PARIS: CHINESE PHONE MAKER officially launched its long-teased flagship handset, the Honor View 20, in Paris on Tuesday.
Honor held the glitzy launch event in the French capital during fashion week, most likely in a bid get somewhat 'down with the kids'.
Naturally, the INQUIRER was in town for a nosey, some croissants, and, of course, to get some hands-on time with the phone and see what all the fuss is about.
In true Honor style, the View 20 is definitely something to marvel over thanks to its unique laser-etched reflective "V" pattern behind the glass, indicative of the phone's branding (in China, it's simply known as the Honor V20). This is referred to as Honor's Aurora Nanotexture pattern. Ooh, ahh.
Not only that, but it's unique in how it's been put together. Instead of loading it with one of those infamous notches that every flagship seems to have these days, Honor has simply set the front-facing camera within the screen, with a small hole punched out in the top-left corner.
This was apparently achieved by combining the hole within the layers of the LCD itself, rather than just drilling a space in the pixels. Smart, although still not groundbreaking. We've already seen this with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy A8, and it's expected in the forthcoming Galaxy S10. However, Honor's hole is smaller (that's what she said) at a 4.5mm in diameter, compared to Samsung's 6.7mm.
Nevertheless, Honor said this allowed for a thinner construction overall, with a more tightly integrated camera. As a result, the phone looks suave and well put together. An impressive design achievement in our eyes; this is what innovation should be about.
We also immediately loved how light the Honor View 20 is to hold. It's lightweight without feeling cheap and plasticky, although it's far from the thinnest on the market, measuring 8.1mm.
However, it's disappointing to see that Honor hasn't given the View 20 any IP rating, and seeing as though most of the big contenders in the smartphone space these days kit out their flagships with some level of waterproofing, it could mean make or break when a consumer is deciding whether to go for the View 20 or one of its rivals.
Besides the hole punch camera placement as discussed earlier, the Honor View 20's display is quite the stunner; it's an impressive 6.4in Full HD+ LCD display with a super wide 19.25:9 aspect ratio.
It's super bright and vibrant; great for gawping at while watching videos, although some might find it frustrating when watching standard movies and TV shows as you'll have black bars left and right.
It'll also be interesting to see if the screen's camera hole punch will make much of a difference when viewing content. This is perhaps why Honor has given the View 20 such a wide aspect ratio - so the punch hole is hidden by the black bars. We're looking forward to seeing just how much it really gets in the way of viewing when we get the phone in for a full review.
Running the Android Android 9 Pie operating system, the Honor View20 is powered by a Huawei Kirin 980 chipset and up to 8GB RAM. It's hard to know how this translates into real-world performance, but it seemed incredibly nippy during our hands-on time. However, this could all change once you start loading the handset with apps, as our performance tests were conducted on a freshly-installed OS.
The View 20 packs a 4,000mAh battery supporting Super Charging. We can't yet properly gauge how long the smartphone's battery will last, but due to its size and the screen being just Full HD, we can imagine it should be easily a full day, maybe even two.
As for software, it feels nice to navigate, with Honor's skin not making too much of a major difference to Google's Android interface. Honor has switched out the Emotion UI, the Huawei-borrowed skin it would normally use (known as EMUI) with an Honor-exclusive "Magic UI". This differs in that, erm, actually it doesn't. Our guess is that Honor has just done it to try to differentiate itself further from its sister brand, Huawei.
The View 20 touts a massive 48MP rear-facing camera, which Honor says is a "world first" and is made by Sony. It boasts with an f/1.8 and 78-degree angle lens and is joined by a 25MP front-facing front-facing snapper for all your selfie needs.
In our short tests, we were very impressed with the performance of the phone's snappers, and a quick test of both yielded impressive results - although the automatic beauty mode might require a retune when first used, as it does tend to want to blur the hell out of your face to make you look better.
Overall, though, images are clean and colours are strong, and it feels surprisingly premium for a mid-range device; the camera is is also able to capture the small text of a document from a good meter away, for example.
Pricing and availability
The Honor View 20 is available in Blighty from today priced at from £499. It can be picked up in red, blue and black colour variants.
Overall, we are extremely impressed with what Honor has managed to engineer here with its latest flagship. Honor's hole punch front-facing camera design is something really fresh and exciting for the industry, and we welcome new innovation with open arms. Good on Honor for pioneering this in its flagship. µ