Honor View20 with punch-hole display.
Honor View 20 has been launched as the company’s first flagship-grade smartphone this year in India, and it has landed with a bang load of specs most users have never seen on a smartphone yet – a punch-hole display for the selfie camera, a 48-megapixel camera and such. Of course, we were excited like small kids.
We had first seen the Honor View 20 as the Honor V20 which was launched in China last year and were pretty much excited to get our hands on this flagship device from Honor. To be very frank, even though we did hear about the specifications, features, the new selfie camera, new rear camera sensor and the sorts, we never did think of putting Honor right at the top with the other big shots. Honor’s parent concern Huawei did good with the Mate 20 Pro, so we think that the Honor View 20 will undercut way before that. But no, we were in for a surprise.
Let’s prop it to the other smartphone which we were using concurrently – the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Everyone knows what the Galaxy Note 9 is – the super flagship of 2018, and probably one of the best all-rounder smartphones we saw in the market after a long time. We had been using the Galaxy Note 9 as a daily driver for the past six months now. The Honor View 20 took a day, and we just switched it as our daily driver. Yes, it just took 24 hours. We loved the design of the View 20. The smartphone functioned like a beast and probably never froze, or lagged which turned our shiny faces even shinier.
Operability within the ergonomic-al domain of the View 20 was like cutting soft butter with a hot knife. Nothing felt too hard to reach, all buttons felt chunky and clickety, fingerprint scanner was light-speed, and we had to switch off the Face Unlock feature because the phone would instantly unlock as soon as the power button was pressed. You may think a face unlock which is so good shouldn’t be disabled but what if you just wanted to creepily read messages sent by your ex from the lock screen and leave it there? Let’s dive into our review.
Top notch build quality
Punch hole display does not disappoint
The 48-megapixel camera is impressive
No water resistance yet
No OLED display
Honor View 20 Review: Looks, build, design, and display
When we first heard about the concept of a punch-hole display, we thought it was absurd and that heavy users or light users, will find the presence of a black hole sitting on the display as distracting. The punch-hole display looks like a chunk of pixels had just gone wrong on display. The punch-hole idea seemed just as absurd and weird as when the first notch came out. Remember the Essential PH-1? You thought it was the Apple iPhone X, right? However, we took no time adjusting to the in-display feature and we just “forgot” that the hole was there.
Honor played it smart with the punch hole display by putting it in the corner rather than keeping it in a centred position. One of the primary reason for these could be that the corners of a smartphones are always the places where the users hold the phone, or that the centre weighted area is where the entire action happens so a permanent black spot may get in the way if its placed where a normal selfie cam was placed, on the display.
The bezels are thin at the sides, and the chin at the bottom is minor. The All View display looks A-mazing – IPS LCD with 1080×2310 pixels, and up to 398ppi pixel density. Colours on display look rich and vibrant. Honor decided to go with the LCD panel rather than an OLED panel. Sharpness is top-notch though. Movies played like a dream, and we surprisingly did not find ourselves missing the Galaxy Note 9. The blacks and whites on the screen remained as true as they could. Honor has also provided colour profiles in Settings – Normal and vivid, with the vivid getting a wider gamut display. We noticed a major difference during normal usage. Vivid was bent more on the cooler sub-5000K side, while the Normal mode was more on the warmer 5000K-plus side. Viewing angles were good but not as good as the ones found on AMOLED displays like the OnePlus 6T. We had realised the Honor View 20 looked like a pretty capable smartphone until you started comparing it side by side with other more expensive devices.
Build quality of the Honor View 20 is again top-notch. There are no gaps, no loose rickety buttons threatening to fall off, no scratch prone panels, and we could say Honor has done a good job of putting this phone together. The glass back panel is the flashiest part of the Honor View 20. Probably right after the LED flash and before the screen at full brightness. The rear panel gets reflective V patterns which point downwards. Honor calls it the Light For Honor which is technically a 300 nanometre, a multi-layer super-micro pattern which has never missed an eye. On top of that, we had the Phantom Blue model, and hell, it was shiny. It was not as shiny as the Honor 10 Lite, but its 10x times shinier.
We fielded in a lot of questions from curious people who wanted to know about the shiny, glitzy, blue brick we had been holding. Other design elements are standard like a curved back panel, hyper-sensitive fingerprint reader, USB Type-C, speaker grille and microphone at the bottom part of the frame, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster at the top. The volume rockers and the power button are placed on the right side of the frame with the dual-SIM tray on the left side of the frame.
