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Honor View 20 Review: Innovative and feature-packed, but does it also deliver?
Priced at Rs 37,999, Honor View 20 boasts an edge-to-edge display, 48MP rear camera aided by a 3D TOF sensor and the flagship Kirin 980 CPU. Does this make it the best smartphone in sub 40k price-seg?
The first month of the year 2019 is not yet over and Honor is back with its second product for Indian consumers. This time around, the company has unveiled the company's flagship smartphone- View 20. The much anticipated Honor View 20 is the company's most innovative and powerful smartphone till date. Backed by several industry-leading technologies, Honor View 20 fights the widely popular OnePlus 6T and even takes on Huawei's very own flagship- the Mate 20 Pro.
Priced at Rs.37,999 for the 6GB RAM variant, does this phone deserves to win the title of best value flagship smartphone in India. We tried to answer the question with our review of Honor View 20.
- Immersive Video playback experience
- Camera clicks pictures with great details
- Super slow-motion is an added bonus
- 3D TOF sensor comes useful in many real-world applications
- Snappy software and lag-free gaming experience
- Good battery life
- Slippery, fingerprint magnet and not a perfect fit for one hand use
- Camera software could use a lot of improvements
- No water-dust resistivity
- No Wireless charging
- IPS LCD Screen is not as good as an AMOLED panel
- Not a good buy for Stock Android fans
Full-screen gameplay and video streaming
Honor View 20 is the first working punch-hole screen phone for masses in India and some other markers across the globe. Videos and games run edge-to-edge and look quite immersive on this handset. Honor has achieved the impossible feat by replacing the notch at center with a tiny 4.5mm punch-hole carved out at the top-left corner of the screen. The spot houses the 25MP front-facing shooter that uses a 3.05mm customized camera lens. This is technically very impressive as unlike the notch placed at center; the punch-hole doesn't get in way much and makes for a full-screen viewing experience. The company is calling it ‘All-View' display design and it makes Honor View 20 a great multimedia mobile device to stream videos and to play games. The display on Honor View 20 also supports HDR10 and you can enjoy watching crisp content on media streaming apps.
However, the application support for this new kind of display is still a work in progress. Most apps don't play in full-screen mode and leave borders or just cut off below the hole which is a bummer. You can disable the punch hole if you find it ridiculous and blocking your full-screen experience. But this is not a permanent issue and will soon be rectified with the app's future updates. You will find the same screen-design in a lot of flagship and even mid-range devices this year. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 will also flaunt the similar all-screen design.
Big IPS LCD Display is good but not as brilliant as an AMOLED panel
As far as display's general characteristics are concerned, the screen measures 6.4-inches diagonally. It's a big LCD panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2310 pixels (~398 ppi density). The pixel density is certainly not the best-in-class but you will hardly notice any pixelation. What might bother you is the color reproduction. As compared to an AMOLED panel, the content-especially games and videos on View 20's IPS panel look slightly less immersive. Blacks are not the deepest and reds, blues are not the most vibrant in this price-segment. Typical of an LCD panel, the contrast is also not the best-in-class. But there are audiences who prefer such LCD's colors over an AMOLED panel as the LCDs offer slightly better sunlight visibility than AMOLED screens.
Huawei's EMUI 9.5 let you customize the View 20's display characteristics as per your requirement. You can tweak color mode and set display's color temperature as per your preferences.
Overall, Honor View 20 gets all things right in innovation and craftsmanship department but a good vibrant screen is deeply missed.
View 20 Shines- Highly reflective Metal-Glass design with Gradient V pattern
By now it is well established that Honor loves Blue color, gradient patterns and shiny metal-glossy finish back panels on mobile devices. You can see and experience it all in the View 20. While the front of the handset is all-screen, there's a lot going on at the back panel. Honor View 20 flaunts a laser engraved reflective pattern at the back panel which is created by nanolithography technology. The 3D curved back of View 20 has a nano-vacuum coating that creates the V-shape color gradient with a gleaming effect.
