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Jun 13

Honor View20 Android Smartphone Review
Honor View20 SIM Unlocked Android Smartphone Review

Honor’s View20 has set the bar very high in 2019 for what a flagship Android phone must have. It has several groundbreaking features like its screen “hole punch” front facing camera and the newest 48MP Sony rear camera. Honor is synonymous with being bold. Its Phantom Blue color and the ‘advanced nanolithography technology’ gives it a ‘dynamic V-shape color gradient with a gleaming effect,’ which is eye popping in a good way. Its 8 core HiSilicon Kirin 980 CPU, 10 core GPU with Turbo graphics mode, is what other Android smartphones will be compared to this year.


Honor View20 Android Smartphone Unboxing by Chris @24k


Disclosure: The Honor View20 was on loan at no cost. I provided my own wireless service during testing. I have not been compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Some photos may be courtesy of Honor.


The best and most important feature of the Honor View20 is its super long-lasting 4000 mAh internal battery, which recharges fast via Huawei’s SuperCharge technology at 22.5W. It can fully replenish its battery in about an hour and 41 minutes.

By comparison, my iPhone 6S Plus took significantly longer to recharge, even when using an iPad power adapter. After a while of testing, I have been able to get about two days of use between recharges with the View20. I did a lot of web surfing, social media, video streaming, and gaming with it.

The battery capacity is so large that it would normally take more than a few hours to power up via a standard wall charger. Though, the View20 has several important bits under the scratch resistant glass to charge up quickly.

Honor View20 Android Smartphone Phantom Blue
Honor View20 Android Smartphone in Phantom Blue

Powering up the Honor’s smartphone battery is greatly assisted by Huawei’s fast charging system. This smartphone charges with a 22.5W SuperCharge wall adapter and a USB-C cable. Because this was the international version I tested, it came with a European wall SuperCharge adapter.

Honor and its parent company Huawei, have worked together to go with a USB-C port and compatible SuperCharge wall adapter. They test their batteries in huge clusters and with more than 10,000 people to surface any problems before producing them for sale. These are details that were presented during the Honor 6X smartphone release event.

The Android 9 smartphone can handle up to 22.5W of power. Basic power delivery chargers provide 18W, again via a USB-C connection. The majority of smartphones, including some older iPhone models, cannot fast charge out of the box. While the iPhones Xs Max can fast charge, it requires the purchase of a more expensive USB-C wall power adapter.

Overview

Honor’s View20 comes with the Android 9.0 Pie system and their Magic UI 2.0.1 overlay. The Magic UI is very similar to EMUI, which is installed on Huawei smartphones.


We shall see what Honor does in the coming months with the Android system and UI overlay. Honor and Huawei phones that are produced and sold today should continue to receive security patches from the company for the foreseeable future, even if a Google ban goes into place. All of the apps in the Play Store will still be downloadable on this phone and currently released devices from both companies as well, including those from Facebook.

What’s In The Box:
- Honor View20 Smartphone
- Dual Unlocked SIM Card Tray
- 4000 mAh (non-removable) SuperCharge Compatible Battery
- European Wall Charger 22.5W / USB-C Cable
- Quick Start Guide

All of its controlling buttons are located on the right side. The volume buttons are above the power button. Those with headphones that plug in via a 3.5mm jack are lucky; this port is on the top left. It comes with IR blasters on top too, something that we do not see on phones sold in the US. Its Smart Remote app comes pre-installed and was immediately useful one night when I could not find the TV remote. The USB-C charging port on the View20 is at the bottom middle.

Having an unlocked dual SIM capable phone is great for use when traveling around the world. Use a prepaid SIM abroad and then use a postpaid SIM back home. Or use two prepaid SIMs to control your wireless budget. The combination of the latest Kirin 980 CPU, which is also in Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro, rear 48MP Sony IMX 586 sensor, a 3D ToF (Time of Flight) camera, fast charging, and a huge battery are all flagship smartphone features that will be hard to beat this year.

Honor’s use of the Magic UI 2.0 on top of Android 9 is not like the clean Google Pixel experience, but that is what is nice about this mobile OS. You can change the software launcher if you want. However, I have been using Huawei’s EMUI for many years, and I like the way Honor has presented the Magic UI. So far, Honor has not mentioned why they changed the name of their UI to Magic.

Its squircle (curved) corners, no top rectangular notch, “hole punch” front facing selfie camera, and edge-to-edge Full HD+ display is pleasing to look at and is better than the iPhone 6S Plus square edged screen. Honor gave this phone an LCD screen with multiple color profiles, so you can switch between vibrant color and contrast or standard contrast and color.

