Honor 20 Review

0
Honor 20 Home Screen Launcher

Honor and its parent company Huawei are in a huge crisis right now due to heightened trade war tensions between China and the US. As a result, the company was temporarily barred from using technologies like Android OS, ARM processor architecture, SD cards, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even USB. The company might not be able to roll out Android R update in the future if the trade ban on Honor and Huawei isn’t reversed by the US government. However, the company isn’t backing down. It recently released the Honor 20 lineup: Honor 20i, Honor 20, and Honor 20 Pro. We already published our Honor 20i review last week and now we’re ready with our review of the Honor 20, which is a costlier phone in the lineup.

Priced more than twice (INR 32,999) as much as the Honor 20i (INR 14,999), the Honor 20 features a more expensive build, a side-mounted fingerprint reader, a much faster processor, better cameras on the rear, faster connectivity, and a larger capacity battery with faster charging. However, when there are fierce competitors like the ASUS 6Z (INR 31,999), OnePlus 7 (INR 32,999) and the OPPO Reno (INR 32,990) who offer just as impressive hardware and don’t have their future hanging in confusion, is it worth investing in the Honor 20? Let’s find out.

Honor 20

₹31,990
7.8

Design & Build

8.0/10

Display

7.0/10

Rear Camera

8.5/10

Front Camera

8.0/10

Performace

8.0/10

Software

8.0/10

Battery Life

8.0/10

Value For Money

7.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Handy size and slim build.
  • The side-mounted fingerprint reader is easy to use and fast.
  • Fast and smooth performance.
  • Feature-rich software.
  • Very good camera features and still image quality.
  • 22.5W fast charging.
  • Very good battery life

What Is Bad?

  • No IP68 certification for dust and water resistance.
  • No OLED screen.
  • No 4K 60fps video recording. 4K 30fps videos are choppy.
  • The 2MP super macro camera isn’t very useful.
  • UI design looks dated.
  • IR camera isn’t accessible by third-party apps.
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD card slot.

Honor 20 Design

Starting with the design, the Honor 20 uses a premium build consisting of a metal chassis and glass front as well as rear. The phone even features a slightly gradient color scheme but it isn’t as funky looking as that of the Honor 20 Pro or even the cheaper Honor 20i. The company hasn’t specified exactly which type of glass it is using on the Honor 20. The phone feels relatively handy, thanks to its 6.2-inch screen and a bezel-less form factor. The fingerprint reader is mounted on the right side so it is easier to access when compared to rear-mounted fingerprint reader on other phones.

Power and volume buttons feel clicky. Due to a protruding triple-camera assembly on the rear, the phone wobbles when you keep it on a flat surface and use it. Paint on our review unit’s camera assembly started chipping already, which points towards the company cutting some corners in its paint job and build quality. There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack and the phone doesn’t feature any moving part but it still doesn’t feature IP53 or IP67/IP68 certification for dust or water resistance. Moreover, for some reason, the phone doesn’t feel as premium as some other competing phones like the OnePlus 7.

Honor 20 Display

Honor 20 Gaming Performance

While many mid-range phones from Samsung and some other brands use OLED screens, the Honor 20 uses a 6.2-inch IPS LCD Full HD+ screen. The screen is decently bright but its contrast ratio is nowhere as good as OLED panels found on phones from OnePlus and Samsung. We’ve used brighter LCD screens on phones that are priced similarly. HDR10 is missing, too, something that’s available on the similarly priced ASUS 6Z.

Honor 20’s screen could’ve been better, especially for its price.

I also noticed some blackening of pixels around the punch hole camera, which looks odd while viewing white content such as the Setting menu. Moreover, I found touchscreen accuracy issues on our Honor 20 review unit. It’s clear that the screen is where Honor cut its costs to keep the Honor 20 affordable.

Honor 20 Camera Quality

Honor 20 Rear Quad Camera

The Honor 20 has a versatile quad-camera setup. It includes a 48MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture and PDAF. There’s no OIS on this sensor. Then there’s a 16MP secondary camera with a 13mm ultrawide-angle lens but no autofocus. There are two additional camera sensors: a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro camera with fixed focal length. I feel that the 2MP depth sensor and the 2MP macro camera are kind of useless. 2MP depth sensors are used on much cheaper phones, which are usually priced below INR 10,000. When there’s already an ultrawide angle camera which can aid in producing shallow depth-of-field images, a 2MP depth sensor kind of feels useless. Now coming to the macro camera, it’s fixed focus lens and extremely low-resolution sensor renders images useless in today’s modern world where 4K TVs are a commonplace.