Overall, the looks speak of a smartphone which is majestic. The smartphone speaks of glam as if it was always there and struts its stuff like a model putting on 6-inch stilettos to walk the runway. Design wise; the Honor View 20 has hit the home run here.
Honor View 20 Review: Software and performance
The Honor View 20 runs on Android 9.0 Pie out-of-the-box with Honor’s proprietary Magic UI 2.0 skin on top. The UI gets no app drawer, but you can get it back from the Settings menu. The Honor View 20 is powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 980 7nm chipset. The chipset welded to either 6GB of RAM or an 8GB of RAM. There are two storage variants – the 128GB model and the 256GB model. Before we go into full-spec performance, we ran some benchmark tests. The View 20 scored a respectable 278,072 on AnTuTu 3DBench tests. In Geekbench, the View 20 scored 3313 on the single-core test and scored 9868 on the multi-core test. When compared with the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, the View 20 remains behind in the AnTuTu test considering the 6T McLaren scored 295,825. However, the View 20 did score more on the Geekbench tests than the 6T McLaren which had a score of 2,424 on single-core and 9,039 on the multi-core.
App transition was easy and smooth. Multi-tasking was a breeze. We performed browsing, and gaming for several hours and rarely found the View 20 heating up. But all is not cool with the Honor View 20. Starting with the name, Honor, you will see there are next to no places where Honor is seen apart from the Magic UI 2.0 which is also a revised variant of the EMUI from Huawei. Instead, you will be looking at Huawei’s footprints across the interface. Naggy HiCare notifications will drive you crazy sometimes, and then try to search anything and pops up on your face is a HiSearch notice. Another interestingly annoying thing we noticed was that you had to sign in using a Huawei ID and then allow themes app permissions to make phone calls. Why on Earth would a theme app need permission for phone calls?
With the piggyback formation of Magic UI from the Huawei EMUI, the Honor View 20 does get bloatware and apps which users who will be investing into this smartphone, will rarely need. The entire concept of providing self-made apps in the smartphones was for two major reasons – to optimise usage so that users do not have to download other extra apps, a concept which never really worked and mostly ended up happening the other way around. The second reason was marketing – manufacturers used to put their apps in the view that it would increase in popularity and such. The third reason is not major here but Chinese smartphones are usually launched in the China region first, and since the Google Play Store is not available there, manufacturers resort to putting their apps.
However, there were some features on the Magic UI which we loved. So much so, we hope Android brings those into their native stock system UI. One of those features, double knock on the screen to take a screenshot was very interesting. We couldn’t stop taking screenshots. Other gesture controls include opening the task manager, or swiping between apps were an absolute joy to perform.
Speaking of performance, we did a fair bit of gaming on the View 20 and every time we picked up the phone to play; we did have this massive grin on our faces. There is no notch, so nothing is going to distract you. Plus, Honor has provided its own GPU Turbo gaming enhancements which helps boost gameplay. The Honor View 20 gets a 10-core Mali-G76 GPU. Called the GPU Turbo 2.0, this per game optimisation technique streamlines processor load and gives proper performance benefits. However, you will need to develop a profile for each game. And yes, PUBG was included.
PUBG ran on high graphics settings flawlessly with zero stutters and lag during gameplay. However, we were a bit disappointed with the speaker. The speaker is a single unit and not stereo, gives off bass rich sounds rather than treble, but at times you wish it belted out more tunes. Plus, because only one sound driver is sitting at the bottom of the frame, we were used to accidentally covering the speaker and muffling it during gameplay.
Honor View 20 Review: Camera
For people who have never heard about the punch-hole display, or a 48-megapixel unit, sit tight. The technology is coming to you in leaps and bounds — the Honor View 20 sports two rear cameras. But do not confuse it with a dual-camera setup. A traditional dual camera sensor is one with a standard lens and another lens for depth control. In here the View 20, the primary lens is a 48-megapixel lens and the second is a ToF (time of flight) 3D camera lens which adds a zoomed or wide-angle view in the image.
