It’s really hard to talk bad about Honor View 20. You can stick to the design, maybe a little ‘Thug, or to the dimensions that are not really compact; but they would all be subjective evaluations. The reality is that the new flagship is a top device in all those areas that serve, a smartphone that could withstand the test of time thanks to its innovative solutions.
Table Of Contents Summary
Review Honor View 20
With Honor View 20, the Chinese company part of Huawei wanted to anticipate the times, proposing some innovative solutions before the competition, and even Huawei itself. After the plethora of smartphones released in 2018 with the now ubiquitous “notch”, Honor wanted to get rid of the notch by inserting an in-screen front camera inside a small 4.5mm diameter hole. The telephone capsule is located on the top, between glass and metal frame, and to break the harmony of the front we find only that hole.
The smartphone was presented at the end of 2018 in China, only to arrive after a few weeks in Europe with a launch in Paris in which prices were announced for our markets. It was then that we discovered perhaps the most painful note of this device, inside the boot, in fact, we will have only the top version of the range with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. This means that the price will not be really democratic, especially considering the past of the Chinese company.
Mind you: it is not a high price for a device of this caliber, but from Honor, we would have expected a strategy more open to all, in favor of a lower price list. The device makes use of a series of modern technologies, leading the way in more fields, and not only regarding the front hole: for example, we could talk about the 48 MP rear camera with AI Ultra Clarity technology that promises (and maintains) an impressive level of detail in any light condition. At his side, there is also a secondary camera called TOF 3D, with 3D Motion-Controlled Gaming.
The additional rear module introduces several features, as well as maintaining the possibility of blurring in portraits and photographs in which the subject is artistically separated from the background. For example, we have the ability to scan objects in the surrounding environment in three dimensions or use View20 as if it were a controller like Kinect. If placed in front of a subject at the right distance, in fact, the device can analyze all the movements and reproduce them with good accuracy within the three-dimensional environment, be it a video game, be it an experience of another kind.
Honor View20 Review
|OS (at launch)||
Android 9.0 Pie with Magic UI 2.0.1
Kirin 980 AI Dual NPU 7-nm
2 x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6 GHz
2 x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92 GHz
4 x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8 GHz
6 – 8 GB
LCD IPS 6.4 “All-View with” hole ”
Screen-to-body: 91.8%, 19.5: 9
2310 x 1080 px
128 – 256 GB
Front (In-Screen) :
Wi-Fi 802.11ac (Triple Antenna)
Dual SIM (Nano)
Dual GPS (AI)
Rear Fingerprint Sensor
2D Face Recognition
GPU Turbo 2.0
USB 3.1 Type-C
Audio 3.5 mm
Fast charging (4.5V / 5A)
55% in 30 minutes
156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm
We also have support for slow-motion at 960 fps, and a front module of 25 MP with f / 2.0 lens, support for bokeh and HDR. Among the features of Honor View, 20 must be mentioned the presence of Kirin 980, the first 7-nm processor in the Android field. Let’s briefly recall its architecture: there are four Cortex-A76 cores, two of which at 2.6 GHz and the other two at 1.92 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 at 1.8 GHz. But that’s not all: the characteristic peculiar to the SoC of Huawei is the double NPU, which allows you to perform IA calculations locally at twice the performance compared to the past generation.
Returning to the display, we have an IPS panel (so no under-glass fingerprint sensor, is behind) with a diagonal of 6.4″, Full HD resolution + (2310×1080 pixels) and with the technology called” All-View”. a creative way to underline the absence of the notch, with the 4.5mm hole that is the only distraction when you look at an image on this panel and with the possibility of reaching, therefore, a very high screen-frame ratio, 91.8% as stated by the manufacturer Among the available ports there is a USB Type-C for charging, and a 3.5mm for headphones and microphone.
Under the body, we also have a battery of 4,000 mAh with rapid recharge through the adapter provided with 4.5V / 5A, capable of bringing the device from 0 to 55% in 30 minutes. Among the technical features we also find support for Wi-Fi ac with a triple antenna system, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Dual-SIM, dual module for the GPS managed by artificial intelligence, rear fingerprint sensor, face recognition (but only 2D via the front camera, therefore not 100% reliable) and, GPU Turbo 2.0 technology, which allows you to optimize performance and efficiency with video games with 3D graphics.
Design, software and user experience
The design of Honor View 20 is undoubtedly curated and innovative, however it is inevitably destined to divide the criticism: for its current flagship the company has chosen a particular nanolithography technique capable of reproducing a “luminous” V-shaped texture, for recall the name of the device on the back, well done and certainly aesthetic impact. The smartphone is proposed in the colors Midnight Black, Sapphire Blue and in the Moschino Phantom Blue version: they are all very beautiful, but also too flashy. Even black offers a sort of multi-colored light effect and does not make sobriety its strong point.
