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Honor (Huawei’s subsidiary) has beaten everyone to the punch with the launch of the View 20 (Check on Amazon.com). After the plethora of smartphones released in 2018 with the now ubiquitous “notch”, Honor managed to get rid of it by inserting an in-screen front-facing camera inside a small hole with a diameter of just 4.5mm. The phone capsule is located on the top, between the glass and metal frame.
The package contains a USB/USB-C cable, a 5V/4.5A fast-charging power adapter and a transparent silicone case. Sadly there are no earphones.
Beautiful design both on the front and back
The Honor View 20 is undeniably a very interesting phone from a design point of view. As already mentioned, it doesn’t have a notch, and the front panel is entirely reserved for the screen. The real protagonist, however, is the hole punch selfie camera. You quickly forget it is even there in everyday life, and when you look at it, is certainly pleasant, No more so, however, than a water drop shaped notch located in the center of the display, like the ones we find in the Xiaomi Mi 9 or the OnePlus 6T.
The phone also features a small RGB LED behind the grid for the ear capsule. The rear then is absolutely original. It sports, in fact, a glossy shell, with a reflective “V” shaped pattern.
The Honor View 20 adopts the classic fingerprint sensor on the back for unlocking. Although this traditional solution is less futuristic than the in-display sensor found in some modern smartphones, it is still the most effective solution for everyday use. Moreover, the Honor View 20 also offers a second unlocking solution using a 2D Face ID, which works discreetly well, but only in good light conditions. It’s fast and responsive, but not the best on the market.
To sum up the design, above the rear fingerprint scanner, we find the dual camera consisting of a 48MP main sensor and a ToF secondary one, that take amazing 12MP photos with pixel binning technology.
The Honor View 20 has a 6.4-inch wide diagonal display with IPS LCD technology. At first glance and compared to an AMOLED display it seems “cheap”, but it is a solid panel, with excellent visibility even under direct sunlight, despite only 479 nits. This is achieved thanks to software optimization, which shifts the intensity of the colors to make the characters more visible.
It has deeply saturated colors with very cold whites. It is possible to calibrate it to your liking, and we are sure that everyone will find his preferred color shade.
Obviously, we can not talk about the display without examining the hole punch. Is this a better solution to the classic notch? The thing we can definitely say is that we find it less annoying than the notch. It seems that it will have the same impact as a waterdrop notch but using the phone we can attest that the hole punch is less intrusive, and after a while, we totally forgot about it. This way we were happy to enjoy the all-screen display in its glory, especially in games.
Ultimately the display is a huge plus. It is definitely above average, but not exceptional, and lags behind the AMOLED display on the Xiaomi Mi 9 and OnePlus 6T.
The Kirin 980 doesn’t disappoint
The Honor View 20 uses a Kirin 980 processor which, at the time of its launch was the fastest Android SoC on the market, and is based on three different clusters. The main one uses 2 Cortex-A76 cores with a 2.6GHz operating frequency and is combined with a secondary processor also with 2 Cortex-A76 cores, with a slightly reduced operating frequency (1.92GHz). Finally, we have a third cluster with four Cortex-A55 cores and an operating frequency of 1.8GHz, designed for energy saving.
A peculiar feature of the Kirin 980 is its dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit), dedicated to Artificial Intelligence. The AI is used in different ways, from optimizing terminal performance to recognizing the subjects in the camera app, and everything happens without the user ever noticing. This is the same hardware platform we saw on the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it is capable of guaranteeing excellent performance over time.
As with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, Honor chose to prioritize autonomy over performance and thus the default settings are particularly conservative in terms of CPU and GPU frequency management. In order for you to unleash all the power of the Kirin 980 you need to activate Performance Mode: this way the Honor View 20 surpasses most Android smartphones and matches the performance of Huawei’s flagship device (Mate 20 Pro).
There is also native support for GPU Turbo 2.0, the technology that allows the phone to achieve superior performance in video games thanks to the use of Artificial Intelligence and resource optimization invested by the GPU to render three-dimensional images. The result is, according to the company, a 36% boost in terms of performance, especially in longer gaming sessions where frequency throttling is usually present due to rising temperatures. With GPU Turbo 2.0 support this phenomenon should be significantly limited, also thanks to the use of an “S” liquid cooling system, which cools not only the SoC but also the surrounding area.
Single rear camera, but a good one
The Honor View 20 uses a dual camera module with the Sony IMX586 48MP as its main sensor. This is a 1/2″ CMOS sensor with 1.6μm pixel size in Quad Bayer array that allows it to capture more light without any artifacts.
Thanks to the dual NPUs, Honor has implemented an AI-based Ultra Clarity technology that helps it optimize detail and image clarity, which is in our opinion the true secret for this device’s exceptional photography. In Ultra Clarity mode, several 48MP images are captured in rapid succession, then the AI collects details from each shot and creates a new 48MP image. After that, the AI analyzes the image and through an “advanced algorithm,” it can optimize the details in darker areas by adjusting the colors to make them more vivid.
This main 48MP sensor is also paired with a 3D camera, which can perceive the depth of the various elements in the photo. This module can scan and recognize objects in 3D Shaping mode by separating them from the background, and can also capture movement and use it for innovative purposes.
The front-facing camera housed in the hole punch uses a 25MP sensor that takes good selfies.
The Honor View 20 is one of the first devices to mount the “Magic UI” interface, which actually seems particularly similar to the EMUI one. Those that have already used a Huawei device will find Honor’s software very familiar. You can completely deactivate the on-screen keys and use gestures to navigate the UI.
Of special interest, at least for me, is the Remote Control app, which allows you to transform the terminal into a traditional IR remote control. Although this function may seem a bit anachronistic, it is actually very useful: the smartphone for me is the multimedia control center of my house and the more devices I can control with it the better.
The View 20 has an excellent performance, an excellent IPS LCD display, an innovative design, and much more, but where it truly excels is in autonomy. This smartphone’s 4,000mAh battery can easily last you two days, and one day is guaranteed even if you make extreme use of this terminal.
Powerful mono audio
One of this smartphones’ compromises, compared to other “premium” models is its mono audio, able to reach high decibels without ever losing clarity. However, one speaker alone cannot work wonders and there is always the risk of covering it with your hand while holding the phone in landscape mode. This makes even more important the presence of the 3.5mm audio jack.
The Honor View 20 costs (Check on Amazon.com) which are in line with other flagship models.
The Honor View 20 is a smartphone that innovates in different areas, anticipating some of the trends of the coming months. The most notable one is the absence of the notch in favor of the hole punch that houses the front-facing camera, but there are also other novelties. These include the 48MP rear camera, which surprised us with the very high level of detail it can capture using the excellent Ultra Clarity AI mode. The smartphone uses both hardware and software in order to take the perfect picture, and it succeeds in the vast majority of cases.
These two features, combined with the excellent autonomy and Honor’s build quality and aggressive design to give us the company’s first true flagship model.