Honor 20i Review

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Introduction

Despite the Huawei-US trade ban, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor went ahead and launched three new smartphones under its 20-series lineup. While the Honor 20 Pro and Honor 20 focuses on the expensive side, there is a sweeter deal for those who’re not looking to spend that much on a smartphone. Yes! We’re talking about the Honor 20i aka Honor 20 Lite. With Honor 20 lineup, the Chinese smartphone maker focussed on design aesthetic and imaging. 

 

Honor 20i comes with lots of interesting features such as Kirin 710 chipset, triple rear camera module, 32MP selfie camera and a 3400mAh battery. On top of this, this is one of the good-looking smartphones when it comes to the budget segment league. While Honor 20i does look pretty enticing on the paper, it faces immense competition from the devices like Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro. 

 

We decided to put the device through our testing process to find out how well the smartphone actually performs in the real-life. Here is what we think of Honor 20i in our comprehensive review. 

Price in India, Variants, Availability

Honor 20i comes in a single storage variant featuring 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory. The smartphone is available in two different colour options namely Midnight Black and Phantom Blue. Speaking of availability, the device is up for grabs exclusive via Flipkart for INR 14,999. At the time of writing this review, there is a flat INR 1,000 off on prepaid transactions. Apart from these, there is no worth-mentioning offer on this smartphone. 

Box Contents

Honor 20i comes packed in a unique coloured box with minimal aesthetics having the device’s design printed on the front. Opening the lid, the first thing which you’ll witness is the smartphone itself which by the way looks pretty good in the gradient design. As expected, it is covered with the protective film. Keeping the device aside for a while, there is a rectangular section that consists of a SIM ejector tool, a soft-back case and some documentation. Talking about the cover, it seems pretty decent in terms of quality and might give that extra layer of protection. Sadly, the smartphone is still using the tradition Micro-USB port for charging. There is a Micro-USB cable and a 10W fast charger bundled in the box. 

 

Here is a quick overview of what you’ll be getting inside the box: 

 

 – Honor 20i 

 – 10W fast charger adapter 

 – A Micro-USB cable 

 – Soft back cover 

 – SIM ejector tool 

 – Manuals and documentation

Specs at a glance

Before we jump right into an out in-depth review of Honor 20i, let’s have a look at the key features that this device brings to the table. 

 

 – Display: 6.21-inch IPS LCD panel, 1080×2340 pixels, 415ppi 

 – Processor & GPU: Kirin 710, 12nm and Mali-G51 MP4 GPU 

 – RAM & ROM: 4GB and 128GB 

 – Rear cameras: 24MP+8MP+2MP 

 – Selfie camera: 32MP, f/2.0 

 – Battery: 3,400mAh capacity, 10W fast charging 

 – Software: Android 9.0 Pie, EMUI 9.1 

 – Weight: 164g

 – Dimensions: 154.8×73.6x8mm 

 

With key specs cleared out of the way, let’s talk about the very first aspect of out in-depth discussion on Honor 20i.

Design and Build Quality

Honor 20i follows a somewhat similar design ideology to its elder sibling, Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro. As expected, the smartphone is quite light and slim with curved back making it easier to hold and perfect for one-handed usage. Just like any other budget smartphone these days, Honor 20i flaunts the gradient design on the back with a glossy finish. For those who’re unaware, the brand was the first one to initiate the trend of premium designs at the budget price. 

 

The back of the device looks absolutely stunning with the subtle shift in the colours making it quite pleasing to the eye. We personally loved the Phantom Blue colour variant with different blue shades kicking on the back. There is a triple camera module which is assigned vertically on the back accompanied by an LED flash. There is a fingerprint sensor on the back which is positioned in the middle making it easier to reach for. Well, if you’re into such designed, you might as well get used to the fingerprint smudges which this device attracts a lot. 

 

The front is dominated by an IPS LCD display panel with a waterdrop-shaped notch and thin bezels on the side giving us more real-estate to play around with. Even the chin has a passable thickness and there is nothing to complain about in this aspect. Moving to the buttons, there is a volume rocker and power button on the right side while the left is absolutely clear of any cutouts. The buttons are quite clicky delivering good tactical feedback. At the bottom, you’ll find a loudspeaker, Micro-USB port for charging and a 3.5-mm headphone jack. The hybrid-SIM card slot is located on the top. 