This gives Honor View 20 its unique identity. The shiny V pattern is instantly noticeable and is there whether you like it or not. We found the Sapphire Blue color variant a bit too flashy for our liking and that's why we recommend you to see the phone in person in all its three colors before making a final decision. The smartphone will also be available in Midnight Black and Phantom Blue color variants, which look subtle and more pleasing to eyes. Sadly these colors are offered only in 8GB RAM variants.
Not a suitable fit for one-hand use
Honor View 20 is a big device and the fact that it is very slippery; you would need both the hands to properly use it. It is 75.4mm wide and has a big edge-to-edge screen. As a result, reaching top corners of the screen is a real pain. Even though I have big hands, I did struggle to reach top corners of the screen to access status bar, to activate flashlight in the camera app and to disable AI mode. If you have small hands, you would struggle while typing text messages, dialing numbers on the dial pad, clicking pictures and performing above mentioned tasks.
Cameras: Best-in-class hardware but inconsistent software
I was quite excited to read about the on-paper camera specs of Honor View 20 during its launch. I couldn't wait to test if the 48MP primary camera could match up the likes of flagship Huawei mate 20 Pro. While the View 20 cannot match the photography skills of Mate 20 Pro, it can give other phones a run for their money. In fact, it is the most feature-packed and probably the best camera smartphone in sub 40k price-point. I would have named Honor View 20 the best camera smartphone in its respective price-point provided that the company has got the camera software right.
The camera on Honor View 20 is very powerful yet delivers inconsistent results due to harsh software, especially the AI which is very good at understanding the surroundings but often leads to animated and over-exposed end-results. I am going to summarize the camera performance in points to make it easy for you.
1) Worlds' first smartphone with 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor that captures highly detailed shots. You can make a big poster out of a 48MP picture and put it on your wall.
2) Images shot from rear camera are bright and show vibrant colors.
3) The camera is fast, snappy and takes no time to focus on the subject and capture a shot.
4) Images shot even from reduced megapixel count show impressive details and good dynamic range.
5) Standard camera shots fit in more data in the frame than rival smartphones.
6) Most feature-rich camera app. Some really good modes and filters to help you experiment with photography skills. In short, Honor's app is a delight for creative photographers who like to play around with subjects, perspectives, and colors. AI Color and Background color modes for video deserve special applause
Excellent Night mode for well-lit images in low-light
7) Brilliant Night mode. Keep your hand steady and the camera will bring in a very good amount of light to brighten up the scene.
8) Super-slow motion- 960fps is an added bonus. It's slightly tricky to always get the desired results but when it works, it creates wonders.
25MP Selfie Camera with Portrait mode
9) The 25MP selfie camera placed in the tiny punch hole shines at capturing detailed shots. As the handset uses a big 25MP shooter, images have slightly better detailing and sharpness as compared to closest rival- OnePlus 6T's 16MP selfie camera. But l must tell you that selfies will not always come out good. There were times when skin looked super soft and the background was completely exposed. If selfies are your priority, there are better selfie-centered phones available in the market at lower price-point.
10) Then there's AR lens which is placed last in my list as I really don't understand who would want to place a frog face in place of his/her and make funny faces. The background effects are good though and will light up your Snapchat and Instagram stories.
What’s not good?
1) You cannot zoom-in to a specific spot in the frame while using the camera in 48MP resolution. Reduce the resolution from within settings to enable real-time zoom-in and zoom-out.
2) The camera on Honor View 20 fails to capture the warmth in the scenes. Images come out bright but mostly focus on blue hues and lack soul. For instance, the above image show very poor dynamic range and looks rather dull.
3) The AI mode on a camera can make you look like a kid again. The camera algorithms soften the skin way too much and the end result is artificial or you can say highly edited images.
Inconsistent Edge Detection
4) The portrait effect is inconsistent. The edge detection and background blur are not always at the point.
5) You cannot capture images with Night mode every time as the camera makes you wait for about 6 seconds. When shot in low-light in standard mode, the images show grains and great loss in details.
6) Daylight images could have more dynamic range.
3D TOF Senor: Works as a range imaging system
I am not yet over with the camera of Honor View 20 as the phone also has a secondary 3D TOF camera, something OPPO offers with its current flagship device- R17 Pro. The camera works as a range imaging system to measure the distance between the smartphone and the subject. The information collected is applied in creating depth of field and in many real-world applications like 3D Shaping, 3D Motion-controlled gaming, 3D Mapping and a lot more. You can play some interactive games backed by 3D TOF camera on a big screen by simply connecting the View 20 with a TV via HDMI cable.
