A hole-punch screen, a large bezel-less display and a 48-megapixel camera - Chinese manufacturer Honor's new smartphone clearly shows the brand's ambitions for 2019. So, has it been successful? Find the answer in our complete review of the Honor View20, a trend-setting smartphone.
- ✓Hole-punch screen
- ✕Single speaker
- ✕No IP certification
Honor View 20 release date and price
Unveiled in China on December 26, the Honor View20 was officially presented in Europe on January 22 in Paris, at the Salle Pleyel. Last year, it was necessary to pay 499 euros for the View 10, its predecessor. However, the device's new premium design has hiked prices up a little this year. It's still offering an excellent value for money and a competitive price compared to rival flagships (Galaxy Note 9, Mate 20 Pro, iPhone XS Max and so on). In Europe, the device will cost 699,90 euro.
The availability or prices for the US and UK market are not known yet. If that changes, we will update you.
There are several available colors: Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue, Phantom Blue, and Phantom Red. There are two storage variants as well: one with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and one with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. In both cases, the memory is not expandable. Honor does not offer a slot for an NM card either - the new memory expansion format launched by Huawei on the Mate 20 Pro.
Goodbye notch, hello hole!
It's hard not to fall for the charms of the Honor View20 at first sight. This model sets a new standard in the world of Honor smartphones that clearly demonstrates the company's ambitions on the market.
Its design - front and back, as well as the finish, are simply stunning. Yes, smartphones are becoming real luxury products, and the View20 is proof of that. The materials used - a combination of glass and metal, give the device a very elegant appearance. The glass back deserves a special mention. It reflects light differently depending on the tilt of the smartphone.
Of course, the screen is the most striking element, more precisely the punch-hole in the upper left corner where the 25-megapixel front camera is hidden. While not invisible, this solution is a more discreet alternative to the notches that have invaded our smartphones over the past two years. The hole is also smaller than that on the Samsung Galaxy A8s, which was recently made official. It has a diameter of 4.5 mm compared to 6.4 mm for the Korean smartphone.
Aesthetically, it is much more successful. It is a pleasant and immersive screen to use. There is little doubt that this perforated screen will become a trend among 2019 smartphones. The beautiful effect is also reinforced on the View20 by extremely thin side bezels, but also a slim 'chin'.
Due to the smartphone's large size, it is of course preferable to use both hands. In addition, its glass back is sensitive to fingerprint smudges. Yet, overall, the View20 feels very good in the hands and doesn't need to envy its competitors, aesthetically speaking. The device is both stylish and sturdy.
This smartphone is pretty - it's impossible to deny it - especially the red version. However, it does not offer any waterproof certification, unlike most flagships with which the View20 is competing. Too bad.
To console yourself, however, there is a headphone jack and a feature called Link Turbo that allows you to use Wi-Fi and 4G together to download faster. The fingerprint scanner is not integrated into the screen, unlike the Mate 20 Pro, but its speed is an additional comfort.
A large and immersive LCD display
As pretty as the device may be, the View20 does not offer all the advantages of its cousin, the Mate 20 Pro. With Its 6.4-inch screen (2310 x 1080 pixels) Honor has opted for LCD technology over OLED. The fingerprint scanner is also located on the back of the device, instead of in the display.
Compared to the notch, the hole-punch screen offers, in my opinion, a better user experience with a higher immersion. Its upper left position has been designed to make life easier for gamers by giving them a comfortable experience. To avoid black bars on the sides when playing movies or videos (19.25:9 aspect ratio), Honor also offers a full-screen mode that zooms in on the image. This is great because it once again allows you to take full advantage of the device's display.
As for rendering quality, it is very good overall. The colors emitted by the LCD panel are quite satisfactory. They are bright and the blacks are correct despite the absence of OLED. By default, the View20 tends to have a blue-ish tint, but you can correct this in the settings if it bothers you too much.
I also had nothing to say about the brightness - it is sufficient for all uses. Of course, the sun is not necessarily very present in Europe at the moment, but the View20 is perfectly readable under direct sunlight (provided that the light is adjusted as much as possible).