 

Even though the smartphone is made up of plastic, we still loved using this smartphone thanks to the mesmerising design and compact form factor. Being a one-handed user myself, playing around with this smartphone was an enjoyable experience. Overall, Honor 20i delivers a solid build quality with the pinch of attractiveness. You might still want to use the bundled soft case since it is a fingerprint and scratch magnet. 

Display

The Honor 20i features a 6.21-inch IPS LCD display having a dewdrop notch on the front and thin bezels on the sides. Thanks to the smaller chin, the device manages to hit the screen-to-body-ratio of 90 percent. With Full HD+ resolution having 1080×2340 pixels, the colours and images look quite sharp just as expected. The device manages to live up to the expectation delivering a good level of blacks and excellent colour accuracy. Having 415ppi pixel density, the viewing angles are impressive and the brightness levels are quite adequate. 

 

All of these combine to deliver a bright and vivid display experience making it perfect for consuming media. Speaking of media, the device does not have the Widevine L1 support meaning you can not stream online content from services like Netflix and Prime Video in 720p or higher quality. This sucks considering the up to the mark IPS panel which this smartphone is rocking. Honor might fix this issue with the software update in the near future. 

 

There are few display related features embedded in the software that lets you play with the colours and much more. For instance, you have a full-colour wheel and some preset to play with to tweak the display experience as per your preferences. Additionally, you also get Eye Comfort feature which comes in very handy during nightly usage.

Performance

Honor 20i is powered by the company’s very own HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard memory. The Kirin 710 chipset is fabricated over a 12nm manufacturing process. The processor consists of eight cores namely four Cortex-A73 clocked at 2.2GHz and remaining four Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.7GHz. For graphics, the device makes use of Mali-G51 MP4 GPU. 

 

The Kirin 710 SoC is a capable processor that manages to deliver impressive performance at a budget price tag. Honor 20i is a prime example of that. When it comes to the performance, the smartphone is able to handle every single task be it moderate or heavy with ease. For average, the smartphone will deliver a smooth and fluent experience with no stutters or lags. Apps open up fairly quickly and remain in the memory for a longer time thanks to 4GB of RAM. Being a heavy multitasker, I noticed no issue with the device whatsoever. The software to hardware connection on this device is quite brilliant, to be honest. 

 

Coming to the gaming, we tried playing Pubg Mobile on this device and the device managed to handle that perfectly. Of course, you will not be able to run the game on maximum settings expecting flagship-like performance. We noticed no occasional frame drops while our gaming session and there was no issue with the rendering too. Honor 20i also comes with GPU Turbo 2.0 that bumps up the overall gaming performance to a great extent. 

 

The device has 128GB of onboard storage at its disposal which should be enough for most of the users out there. If not, you can always use the micro-SD card slot to expand the internal storage. Keep in mind that you’ll have to give up the second SIM slot since the device makes use of a hybrid dual SIM tray. 

Software

Honor 20i runs on the latest version of Android operating system i.e. Android 9.0 Pie based on the company’s custom skin called EMUI 9.1. Huawei has certainly improved its custom UI over the last couple of years and the latest iteration of it is quite acceptable. Just like most custom skins out there, this one too comes with pull-down notification shade, home screen setups and much more. Fortunately, you can also enable the app drawer which is something brands tends to forget a lot. 

 

EMUI has that minimal and subtle feel to it which is the reason why I like this UI over various other. Of course, EMUI still has a long way to go and there are lots of things which the company needs to focus on. Honor 20i comes with various features such as gesture navigation, Ride mode and Party mode. There are few useless apps which come pre-installed. Fortunately, you can get rid of it to free up some space. 

 

What makes EMUI different from its competitors is the fact that it has no ads whatsoever. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to keep up with the MUI, EMUI could be a great alternative. Thanks to no ads, the entire user experience is quite decent with minimal experience. Although Huawei does need to work on the optimisation of its software. 

Cameras

The Honor 20i is equipped with a triple camera module at the back which consists of a 24MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens and a 2MP depth sensor. For selfies, there is a 32MP front snapper housed inside the dewdrop notch. One of the key highlights of this device is its camera sensors so let’s see if it manages to live up. Camera app UI is quite simple and easy to use. Switching between various lenses is quite easy thanks to the one-tap button on the viewfinder. 