With View 20 Honor is therefore aimed at a young audience that loves strong and aggressive aesthetics, leaving a little outside those who mainly appreciate the soberer and less gaudy aesthetics. On the front side the company’s desire for innovation is to be commended: as we have already said, we do not have any notch and no distraction either during online browsing or as regards the vision of photos and videos, apart from the small hole in the upper part to the left. As for the remaining aesthetic and functional parts, we have a glass back shell with a metal frame and the absence of IP certification.
The smartphone has a fingerprint sensor in the back, a 3.5 mm audio jack that is now increasingly difficult to find in the top of the range and an ergonomics that is in our opinion more than good despite the large size in the display. In the original equipment, we have no headphones, but we have a transparent case that does not hide the exuberance of the back finish, and that obviously must be raised with the decision. Also noteworthy is the haptic engine that does not give a “premium” feel during use.
The smartphone makes use of what is called Magic UI 2.0.1, which faithfully reproduces the user interface EMUI typical of Huawei devices changing only in some color and style choices. It seems excessive to use an exclusive name for the “new” interface, but probably the change of nomenclature indicates the will of Honor to separate the development and present new features (and stylistic themes) within its products as opposed to those (more serious) of the parent company. The functionalities are those of the EMUI, with the hole that is sometimes “exploited” in the software interface.
For example, during calls, we will not have the typical green top bar or an icon in the same notification bar of Android. Instead, Honor chose to surround the front camera with a small green insert to remind the user that he is in the middle of a voice call. Magic UI also promises “continuous optimization”, through artificial intelligence algorithms that learn based on the user’s habits to offer an always optimized experience even after long periods of use.
Performance, display, autonomy: technical analysis
Honor View 20 implemented the Kirin 980 processor that, at the time of the debut on the market, is the fastest among those present on Android terminals. It is also the first 7-nm mobile processor among those available on the green robot and is based on three different clusters. The main uses 2 Cortex-A76 cores with 2.6 GHz operating frequency and is combined with a secondary processor with 2 cores, always Cortex-A76, with a slightly reduced operating frequency (1.92 GHz). Finally, we have a third cluster with four other Cortex-A55 cores, designed for energy saving, with an operating frequency of 1.8 GHz.
The peculiar feature of Kirin 980 is the double NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that is two units dedicated to Artificial Intelligence calculations, which can, therefore, take place locally exploiting the advantages of hardware computation. The AI is used in different situations, from the optimization of the performance of the terminal to the recognition of the subjects in the frame of the camera, and everything happens in a substantially invisible way for the user. This is the hardware platform we saw on the Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20, capable of guaranteeing excellent performance over time.
Then there is the native support for GPU Turbo 2.0, the technology that allows you to get superior performance with video games thanks to the use of Artificial Intelligence and the optimization of resources invested by the GPU for rendering three-dimensional images. The result is, as revealed by the company, a 36% boost in terms of performance, especially in the more durable game sessions where the throttling of the operating frequencies usually takes place due to the increase in temperatures. With GPU Turbo 2.0 the phenomenon should be significantly limited, also thanks to the use of an “S” liquid cooling system, which cools not only the SoC but also the surrounding area.
Below are the benchmarks we have performed with the terminal: in red and marked with the suffix (P) you find the benchmarks executed by activating the Performance Mode. As was the case with Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Huawei chose to favor the autonomy on a single charge using the device with default settings (which are therefore particularly conservative in terms of management of CPU and GPU frequencies), while to unleash all the Power of Kirin 980 it is necessary to activate the Performance Mode: in this way Honor View 20 surpasses all Android competitors and goes hand in hand with the two flagships of the parent company.
We have already talked a lot about the display of Honor View 20, the fact that it has a rather high screen-frame ratio thanks to the All-View design and thanks to the front camera hole that replaces the notch. Let’s talk about quality now: that of the new Chinese flagship is an excellent panel in terms of color saturation, quite accurate and faithful and able to almost completely cover the DCI-P3 color space.
There is a slight tendency towards cold tones, a very usual feature in the category, but there is the possibility of dampening the character of the display through the settings (and in a very simple way). The View 20 panel sins a bit in terms of brightness, with the 460 nits we measured that are sufficient for outdoor use, but lower than many of the direct competitors. The contrast ratio is very high and has touched 1100: 1 in our measurements.
View 20 has excellent performance, an excellent IPS LCD display with innovative design solutions, and much more, but where it excels in operational autonomy. With this smartphone, you can easily reach the two days, and the whole day is guaranteed even if you make extreme use of the terminal. In our test in Wi-Fi navigation, it touched the 14-hour display on, the value obtained by setting the panel brightness to 200 nits. This is a result that places the new flagship of Honor in the upper half of the ranking, along with other “tireless” terminals. The fast charge of the 4,000 mAh unit installed is also very effective, although of course, the performance of the 40W battery charger supplied with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is not achieved.