Magic UI replaces EMUI
One of the innovations introduced on the Honor View20 comes in the form of software. The device does not run EMUI but Magic UI, Honor's own interface. The differences between the two are not many, however, this mainly allows the Chinese brand to be more independent for new features. Honor will also soon deploy Magic UI on its older devices.
Magic UI is also designed to appeal to a younger audience, drawing in the brand's customers with a simpler design. Sometimes, you may notice some differences, especially in the appearance of some icons that are flatter and lighter in hue. But overall, the interface is very similar to EMUI. Coming from a Huawei Mate 20 Pro, I wasn't disoriented.
The fluidity of the navigation during my test was flawless. Multitasking works correctly (sometimes a display bug is present but it is likely that this problem will be fixed in the final version of the software). I have not noticed any problems when opening or closing applications. The View 20 is a pleasant smartphone to use on a daily basis.
In addition to unlocking via the fingerprint, the View20 also has face unlock. No 3D scanning is involved, but the speed of unlocking is impressive (Samsung should take note from Huawei).
More powerful than the Mate 20 Pro
As was the case for its predecessor, the View20 offers the latest processor. We find the SoC Kirin 980 with 6 or 8 GB of RAM and 128 or 256 GB of storage. On the GPU side, a GMali-G76 MP10 chip takes care of the graphics part. Like the Honor Play, the View20 benefits from the GPU-Turbo system where the system's performance is optimized for gaming and prevents the device from overheating.
During my test, I used the version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal memory. On paper, it's better than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Honor has equipped his smartphone with NINE NINE liquid cooling technology to dissipate heat more efficiently and maintain good performance. In practice, this works well and the smartphone overheats little (at least within reasonable limits) even when playing demanding games (Fortnite, PUBG, Asphalt 9...).
As always, we have performed some benchmark tests: the 3DMark ones mainly concern graphics performance, while Geekbench tests cores individually and then all together. Finally, PassMark evaluates memory and writing speed. The results obtained are simply great - the new Honor smartphone exceeds the Mate 20 Pro.
Not surprisingly, in practice, all the games we have tried work perfectly well, without any problems. Even with multiple applications in the background the Honor View 20 did not fail.
Honor View20 on benchmarks
|3DMark Sling Shot Extreme||3DMark Sling Shot Volcan||3DMark Sling Shot ES 3.0||3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0||Geekbench 4 (Single/Multi)||PassMark Memory||PassMark Disk|
|Huawei Mate 20 Pro||3564||3335||2648||37 330||3.326/9726||31 071||75.478|
|OnePlus 6T||4702||3861||6388||64 753||2.396/8981||12 364||75.065|
|Honor View 20||3628||4663||2930||37 800||3276/9646||30 170||18 910|
Average sound quality
Due to its attractive price, Honor had to make some compromises. Sound quality is one of them - the View20 has only one loudspeaker . It's a shame to see this on the first flagship of 2019, but the good news is that the headphone jack is still present. Good news for anyone who wants to avoid the latency generated by Bluetooth.
With mono sound, the sound is quite clear, but it must be recognized that the sound delivered by the only loudspeaker does not offer the best possible sound experience on a smartphone. For the rest, the volume is sufficient to fully enjoy a multimedia experience. The distortion is also very limited.
As far as calls are concerned, I didn't have any problems - the volume is excellent. It should be noted that the smartphone is compatible with all 4G bands, including the 800 mHz (B20) band.
In addition, the View20 introduces a new triple-antenna Wi-Fi technology to prevent the signal from fading when the user's hands cover the receiver. Signals are routed between three antennas (a central one at the back and two on the side) to enjoy the best network signal for games and apps. The system continuously monitors the Wi-Fi network and optimizes connectivity by switching between antennas. There is always an antenna that can provide the best connectivity.
A good photo experience (but not the best)
Unlike most high-end smartphones, the Honor View20 has only one photo sensor on board. The second is only used to measure the depth of field. Honor is clearly following Google's strategy with its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, or Apple's with the iPhone XR.