 

In proper daylight conditions, the rear cameras manage to click impressive shots with excellent details, great dynamic range and vibrant colours. You can use various modes such as AI and HDR to generate much better images. The AI mode works pretty impressively by auto-selecting settings as per the surroundings. If you’re looking to boost shadows on your shots, you can enable the HDR mode. Switching to a wide-angle lens, the level of details decreases a bit as expected. The wide-angle lens does help in clicking shots with wider views which is quite impressive. Portrait mode is decent on this phone with good edge detection. In short, I have nothing to complain about when it comes to daylight rear camera performance. 

 

In low light conditions, the device struggles a bit which was very expected considering the price range. You can make use of the night mode which works with both front and rear cameras. The pictures using night mode turns out to be quite bright with a good amount of details restored. Although to get a great image, you need to be steady for 5 seconds after hitting that shutter button, 

 

When it comes to selfies, the device managed to impress us and lives up to our expectations, The shots turn out to be very well detailed with good colour accuracy and no over smoothening or sharpening. You can also click portrait selfies which makes use of software to detect edges. It is fairly well but not as compared to the portrait on rear cameras. For video, the phone can record up to 1080p at 60fps. 

 

Overall, Honor 20i is a great smartphone when it comes to cameras and you’ll not regret buying it in terms of cameras. Both the daylight and low-light performance is quite impressive and lives up to our expectations. The lack of 4K video recording might be a deal-breaker for few. 

Battery Life

Honor 20i is backed by a 3,400 mAh battery which might not be big enough as per the today’s standard but is surely a capable one. On average usage, the device can last you for an entire day on a single charge. In our extensive battery test, we managed to get the screen-on-time of around 6 hours. Here is our device usage during testings looks like – Bluetooth & WiFi always-on, constant text messaging, few sessions of Pubg Mobile, callings, internet surfing, music playback, few hours of media streaming and cameras. 

 

You can use the bundled 10W travel adapter to charge this device. The phone takes around 2 hours to charge completely from zero to 100%. The fast charging feature would have been a nice addition considering the fact that every other competitor is no giving so. Sadly, the device still makes use of the traditional Micro-USB port for charging.

Audio, Biometrics, Connectivity

Honor 20i features a bottom-mounted loudspeaker for all your audio needs which manages to deliver fairly decent audio output. At the full volume, we did notice some distortion with the sound. The speaker is loud enough to watch movies in a noisy environment. There is a 3.5-mm headphone jack present on the device which has an excellent output. When it comes to call, we find no issue with the earpiece, connectivity and microphone. The device has aptX HD support which delivers better audio quality when using wireless products. 

 

For biometrics, the device comes with a fingerprint sensor at the back which works flawlessly with no issues whatsoever. The sensor is fairly quick, accurate, reliable and rarely has trouble detecting fingerprints. You can also use the Face Unlock on the device but it is worth noting that it uses the 2D representation of your face resulting in less security.

 

Honor 20i has all the standard connectivity features such as dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD, GPS, FM Radio and Micro-USB port charging. As expected, there is no NFC support for mobile payment and one-tap pairing request. 

Pros and Cons

Pros: 

 

 – Attractive design 

 – Clean software 

 – Capable battery life 

 – Bright and Vivid display 

 – Impressive cameras 

 

Cons: 

 

 – No 4K video recording 

 – No fast charging support

 – No USB Type-C port 

 

Verdict

Honor 20i managed to be a worthy contender under the 15k price segment thanks to the premium design and impressive cameras. At this price range, Honor 20i is one of the good-looking smartphones which manages to stand out from the rest. Above all, the smartphone has a powerful processor, capable battery life and clean user experience. If you’re someone who’s looking for a smartphone with attractive aesthetics and powerful photography, then you can definitely consider the all-new Honor 20i. The fact that you can also do heavy multitasking and play Pubg Mobile easily on this device makes it an all-rounder. No doubt, Xiaomi’s MIUI is much more feature-rich but EMUI offers a similar experience with no ads. For those who’re looking for raw performance, you might wanna look at the Honor Play.