The Honor View 10 went on sale at the start of 2018 at an aggressive price of Rs. 29,999. It was squarely aimed at the OnePlus 6 and used Huawei's powerful, AI-capable Kirin 970 SoC to compete with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. The View 10 had lots of software enhancements and offered good camera performance. What we didn't like about the device was its awkward camera bumps and the fact that a fast charger wasn't bundled in the box. Honor has now launched the successor to the View 10, dubbed the View 20. The Honor View 20 has an even more powerful flagship processor and a radically new hole-punch in the display for its front camera. With competition getting fiercer by the day, is the Honor View 20 the best pick in the premium segment? We review it to find out.
Honor View 20 design
Honor has gone for a glossy back panel similar to some of its other smartphones. The Sapphire Blue colour on our review unit looks plain at first, but a V-shaped pattern is revealed when light hits it at certain angles. The View 20 is also available in Midnight Black and Phantom Blue, with the latter only an option with the 8GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant.
The Honor View 20 has a modern design but it doesn't feel premium in the hand. It has curved sides that make it comfortable to hold. The back panel is made out of glass but Honor hasn't mentioned the type of glass it has used. We found that the phone would slide when kept on any surface that isn't level so you will need to be careful where you place it.
The frame is made out of metal and gets cold to the touch in an air-conditioned room. The power and volume buttons are on the right while the SIM tray is on the left. The power button has a textured pattern that makes it easy to distinguish without looking at it. We found the placement of the volume buttons to be too high, as we needed to shuffle the phone in our hand to reach them. You'll find an IR emitter and ambient light sensor on the top along with a 3.5mm headphone jack. At the bottom, this phone has a USB Type-C port along with the loudspeaker and the primary microphone.
The flashy back on the Honor View 20 makes the phone slippery.
Now, coming to the display that has kept the Honor View 20 in the news. The massive 6.4-inch panel has a hole-punch in its upper left corner for the selfie camera. This is the first smartphone to launch in India with such a design instead of the usual notch. It eliminates the need for a notch by pushing the speaker grille and proximity sensor in to the frame of the phone.
This results in more screen real estate, but just like a notch, the hole-punch might be a distraction for some people. Getting screen protectors and cases could be an issue for some time, but Honor ships a case in the box and pre-applies a screen protector.
While the hole-punch means you lose a small portion of the display in the corner, we didn't have any issues with this. Since it's in a corner, it doesn't grab your attention as much as a traditional notch does. In fact, we had to point the hole-punch out to some of our friends and colleagues.
Honor View 20 specifications and software
The Huawei Kirin 980 SoC on the spec sheet comes as a bit of a surprise. It is a powerful processor based on a 7nm manufacturing process, and is also found in the flagship Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Review). It is an octa-core processor with three different types of cores that are used depending on how much power and efficiency is required in different usage scenarios. It is also the first SoC to feature ARM Cortex-A76 cores. It has a Mali-G76 GPU for graphics, and dual NPUs (Neural Processing Units).
There is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage which isn't expandable. An 8GB RAM, 256GB storage option is also available at a higher price.
The first-of-its-kind hole-punch display on the Honor View 20 sports full HD+ resolution (1080x2310 pixels). You can tweak the colour output of the panel or adjust the colour temperature as per your preferences. This phone gives you the option to scale the display resolution down to HD+ and can also do it automatically via the smart resolution feature to conserve battery life. If you aren't particularly fond of the hole-punch design, you can mask it in the display settings.
Honor View 20 has a dual Nano-SIM slot.
The Honor View 20 is a dual-SIM device and has two Nano-SIM slots. There is support for 4G as well as VoLTE on both SIMs. Connectivity options on the View 20 include Bluetooth 5, dual-band WiFi 802.11ac, and six satellite location systems. The Honor View 20 has a 4000mAh battery and a 40W supercharger is bundled in the box this time.
Honor ships the View 20 with Android 9.0 Pie out-of-the-box and its new Magic UI on top, with the recent December 2018 security patch. This new UI looks quite similar to EMUI, which is pretty common on Honor smartphones. The UI is optimised to work with the hole-punch display and all the notification icons are moved to the right.
It also has the Digital Balance feature which helps you manage how much time you spend on your device. We found it to be quite useful on the Honor 10 Lite (Review). There is support for gesture navigation and a navigation dock, apart from the traditional Android navigation buttons. The navigation dock is a single floating button on the screen that can be used to navigate around. Magic UI also has support for themes which lets you customise the UI.
There are quite a few apps preinstalled on the Honor View 20. It has Honor apps including HiCare (a support app), Health, AppGallery, Honor Club, and Party Mode. We did also find some bloatware on the smartphone including Camera360, Vigo Video, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Netflix. Google apps also come preinstalled, and finally there's a Phone Manager app that helps you manage the phone's resources.