Hardware: Huawei’s most powerful chipset makes View 20 super snappy
Honor View 20 is powered by Huawei's Kirin 980 AI processor; the most powerful chipset ever came out from the house of Huawei. The world's first 7nm mobile AI chipset with dual NPUs combined with 6GB and 8GB RAM and snappy 128GB and 256GB UFS 2.1 storage, makes for lag-free mobile user experience. The View 20 feels as fast as Mate 20 Pro; however, Honor hasn't got the tactile feedback right. The sluggish vibration feedback just makes the phone feels weird and not of a flagship class. As far as gaming performance is concerned, you can run the most graphics heavy game on this phone without worrying about any glitches or dip in performance. There's GPU Turbo 2.0 and graphics processing acceleration technology that ensure glitch-free gameplay sessions. The phone also did not touch any extreme heat levels as the underlying ‘NINE Liquid Cooling Technology' keeps the temperature rise in check to keep the smartphone cool.
Magic UI 2.0.1: Feature-packed & smooth but not close to Stock Android
Honor View 20 runs on Huawei's latest Magic 2.0.1 UI deployed on Android Pie. The user interface can be a deciding feature to buy or not buy this smartphone. There's no doubt that the Magic UI is feature-rich, snappy and come with all the goodies of good Android skin. However, it just cannot match the smoothness and ease-of-use of Stock Android and OxygenOS per se. The latter two are far optimized and pleasing to use than Huawei's Android skin and makes for a better end-user software experience. If you have used Huawei's EMUI before, you will quickly recognize the iOS-like skin where all the apps are placed on the home screens.
User-friendly customization and software features
You can also change the UI and opt for the standard ‘Drawer' like Android user interface from ‘Home Screen Style' settings. Honor offers some really useful apps like Phone Clone, Simple mode, Ride mode, Gestures, Storage cleaner, App Twin, etc. These powerful apps let you explore all the benefits of a modern Android UI. Huawei's HiTouch is also offered to make e-commerce simpler during everyday use. Simply hold two fingers on any image on the display and the phone will tell you what it is and from where you can buy the specific artifact.
Solid Network Connectivity and long-lasting battery backup
Honor View 20 really shines in the network connectivity department. Backed by a ‘Triple-Antenna Wi-Fi' technology, the phone offers solid internet and call connectivity. Huawei's technology prevents the signal weakening when you accidentally block the phone's receiver while making a call, playing a game or simply clicking a picture. The technology also prevents loss in connection while playing online games. As far as battery life is concerned, the View 20 can last a day with one full charge on moderate usage. If you can't stop playing PUBG or streaming videos on the edge-to-edge display, keep a power bank or charger handy. I must mention that Huawei's Supercharge technology is fast and can charge the phone from zero to 100 percent in less than an hour.
With many industries first, Honor View 20 comes across as the most feature-packed flagship smartphone in its respective price-point. It is also the best smartphone ever came out from the house of Honor. The punch hole display is innovative and makes View 20 a great mobile device for gaming and video streaming. Another major highlight of Honor View 20 is its crazy 48MP rear camera aided with a 3D TOF sensor. Sadly, the 48MP sensor doesn't quite live up to the hype of being the first ever massive sensor on a smartphone. Still, View 20 offers the best overall camera performance in sub 40k price segment.
The software performance of the handset can be a deal-breaker for users who are fond of clean stock Android UI. As far as battery life, processing speed, multitasking, connectivity, and gaming are concerned, the View 20 is no less than Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung's top-end Galaxy Series and every other high-end flagship handset available in the market.
Overall, Honor View 20 is for consumers who are always ready to test the new technology and don't want to compromise on the features. When compared to its closest rival- OnePlus 6T, View 20 is just slightly better because it offers a more feature-packed camera, better battery life, and microSD card support. OnePlus 6T is a clear winner in the software department and even in the display performance to some extent as the AMOLED panel offers a better user experience than View 20's LCD screen in terms of color reproduction and viewing angles.