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Honor 20 Review: Top-Notch Mid-Ranger With Few Shortcomings
Huawei has been really aggressive with its sub-brand Honor when it comes to the Indian market. The company portfolio comprises of some nicely designed products offering top-of-the-line specifications. Well, after facing a ban in the US, Huawei had to up the ante in other markets to make up for the loss it will witness eventually. And it certainly did, with its latest Honor 20 series of smartphones.
- Good Performance
- Brilliant cameras
- Zippy Fingerprint Scanner
- Impressive Battery
- Magic UI Isn’t Smooth
- No Expandable Storage
- No Headphone Jack
- Lacks Water Resistance
The series offers three smartphones - Honor 20i, Honor 20, and the Honor 20 Pro. Well, we got the chance to play around with the Honor 20 and pushed the device to extremity. The phone, however, will have a tough time not only because of the crowded mid-range market but also due to Huawei's ongoing battle with the US.
While the Honor 20i caters to the entry-level audience, the Honor 20 borrows more of its elements from the Pro variant of the series. The Honor 20 retails for a price of Rs 32,999 for the 6GB RAM and 128 GB storage variant. All that said, the device still has a few shortcomings that we will be discussing further in this review. So, let's find out where the Honor 20 stands in the much-crowded mid-range market.
- 6.26-inch IPS LCD display
- HiSilicon Kirin 980 processor
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB internal storage
- Mali-G76 GPU
- Android 9.0 Pie OS
- Magic 2.1 UI
- Fingerprint Scanner
- 48MP + 16MP + 2MP + 2MP rear cameras
- 32MP Front camera
- 3750 mAh battery
- Fast charging 22W
Design: Simple But Graceful
Honor has yet again produced a well-designed product in the form of Honor 20. But the device also continues to sport the dual-color rear panel which is one of the trends I personally can't wait to fade away. Fortunately, our review unit was the one in black, with no fancy or dazzling back. But, it catches fingerprints right from the moment you take it out of the box.
The smartphone has a glass sandwich design with a metal chassis running along the edges. The chassis holds the volume rocker, fingerprint scanner, IR blaster, two microphones, SIM card tray (not hybrid), speakers, and the Type-C charging port. There's no 3.5mm audio jack, which is a bummer.
The placement of the fingerprint reader felt really comfortable to reach out. But there's a catch - unlocking the device using your fingerprint wouldn't be so smooth if you're a lefty.
Up front, there's 6.2-inch display but thanks to the narrow bezels, the device feels comfortable to grip with one hand. The display also has a punch-hole to accommodate the 32MP selfie camera. Just above the display, there's an earpiece that also has an incorporated notification LED.
On the rear, there's a quad-camera setup with an LED flash aligned vertically, with the 2MP marco lens placed beside the setup. Apart from that, there's the Honor branding at the bottom. Overall, the Honor 20 seems like a very neatly designed smartphone, with good placement of sensors and cameras offering a simple yet premium look and feel.
Display: Not The Best But Does The Job
The Honor 20 packs a 6.26-inch display with 1080 x 2340 resolution. It isn't the most pixel-packed display out there, but it's good enough to offer an immersive experience. The colors are well-balanced and you can notice the crisp whites. The screen also offers two color modes - Normal and Vivid.
However, the sunlight legibility was a bit disappointing, suggesting it doesn't have the same brightness levels as its contemporaries. Also, the punch hole is blocked while playing most of the video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Video. YouTube, however, can be zoomed in to fill out the whole screen.
Speaking of the viewing angles, you'll have a hard looking at the screen from an oblique angle, and it gets worse when outdoors. This is one of the aspects where the device acts like a mid-range phone trying hard to bring flagship-features to the table.
Software: Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea
The Honor 20 runs Android 9 Pie with the Magic UI 2.1 on top, which is pretty much the same as EMUI seen on Huawei smartphones. The user interface is good and runs smoothly most of the time, however, it does lack an apps menu and there aren't a lot of customizations available.
