HONOR VIEW 20

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The best phone for flagship-grade internal hardware at a mid-range price point

SPECIFICATIONS

Weight: 180g Dimensions: 156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm OS: Android 9.0 Pie Screen size: 6.4-inches Resolution: 2310 x 1080 pixels CPU: Kirin 980 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB Battery: 4000mAh Rear camera: 48MP rear Front camera: 25MP front

REASONS TO BUY

+Bold, standout design+Large and vibrant 6.4-inch screen+Rapid internal hardware

REASONS TO AVOID

-No wireless charging-No water resistance certification


Introduction

Honor’s View lineup is back and significantly better than before. For starters, it’s got a much more attractive glass back and metal frame while the front no longer has a notch of any kind. The back of the phone is ultra-shiny and easily one of the best-looking smartphones around. Honor has innovated on pushing the glass back cover into something more and we love what it has come up with.

The View 20 Honor’s first phone with a “hole-punch” cutout to hide the selfie camera in plain sight. This marks the start of a new trend into 2019 as phone makers slowly move past the need to use a notch and employ a new solution that minimizes bezel size.

Honor View 20 specs:

  • Body: Metal frame with ultra-reflective curved rear glass
  • Screen: 6.4″ IPS LCD; 2.5D glass; 1080 x 2310 px (398 ppi); 19.75:9 aspect ratio
  • Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 980 CPU; (2×2.6 GHz Cortex-A76 & 2×1.92 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55); Mali-G76 MP10
  • Memory: 6GB/8GB RAM + 128GB/256GB storage
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie; Magic UI 2.0
  • Camera: 48MP Sony IMX 586; f/1.8; 1/2″ (0.8µm) + ToF 3D sensor; 4K capture at 30fps; 1080p capture at 60fps and 720p capture at 960fps
  • Camera features: 2X Zoom, Night mode, PDAF, portrait mode, beautify and body shaping
  • Selfie camera: 25MP; f/2.0; 27mm
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh battery; 22.5W Huawei Super Charger
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM; Dual VoLTE
  • Misc: Fingerprint scanner, 2D face unlock, hole-punch camera

Like the View 10 last year, the View 20 (known as V20 in China) is one of two counterparts of the latest Huawei Mate phone. The Honor Magic 2 has most of the Mate 20 Pro’s features like the in-display scanner, 3D face unlock and triple camera, but the View 20 keeps only the essentials while offering an exceptional bang for your buck.

Honor View 20 review

Though it isn’t a triple camera, there is a dual camera consisting of a new 48MP Sony sensor and a new ToF (Time of Flight) sensor instead of a secondary camera. It is one of the first smartphones to use this new 48MP camera sensor and we can’t wait to see what kind of pictures it can take.

Honor already held a Chinese launch event back in December to announce the phone in the company’s home market. The company held a second launch event in Paris to announce global availability outside of China – today marks the launch of the phone on more than a dozen markets internationally.

Unboxing the Honor View 20

The Honor View 20’s retail box isn’t an all-teal box as many previous Honor phones. Although it’s got more color on the box, the packaging and contents are pretty much unchanged. The phone comes with the essentials: nothing more, nothing less.

Upon lifting the top of the box, we are greeted by the phone’s display. Which isn’t very exciting when the phone isn’t powered on. We think the missed opportunity here is that Honor could have positioned the View 20 so that its gorgeous rear glass could make the very first impression.

Honor View 20 review

Under the phone is a flat box which holds the SIM tool and a bonus transparent case. Beneath this box lie the 22.5W Huawei Super Charger and a USB-C to USB-A cable. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to use the included cable to achieve the charger’s full power output.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what comes in the box, let’s take a closer look at the phone’s design.

Design

This is the most beautiful design to ever come from Honor. We’ve seen the manufacturer make other phones with hyper-reflective back glass on the Honor 8, 9 and 10, and more recently on the mid-range Honor 8X with a dual-finish backing.

While we really liked the shiny-ness and glam factor of the aforementioned Honor phones, this is the first time Honor has taken the ultra-reflective glass to a completely new direction – two in fact. The reflections are arranged in a chevron pattern across the back of the phone. The V-shape of the reflective pattern is very fitting for Honor’s “View” branding.

Honor View 20 review

We received the Phantom Blue and Phantom Red Moschino Editions of the phone, which have 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. Also, the gradient is slightly more prominent and the edges around the back glass stand out more. You also get free Moschino wallpapers with those two. You can see the difference between the regular Blue and Red colors compared to the Moschino Editions. It’s pretty subtle, to be honest.

Color comparison: Moschino Blue
Color comparison: Blue
Color comparison: Moschino Red
Color comparison: Red

    
Color comparison: Moschino Blue • Blue • Moschino Red • Red

The long edges of the glass curve towards the frame, much like Samsung has been doing on the Samsung Galaxy phones for years now. This approach accentuates the phone’s length over its width. This kind of fit-and-finish and design requires very strict tolerances, which we’re glad to see has made it to the upper-mid-range category.

