Late final 12 months, I flew to Hong Kong to see the the launch of the Honor View 20 first hand. This telephone was notable for 3 causes. Firstly, it was the second commercially obtainable telephone to ship with a 48MP rear digital camera. Secondly, it was the primary telephone to return with a punch-hole digital camera, beating the Samsung Galaxy 10 to the punch. Lastly, it’s among the many first Honor phones to come with Magic UI, rather than EMUI.
When you’ve got a phone that’s so groundbreaking, you’ve got to resist the urge to make any snap judgements. After all, the devil is in the details, and who knows what flaws or gems you’ll find over the course of time.
I’ve been using the Honor View 20 for almost two months now. My review unit landed on my doorstep towards the start of January. Make no mistake, it’s a competent device, and represents a unabashed confident step forward for Huawei’s insurgent phone brand. But does it quite deliver on its promise? That’s a good question.
Honor got the hole punch right
There’s always an element of risk when you introduce a brand-new design. The decision to introduce a notch on the iPhone X, for example, was an inherently risky decision. Although it eventually took off, there was always the distinct possibility that the public would find it unappealing.
In this case, Honor introduced a completely new phone design, but without the brand power and recognition of Apple. You have to admit, that takes balls. And having used the View 20 for the best part of two months, I’m confronted with the inescapable conclusion that Honor managed to get this one right.
I think the most telling thing is that I barely notice the phone’s selfie hole anymore. It’s astonishingly unobtrusive. Rather than being the blatant carbuncle many thought it would be, it’s actually blends into the background of the phone. Magic OS, the fork of Huawei’s EMUI skin, does a good job of shifting content away from the hole. Things that typically appear in the top-left of your handset, like your phone’s signal strength, are shifted a few pixels to the right.
It just doesn’t get in the way. Ever. When I’m playing a game, the hole is essentially covered by my thumb. And when I’m watching a movie, the hole is where the “letterbox” is, making it practically invisible.
It helps that the front-facing hole-punch camera is tiny. It measures a mere 4mm in diameter. The camera is situated in the screen thanks to a partially-penetrating approach that sees Huawei lower into solely one of many display’s 18 components – specifically, the light-guide plate, which is positioned behind the TFT component. Honor says that if it drilled via all components of the show, the opening itself could be 6mm broad.
One factor I used to be inquisitive about is sturdiness. I’m not precisely delicate with my gear. Through the years, I’ve returned a good few telephones in a dreary state of disrepair. However, regardless of an excellent few drops, together with one onto an asphalt floor, the display has held robust. And I wasn’t utilizing an particularly good case, both: simply the flimsy one which got here with the telephone, and would in all probability value $1 to purchase in a high-street low cost retailer.
The digital camera is sweet (and it isn’t)
I’m deeply conflicted in regards to the Honor View 20’s digital camera. As talked about, this consists of a single 48MP lens, paired with a secondary shooter for depth notion.
Given the precise circumstances, it may produce some amazingly detailed photographs. Take this picture, for instance. It’s from a soccer recreation, with Liverpool enjoying (nay, hammering) Leicester Metropolis at Anfield Stadium. It was taken on a very snowy evening, and although the shot was taken at far, it’s nonetheless sharp. You may make out a number of element, to the purpose the place you may distinguish particular person followers within the reverse stands.
That’s the place the View 20 shines. If you happen to’re ready the place you’ve obtained good lighting, and you may take the time to compose and take into consideration the shot, you may produce some genuinely gorgeous photographs. The View 20 can produce some genuinely superb cityscapes and landscapes, capturing oodles of sunshine and element.
It’s the extra off-the-cuff moments when it struggles. And that’s – at the least in my expertise — once you’re almost certainly to take a photograph. If you happen to’re in a darkened bar with some mates, and also you wish to take a gaggle picture, you’ll discover the View 20 struggles to manage. It’ll produce snaps that look uninteresting and washed out. You gained’t get the identical stage of high quality that you just’ll get with a Huawei Mate 20 Professional. And that, I’m unhappy to say, is a big disgrace, particularly when you think about that the digital camera is likely one of the foremost promoting factors of this machine.
Magic UI is almost indistinguishable from EMUI
One of many the explanation why I procrastinated on this overview was I needed to see if any materials adjustments would emerge in Magic UI – Honor’s fork of EMUI. As Honor tries to determine itself as a model separate from its well-heeled dad or mum, it’s making an attempt to take a extra lively function in all components of the telephones it sells. That features the software program.
However practically two months after its launch, I actually can’t inform the distinction. Software program clever, it’s nearly indistinguishable from EMUI. Clearly, that may all change later down the road. When requested in regards to the future plans for the OS, that is what an Honor consultant mentioned:
“To satisfy the evolving want of the youthful era, Magic UI will probably be extra clever and extra futuristic in interplay and visible design, bringing a recent and easy-to-use expertise to all HONOR customers.”
That doesn’t inform you a lot, does it? I don’t wish to get slowed down in hypothesis, however I’d assume as Huawei’s telephones turn out to be seen as work units, Honor is positioning Magic OS in the direction of the on a regular basis client who makes use of their telephone extra as a life-style product, somewhat than a instrument for enterprise.
The View 20 is an exquisite cut price
The factor in regards to the Honor View 20 is that it’s really actually low cost for what it’s. For all my criticism of the digital camera, the telephone itself is a veritable powerhouse, packing oodles of storage, and the identical highly effective chipset discovered on the Huawei P20 Professional. It’s mainly a flagship in every little thing however title. And although Honor is pivoting to extra of a life-style model, you may nonetheless rely upon this telephone. Particularly, its battery life is completely insane, typically lasting two days between fees.
And it appears to be like good, too. We’ve talked in regards to the punch-hole digital camera. There’s additionally the reflective again which, when pivoted in the direction of the sunshine, creates probably the most astonishing chevron shapes. It’s eye-catching stuff, and the Honor View 20 is way extra enticing than you’d anticipate from a telephone in its worth bracket.
Two months after its launch, the View 20 stays a killer handset, and is arguably probably the most compelling mid-ranger available on the market. If somebody instructed me that they had £500 to spend, I’d encourage them to strongly take a look at this handset (in addition to the OnePlus 6T and the Nokia eight.1). If you happen to’re tempted to present it a strive, you may choose up a unit from the next locations:
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Printed March 22, 2019 — 16:21 UTC
ProductView 20 by Honor