Honor View 20 Review

The Honor View 20 looks gorgeous – it’s a 6.4 inch device that is almost all screen bar a small 2mm or so bezel around all sides. It has a 1080×2310 pixel display – not 4K but full HD is plenty good enough on a phone. The screen is vibrant – it might be LCD, but you can easily mistake it for OLED proving that the old tech still has lots of life left in it. It might not compare in terms of pixel density to the latest flagship phones from Samsung, but when you’re paying 2/3 of the price it’s impossible to complain

The Honor View 20 is also the first smartphone we’ve seen with the ‘punch hole’ camera – the small 4mm hole appears in the top left (portrait) / bottom left (landscape) of the display and is far less distracting than the notch. Yes it takes up some of your screen space, but it’s far less intrusive than a 10-15mm strip out of the top of your phone. It’s a nice solution to all-screen displays with front facing cameras and we can only see it becoming even better in the future.

For gaming in landscape, chances are you won’t even see the punch hole unless you’re using an external controller as your thumbs will be pretty much exactly where the hole is.

Talking of the camera, this one impresses – the front-facing camera offers a 25 megapixel sensor, the rear facing offers a massive 48 megapixel; and you can expect the photos it takes to be monsters in terms of filesize – good then that the phone comes for 256GB storage as standard! It takes great photos too – easily on a par with the Pixel 2 XL.

The Honor View 20 (above) offers great detail even in challenging light. The colours are warm but maybe not quite on a par with the Google Pixel 2 XL.
The Google Pixel 2 XL is warmer but other than this there’s little to choose between the two.

The zoom (as with most cameras) is purely digital and as expected is less impressive. With no additional image data the digital enlargement is blurry and seems to be more heavily affected by digital artefacts than the competition.

The digital zoom on the Honor View 20 won’t win any awards. There are digital artefacts – especially in the background – present that aren’t as noticeable on other devices. It does feel a little more detailed than the Google Pixel 2 shot below.
The Google Pixel 2 digital zoom seems smoother – but this might be due to digital trickery to reduce the digital artefacting.

The 25 megapixel front facing camera is good too – at least in good light. It really struggles in darker environments.

The front facing camera offers decent pictures in good light but struggles in darker environments with some loss in detail.

The gaming performance of the Honor View 20 is impressive – it’s one of the few phones that offer 60fps on Fortnite because it has the guts to handle it. And it IS a smoother experience than playing on the Google Pixel 2 XL. The game plays well – beating the performance of the Nintendo Switch, and while it might not feature the texture quality of the top-tier consoles it’s a totally enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, the onboard speaker is a little weak and mono – playing games can make the sound feel a little off balance without headphones. The speaker is on the bottom/left of the device dependent on orientation. It feels tinny. A thumbs up to Honor then for including a full 3.5mm jack to allow you to connect headphones without an additional dongle.

The handset is glass backed – and to hold feels like a dream, but the surface offers very little friction at all making drops very likely. We’d strongly recommend a protective case is used before taking the phone out otherwise we can see that lovely glass shattering very quickly indeed. Beauty doesn’t equal practicality in this instance. The device does feature a Gorilla Glass V5 coating meaning it should withstand moderate drops and minor-wear and tear but we wouldn’t want to test this in anger.

As with most non-Google Android devices the Honor View 20 has it’s own skin atop the base Android 9.0 Pie installation. Magic UI 2.0 is Honor’s take on the Huawei EMUI skin. It drops the app drawer as standard, but you can re-enable this in the settings and it’s generally unintrusive. Our choice is always base Android, but this isn’t too bad an addition – it feels smooth, fast and responsive and while Pixel owners might spend some time trying to find familiar settings, it soon becomes second nature.

The Honor View 20 is a solid handset that offers amazing performance and huge amounts of storage as standard. The screen doesn’t offer quite the pixel density of the competition but it benefits from the unintrusive punch hole camera. When price is taken into account the Honor View 20 becomes a very serious contender to one of the best value/performance smartphones on the market today. Highly recommended.

Colin Polonowski

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

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