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Honor 20 review: a good smartphone overshadowed by the price

Honor 20 review: a good smartphone overshadowed by the price

The Honor 20 was announced at the end of May, at a difficult time for the brand. The U.S. had just dealt a hard blow to the Huawei Group, of which Honor is a member, depriving it of Google's support. George Zhao presented the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro with his head held high but it was an understated event with so many question marks, first of all: will it be possible to buy these two devices? The Honor 20 is now available for purchase, which is why we decided to review it. Is it worth buying?

 

Rating

Good

  • Design
  • All-screen display with integrated camera
  • Battery life
  • Dual SIM

Bad

  • No IP67/8
  • No audio jack
  • Price is high

A price point with a lot of competition

The Honor 20 arrives on the market on July 8 at a price of £399.99, the same price as the Honor 10 when it was released last year. What should be mentioned is the competition and its alternatives: Asus offers the interesting Zenfone 6 at £499, while the Pixel 3a costs £399. In short, interesting alternatives are already on the market. Google, in particular, has thrown a spanner in the works of Honor's pricing.

In the box of the unit I received, I found a 5V/4.5A power supply, a recharging and data synchronization cable and an adapter from USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack. Plastic covers and headphones are not included.

Beautiful and well made

The look of Honor 20 is very similar to that of the Pro version and, like all recent devices, it offers a metal body and a glass shell. It can be handled with one hand (154.3x74x7.9 mm and 174 grams in weight) and tends to be slightly slippery.

androidpit honor 20 review full back 2
The photo compartment protrudes from the body. / © AndroidPIT

I didn't like the protrusion of the photographic section on the back, which is always a criticism of any device that passes through my hands. It's also a shame there's no IP67/8 certification, a feature that in my opinion should be offered on all devices considered medium-to-high range. The headphone jack is also absent: the adapter supplied will still allow you to use wired headphones though.

androidpit honor 20 review top
An infrared sensor and LED notification on top edge. / © AndroidPIT

Otherwise, all keys are easily accessible and respond quickly. The fingerprint reader integrated laterally in the "Sony style" power button is really convenient and fast; only when the device is placed on the desk is it slightly more complicated to interact with.

From a build-quality point of view Honor has once again done a good job

The Honor 20 supports the use of two SIM cards, which can be inserted into the tray along the left edge, but not the use of a microSD card. From a build-quality point of view, Honor has once again done a good job. It's very beautiful and I like the light effects created by the shell for the model in blue.

androidpit honor 20 review hero
No notch! / © AndroidPIT

Good IPS display without a notch

The Honor 20 offers a 6.26-inch IPS panel with a FullHD+ resolution of 2360x1080 pixels. The difference between this and an OLED are noticeable but the contrasts are good, as well as the representation of colors and even blacks are not bad. I found the maximum brightness rather low. Under direct sunlight, to read the screen well, you should probably set it to its maximum.

No notch: Honor 20 integrates the front camera into the small 4.5mm hole in the left corner of the screen

From the settings you can adjust various parameters such a choice of color mode (normal or vivid). You can activate the screen in an instant by lifting the device or using facial recognition. However, you cannot activate it with a double tap.

With the Honor 20 you don't have to compromise with the notch because the manufacturer has decided, as already seen on the Honor View 20, to integrate the front camera in a small 4.5mm hole in the left corner of the screen.

androidpit honor 20 review front bottom
A 6.26-inch IPS panel with a FullHD+ resolution. / © AndroidPIT

Android Pie and Magic UI

The Honor 20 comes with Android Pie and Magic UI 2.1 with security patches updated in April. It is very very very (I can't stress this enough) EMUI-like, it stands out in some small details but overall the user experience offered is the same. Personally, I feel at home with the brand interface, it's customizable and intuitive.

Launching apps and multitasking is really quick . I was surprised not to find the gestures on the fingerprint reader, a rather strange decision for a device with the Honor stamp.

honor20
Magic UI 2.1 offers the same user experience as EMUI. / © AndroidPIT

The recent news concerning the situation in the United States, following the G20, also gives hope for the future support of the device.

