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IN Blog HONOR View20 quick review: A hole new experience
January 14, 2019

HONOR View20 quick review: A hole new experience

The HONOR View20 is the company's latest flagship phone set to launch in India on January 29 touting a punch-hole display, 48MP camera and Kirin 980 chipset.

• The HONOR View20 is set to launch in India on January 29

• It is the first phone with a hole in the display

• It is also HONOR's first phone with a 48MP sensor

It is quite typical for HONOR to be among the first brands to launch a new smartphone in India. Last year in January, HONOR launched the HONOR 9 Lite and HONOR View10. The company will now launch their successors this month, called the HONOR 10 Lite and HONOR View20. We went hands-on with the HONOR 10 Lite last week, and this week we take a look at the HONOR View20, which is arguably HONOR's most ambitious flagship smartphone to date.

The HONOR View20 sees a major bump in design and hardware compared to its predecessor. It brings a number of firsts for the company including a punch-hole display which is all set to become the big trend this year, a 48MP rear camera and a Kirin 980 chipset with Dual NPU, among other things. There's plenty of interesting things on offer here, so we take a quick look at what consumers can expect. Here's our initial impressions of the HONOR View20 before it launches in India on November 29.

HONOR View20 is definitely a "take notice" smartphone, more so than HONOR View10. It ditches the metal unibody design and goes for a glass and metal combination instead. There is a 3D curved glass on the back that seamlessly meets the aluminium frame. The glass is glossy, but unlike any other glass-backed phone we have seen. This is because HONOR has incorporated a V-shaped pattern on the rear panel through a nano-coating process that runs down the back when you look at it at certain angles. The unit I received was Blue, which looks a little too loud for my taste, but there's no doubt it's an attractive and unique look that should take take your fancy.

HONOR View20 quick review: A hole new experience

HONOR's new flagship feels pretty substantial in the hand. It is on the heavier side of things, but the weight is pretty balanced and the device as whole feels pretty solid. The volume and power buttons on the right side have a pleasant clicky sound to them. Notably, HONOR View20 retains the headphone jack which can be seen on the top. The bottom side of the frame sees a Type-C port and a single speaker grille.

The biggest talking point about HONOR View20 is the cutout on the top left corner of the display which houses a single selfie camera. HONOR is calling this the AllView display. HONOR View20 is actually the world's first smartphone to sport a hole in the display - it was announced on December 10 in Hong Kong. The circular cutout is about 4.5mm in diameter. A lot of mainstream brands will be employing this sort of hole in the display this year, be it on the right corner or the left corner. This is supposed to be the next best option for removing the notch, if companies are unwilling to go with a slider mechanism.

The big question will be whether the hole in the display is actually better than a notch. Over the past one year, my eyes have gotten used to notches, both wide and waterdrop notches. So, the cutout does take a while to get used to. In my brief interaction with the phone, the hole does stick out like a sore thumb on a white background. But it is much easier to ignore if the background is dark. The notifications will be stacked next to the cutout, so it looks fairly optimised at first glance. I will have more to say about the punch-hole and just how distracting it is after playing a few games, watching some videos and operating some popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

Apart from the cutout and a very thin chin bezel, HONOR View20 is pretty much all display. You get a 6.4-inch FHD+ (2310x1080) display with a screen-to-body ratio that's over 90 per cent and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9. This is a pretty immersive screen on first look with deep and vibrant colours that could trick you into believing its an OLED display, when it is actually an LCD panel. The display has a pixel density of 398ppi and brightness levels look decent. This is a tall screen that will make one-handed use challenging.

Under-the-hood, the HONOR View20 gets a flagship Kirin 980 chipset . This is paired with 6GB of RAM as the base variant, which is plenty of memory to help with your multitasking needs. And if that's not enough, HONOR may just launch an 8GB RAM variant of HONOR View20 as well. As expected, HONOR View20 flies out of the box. Browsing through the UI, opening and loading apps and the animations were snappy. There was no lag or stuttering at all, but we can only know this for sure after putting HONOR View20 through intensive workload.

HONOR View20 also keeps things pretty traditional as it goes with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor which is absolutely snappy, rather than an in-display sensor. It also gets an equally fast facial recognition feature as well.

Now, HONOR View20 does run Android Pie out-of-the-box. This is layered with Magic UI on top as HONOR moves away from EMUI. Like EMUI, Magic UI is still pretty heavily layered so there is very little of Android Pie that is actually visible. Magic UI looks pretty similar to EMUI 9, but HONOR expects it to gradually change in the future. App icons look more uniform now and there's generally a lot more colour to be found. The Settings menu is fairly populated. You have the option to hide the camera cutout under the Notch option in Display. This will create a black bar across the top of the display so that you don't visibly see the cutout. There is also have Digital Balance which is essentially the Pie-based feature called Digital Wellbeing.

HONOR View20 quick review: A hole new experience

As for the cameras, the HONOR View20 is the company's first phone to come with a 48MP rear camera sensor. That's a lot of megapixels in a smartphone, promising to deliver ultra crisp pictures. This is a Sony IMX586 sensor with a pixel size of 0.8 microns. Through pixel binning technology, the pixel size can get up to 1.6 microns. So you have the option to shoot in 48MP resolution or 12MP which uses pixel binning to offer detail and clarity. I captured a few pictures indoors and in daylight and the results with the 12MP resolution were quite pleasing. There is also a secondary ToF (Time of Flight) camera that is used for depth sensing.

The front camera which rests beneath the cutout is a 25MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. The few selfies I captured in daylight looked crisp, but I will have more to say about the cameras and how they perform in various lighting conditions.

The HONOR View20 also gets a beefy 4,000mAh battery, which should be enough to take you through the day and then some. The EMUI software also offers two battery saving features that will help you get the most out of the battery. The phone supports Huawei's SuperCharge fast charging and you get a 40W charger with the box.

The HONOR View20 is clearly a few steps up from its predecessor and there is a lot that is new and unique here to tickle your fancy. This is the first time we are checking out a phone with a hole in the display so it will be interesting to see whether this is the way to go to remove the notch. The phone looks quite attractive and a rumoured price tag of around Rs 35,000 should set this up nicely. Stay tuned for our full review of the HONOR View20 after the phone goes official on January 29.