Honor 20 Pro Review

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Introduction

Regarded as the Quad camera beast and whatnot, Honor 20 Pro is the most expensive of the trio launched in May 2019 which includes Honor 20 Lite, Honor 20, and the costly Honor 20 Pro. The phone is a perfect blend of beauty and performance tucked under a smaller form factor in a phone which has a punch-hole front display with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner that soon inspired a series of smartphones from Huawei and other smartphone makers.

 

The phone comes packed with an avalanche of features, and in fact, we used the phone for a while and didn’t get to use all its functions thanks to the plugin by Magic UI as well. After extensive trying it out, here’s a detailed review on this powerful yet slick mid-range smartphone that hits high notes at a price tag affordable to the masses.

Price in India, Variants, Availability

The Honor 20 Pro in India is available at Rs 39,999/- for its 256GB+8GB variant. Its 128GB+8GB variant comes priced at Rs 32,990/- and will be available in Black and Blue colour variants. The device is currently unavailable at the time of writing this, but it will be updated on Amazon or Flipkart soon.

Box Contents

Coming to a crucial point here, what does Huawei offers in its Honor 20 Pro retail box? Being the most expensive in the trio, we expect a lot, and thankfully, the Chinese smartphone maker doesn’t disappoint.

 

First up, we have the phone with a pre-installed screen protector, a TPU case, and a SIM ejector tool. Next, up, Honor is offering USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack converter where Apple would charge heftily for the same. There is a USB cable and finally, a 22.5W SuperCharge charging brick available with its Indian variant. Finally, there are some quick start guides to start with, and that’s all that I find with the retail box.

Specs at a glance

Honor 20 Pro isn’t using any random specs sheet, but rather it is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC which was manufactured using a 7nm node. It makes the device comparable to Huawei P30 Pro although comparing it with Mate 30 Pro is a big No.

 

About the core structure, the chipset has eight cores (octa-core), and that includes two high-performance 2.6GHz x 2 Cortex-A76 cores with two 1.92 GHz cores and finally, four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A55 power-efficient cores that make up its SoC. It is also paired with Mali-G76 MP10 which is probably deca-core and flanked with 8GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB of internal storage options.

Design and Build Quality

Here comes one of the exciting aspects of the device as to be honest, Honor 20 Pro is irresistibly one of the best-looking phones. No doubt it has its backlogs and compromises, but when it comes to its design aspect, the device can compete for head-on with the likes of Huawei P30 Pro and Mate 30 Pro although the latter is way better.

 

Starting with the form factor, it is slim and slick, which makes it easy to hold. Its front panel has a punch-hole front camera sensor on the left which relieves you from the obstructive notches or even irritating pop-up mechanisms or shark fins. The device has an impressive 91.6% screen-to-body ratio although it does have a considerably thick bezel and chin when compared to any flagship smartphone, that’s something you have to compromise given the device falls in a mid-range category.

 

The phone has a fingerprint scanner on the right aka edge-mounted FPS which doubles as a power button as well. The FPS is so quick that it won’t let you use the facial recognition system the phone has if you are using the same finger as registered for access to press the power button. It might be a bit confusing at first, but as always, you will get the hang of it after a few mistrials and attempts.

 

The rear has a beautiful quad-camera setup arranged in a vertical stack in a slim camera bump that stands on the extreme left of the back panel, and there’s nothing else obstructive it’s a not-so-gradient but the reflective rear panel. The device uses something called Triple 3D Mesh to create the mind-blowing reflections when you hold the phone from different angles, so I guess that’s a plus point to its overall credibility. Honor 20 Pro is a good-looking phone that falls right in your budget while being infused with high-end specs, so it’s like a win-win situation, although you have to compromise over some subtle aspects.

Display

The front display is the first thing you would see on a smartphone, so making an excellent first impression is imperative and, to be honest, Honor 20 Pro doesn’t disappoint the masses. Of course, it is a downgrade as you don’t get the lucrative, vibrant, brightly-lit, power-efficient and high HDR OLED panel with the phone, you get a 6.26-inch IPS LCD FHD+ Infinity-O display which has a punch-hole cut-out for its front selfie cam.

 

Its flagship brother Huawei P30 Pro truly inspires the phone although it is a bit different. One of the concerns that I have is that the punch-hole is around 4.5mm and still leaves a bit of screen real estate unused on the extreme top and left of the notch. It is a significant flaw since you are getting a smaller space for the status bar to showcase icons and notifications that were earlier disrupted by a notch, it is now obstructed due to a punch-hole.

 

Even after that, the display is vivid and feels like a full edge-to-edge panel which helps viewers with a great viewing experience. Although the OLED is out, the LCD panel is still vibrant, bright, and has an HDR that makes the display lively and rocking. It doesn’t mean the display is perfect because when you compare OLED with LCD, it is no doubt OLED will rise as a winner.

 

According to us, the display lacks contrast. It isn’t that bright although you won’t find it challenging to use it in daylight unlike OnePlus 6 where a sufficiently reduced brightness would make the phone’s display obsolete as you can’t see a thing on it although pumping up the intensity helps.

