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Honor 20i Review: A Capable Mid-Range Smartphone
Honor 20i, an affordable smartphone in the Honor 20 series that went official last month in India has once again strengthened the company's foothold in the budget smartphone segment. This is the first smartphone series introduced following the US ban on Huawei. And no doubt, the company is betting high on the latest smartphones.
All the three devices- the Honor 20, Honor 20 Pro, and the Honor 20i offers some top-of-the-line features and the reasonable price tag makes for a good comeback. Going forward, we can expect some more quality products from the company.
With a price tag of Rs. 14,999, it stands up against the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Galaxy A30, Realme 3 Pro and others. We have been using the handset for a while and pushed the device to its limits. Let's see how the display, camera, hardware, benchmark, and battery performance of the Honor 20i stacks up against the competition.
Dual Tone Gradient Design Is Attractive But Flawed
The device features an attractive design which can grab the attention of the users who don't mind using a dazzling handset. Honor has used a polycarbonate material for the 20i with a dual-tone gradient design.
The device comes in three color options- Midnight Black, Phantom Blue, and Phantom Red. Our review unit is Phantom Blue which has a bluish shade on the top changing to purple at the bottom.
The shimmering rear panel looks quite appealing; however, one thing that will let you down is how quickly it attracts fingerprints. I had a hard time keeping the rear panel clean and had to use the case that ships with the retail box.
Moreover, it has a slippery surface, therefore, chances of accidental drops increases. This further makes using a cover a necessity. The fingerprint reader is mounted at the rear and has an ideal positioning for fast unlock.
Its quite simple to log your fingerprint and the unlocking speed is also fast. The device also has a face unlock feature which can be used in case you don't want to set up the fingerprint scanner.
The device is neatly designed; you get the usual arrangement of keys and ports. On the right, there are the power and volume keys, and the top panel has a hybrid microSD SIM slot. At the bottom, the device accommodates a speaker grille, a microUSB port, and a 3.5mm audio port.
Overall, the Honor 20i has a slim profile and offers a premium feel without weighing too much. However, single-hand usage might be a hassle if you have small palms.
While you can perform some basic tasks like answering calls and scrolling through pages; typing texts and reaching the corners for the drop-down menu is a bit complicated.
The design approach is quite common as most of the budget smartphones, however, it does give a premium feel for a cheaply-priced smartphone.
Colorful And Crisp Display
The Honor 20i adorns a 6.12-inch LCD display with a Full-HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. A screen-to-body ratio of over 90 percent and narrow bezels add to the immersive video watching experience. It offers a peak brightness of 415ppi and is fairly visible under direct sunlight.
The output is vivid and it renders high-resolution videos smoothly. But, the device does not support Widevine L1 certification which allows it to stream HD content from online video platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and others.
The viewing angles are also good and the color production seemed well-balanced. I didn't find the content too animated. Notably, you can adjust the display temperature and color mode from the settings menu.
Amongst the display settings, you get a Smart resolution, Color mode & temperature, and Eye comfort, etc. The primary function of the Smart resolution features is to lower the display resolution to save the battery.
Using the Color mode and temperature features, you can tweak the display brightness as well as the temperature. The Reading mode cuts down on blue light emission so that our eyes don't strain while reading during bedtime or in low-light situation.
Triple Rear Cameras With An AI Twist
The triple-camera module at the rear packs a 24MP primary lens aided with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and a 2MP depth lens. The camera performs quite well in daylight capturing images with an ample amount of details. The colors captured seem balanced and the images are not oversaturated.
The camera focuses objects on point and you won't experience any lag. The bokeh shots captured are also good and the background blur is doesn't look gimmicky. Edge detection is average but the sharpness could have been better.
The camera performed well in low-light situations as well, thanks to the dedicated Night mode. The low-light shots have less distortion and the video stabilization is also good.
