[First Cut] Honor View 20: Packing a “punch” (hole)
...and bringing on the megapixels too
When you take a smartphone out of its box, the first thing that hits you is its design. And the design is one of the few areas where brands have tried and tested ideas, quite liberally. While the back of a device comes with endless possibilities, something as humble as the front which was mostly just about the display is now changing every day, as well. We started with notable bezels which then turned into extremely thin bezels, then the notch walked in and killed the poor bezels but now it looks like even the notch has met its murderer-match. Honor will be launching the Honor View 20 in the country soon, a device which comes with a punch-hole selfie camera which just kills the need of a notch. But does it work in terms of design?
If there is one brand that knows how to work a glass back, in different patterns, textures, designs or colors, it has to be Huawei and its sub-brand Honor. The two brands have given us smartphones with distinct backs, not just once or twice but multiple times and the View 20 is no different. We got the Sapphire Blue color of the smartphone where the glass back of the smartphone creates a V-like light pattern when held at a certain angle. It will also be available in Red and Black color options. The back, like that in many other Huawei/ Honor smartphones, is distinct and beautiful looking and when held in a certain way, the “V” pattern on the back will definitely bring eyes back to the back for a second glance.
On the top left-hand side of the back, Honor has placed the primary camera set up. But it has fiddled a little with the arrangement of the sensors here. It has placed one slightly bigger circular sensor first which is followed by a horizontal capsule that holds the second sensor and the LED flash. At first, this arrangement makes it look like as if the smartphone carries three cameras but there are just two very differently arranged ones. Right next to the horizontal camera capsule is “AI Vision” branding, emphasizing on the cameras’ “AI capabilities”. A little down south from this setup is the good old circular recessed fingerprint scanner while the bottom half of the smartphone features the company’s logo, which is also slightly changed, and is in capitals with the two “O”s a little reminiscent of cameras. We preferred the older logo in terms of aesthetics but never mind.
It may be beautiful but the back of the smartphone is also a huge fingerprint and smudge magnet. So, you might end up rubbing it against your clothes a lot just to keep that bling alive. For those who are too scared to carry a glass phone bare, the device most likely will come with a clear case, which will hide all the good things about that back and make the phone very average looking – perhaps brands need to consider providing better quality cases with phones that have such a premium design.
While the back of the View 20 is all glamorous and beautiful, it is the front which is making a lot of noise. That is because Honor has taken the “all screen” challenge up by another notch (only minus the notch). Turning the device on will help explain matters. The Honor View 20 comes with a gorgeous 6.4 inch full HD+ IPS display with a screen resolution of 1080 x 2310 pixels. But it is what the display brings along (or does not bring along) that makes it special. The tall display has a small black dot on the top left corner. This dot is the front camera and that is it. There is no notch, no bezel, nothing on the top. While it is somewhat like a drop notch that we have seen is some smartphones before, unlike a drop notch, this camera dot has display all around it too, making it look very different from anything out there in the market today. There are extremely thin bezels that surround the smartphone from three sides but there is a slightly thicker bezel present at the chin.
The View 20 comes with a notable metal frame that binds the front and the back together. This may be because the frame of the phone carries the weight of all the additional features that the company could not fit on the display. The top of the device carries the earpiece, right on the edge, the 3.5 mm audio jack, coupled with a bunch of sensors. The left side carries the dual SIM card tray while the right carries the power/lock button and the volume rocker. The base of the View 20 holds the USB Type-C port, speaker grille, and the mic.
The smartphone measures 156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm and weighs 180 grams. It sits well in the hand. Thanks to the slightly thick metal frame holding the glass back and front, the phone has a pretty good grip. One, if really adamant, can use the phone with a single hand but putting that other hand to use is advised – this is not a small phone by any standards.
In the specs department, the Honor View 20 packs a good punch of numbers. The smartphone boasts a 6.4-inch full HD+ display with screen resolution of 1080 x 2310 pixels. It is powered by Huawei’s in house HiSilicon Kirin 980 processor which is one the high-end processors from the company. We have seen this chipset earlier in Huawei Mate 20 Pro which is the company’s flagship phone at the time of writing. There might be an 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage variant but the variant we have comes with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB. The smartphone does not have a hybrid SIM card slot or a dedicated MicroSD card slot which means you can kiss dreams of expandable memory goodbye.
In the camera department, the smartphone boasts a dual set up where the main sensor is a 48-megapixel sensor with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF and LED flash accompanied by a 3D (TOF) camera for AR Effects. There is a 25-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies and video calls with f/2.0 aperture, but Honor is pushing the rear camera as the star of the show, calling it the first 48 megapixel AI camera. Of course, this being an Honor device, it comes with a number of shooting options.
The Honor View 20 runs on a large 4,000 mAh battery and comes with support for fast charging. The device is also on top of its software game as it comes with Android 9 (Pie) out of the box and is topped with Honor’s Magic UI 2.0.1. In the era of “Let’s kill the 3.5 mm audio jack”, Honor has kept it alive on the View 20, which should relieve those who love their wired headphones. Other connectivity options on the device include 4G, NFC, USB OTG, infrared, USB Type C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
The device will be launched on January 29, 2019, and is expected to be priced in the vicinity of Rs. 35,000 to 40,000, though it might even be lower, given Honor’s tradition in India – the device is priced at 549 Euros in Europe. This pricing is likely to put the Honor View 20 right in the face of OnePlus 6T, which is easily the most popular smartphone in this segment. It stands out from the crowd from both the front and the back, but to find out how it fares in real life conditions and against the competition, stay tuned for our detailed review of the Honor View 20.