Performance

The specs are capable enough to allow Honor 20 Pro smoothly along with GPU Turbo 3.0 that makes gaming on the phone a fun task. It is still a long way to compete with flagship OnePlus7 or 7 Pro in case if you want a clear clarification on it.

 

The phone is still decent to use even when you are playing graphics-intensive games as the Kirin 980 SoC makes sure everything is on point without any delay or latency.

Software

After Trump administration dropped an axe between Huawei and the U.S. government over a trade ban, Huawei is stripped away from using any U.S. based products or services.

 

Talking about Honor 20 Pro, Huawei confirmed that smartphones that have already been released or have passed all the certifications before the ban was out of clutches of the U.S. trade ban. It means Honor 20 Pro is likely safe from any actions that Trump administration take, which gives its out-of-the-box Android 9.0 Pie-based Magic UI 2.1 a relief.

 

Talking about Magic UI 2.1 that comes as a custom skin for Honor 20 Pro, it is well-built with a decent UI and plenty of features to try. Yes, the UI isn’t that polished as OxygenOS for OnePlus smartphones, but it is still better than the ColorOS 6.1 used by Realme X2 Pro.

 

Huawei has always plugged in a massive catalog of features with its UIs, and Magic UI 2.1 is no different as it brings a lot on the table and it is getting better with each release. Huawei has made sure that the phone will receive software updates for two years on a bi-monthly basis. The phone is in two to get Android 10 Q next year and could be bumped with Magic UI 3.0 although we will have to wait and find out about it.

Cameras

Here comes the most acclaimed section for Honor 20 Pro. The phone has established a strong presence as a device with camera prowess, and probably it is not entirely wrong since Huawei P30 Pro inspires the device.

 

First of all, the phone has a primary 48MP camera with OIS, a secondary 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a third but usual 2MP macro camera. The fourth sensor is an 8MP telephoto sensor with 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom capabilities. So, that’s on paper, let’s see what the buzz around its actual usage.

 

The images are right when you capture it from the primary sensor, excellent dynamic range, colour, and well-balanced with a blend of bokeh effect when used with the depth sensor. The low-light photography is somewhere many smartphones fail, but here, it is okay-ish. The telephoto sensor can pull off 3x optical and 5x hybrid zoom with no to little compression and quality loss. However, just as you start increasing the digital zoom levels, the photos will suffer quality loss.

 

Furthermore, the device has a 4K video recording capability at 30fps but not 60fps. The phone has many built-in features inside its camera app so that it will never keep you bored for a long time.

 

Finally, the front has a 32MP sensor which has a good detail although Honor does have a tendency to make faces look soft using its beauty filter and of course, you can disable or at least try to minimize it to grab actual images rather than made-up ones.

Battery Life

No matter what phone you pick, one of the most influential aspects that customers go through while deciding which phone they will go through with is its ‘battery life’. Here, Honor 20 Pro shines with flying colours because it has a massive 4,000 mAh battery which is estimated to last two days on light usage. Of course, if you are using the phone on a substantial profile, it will suffer faster battery consumption and might not even make it to 7 or 8 hours mark. However, a mix of moderate to heavy usage will get you around a day of juice.

 

It could be a result of Honor 20 Pro’s LCD panel instead of OLED which reduces the power battery although degrades the quality a bit but that’s just a bit of compromise. On a test, Honor 20 Pro was able to make through a 90-minute video at full brightness on Wi-Fi with a loss of only 16% of the charge after the test. It is in-line with Realme X2 Pro which lost 18% of charge although it is proportionally higher since Realme X2 Pro has a 4,500 mAh battery.

 

Anyways, the phone should last a day on moderate usage and two days on light usage with a couple of days of standby backup in case if you are wondering about it. Apart from that, the device has a 22.5W SuperCharge capable of charging the phone to its capability in over 90 minutes or less since it is still a humongous battery to charge.

Verdict

No doubt Honor 20 Pro is a well-designed smartphone, but it is not a flagship powerhouse which I made clear after referencing it with OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro. The LCD panel is a compromise and doesn’t allow brighter display tech OLED to enter so there’s no HDR and no in-display fingerprint scanner as well included in OnePlus 6T that was released almost at the same price tag. Meanwhile, the phone manages to impress the masses with its camera array, i.e. a quad-camera setup at the back with a single punch-hole sensor at the front. The photos look punchy and vibrant and have a video bokeh effect that is not available on devices. Huawei has its own set of AI and AR features mounted on its smartphones, which means Honor 20 Pro is no different. As for the software, it is still Android 9.0 Pie and will be updated to Android 10 although this has formed to schools of thought. The phone may get the update as the company promised along with all incremental updates with GMS. On the other hand, it is also a chance that the U.S. strips it away from GMS just like it did with Huawei Mate 30 series and all other launched after that. The phone has a decent price tag although it is currently out of stock on Amazon and Flipkart but will be available across retail outlets.