The Honor View 20 was first unveiled just after Christmas in China, with a further tease of availability coming earlier this month during CES 2018 in Las Vegas.A smartphone brand owned by Huawei, today unveiled its newest device, the Honor View 20. The device launched at an event in Paris, and several tech publications were able to go hands-on with it.
Honor is a brand in a state of flux. Once known as the cool kid on the block — a smart, funky alternative to the boring mid-range phone pack — it’s now looking at the premium flagship handset market with envious, yet hungry eyes.
On paper, that’s exactly what Honor has done with the Honor View 20. You can’t get much more impressive than the View 20’s headline-grabbing feature, its 48-megapixel rear camera, which is just one of two lenses on the phone’s back. It’s a record sensor size for a phone camera, a revelation and a feature that demands to be interrogated. That is exactly what I’ve been doing since I got my hands on this handset at CES 2019.
Trade-offs like these are required as we nudge closer and closer to the futuristic ideal of an all-display smartphone. The only part of the View 20’s front panel that could reasonably be described as a bezel is the chin area; even that is only a scant few millimeters taller than the other screen borders.
The quality if the display also impresses. It’s a Full HD+ panel, but the added subpixel density of an LCD versus OLED display means this isn’t a huge deal. You’re not missing out on much visible sharpness compared to a QHD+ OLED panel. Honor’s panel provides bright, punchy colors and white balance controls in the software for manual tweaking. And the panel’s max brightness made it clear enough for easy use even under the bright Nevada sun.
Audio is not afterthought either. In addition to being one of the few flagship phones to still include a headphone jack, the View 20 also packs a decent bottom-firing speaker setup. Regarding volume and bass, it’s close to the front-facing speakers of the Pixel 3 XL.
On the inside, Honor takes the core specs of the Huawei Mate 20 series, with the proven Kirin 980 chipset at the heart of the phone, along
Honor View 20 Cheat Sheet
- The View 20 is packed with megapixels: there’s a 48-MP rear camera and a 25-MP front camera on board.
- It’s the first screen to be released with a punch-hole camera on its display, ahead of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10.
- It has the same Kirin 980 chipset found in the high-end Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
Honor waves goodbye to EMUI, as the View 20 uses Magic UI 2.0 software, a re-skinned version of Android 9.
- Battery is big: the View 20 has a 4000mAh battery capacity and also USB-C fast charging (5V).
Pricing and Availability
There are two models available — the first with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, and the second with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. These are quite considerable specs, but Honor is usually very competitively priced. And the View 20 is of no exception with official pricing for the 128GB version coming in at £499 / 579 Euros.
For American readers, those above prices convert directly to $648. Unfortunately, it’s unclear at this time whether the View 20 is going to be offered by any carriers or retailers in the U.S. Honor is part of Huawei, after all, which isn’t enjoying a great relationship with the U.S. government at the moment.
Even before that relationship got frosty, previous Honor devices struggled to make it to American shelves. Again, check back here soon to see if we have any updates about who’s selling the View 20 and for how much.
The only major feature missing from the View 20’s impressive spec list is official water resistance. There’s no IP rating listed, like current OnePlus phones, however Honor says it should be sufficiently splash resistant to survive a rainy day or an unexpected drink spillage. As a point of contrast, the View 20’s SIM tray doesn’t include a rubber gasket like you’d find on a OnePlus 6T. It’s unclear how much this affects the phone’s susceptibility to water damage compared to its competitor, but it bears mentioning.
Finally, one unfortunate hardware compromise you will have to make compared to traditional expensive flagship phones relates to the View 20’s haptic motor. Vibration feedback from the phone feels mushy and soft, in contrast to the sharper taps you’d get from an iPhone or a Pixel. Perhaps that’s why vibration feedback for on-screen keys is disabled by default in software.
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