At the rear Honor View 20 uses a dual-module setup for the main camera, and for the first time is adopted the 48MP Sony IMX586, a 1/2 “CMOS sensor and 1.6μm pixels in Quad Bayer arrays that allows detecting a greater quantity of light without artifacts.
Thanks to the support of the Kirin 980 NPUs, Honor has implemented an AI-based Ultra Clarity technology to optimize the details and clarity of the images, which in our opinion is the real added value of this device in the photographic field. With Ultra Clarity mode several 48 MP images are taken in extremely short timescales, and through IA the details are collected from each shot and a single 48 MP image is created. In our tests the system worked very well, detecting the movement in an optimal way and not proposing it in the image, which remains always “frozen” as you would expect from a standard shot. Then the AI analyzes the image and through an “advanced algorithm” manages to optimize the details in the darker areas by adjusting the colors to make them more vivid.
The 48 MP sensors are combined with the rear of a 3D camera, which is able to perceive the distances of the various elements of the photo. The additional module can scan and recognize objects in 3D Shaping mode, separating them from the background, and can also capture their motion and use it for innovative purposes. Honor View20 can, in fact, be used as if it were the controller of a console, even if only combined with compatible video games: the camera of the device is able to interpret almost all the movements of the player playing them in the three-dimensional environment of the game. At the time of launch, the first to guarantee the support of this particular mode is Fancy Skiing and Fancy Darts.
The front camera that, as we have already said, is embedded in the front panel inside a transparent hole, implements a sensor of 25 MP: despite the particular integration, however, Honor ensures that the structure and strength have been maintained compared to the models traditional.
Pictures were taken with Honor View 20
The Honor View 20 rear camera represents one of the most innovative aspects of the new flagship, especially with regard to the Ultra Clarity AI mode which, as we can see through our test shots, manages to add real detail to the photos taken both in the pictures taken at full resolution (48 MP) and in the 12 MP mode. Despite the time required for each shot (2-3 seconds) the stabilization is very effective in all circumstances, with the technology that is able to churn out a clear and stabilized shot even if you are moving, or even if moving is one of the framed subjects (the IA apparently manages to establish which are the best frames, excluding those in which the movement is present).
When you can use the mode (static contexts such as panoramas, but also portraits, in all those circumstances where we do not have to “seize the moment”), the Honor View 20 camera is the best we’ve ever had in our tests. On the other hand, by disabling the mode the results returned are undoubtedly good, but not at the levels of other flagships.
Honor View 20 is a smartphone that innovates in different areas, anticipating a few weeks some of the trends that we will see in the coming months. The most visible is undoubtedly the absence of the notch in favor of the hole that holds the camera for selfies and video calls, but there is also other good news. Among these the 48 MP rear camera that is not surprising only for the high level of detail that manages to capture, but also and above all for the excellent mode Ultra Clarity AI. The smartphone uses sensors and Artificial Intelligence to take the perfect picture and it succeeds in the vast majority of cases in which it is possible to wait a few seconds without losing the moment.
With the active mode, you can have a well-exposed photo, with an excellent color balance and an excellent balance between light and shadow, with details always in sight. And even the stabilization level achievable with Ultra Clarity is impressive: we can even move voluntarily during the two or three seconds of the photo, but the baked image remains clear and detailed.
These two technologies, combined with an excellent operating autonomy, are combined with good things that have brought Huawei and Honor to market in recent months: so Kirin 980, a basic software perhaps aesthetically little sought after but still optimized, smooth and extremely reliable, a top quality construction and an aggressive aesthetic that might not like it, but which nevertheless boasts a constructive quality and solutions at the top of its category. And there is also a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting headphones and a microphone.
There are also negative aspects: Honor View 20 is a top of the range and costs just over half compared to competing devices in terms of hardware and technological innovation, but from Honor, we would have expected more. A factor that makes the price jump to € 699. The rear camera, in addition, although very accurate and among the best, does not implement any mode of optical zoom or ultra-wide-angle lens; and the IP certification is also missing.
Despite these defects, Honor View 20 remains among the most innovative devices of this moment and is the most advanced in purely technological terms and until the Mobile World Congress (end of February) should easily maintain this record.
- Nothing notch! All-View display
- Great back camera
- Excellent autonomy in use and on standby
- High performance
- Aggressive design
- 3.5mm audio jack
- The aggressive design may not like it
- No zoom or ultra-wide-angle in the camera
- No IP certification