Images shot with the Honor 20 had good details and the dynamic range was wide. There was some oversharpening, though, similar to Samsung’s image processing algorithms, and the effect was evident from the foliage’s rendition. I compared images shot using the Honor 20 with those shot using the similarly priced OnePlus 7, and I found that Honor 20 captures relatively more details but there’s definitely some oversharpening.

I am pretty impressed with the Honor 20’s still image quality.

Moreover, images shot using the Honor 20 were brighter and warmer, which may be favored by most consumers. Skin tone appeared warmer than it actually was. On the other hand, the OnePlus 7 used cooler color tone. The actual color tone was somewhere in between the Honor 20’s and the OnePlus 7’s version. In low-light conditions, even when you don’t use the dedicated Night Mode, the phone requests a user to keep the phone steady for a few seconds so that it can capture multiple frames of the scene and produce a brighter and less noisy image. Indoors, when there wasn’t enough light and the subject (like my hyperactive kid) was moving, images were blurry.

Since there’s no telephoto lens on this phone, the Honor 20 uses the wide-angle camera to capture images with bokeh effect. There’s no indication in the camera UI that lets you know for sure if the background blur effect was successfully applied. The AI mode, which is turned on by default, manages to identify the scene and a user’s intent most of the times. There’s no 4K 60fps video recording mode on the Honor 20, like any other high-end Huawei or Honor phone, and that’s due to the Kirin 980 ISP’s limitation. The phone couldn’t even consistently hit 30fps in 4K mode with the rear camera. Huawei and Honor need to improve a lot in video recording quality. Competitors like Apple, OnePlus, and Samsung are much ahead in video recording abilities on their phones.

Honor 20 Selfie Camera Punch Hole

The 32MP front-facing camera worked pretty well. There were enough details in selfies but similar to the rear-facing camera, the front-facing camera captured images with warmer skin tones. Dynamic range was pretty wide, wider than that of OnePlus 7’s 16MP selfie camera. In the portrait mode, the front-facing camera couldn’t create the shallow depth-of-field effect. The OnePlus 7 was much better in that regard even though details themselves were relatively scarce and images were often overexposed. The selfie camera also recorded detailed videos, but the resolution is limited to Full HD and the frame rate is limited to 30fps.

Overall, I am pretty impressed with the Honor 20’s still image quality, be it from the front-facing or the rear-facing camera setup. The Honor 20 Pro’s wider aperture and OIS should result in even better still image quality. Honor’s camera engineers need to work much harder to improve the video recording quality, though.

Honor 20 Software & UI

Honor 20 Magic UI 2.1 Software

The Honor 20 runs Android 9 Pie-based Magic UI 2.1. It’s nothing but EMUI 9.1 with some changes here there, like a missing dark mode. The company has promised Android Q update for the entire Honor 20 series, so you shouldn’t be worried regarding Honor’s software update situation if you plan to upgrade to a new phone after a year.

The company has promised Android Q update for the entire Honor 20 series.

The entire UI is fast and smooth, but to be honest, the design feels quite dated. Icons look cartoony and there’s no uniformity. There’s a lot of bloatware that comes pre-installed with the phone. To be honest, I had to uninstall a lot of bloatware, install a third-party launched (Action Launcher 3) and an icon pack to make the UI bearable. I am choosy that way, but you might not be as irritated as I was by Magic UI 2.1’s dated looks.

There are a lot of custom features. Starting with the Phone Clone feature, it lets you transfer calendar, call log, contacts, photos, videos, and other data from an older phone to the new Honor 20. The phone’s lockscreen has four shortcuts: calculator, stopwatch, torch, and voice recorder. Apart from that, you can set the lockscreen to show a new wallpaper each time you pick up the phone. Swiping right or left on the lockscreen changes lockscreen wallpapers. The homescreen has a Google News feed on the leftmost screen and a dedicated app drawer. There’s no gesture for bringing down the notifications shade, though; it reveals the app search function instead, similar to iOS. Pinching in reveals options to change the wallpaper, add widgets, change transitions and homescreen settings. Quick settings toggles can be chosen and rearranged as per a user’s liking. Scrollable screenshots can be captured and the built-in screenshot offers features like annotation, markup, and even a mosaic blur tool.

The Huawei Share feature lets you share files with other Huawei devices without using mobile data, share printers, and other computers on the same Wi-Fi network. The Easy Projection feature lets you easily access a desktop-like UI on the lockscreen. Themes and icon packs can be changed from the Theme Store. The App Twin feature lets users create two instances of the same app, thus allowing you to use two Facebook or WhatsApp accounts. There’s a power saving mode and the phone shows which apps are consuming high battery charge in a short span of time. There’s a storage cleaner feature which can be used to clear cache and delete unwanted data. The Digital Balance feature shows its users which apps they’re using the most, how many times they’re accessing the phone.