Upfront, you get a 32MP selfie camera up front which also clicks clear pictures with abundant details. It might not be the best selfie camera out there but it does a decent job in capturing moments.
The Portrait shots are average and the background blur is less effective. Notably, the selfie camera doesn't support the Night mode.
A Snappy Performer
The device uses a 2.2GHz octa-core Kirin 710 chipset aided by Mali-G51 MP4 GPU and 4GB RAM. It offers onboard storage of 128GB expandable up to 512GB.
Coming to the performance, the device offers a smooth multitasking experience and handles high-end tasks easily. You can play graphics-intensive games such as PUBG, Asphalt 9 and others without experiencing any stutter. There are no noticeable frame drops on these games and you will defiantly enjoy your gaming sessions.
It warms up a bit with continuous playback, but nothing uncomfortably so. The device fires up apps quickly and even with multiple apps running in the background you will not notice any lagsThis makes it a good alternative to be your daily driver.
Software And Benchmark:
The Honor 20i runs on EMUI 9.0.1 wrapped around Android Pie OS. It ships with some pre-installed third-party apps such as Vigo Video, and Camera 360, among others. There are some in-house apps as well like Honor Club, HiCare, Honor Store, and others which can be uninstalled.
The UI is neat and feels really easy to use. You get various Android Pie elements such as Digital Wellbeing (Digital Balance), support for gesture-based navigation, battery optimizer and more. One thing which we would like to add that the Honor 20 series is confirmed to receive the Android updates in the future.
This has been one of the major concerns for the majority of consumers which the company addressed only a few days following the official launch.
We also ran some benchmark tests on the Honor 20i, and the results were quite satisfactory. On the PCMark 2.0 Work Performance test, the device logged 5867 points.
It scored 118301 points on AnTuTu Benchmark v7.2.2 and 844 points on Sling Shot Extreme- OpenGL ES 3.1 test. As for the Geekbench scores, the device logged 1312 points in the single-core test and 5075 points in the multi-core tests.
3,400mAh Battery Delivers Slightly Less On Backup
The Honor 20i packs a smaller 3,400mAh battery compared to the 4,000mAh unit found on most of the budget smartphones these days. If you are an extensive smartphone user then you might wanna carry around a power bank to refuel the device.
With moderate usage which includes calling, web surfing, and occasional media playback, the device lasted around 8- 9 hours. In any case, you might need a charger twice every day. But thanks to its 10W fast charging, you can recharge the device in approximately 2 hours.
What Do We Think About The Honor 20i?
The Honor 20i is the cheapest model in the premium Honor 20 series. But still, the device offers some capable hardware which can give the popular Redmi Note 7 Pro, Realme 3 Pro, and others a tough time in the market.
With a high-resolution display, triple rear cameras, and a premium mid-range chipset the device serves as a capable multimedia device. Moreover, the company has also confirmed firmware updates for this lineup amidst the US ban on Huawei.
This should address all the worries of the Honor fans. If we talk about the competition, apart from Redmi Note 7 Pro and the Realme 3 Pro; the Vivo Z1 Pro and the Tecno Phantom 9 are the latest rivals of the Honor 20i.
Both the devices retail at a similar price tag and pack some competitive hardware. What makes Redmi Note 7 Pro a tough nut to crack is its 48MP Sony IMX586 primary camera that captures some quality images. However, the triple camera setup on the Honor 20i is no less when it comes to photography.
Both the Redmi Note 7 Pro and the Realme 3 Pro packs a mid-range chipset. The former is powered by a Snapdragon 675, while the latter has a Snapdragon 710 SoC at its heart. The Kirin 710 chipset used by the Honor 20i is as capable as the above two. So, there is hardly any compromise on the performance.
As for the Tecno Phantom 9, the in-display fingerprint scanner for Rs. 14,999 is what makes it special. But, we still need to test its performance.
But if you are in the market for a budget smartphone that offers capable hardware and is priced reasonably, then Honor 20i would be a safe bet.