Post updated July 29th, 2019 at 08:01 am
The gap between the launch of the HONOR 20 and the View20 wasn’t a very long one. At least, it didn’t feel that way, despite nearly half a year in between them. With that in mind, the two phones actually share a fair bit of similarities.
We’ve taken a look at the HONOR View20 already, so now let’s give the HONOR 20 the same scrutiny as we did before.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll see a lot of familiar elements here, from the Kirin 980 to the 48MP Sony IMX586 main camera that HONOR’s employed since the View20. Of course, one key difference is that the HONOR 20 comes with a lot more cameras at the back. But we’ll get to that later.
If you’ve ever handled the View20, the front of the HONOR 20 feels familiar. The punch hole sits on the top left corner of its 6.26-inch display and it’s pretty innocuous when you’re not running applications that use the entirety of the screen. Beyond that, the display takes up almost all of the front of the phone.
Going round the back, you’ll see that the HONOR 20 sports a quad-camera setup. One of them sits outside the camera bump, which is an odd design choice. Besides that, the phone’s reflective back looks plain and clean. This does make it pleasant to look at, especially considering the way the light reflects off it. Also, the Sapphire Blue colour is a personal bonus. HONOR has always managed to make a phone look good just by using this colour, and the same applies to the HONOR 20.
You may be wondering, “where’s the fingerprint sensor?” The answer to that is on the right, where it also acts as the power button. Rather than having it being slap bang in the middle, its position has been elevated a little. I’ve mentioned before that I find this to be a moment of ergonomic ingenuity; simply because it is just the most natural position for your right thumb. Even if you’re a southpaw, your middle finger will comfortably fold over the sensor.
Above the fingerprint sensor/power button hybrid is the volume rocker. On the opposite side is the SIM tray, and on the bottom is the USB-C port. There is, unfortunately, no 3.5mm audio jack here anymore.
The phone as a whole sits comfortably in hand. Its weight is just right and the rounded edges make holding it for extended periods of time relatively comfortable.
As an HONOR phone, you’d be right if you expect the HONOR 20 to have a UI similar to the View20. It comes with the same Magic UI overlaid on top of Android 9 Pie. It comes with all the familiar traits and quirks, including knuckle gestures and the lack of an app drawer. To put it simply, nothing new here.
Everything about the HONOR 20 is quick and snappy too, thanks to the Kirin 980 chipset. Fingerprint recognition is equally as fast, and when it doesn’t work the moment you pick it up from your pocket, its facial recognition unlocks the phone before you get a chance to give the fingerprint sensor another go.
That said, I did have a strange experience with the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter. When unplugging only my headphones and leaving the adapter connected to the HONOR 20, it would play whatever music I was playing before. This happens for both Spotify and VLC player.
Unplugging headphones plays music instead of pausing them.
It’s also the opposite of what’s supposed to happen – music should only autoplay when plugging in headphones, and should stop by default when unplugging them. Granted, it’s not a common way to use headphones, but it’s a personal gripe that I can’t let go of, caused by the lack of a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack.
As far as performance goes, it’s around what you’d expect from the Kirin 980 chipset. The synthetic benchmarks produced the results you see above, so there’s nothing much to say about it.
Battery life, depending on your usage, will take you through most of the day. I’ve spent a day with the camera engaged half the time, and the phone carries on through just fine. Under more normal circumstances, the HONOR 20 easily lasts me two whole days. If you use it to just play videos, it should still last over 15 hours, which is probably more than what anybody will watch in a day.
Charging the HONOR 20 is relatively average. A full charge from 2% takes about two hours and 14 minutes using the provided charger. That said, your mileage may vary if you use a different charger or charging cable.
Easily the most important aspect of the HONOR 20, it stars the same Sony IMX586 sensor found on the HONOR View20, plus three additional sensors. For the most part, it behaves the same way as well. This is good as far as image quality is concerned, not so much when it comes to user friendliness. But first, let’s talk about the other cameras in tow.
First up is the 16MP wide-angle camera. Chances are when you’re not shooting in 48MP mode, this will be your most used camera. It does about as well as the main shooter, but colours are very slightly warmer by default. That said, it’s not something that is immediately noticeable. Unless you’re actively looking for it.
The standout among them is the dedicated 2MP macro sensor, especially since it’s a rarity among phone camera sensors. If you’re into macro shots, you can take shots with incredible detail, provided you can be close enough to your subject. Details and colour are accurate in general, but detail really depends on you getting close to your subject more than anything else.
Finally, there’s the 2MP depth sensor. It doesn’t actually take pictures, but through it, the 48MP main camera takes portrait shots with pretty good bokeh.
I mentioned user-friendliness earlier, so let me elaborate on that. Like on the HONOR View20, 48MP looks to be its own special mode, so you can’t zoom, or switch to wide-angle on the fly.
By now, you’ll probably be able to guess what one of the HONOR 20’s greatest competition is. At the RM1699 price bracket, it goes without saying that there is a healthy number of alternatives to the phone. Here are just some of them.
HONOR’s own View20 is a pretty great alternative to the HONOR 20, for a slightly higher price of RM1999. The accompanying camera’s aside, the View20 comes with the same 48MP main shooter. It also has a slightly larger battery, marginally larger screen size, and size overall. Almost everything else on the spec sheet is exactly the same, though the View20 does have options for more RAM and storage space.
Vivo V15 Pro
The Vivo V15 Pro is another comparable phone to the HONOR 20, albeit at its slightly higher asking price of RM1799. Both feature a 48MP main shooter, and both have the same RAM and internal storage amount. That said, the Vivo V15 Pro is only fitted with a Snapdragon 675 chipset, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a pop-up front-facing camera.
The key to deciding which you want really comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want a display with no notches or cutouts, then you’d choose the Vivo V15 Pro. The same goes for if you want an in-display fingerprint sensor and a 3.5mm audio jack. But if you want the better shooting experience, the HONOR 20 pulls ahead with its better image quality and more impressive tools.
The HONOR 20, then, is an impressive phone, especially for its asking price. It’s in many ways similar to the View20, but with the focus on photography bumped up. It also has a better fingerprint sensor position, as far as ergonomics go. You could say that the HONOR 20 is essentially the View20, but at a lower price and better ergonomics.
On the flip side, it’s really hard to move on to a life without the 3.5mm audio jack. This is especially so if you don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled audio device. But if that’s a life you’re fine with, then the HONOR 20 is a very good phone for the kind of money it’s asking for.
Photography by Hoo Ke Ming.