I enjoyed its 19.5:9 aspect ratio, color saturation, contrast, and brightness when using it outside. The reason for the larger 4000 mAh battery in that the View20 uses slightly more power than a comparable smartphone with an OLED screen.

Honor View20 Moschino Smartphone Style
Honor View20 Smartphone with Moschino Style

The phone’s bottom-mounted speaker produces a nice quality of sound, especially when using it in portrait mode. However, when playing games in landscape mode, my hand did cover some of the speaker. The View20 comes with Bluetooth 5.0, which is compatible with truly wireless BT 5.0 earbuds. The quality of audio was clear all of the way up to full, but I do not listen to music or use the speakerphone that loud anyway.

Honor View20 Smartphone Features:
- 6.4” Full HD+ 2310 x 1080 19.5:9 aspect ratio IPS LCD screen “hole punch” at 85.7% screen-to-body ratio
- 4,000 mAh Battery
- 48MP & 3D ToF Time of Flight Dual Camera with Flash
- 25MP 27mm Front Camera with f/2.0
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB ROM
- Fast 4G LTE With Compatible Worldwide Bands
- USB-C Port
- Octa-core Kirin 980 CPU
- Huawei SuperCharge 22.5W (55% charge – 30 minutes)
- NFC Huawei Pay Compatible
- Headphone Port
- IR Blasters with Smart Remote
- Android 9 and Magic UI 2.0

Streaming YouTube videos, live Instagram broadcasts, and Twitch channels worked well in all of the cities I tried them in. I tested the View20 with T-Mobile in the US near Sacramento and Las Vegas. The phone supports a limited amount of US LTE bands, like 2 and 4 for T-Mobile, which are the same two for AT&T. What this means is that in some places, the View20 may not get full 4G LTE speeds.

Fortunately, where I tested the View20, it received more than 75% signal a majority of the time. In one small Northern California city that I tested phone in, which almost always had signal and speed issues has finally been upgraded. Signal has been upgraded over the last half a year via an installation of a new cell site and AT&T 5Ge compatibility. While the View20 will not connect at AT&T 5Ge speeds, it will benefit from the faster backhaul connection to the cell site.

Hotspot functionality of the View20 worked via my T-Mobile service, like with any other device that I have tested it with. Because of the fast cellular modem built by Huawei in this smartphone, it easily matched speed tests of similar flagship phones, at an average of around 65Mbps to 90Mbps, and sometimes slightly more.

The Honor View20 flagship smartphone comes with a HiSilicon Kirin 980 octa-core CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a huge 256GB of storage. For $550 currently, the value for what you get is immense. I did not notice any slowdown while using Android 9 Pie with Magic UI 2.0.1, even when launching games or switching to Chrome. It has NFC for wireless payments via Huawei Pay.


The Huawei Wi-Fi+ software on the View20 saves the locations of connected Wi-Fi hotspots to make it easier to connect to them in the future. I like that it automatically found my secure Wi-Fi networks too, so that I could utilize faster Internet connections when available.

It scans for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals, even when the phone is in airplane mode. The Honor View20 less aggressively connected to Wi-Fi hotspots, than say the Nokia 3.1 Plus, which is nice. It would connect to known hotspots to stream my videos, rather than using my cellular connection. I found this less aggressive use of Wi-Fi scanning to be better than what was installed on the Motorola e5 Supra.

Honor View20 Sony IMX 586 and 3D ToF Cameras
Honor View20 Sony IMX 586 and 3D ToF Cameras

On the rear of this smartphone are two cameras that include Sony’s 48MP IMX 586 imaging sensor for the main camera and a 3D ToF camera. The flash and a fingerprint sensor round out the hardware on the back. A majority of the flagship Android phones released this year will have in-screen sonic fingerprint scanners. However, the fingerprint sensor on the back of this phone seems to be quicker than the sonic scanners that I have used. The secondary camera helps to create a nice bokeh effect in photos and at some point, will be used when augmented reality apps show up.

Tapping the AI Ultra Clarity button in the camera app easily increases detail in photos taken by the remarkable 48MP sensor. It enhances the detail of photos, including text on signs. This camera beats Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and OnePlus 6T. While snapping photos in Portrait mode, the bokeh added was the right amount and did not look overly processed. Compared to photos taken with Google’s Pixel 3, the Honor does very well. Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3 edges out the View20 though.