We shot some images, and 2x zoom images. However, the super high-resolution 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor only enhances the images to a 2x value because the lens is not optical zoom compatible. The secondary ToF camera used for depth info in photos, games, and various augmented reality apps. Since the View 20 comes with the Android 9.0, we thought there would be ample support for Google’s ARCore. However, this was just a theory.
In practice, the View 20 did not support any ARCore applications and every time we tried to do something, it crashed (Holo, Doll’s House Designer). Maybe it needs more time, and we have no idea if the issue is from Honor’s side or Google’s but needs to be looked into.
Coming to the main camera, a primary lens is a 48-megapixel unit. We just started shooting casually without digging into the camera menus and found that it took 12-megapixel images rather than native 48-megapixel ones. What’s happening here is called pixel binning. Here each pixel in the final image is informed by four pixels on the camera sensor itself.
The Sony IMX586 is made with this process as its sensor pixels are only 0.8 microns wide. The bigger the microns, the more sensitive they become, and more light harvesting potential. Huawei has stuffed in all they knew about camera fundamentals into the View 20. While clicking images, we found the View 20 was very good at optimising dynamic ranges, giving out clear images even in blinding light sources, mid-tones looked a lot mature.
The View 20 also gets an AI scene mode. Like AI camera mode with most high-end smartphones, the AI scene mode attempts to recognise the subject and alter photo settings accordingly. The AI mode does not attack the image with a high does of exposure and contrast. The effect seems much less pronounced which often casts shadows and mid-tones more than colour tones.
The AI Scene, therefore, looked and felt better than other AI images we have seen on other phones. The AI mode particularly worked on massive noise reduction.
However, we did have a hard time finding the benefits of shooting on the full-blown 48-megapixel unit considering the View is more processing oriented rather than depending on camera hardware. Unlike the Nokia PureView 808, the first 41-megapixel sensor on a smartphone, Honor is still pushing out ready-to-view JPG/JEPG images. Annoyingly, there is no option to shoot on RAW. We hope Honor solves the RAW compatibility issue in the next update.
Low light shots looked great with the multi-exposure mode. However, shooting images on that mode meant a lot of work and hands getting tired, but in return, you will find decent clarity and a good dynamic range in the image. However, detailing takes a backseat here.
We also used the standard mode to click low light images which looked decent enough, but the dynamic range was destroyed. Either way, low-light images are good enough, considering both the lens do not get optical stabilisation.
Selfie camera is a 25-megapixel unit. The quality of the images we shot was good, and the lens handled low-light imagery well. We are the front camera also uses a similar pixel-binning tech as the rear camera.
Honor View 20 Camera samples
Honor View 20 Battery
The Honor View 20 is powered by a 4,000mAh battery, and we found ourselves pulling off an entire day and a half under a full charge with regular to heavy usage. We were very impressed. Plus, the View 20 comes with a SuperCharge tech of 40W which is greater than the 6T McLaren’s Warp Charge 30W. This is Honor’s proprietary system which increases both voltage and current to max-out charge speed. We put the Galaxy Note 9 to charge using Samsung’s charger, and View 20 using its power brick. Note 9 went from zero per cent battery to 100 per cent in 1.5 hours while the View 20 went to 100 per cent in under 60 minutes. We were like whoa!
However, sadly this time Honor has given the wireless charging idea a pass, and the View 20 will need to be charged using the cable only.
The Honor View 20 was one of the few phones where did not see ourselves reaching for the charger or teleporting to the nearest socket. The Honor View 20 made sure it went by, without any issues.
Honor View 20 ratings
Honor View 20 Review: Price in India and Verdict
The Honor View 20 looks flashy, and pricey to boot. But the beauty is not just skin deep and the Honor View 20 has brains. True, Honor did not provide water resistance or wireless charging, but at the price of Rs. 37,999, Honor has provided almost everything else, and a little more with the 3.5mm headphone jack. If you are someone who is not brand conscious in the flagship territory and is just looking for a good smartphone with no frills, then the Honor View 20 is for you.
For the rest, we would suggest trying out the View 20 too because, let’s say, Honor has worked hard on this smartphone and it shows. The punch-hole design is seamless, the rear v-shape design looks straight out of a psytrance novel, and maybe there are a few nits and picks here and there, but then the View 20 makes it up with its excellent performance, a stellar battery life, and its flashy looks guaranteed to make other people look twice. Now, who does not want to be the centre of attraction?
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