Honor View 20 review

Honor has exchanged its youthful and understated insignia to a bolder version with all capital letters and a bolder appearance. The Honor brand is growing in popularity so we like the direction of this new insignia redesign. This new branding is placed under the surface layer of glass so it won’t ever rub off.

Honor View 20 review

Also on the rear is the phone’s dual-camera setup and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The words “AI Vision” adorn the negative space to the right of the camera, and refers to the AI abilities that are possible thanks to the NPU in the Kirin 980 CPU.

Honor View 20 review

Now that we’ve Ooh’d and Ahh’d at the shiny back, let’s take a look around the rest of the smartphone.

The View 20 is among the very first commercially available smartphones that have placed the front-facing camera directly behind the display, leaving a cutout of the panel for the sensor to see through the glass. We find this approach is much less obtrusive than a proper notch. The in-call speaker is right at the edge of the display’s glass and Honor even managed to put the proximity and ambient light sensors in the tiny sliver of a top bezel – very impressive.

Honor View 20 review

The display is also quite large at 6.4-inches, which puts it in the same category as the OnePlus 6T. From the front, the phone is all-screen.

Honor View 20 review

The left side houses the dual nanoSIM tray. There is no expandable SD card slot and the View 20 doesn’t support the new Nano Memory format that Huawei introduced with the Mate 20 Pro. On the other side of the phone are three physical buttons: the power key, volume (+) and volume (-). These keys have excellent travel and are sturdy enough to avoid accidental pressing.

Honor View 20 from the side - Honor View 20 review
Honor View 20 from the side - Honor View 20 review

  
Honor View 20 from the side

At the top of the phone is a 3.5mm headphone jack, and IR blaster, and a noise-cancelling mic. The bottom has a USB-C port, downward-firing loudspeaker, and in-call microphone.

Honor View 20 from the top and bottom - Honor View 20 review
Honor View 20 from the top and bottom - Honor View 20 review

  
Honor View 20 from the top and bottom

The frame goes all the way around the phone and thins out a little bit along the tall edge of the phone to accommodate the dual curves on the rear glass. The anodized finish on the frame is cool to the touch and the ‘phantom blue’ paint job pops much more than the View 10’s darker shade of blue.

Honor View 20 review

For now, only the standard red color won’t make it outside of China so international buyers will have to choose between the Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue and Phantom Red/Blue Moschino Editions.

48MP camera + 3D ToF sensor

This isn’t your typical dual camera setup. Rather than using two RGB camera sensors, the Honor View 20 uses a 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor behind an f/1.8 aperture lens combined with a second ToF or ‘Time of Flight’ sensor.

The main sensor uses a quad-Bayer array for pixel binning. The resulting image is reduced to a higher-quality 12MP image.

Honor View 20 review

The ToF sensor uses IR light to map the space in front of the camera and see in three dimensions. This makes a couple of cool features possible: first, you’ll be able to scan objects in 3D into the phone; and secondly, the camera app offers a body shaping feature that makes you look thinner. It will be interesting to see how well the camera can synthesize portrait mode bokeh versus using two regular cameras.

For the record, the Mate 20 Pro can also scan objects in 3D as shown on stage at the London event, however, it achieves this using the 3D face unlock hardware it has above its screen, which lacks on the View 20.

Camera app

As usual, let’s start with a description of the camera app. If you are familiar with Huawei and Honor’s UI, you will be able to breeze through the camera app’s options. The layout is similar to the iPhone’s – swiping left and right will switch between camera modes while the settings menu is located in the upper right corner. Depending on the camera mode you are in, it will display the available options. For instance, the default Photo mode lets you choose between several resolution settings but the ones you’d probably end up using are the 12MP and 48MP modes.

Options in the default Photo mode - Honor View 20 review
Options in the default Photo mode - Honor View 20 review
Options in the default Photo mode - Honor View 20 review
Options in the default Photo mode - Honor View 20 review

    
Options in the default Photo mode

Video settings are pretty limited – you can choose between 720p, 1080p, [email protected] and 2160p and you can’t disable EIS. It’s always on.

Settings in the video mode and the additional modes - Honor View 20 review
Settings in the video mode and the additional modes - Honor View 20 review
Settings in the video mode and the additional modes - Honor View 20 review

   
Settings in the video mode and the additional modes

Anyway, there’s also a full-fledged Pro mode that lets you tweak all camera settings manually, a Night mode for better low-light stills, AR mode, Portrait mode and some additional modes in the “More” section on the far right. HDR is buried in there as well.

Image quality

The Honor View 20 aims to be one of the best when it comes to camera quality and we are not disappointed. We’ve observed pretty consistent performance during the day with an impressive dynamic range, good colors, and excellent sharpness. We can say for sure that the Quad Bayer technology works as advertised so you better stick to the 12MP mode. Also, you might as well leave the AI on this time around as it doesn’t ruin the photos as seen on some other Huawei devices before. Though frankly, we didn’t see much benefit from having it on either.

Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/883s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/852s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/806s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/791s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1050s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1092s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/980s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/911s - Honor View 20 review

   
   
Photo mode: 12MP • 12MP AI • 48MP • 48MP AI Ultra Clarity

Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/878s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/850s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/843s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/832s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1106s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1058s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1016s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1015s - Honor View 20 review

   
   
Photo mode: 12MP • 12MP AI • 48MP • 48MP AI Ultra Clarity

Switching to the 48MP mode will result in softer looking and a bit noisier photos – which is only expected, of course. This sensor is meant to be used for pixel binning in 12MP. However, if you insist on shooting in the full 48MP resolution, Honor has introduced the so-called 48MP AI Ultra Clarity mode, to help with some of the deficiencies. Since taking photos in this mode takes longer and the phone warns you to keep it still, we suspect it’s essentially multi-sampling – taking several photos and then merging their sharpest bits. The result is a sharper photo with a slightly more contrasty look. So if you really want to go with the 48MP photos, we suggest you use this mode to take your photos.

Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1299s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1300s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1289s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1319s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/434s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/411s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/395s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/370s - Honor View 20 review

      
Photo mode: 12MP • 12MP AI • 48MP • 48MP AI Ultra Clarity

Photo mode: 12MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/835s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 12MP AI - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/539s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/835s - Honor View 20 review
Photo mode: 48MP AI Ultra Clarity - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/835s - Honor View 20 review

   
Photo mode: 12MP • 12MP AI • 48MP • 48MP AI Ultra Clarity

Turning on the HDR mode won’t do much for you and that’s actually a good thing here as the default camera mode offers a great dynamic range to begin with. We couldn’t find any pattern with the HDR photos – sometimes the mode adjusted the highlights and messed up the shadows, while other times it was the other way around. All in all, we don’t see any benefit in using the mode in its current, unpredictable implementation.

HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/895s - Honor View 20 review
HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1034s - Honor View 20 review
HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/853s - Honor View 20 review
HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1011s - Honor View 20 review
HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/1330s - Honor View 20 review
HDR mode - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/833s - Honor View 20 review

  
  
HDR mode

When it comes to night-time photography, the View 20 is right up there with the rest of the flagships. It also does have the fully fledged handheld Night mode we saw premier on Huawei devices earlier this year.

Just like the Mate 20/Mate 20 Pro, the Honor View 20’s Night mode is beneficial in complete darkness. And it offers generally less noisier photos. But in our experience for anything else, the normal mode produced better results in low light as the Night mode frequently produced photos witth less than stellar sharpness and definition while the benefits in tonal range compared to the Night mode were only marginal.

Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/20s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/33s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 1250, 1/25s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review

     
Night scene: Default Photo mode • Night mode

Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/33s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/33s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 640, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/25s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 800, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Default Photo mode - f/1.8, ISO 500, 1/33s - Honor View 20 review
Night scene: Night mode - f/1.8, ISO 400, 1/-3s - Honor View 20 review

      
Night scene: Default Photo mode • Night mode

We’ve also included some comparison shots from our studio in a more controlled environment. Here’s how it stacks against some of the competitors. We’ve included sample shots in the default 12MP and 48MP modes.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

  
Honor View 20 against the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Xiaomi Mi 8 in our Photo compare tool

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

  
48MP mode: Honor View 20 against the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Huawei P20 Pro in our Photo compare tool

Portraits

Portraits come out pretty clean with plenty of detail but the edge detection seems a bit inconsistent. Look at the sample with the chair, for example. We can’t think of a reason why the software decided to blur the edge of the chair. Also, the subject’s shirt is a bit blurry too.

Portraits - f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/132s - Honor View 20 review
Portraits - f/1.8, ISO 200, 1/50s - Honor View 20 review

  
Portraits

Selfies

The 25MP front-facing camera shoots pretty sharp selfies but since it doesn’t feature autofocus, you have to keep in mind there is a focus sweet spot where it’s best to position your face – and it’s at about half a full arm’s length. The portrait mode’s edge separation is just about average considering the fact that it uses just one camera and relies only on software.

Portrait selfie - f/2.0, ISO 50, 1/100s - Honor View 20 review
Normal selfie - f/2.0, ISO 64, 1/100s - Honor View 20 review

  
Portrait selfie • Normal selfie

Video recording

The Honor View 20 is capable of recording videos in [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] and gives you the option of choosing between H.264 and H.265 encoding. Slo-mo modes include [email protected] and [email protected]

The overall video quality is on par with the flagships out there and even delivers more natural colors compared to some other phones. The videos appear to be smooth without any hiccups and there are no traces of noise.

The stabilization is always on in 4K and 1080p and as you can see, it works well in both modes.

Here are some screenshots from our lab video samples which you can compared to other phones.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

  
2160p: Honor View 20 against the Huawei P20 and OnePlus 6T in our Video compare tool

You can download short untouched samples as well – 2160p/30fps (10s, 31.8MB) and 1080p/30fps (10s, 14.1MB).


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