Good performance with the Kirin 980

With the on-board Kirin 980 (4 Cortex-A76 and 4 Cortex-A55 cores) and 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM, flanked by 128GB of internal storage, the Honor 20 does not disappoint in daily use: everything runs smoothly without nasty surprises or unexpected bugs. Gaming, streaming video, simple email and message management, and music playback all go smoothly without the device overheating.

The Honor 20 offers Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, an infrared port and LED notification which, however, positioned along the top edge, are not as noticeable as on other devices. The calls are clear both in the capsule and via hands-free. The Honor 20 offers a single speaker positioned along the bottom edge: it does a good job, without shame and without praise, but during gaming, in landscape mode, you'll end up covering it with your hand.

The Honor 20 benchmark results

  3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan 3DMark Sling Shot 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme Geekbench 4 (Single/Multi) PassMark Memory PassMark Disk
Honor 20 1870 1951 2261 39019 2907 / 5483 27843 73412
Asus Zenfone 6 5526 4915 7080 75574 3379 / 10159 26576 71601
Xiaomi Mi 9 5659 4762 7028 66907 3479 / 10921 28043 74126

Good photos but two sensors too many

Once again, Honor relies on the photographic experience by inserting five sensors on Honor 20. On the back we find four cameras: a Sony IMX 586 48MP (the same present on Honor 20 Pro but without the optical stabilizer and f/1.8), a 16MP f/2.2 wide angle, a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP f/2.4 macro. On the front, the Honor 20 offers a 32MP f/2.0 sensor. The Honor 20 allows you to shoot 4K video at 30fps.

You'll find yourself shooting in 12MP for most of the time so you can take advantage of zoom, AI and wide angle

Of the quartet on the back, I do not find the macro lens useful, with which you have to be quite accurate because the focus is at 4cm. The other 2MP lens is not fundamental either, so let's just say the other two sensors alone would have been enough here. AI is present but cannot be activated to take 48MP photos in Ultra Clarity mode and the 48MP cannot be used in Wide Angle mode. You'll probably find yourself shooting in 12MP for most of the time, so you can take advantage of zoom, AI and wide angle. In any case, one tap is all it takes to switch to the 48MP.

  • What does "AI camera" mean in smartphones?

The quality of the photos is good, in terms of detail and color representation (with AI active, colors are much stronger and less natural, but you probably already knew that), especially when the light conditions are good. The night mode gives a hand to illuminate the scenes in the dark and the results are not bad even if, without the help of AI support, you notice blurred details. The various integrated shooting modes (slow-motion, filters, night mode, etc.) are interesting and offer pleasant effects, but in some cases, the results are too elaborate.

 

Battery life is a strong point

One of the strengths of this Honor 20 is certainly the battery life. The 3,750mAh battery provides more than a full day's battery life under intensive use without any problems. Fast charging (SuperCharge 22.5W) is now taken for granted at Honor; there is no wireless charging, but I would say it is normal, as it is not a flagship phone.

In our PC Mark benchmark test, the Honor 20 reported a result of 10 hours and 31 minutes.

Honor 20 technical specifications

Dimensions: 154.3 x 74 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 174 g
Battery size: 3750 mAh
Screen size: 6.26 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2340 x 1080 pixels (412 ppi)
Front camera: 32 megapixels
Rear camera: 48 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 9 - Pie
User interface: Emotion UI
RAM: 6 GB
Internal storage: 128 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 980
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.6 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 5.0

Final verdict

Is Honor 20 a good smartphone? Yes, it is. Well made and well equipped, it offers fluid performance and good battery life. Even the photographic experience does not disappoint, despite the fact that two of the photosensors on the back seem to have been integrated more for marketing than for a real utility.

What makes life difficult for this smartphone, however, after the ban imposed by Trump, is the price. The competition manages to offer at the same price, or in the case of Google even less, excellent alternatives that leave the Honor 20 in the shadows. For 100 quid less, it would have been a good deal, but it risks remaining unsold in direct competition with Xiaomi and Google, and that's a shame.

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