Honor has opted for the latest Sony IMX586 sensor capable of taking shots a resolution of up to 48 MP. Honor uses pixel bining technology to increase resolution, as was the case for Nokia with its Lumia 1020.
Artificial intelligence is also present as is typical on Honor smartphones. The bokeh effect is also possible with the TOF (Time-of-Flight) sensor, which allows 3D modeling or distance measurement.
The results are great and the shooting is very fast (as is the focusing), but keep this in mind - it is not the best possible photo experience on a smartphone. The conclusions of our photo expert Stefan attest to this.
In good lighting conditions, the Honor View20's camera delivers sharp images. As you might expect, 48 MP images are rich in detail and leave plenty of room for enlargement and/or large prints. Using the 1x/2x zoom button when shooting is useful for framing, but does not provide any significant advantages in terms of cropping the image later.
The dynamic range of the new HDR AI mode is excellent. Even if you take a backlit picture (against the winter sun), the View20 manages to expose the foreground well. White balance also generally does a good job and the images offer quite neutral and realistic colors. However, very bright reds tend to turn pink once the automatic white balance is disabled.
In low-light conditions, the smartphone manages to stabilize hand-held photos with exposure times of several seconds, resulting in bright, grain-free images with great color reproduction. In normal camera mode, low-light images remain quite decent. At high ISO values (even at ISO 2000), the noise is quite low and the colors are reasonably well preserved. Above ISO 3200, they become more and more "muddy".
Of course, the Time of Flight camera module is located at the back of the Honor View20. In practice, the results are somewhat mixed. In portrait mode, the cuts for the bokeh effect do not seem to be clean and, therefore, many effect filters fail to cut the background as well.
The front camera (25 MP, f/2.0) also gives classic results with convincing selfies, and on the video side, it is possible to shoot in 4K, 1080p Full-HD at 60 fps or 720p at 120 fps. The audio quality is excellent and the View20 does a good job in both noise reduction and color reproduction, and from our first impressions, the video mode gives good results.
You can see for yourself by checking out our photos and videos. A complete review of the phone's camera capabilities will also be published soon.
A camel in the desert
With the View20, Honor also put a lot of effort into autonomy. With a battery capacity of 4000 mAh, the device does not disappoint and is in line with the Mate 20 Pro.
The smartphone can easily last longer than a day under fairly intensive conditions of use, although long game sessions (one hour or more) will reduce its autonomy. However, you will always reach the end of the day without having to reach for your charger.
If you do not use the smartphone too much, it will be easy to exceed two or more days of autonomy. Among smartphones, it is simply one of the best on the market. For charging, the Honor View20 also offers a Type-C USB port. This means an hour and a half for is needed for a full charge. However, you might notice the absence of ultra-fast charging and reverse charging.
Honor View 20 technical specifications
|Dimensions:||156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm|
|Battery size:||4000 mAh|
|Screen size:||6.4 in|
|Android version:||9 - Pie|
|Internal storage:||256 GB|
|Removable storage:||Not available|
|Chipset:||HiSilicon Kirin 980|
|Connectivity:||LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0|
Admittedly, it took a month to see the Honor View20 arrive in Europe, but our patience was rewarded. Clearly, with its View20, the Chinese manufacturer is demonstrating its ambitions. The promises made during the first reveal were confirmed during our review.
The View20 is an elegant smartphone, technically up to the task and above all - the first flagship on the market to offer a punch-hole screen. It's also powerful, original in its design and offers excellent autonomy. The latest Honor device is perfectly equipped in all areas, as expected. Its display and camera will delight most users looking for a versatile smartphone.
In the end, the View20 is simply one of the best value for money smartphones on the market - it can compete with devices such as the OnePlus 6T or the Huawei Mate 20.
Nevertheless, I do not recommend it to people who want the best camera phone, because its photography performance, although excellent, is not necessarily equal to the Pixel 3 (XL) or Mate 20 Pro. But at this price, the Chinese manufacturer had to make some compromises.