The Magic UI 2.1 is a capable software with a good set of navigation gestures along with power saving features to amplify the performance of the smartphone. The interface could have been a bit smoother as seen on other smartphones in this range, but this can be resolved with one or two updates.
Speaking of updates, the US ban could also affect Huawei and Honor's long-term access to Android updates and the Play Store. However, the company already promised the Android Q update which makes it a lot better for the consumers planning to buy the device.
This issue would be completely resolved if the company replaces the current software with its own operating system that is said to be in the works. But this also means the company will have to find alternatives to a lot of Android apps.
Camera: An Edge Over Competition
The Honor 20 comes equipped with a quad-rear camera setup that comprises a 48MP wide angle lens, a 16MP ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP wide angle lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. The camera on the device is basically an evolved version of the one seen on the Honor View 20, which was, by the way, a brilliant camera.
The main 48MP lens with f/1.8 aperture coupled with a 16MP super-wide angle lens with f/2.2 aperture seems like some serious business at this price bracket. However, the other two lenses aren't as impressive in isolation.
The camera also offers AI functionality within the photo mode which works pretty well in almost all scenarios. But, you shouldn't expect too much from it, as the camera produced better images in the non-AI mode.
With normal mode, you can capture images that have an ample amount of details and well-balanced colors.
We found the wide-angle lens to be pretty handy when trying to capture big areas. You can access the mode within the photo mode from the right corner of the frame.
There are dedicated modes for capturing Portrait shots that work well on humans, while the aperture mode works flawlessly with objects.
Overall, the camera does a brilliant job in well-lit as well as dark conditions. We were satisfied with the video performance of the camera as well. It can capture 2160p videos @30fps and 1080p@30/60fps. It also has gyro-EIS to make your videos stable.
Performance: Smooth and Snappy
Honor 20 uses Huawei's Kirin 980 chipset (7nm) coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. The performance is butter-smooth as the phone managed to handle multitasking, heavy graphics games, video streaming and more without breaking a sweat.
The Kirin 980 packs eight cores, out of which four are Cortex-A76 performance cores and the other four lower-powered Cortex-A55 ones. While you'll be able to see the performance drop compared to its elder sibling - the Honor 20 Pro.
Thanks to the zippy processor, you won't notice any lag or stutter while firing up some graphics-intensive games. We played a few games of PUBG at top graphics setting and were impressed by the smooth gameplay throughout the session.
We also ran some benchmark tests as well and they were pretty good. The device scored 7769 points on the PC Mark benchmarks, while on Geekbench it got 3267 points on single core and 9730 on multi-core tests. In the 3D Mark, the Honor 20 raked in 3959 points on OpenGl, while it scored 4231 points on Vulkan.
Overall, Honor 20 offers a snappy smartphone experience that challenges the performance of every other smartphone in this price segment or higher.
Battery: Can Take A Beating
The smartphone is juiced by a 3,750mAh battery that offers a backup for a whole day. The Quick charge support allows the device to refuel quickly. It took a little over two hours for the device to completely charge from scratch. With extensive gaming or media playback, you might want to plug in the charger faster than usual.
We expected the battery to be slightly more powerful as most of the budget smartphones today offer a bigger 4,000mAh unit. This might be a deal breaker for some, but if you keep the numbers aside, you won't be disappointed by the battery performance of the device.
Verdict: Near-Flagship Material
With the Honor 20, the company has produced yet another cracker of a product. It's zippy, offers a great set of cameras, and provides a good battery backup. The camera quality has managed to impress us, but do not fall for the quad-camera hype.
The user interface could have been better, but it isn't a deal breaker by any means. The US ban and whether or not Huawei will be able to access Android still remains the biggest hiccup for the company, but if the company manages to curb these issues, the Honor 20 is a very good bargain.
For a price of Rs 32,999, the Honor 20 seems like a pretty well-balanced smartphone that can give any other device in the segment a run for its money. With its top-notch specifications and pricing the device will lock horns with the likes of OnePlus 7. In our opinion, the Honor 20 seems like a safe bet, and it will surely surprise you with its performance.