Its AI features can recognize 1,500 photography scenarios. I found that it correctly identified clouds, inside, greenery, historic buildings, food, and more. The camera app setup is about the same as what Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro uses, so controlling white balance, ISO, and exposure are available.

A 25MP forward facing selfie camera is in the “hole punch” and is a most innovative way to increase the screen-to-body ratio to an impressive 85.7%. Honor executed the hole punch screen feature for all manufacturers to be compared to. This is the best selfie camera that I have tested with this many megapixels.

There are 10 levels of beautification that removes wrinkles from the face. It has a fun animated emoji mode, called AR that scans facial expressions that are then translated into several creatures to choose from. This AR mode is not as polished as Apple’s though.

Looking towards the future, Honor is upgrading to Magic UI 2.1 and it will bring GPU Turbo 3.0, which is optimized to use 10% less battery life. This one update will increase the number of supported gaming titles from 6 to 25. These include Fortnite, Real Racing 3, Into the Dead 2, Minecraft, and FIFA Mobile.


With this future update, holding down the power button will wake the YoYo smart assistant and be able to respond to complex questions. A new AI Video option utilizes both NPUs to smooth transitions between scenes while watching movies or videos. The smart SIM card-switching feature will automatically switch data to the SIM card with a more reliable connection. The update will first go to the Chinese variant of the View20 and then possibly to the rest of the world.


Near the middle of the top of the screen is where the cleverly hidden speaker is located. Behind the speaker grill is a small LED that shows the charge level when plugged in (orange or green) and it will blink if you get a text or miss a call. You may not even see the LED, as it is quite small. The speaker and grill do not interrupt the otherwise notchless screen, save for the hole punch.

The rear and forward camera performance are quite good for sensors that are not optically image stabilized. OIS is a major feature of the rear camera that I always look for when selecting a smartphone. The AI processing and EIS of the View20 camera system compensate well for movement.

My photos with the Honor View20 were mostly clear. Due to phase-detection image stabilization, pretty good fstop performance, photos do somewhat get a little blurry in super low light scenarios, unless utilizing the AI Vision option. At 48MP with f/1.8 and a 3D ToF sensor on the back, and 25MP with f/2.0 on the front, low light photography is good with all of these cameras. Sony’s IMX 586 sensor with EIS does an above average job when shooting in the 12MP mode. Zooming to 2x crops a 48MP image, so it might be best to take a full sized image and do you own cropping.

To store apps, photos and videos, there is 256GB of onboard memory. The other model View20 comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of ROM, which is still a significant amount of memory. 256GB is a lot, even for a flagship smartphone, though it has about 240.14GB available with apps pre-installed. A microSD slot is not supported in the View20, but it does support the faster USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 connection speed with a compatible USB-C cable.

Honor’s View20 is two pieces of nice glass with a curved metal band in between. It feels nice to hold and to use. The front glass is flat, while the back glass is curved on the sides. The amount of technology that you get for the price makes it a fantastic value, even with the latest flagships released from Samsung, OnePlus, Asus and Google.

This is the best Honor smartphone that I have tested. Because the speaker is mounted on the bottom, speakerphone calls were clear and were not muffled by my hand, like with smartphones that have speakers mounted on the back. I could easily hear people talking and they could hear me, even in noisy places like airports. I kept my speakerphone testing to a minimum in each location as not to annoy others around me.

Honor View20 Smartphone Back
Honor View20 Smartphone Back

I appreciated how Honor presented the hole punch on the left side of the screen. The light around the hole punch has been slightly dimmed as to not leak light into selfie shots. When using Chrome, some of the sites presented a black bar on top, which completely hid the hole punch. It is noticeable, but is much better than rectangular or dewdrop notches.

The last smartphone that I reviewed was the Huawei P30 Pro. While the Honor View20 costs about half, you still get a impressive flagship smartphone with two-day battery life, SuperCharge at 22.5W, an advanced 48MP Sony camera, and most importantly, a hole punch screen that looks good with a 25MP selfie camera.

Rating: 4/5

Pros:
- Big 6.4” HD+ LCD Hole Punch Screen
- 4,000 mAh Battery
- Class-leading Cameras
- Laptop-level Storage Amount
- USB-C Port
- Flagship Kiring 980 Octa-core CPU
- Huawei’s SuperCharge
- Headphone Port
- Android 9

Cons:
- Non Removable Battery
- No Optically Image Stabilized Cameras
- No Qi Wireless Charging
- Its Missing Several US Wireless Carrier LTE Bands
- No Forward Facing Flash
- No MicroSD Slot

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