For data security, the Access Safe feature lets users add files, images, videos, folders and other files to a protected library with file encryption. The App Lock feature lets users lock specific apps so that their data is hidden from prying eyes. The Private Space feature lets a user create a completely different set of apps and data, something similar to Samsung’s Secure Folder feature. It can be quite handy when you want to keep your personal and professional data separate.

Honor 20 Performance

Honor 20 Performance

The phone felt smooth almost all the time.

The Kirin 980 chipset with 7nm fabrication, which debuted with the Mate 20 series, is still fast enough for most tasks, be it gaming, multi-tabbed web browsing, capturing images, or processing machine learning tasks. The phone felt smooth almost all the time, except once or twice where there were slight hiccups in the transition animation. The Honor 20 felt as smooth as Huawei’s and Honor’s top-end phones, thanks to Kirin 980, 6GB RAM and 128GB storage.

There was no problem with the phone’s cellular or Wi-Fi reception. The phone’s loudspeaker gets the job done but it felt pretty weak compared to OnePlus 7’s and Galaxy S10e’s stereo speakers. Even the earpiece is quite average during voice calls. There’s an LED indicator inside the earpiece’s grill. The side-mounted fingerprint reader was not only easy to locate but also extremely fast and accurate at the same time.

Honor 20 Battery Life

Honor 20 Battery Life

The 3750mAh battery inside the Honor 20 looks a bit lower capacity than rivals which have 4000mAh batteries. The phone comes bundled with a 40W Huawei SuperCharge compatible wall charger and cable but the Honor 20 accepts just 22.5W of power. The phone gets charged from 0% to 50% in just 30 minutes, 86% in an hour, and 100% in 90 minutes. There’s no wireless charging.

The Honor 20 lasts one whole day on a single charge even with relatively heavy usage.

Thanks to the power-efficient chipset and optimized software (and sometimes overly aggressive background app management), the Honor 20 lasts one whole day on a single charge even with relatively heavy usage. I was able to eke out at least 6 hours of screen-on time in a span of 30 hours on a single charge. There is a weird bug where the battery life drops from 5% to 2% in a few seconds and the phone shuts down instantly after it reaches 2% battery charge level.

Should You Buy The Honor 20?

Honor 20 Rear Glass Design

The Honor 20 is a good phone thanks to its handy and premium build, bezel-less screen, fast performance, feature-rich software, excellent still image quality, and long battery life. However, it wouldn’t be my first choice, all things considered. The Honor 20 is not a bad phone by any means, but I feel that the phone could’ve been a much better choice if it had an OLED screen, some sort of water resistance, a modern-looking UI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Honor 20 is a good phone but it wouldn’t be my first choice, all things considered.

If you don’t value the ultrawide-angle camera, the OnePlus 7 looks like a better choice, thanks to its more appealing looks, OLED screen, powerful haptics, stereo loudspeakers, smoother and futuristic looking UI, and better video recording. Even the ASUS 6Z looks like a better choice as the company has promised Android R update and it has a better selfie camera, 4K 60fps video recording, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, stock Android-like UI, and longer battery life.

Honor is offering a 90-day grace period where you can get 90% of your money back if you don’t like the Honor 20 and want to return it.

Honor 20

₹31,990
7.8

Design & Build

8.0/10

Display

7.0/10

Rear Camera

8.5/10

Front Camera

8.0/10

Performace

8.0/10

Software

8.0/10

Battery Life

8.0/10

Value For Money

7.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Handy size and slim build.
  • The side-mounted fingerprint reader is easy to use and fast.
  • Fast and smooth performance.
  • Feature-rich software.
  • Very good camera features and still image quality.
  • 22.5W fast charging.
  • Very good battery life

What Is Bad?

  • No IP68 certification for dust and water resistance.
  • No OLED screen.
  • No 4K 60fps video recording. 4K 30fps videos are choppy.
  • The 2MP super macro camera isn’t very useful.
  • UI design looks dated.
  • IR camera isn’t accessible by third-party apps.
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack or microSD card slot.


Asif heads the editorial team at MySmartPrice. He has more than six years of experience in reporting consumer technology, and has been quoted in various esteemed publications, including TheVerge, TWiT, and SamMobile. Asif has immense interest in CPUs, GPUs, mobile chipsets, camera sensors, and apps. Asif can be tagged as one of the most patient team members as we often pick his brains when it comes to learn about complex tech topics like camera sensors.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here