Honor View20 review: top phone at half the cost of an iPhone XS

Guardian Technology 01 Feb 2019 06:00
Honor’s View20 offers a big-screen premium experience that undercuts the competition. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Honor View20 made by Huawei, the Chinese manufacturer at the centre of a political storm, offers a top-notch experience including a great camera for £500 – less than half the price of an iPhone XS.

The company is at the centre of allegations of violating sanctions and theft of trade secrets, but it’s undeniable that it has produced some excellent phones at affordable prices over the last year. The View20 is Honor’s attempt to show that is has the beans to step out from the shadow of just being Huawei’s cheaper sub-brand with a top-flight phone of its own.

The all-screen front and a wild colour scheme on the back make the View20 an eye-catching device, but some might think the V-shaped light reflecting etching looks a little cheap.

honor view20 review
Etching under the glass back of the phone catches the light creating bright, cascading V-shaped patterns - not your normal boring black slab. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Top-end class performance

The Honor View20 has the same processor as Huawei’s current king the Mate 20 Pro, and an option of either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. As such it is fast, powerful and snappy all round, matching the best of the rest powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, even in gaming.

The View20 is one of Honor’s first phones with its new Magic UI 2 software, which is the manufacturer’s version of Android 9 Pie.

The big fingerprint scanner on the back is well placed, accurate and very fast indeed – easily one of the best on the market.

The camera has been Honor’s biggest weak point in the past, but not any more.

The camera app is good too, and there are plenty of modes to have fun with, including a Pro mode for shooting in RAW, 960 frames-per-second slow motion video and a reasonable portrait mode, which can only be used when the camera can detect a face.

  • The notch obscures the time in the left corner when using Android Auto on the phone

  • There’s a tiny amount of uneven backlighting at the very bottom of the screen, which almost looks like shadow from the bezel

  • Sometimes the three navigation buttons were shunted slightly off to the left of the centre when held in portrait orientation

  • Honor has included a very useful button on the navigation bar to rotate the screen when you have auto-rotation disabled (as I have all the time)

  • The View20 is one of the first three Android phones to support Fornite at 60fps

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