What is the Honor View 20?
Honor is the budget sub-brand of Huawei. The Honor View 20 is the brand’s latest flagship device, announced in full in January.
It features a wide variety of specifications that should appeal to photographers, including a 48 megapixel 1/2-inch sensor – which is currently the highest resolution available in the smartphone market.
You can buy the Honor View 20 for as little as £499, which will get you the 6GB RAM/128GB ROM version, while a 8GB RAM and 256GB ROM version can be picked up for £579.
Although the Honor View 20 has a 48 megapixel sensor, by default, it outputs images at 12 megapixels. You can switch to shooting at 48 megapixels in the settings menu, if you prefer, as well as turning on the “48 Megapixel Ultra Clarity” mode – the latter takes a series of shots and merges them together for the highest detail possible, but it is only available in the standard “Photo” (automatic) mode.
The native camera app is very similar to other Huawei models, and is great no matter what level you’re at. If you’re a beginner, you can leave it on the fully automatic modes, while if you’re a little more experienced, you can switch on Pro mode to change various settings – as well as giving you the option to shoot in raw (DNG) format.
In the standard automatic shooting mode, you have the option to use artificial intelligence to detect the subject you’re photographing. The phone will apply various settings depending on what it detects – such as boosting the saturation of blue skies.
There’s a host of other shooting modes, which come in handy. One such mode is the Night mode, which we’ve seen before on the Huawei P20 Pro and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Again, it merges together a series of exposures to give the impression of a longer shutter speed, but can be done entirely handheld.
There’s also an Aperture mode for creating a shallow depth of field effect and a portrait mode, specifically for shooting human subjects.
One of the most distinctive aspects of the design of the Honor View 20 is its take on the “notch” problem. While some people really don’t like notches, they have become the best way to make the most use of screen. With the Honor View 20, you get a “hole punch” notch, with simply a small hole to house the front-facing camera, meaning almost the entire front of the phone is screen.
Despite being a mid-range budget phone, the Honor View 20 has a premium feel to it – plus the pattern on the back creates a chevron effect when it catches the light.
Also on the rear of the phone is a fingerprint scanner, which frees up space on the front of the phone – as the Honor View 20 uses the cheaper LCD type screen, it’s not possible to have a fingerprint scanner in the screen itself (as we’ve seen with some OLED phones, like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro).
There’s two cameras on the rear of the phone, but the second one is not a telephoto lens – rather it is a 3D lens which is used for some of the phone’s various functions, such as gaming.
This may be a mid-range phone, but it puts in a high-end performance, albeit with a couple of sacrifices.
In bright light, images are great, with a good sense of detail when viewed at normal printing or web sizes. You can see a little image smoothing if you examine very closely, but that’s not particularly unusual for a device like this.
In low light, the Night mode is a great option – especially for still subjects – and while it’s perhaps not quite as impressive as the mode on its Huawei cousins, to have it on a cheaper brand phone is a big bonus.
The 48 megapixel Ultra Clarity mode does display slightly more detail – but it’s only particularly evident if you examine images very closely at 100%. For the vast majority of subjects the mode is overkill, and it feels more like a marketing gimmick than something that most people will actually use all that much.
These days, having a telephoto lens on a smartphone feels like a pretty “standard” feature – and that’s something you won’t find here, which is a bit of a disappointment. Digital zoom is available – in fact there are two variants of digital zoom – the first is reasonable, especially if you’re sharing on social media sites and the like, but the second is best avoided unless you’re absolutely desperate.
Honor View 20 Sample Photos
Below is a selection of sample photos shot with the Honor View 20.
Honor is intended to be Huawei’s budget brand, and as such, you get a lot of technology crammed into the likes of the View 20 for the price.
There are a few compromises to be made for the lower price – such as an LCD screen, rather than an OLED screen, as well as the lack of a telephoto lens, but overall it’s a very pleasant experience using this phone.
That said, £499 isn’t the cheapest phone on the market – and what’s more – right now you could pick up the Huawei P20 Pro for not much more. If your budget is very strict though, the View 20 makes for a fantastic alternative and comes highly recommended.