Honor View 20 performance, battery life, and cameras
After impressing us in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Review), the Kirin 980 SoC exhibits the same performance on the View 20. It was quick to load apps and games without any hint of lag. The 6GB of RAM ensures that multitasking is smooth without the need to kill apps in the background. Magic UI uses a horizontal multitasking layout and you can scroll through all the background apps easily.
While a lot of people will point out that this phone does not have an in-display fingerprint scanner like the OnePlus 6T (Review), the rear-mounted physical fingerprint scanner is quick. The View 20 also has a face recognition feature that uses the selfie camera to scan your face and unlock itself. We found the face unlock feature to be fast when it had adequate light to work with, but it was noticeably slower in low-light conditions.
We ran a couple of benchmarks to see how the View 20 fares against the competition. In AnTuTu, the phone managed to score 2,77,415 which is higher than the Asus ROG phone (Review) but still lower than the 2,94,802 that the OnePlus 6T scored. In Geekbench 4, it scored 3,313 and 9,742 in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively, and could manage 7,624 in PCMark Work 2.0.
Honor View 20 is one of the few smartphones to sport a 48-megapixel primary camera.
The Honor View 20 scored 58fps and 51fps in GFXBench's T-Rex and Manhattan 3.1 scenes respectively. It also scored 3,630 and 37,675 in 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme and Ice Storm Unlimited tests respectively.
We played PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 on the device, and they ran without a hiccup. PUBG ran well with the graphics set to HD and the frame rate set to high. We could play the game without any lag, and the hole-punch notch did not hamper the controls or visuals. Even while watching videos on YouTube, the hole-punch notch didn't bother us, but it does take away a small portion of the display.
In our HD video loop test, the 4000mAh battery powering the phone lasted for 12 hours and 31 minutes. We also tested the supercharger that comes bundled with the smartphone. It was capable of charging the View 20 to 47 percent in 30 minutes and 86 percent in an hour, and took only 1 hour, 35 minutes to charge it fully.
We charged the Honor View 20 to 100 percent and started the day at 7am. With close to four hours of navigation using Google Maps, 30 minutes of PUBG Mobile, taking a few photos, and an active Whatsapp account, the View 20 still had 39 percent battery life still left at the end of the day.
The ambient light sensor and the IR blaster are positioned on the top of the Honor View 20
Honor has been making a lot of noise about the View 20's camera and with good reason, because this is one of the few devices to sport a 48-megapixel primary shooter. It also has a TOF (Time of Flight) 3D camera similar to the one seen on the Oppo R17 Pro (Review). The camera app looks similar to what we have seen on Honor smartphones before, but has been tweaked to add a few more shooting modes. Apart from the regular photo and video modes, it has AR Lens, Night, Portrait, Pro, Aperture, Artist, and Panorama modes. HDR is also a different mode, not a quick toggle. The app also offers multiple filters that you can apply before you take a shot.
Photos taken with the Honor View 20 are good, and we did not notice any issues while we were out shooting. The camera is set to take 12-megapixel photos by default, and you'll have to go and change it to 48 megapixels in the settings if you want to use the maximum possible resolution.
In daylight, we saw a significant difference in the photos shot with AI enabled and those taken without. AI resulted in shots with higher contrast and more details in darker areas. We did not notice any significant differences between Macros shot with and without AI, as both had good detail, and the phone could separate the subject from the background well in both cases.
AI works in the same fashion for low-light shots as well, and delivered better details in our samples. The software managed to keep noise under control but our sample photos had visible grains on zooming in. Portrait shots were decent, and the phone did manage good edge detection.
There are multiple portrait lighting options that you can use. In portrait mode, we could put the 3D camera to use by using the 3D shaping feature which digitally slims a person down. It does this by squeezing the frame where the subject is, making them look slimmer. However, it does cause slight distortion around the area which is noticeable.
Selfies taken with the 25-megapixel front camera had good detail. The View 20 also uses AI with its front camera to detect faces and different scenes. This phone does not have a selfie flash but it can make the entire screen light up when taking photos in low light.
Video recording maxes out at 4K for the rear camera and 1080p for the selfie shooter. When shooting at 1080p with the rear camera, the footage is stabilised. This phone is also capable of 4K video recording but there's a 10-minute limit. While recording with the selfie camera, you get the option to enable AI HDR, which is helpful when you are shooting against the light.
The Honor View 20, with its hole-punch display, does stand out compared to its notched competitors. While it still doesn't have an all-screen front, it is a step in the right direction. The flashy Sapphire Blue colour is good to grab attention but the slippery back is something we were constantly worried about while using this smartphone.
The new Kirin 980 SoC can hold on its own against current flagship processors. The software still has a bit of bloat that it can lose, and face recognition could do with a few tweaks to work better in low light.
Priced at Rs. 37,999, the Honor View 20 goes head on against the OnePlus 6T (Review), which is a tough competitor. If you prefer a clean near stock Android experience, the OnePlus 6T offers a clear advantage, but if you absolutely want to be the first to own a device with a hole-punch display, go ahead. The View 20 is a solid performer without a lot of compromises.