in smoothening out the overall performance and helps with power efficiency in the games that are supported.

Honor 7 review

With Magic UI, Honor has added a ton of customization options that make the handset unique to you much as Huawei has done with its EMUI OS. Having used the handset for a fairly long time, we have noticed that the handset faced no issues related to the software. To get the best out of your handset, all the customizations should be done from the moment it’s unboxed. This helps with the overall feel of the device.

Overall, the software used here is fairly intuitive and people who are migrating from a different brand will get used to it within a matter of days. Lastly, as is the case with most Android smartphones, there is a bit of bloatware, some of which can be uninstalled to free space for apps you actually need.

Performance

The Honor 20 sits below the Honor 20 Pro in the pecking order; but make no mistake, this handset is filled to the brim with raw power making it one of the speediest handset available in the market so far. Under the hood, you get a top-of-the-line HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC, the same one that’s found on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro flagships. It may not be quite a trailblazer as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, but it’s not that far off either.

Honor 7 review

The real world performance of the Honor 20 is a wonderful thing and there is absolutely no lag noticeable anywhere across the board. High-end games like Asphalt 9, PUBG Mobile and even Fortnite ran flawlessly with no stutter or framing issues. This handset is targeted at the youth and we can see consumers spending hours clocking in a win after win because of the speedy performances that the handset has to offer. A clear advantage the Honor 20 has over its rivals is the fact that it features a punch-hole display and you get beautiful all-screen gaming experience. This is where the punch-hole trumps the notch. While gaming, this cut out is barely noticeable and after a few seconds of intense gameplay, you will forget that it is even there.

The handset we received for review is the 6GB/128GB variant and it was quite sufficient for most tasks. Multitasking and pulling apps from the background was a cinch and it rivals any other flagship available in the market today.

Apart from this, there is also a dedicated Performance Mode which as the name suggests helps you get the maximum performance out of the Honor 20. While this is great in theory and we see it being useful in certain circumstances, we need to mention that it doesn’t bode well for battery life.

To sum up this section of the review, the Honor 20 is a beast that’s wrapped in beauty’s clothes making it an ideal choice for virtually anyone.

Honor 7 review

Camera

Honor doesn’t tout this handset as the ‘Camera King’ for nothing. Just as the performance of the handset shattered all expectations, the camera quality found here is unrivalled by anything in its price range. The Honor 20 comes packing four rear cameras. Yes, you read that right! There is a quad camera setup on the back and this helps it in achieving its royalty title.

The Honor 20 comes with a 48MP IMX586 primary sensor with an F/1.8 aperture along with OIS, EIS and AIS. There is an ultra-wide angle 16MP sensor with an F/2.2 aperture and 117-degree field of view, a dedicated 2MP macro camera and 2MP depth sensor. This is one of the two areas where the Honor 20 is lacking in comparison to the Honor 20 Pro. The premium model of the two gets a 48MP primary camera and a world’s first F/1.4 aperture which helps in taking a lot more light and helps greatly in low-light photography. The ultra-wide angle sensor is the same here but the Honor 20 Pro gets an 8MP sensor with an F/2.4 aperture that’s capable of 3x lossless optical zoom with stabilisation features. There is a dedicated macro lens on the 20 Pro that features a 2MP sensor. These sensors are all assisted by laser autofocus, a feature that’s not present on the Honor 20.

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

Honor 20 Camera Samples

The Honor 20 features one of the best smartphone cameras there are and the combination of the 48MP sensor with the wide-angle lens makes for photography opportunities no matter the lighting conditions. The cameras combined produce beautiful images that feature vibrant colours, amazing night shots that have a lot of detail and portrait shots that look like they have been captured by a DSLR camera. In most circumstances the Honor 20 exceeds expectations but there are one-off instances where colours tend to over saturate and in the process details get washed out.

The handset comes with a dedicated Night mode and images captured with it on are quite stunning as manages to retain the atmosphere without over-enhancing the images. Here, you get photos that are true to life and what’s captured is what you see. Photos captured with the handset’s macro mode are decent as well but you don’t achieve Huawei P30 Pro level performances. This is not to say that the Honor 20 is bad; in fact, it is very good, just not as good as the industry-best P30 Pro.

Honor 7 review

The 32MP selfie camera that’s housed in the punch-hole is pretty great but doesn’t match up to the performance of the rear snappers. In well-lit conditions, the camera captured images with a lot of clarity and skin tones looked natural. In low-light situations, the images were slightly grainy but definitely usable for sharing on social media. Shooting images in Portrait mode produced expected results and the edge detection works as advertised.

Battery

The battery is the second area where the Honor 20 lacks in comparison to the Honor 20 Pro. The Honor 20 comes with a 3750mAh battery as opposed to 250mAh more on the 20 Pro. We are not sure about the reason for this disparity as both handsets feature nearly identical dimensions. Maybe the reason for this was segmentation and this was Honor’s other way of keeping a distinction between the two handsets.

For what it’s worth, the Honor 20 comes with fast charging support as well that can charge the handset up to 50 per cent from a dead state in a mere 24 minutes. This comes in handy as during our testing, with medium usage, it managed to last just about a day. The handset does get a tiny bit heated with excessive usage, but not so much to cause any concern.

Honor 7 review

Verdict

Priced at Rs 32,999 for the 6GB/128GB variant, the Honor 20 is a handset that’s targeted at the urban jet setters who aren’t just content with a boring phone that everyone has. It’s targeted at those who don’t want to compromise and those who want nothing but the best. The Honor 20 is an unapologetic beast dressed in a beautiful attire that not just stands head-to-head with the competition but punches way above its weight class in terms of raw photography performance.

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