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The Honor View 20 comes with the tag of being the first smartphone launch of the year and does have some impressive features to speak of. It started as a low-cost sub-brand to Huawei, but Honor is now differentiating itself with each launch and now competes with Huawei directly.

The View 20 is the first smartphone with a punch-hole display and a 48MP camera, while Nokia’s Lumia 1020 and 808 PureView featured 41MP and Huawei’s Mate 20 and P20 series had 40MP cameras.

Display

The 6.4-inch LCD display with a 1080 x 2310 resolution is powered by 2.6GHz Kirin 980 octa-core chip set and coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage capacity. The SIM tray supports dual-nano cards and no microSD card support.

I don’t think you will need a microSD card unless you are going to use this device for another 10 years. It weighs 180 grams and 398 pixels per inch density. It’s definitely not the sharpest and it’s not OLED.

The device runs on Android 9 and with Magic UI 2.0 user interface, similar to Huawei’s EMUI. Huawei and Honor have won a reputation launching new technologies at a much lesser cost than other brands, expect for their Chinese competition.

Honor has restricted the shortcuts in the notification shade to five, but you can add more manually. The punch-hole display, instead of the notch, gives more screen space and offers a 91.8 per cent body-to-screen ratio. But the disadvantage is that the apps are suited for an all-view display.

You get a black bar on the sides of the screen and which can be turned off in the settings. However, once the videos are stretched to take advantage of the full screen, it is gorgeous and can supports HDR 10 format.

Like the notch, the punch-hole display might be a distraction for some. The back of the device uses nanolithography technology to develop an invisible nanotexture on the body.

The back is interesting due to this and the reflective V pattern shines from every angle when turning the device and light falls on it.

The fingerprint is placed at the back and at a precise location. It also sports a 3.5mm headphone jack and even an IR blaster on the top.

The View 20 also has a 2D face unlock. It is fast and even works in lowlight conditions, but less secure than the 3D face recognition technology found on iPhones and Mate 20 Pro to use it for banking purposes. This is due to the pinhole camera and there isn’t enough space to fit all the sensors needed as compared to the spacious notch.

One irritating factor is that the notification LED is inserted into the earpiece at the top of the phone and difficult to notice when the LED blinks at certain angles.

Cameras

The rear side houses a 48MP camera from Sony with an f1/8 aperture and with a 1/2-inch large CMOS, and equivalent 1.6μm pixels in Quad Bayer array. The second is a 3D ToF (time of flight) camera rather than telephoto lens for depth detection and also for 3D modelling, 3D printing and augmented reality games.

In theory, it should support Google’s ARCore app with Android 9 but in practice, it does not. When you try to download the app, it says that “your device isn’t compatible with this version”.

As for the cameras, the default is 12MP and is excellent in dynamic range even when facing the sun. Both the front and rear support artificial intelligence, and better than the older Honor devices. The images look more natural than the oversaturated colours in older devices. The AI can identify over 300 landmarks and 100,000 paintings from around the world.

It has a 48MP feature to capture photos in the rear and a 48MP AI ultra-clarity feature too. There is no big difference between the 12MP and 48MP on the phone, but you can notice the difference when zooming in or enlarge on a PC.

In 48MP AI Clarity mode, it takes a few seconds to capture and it merges many shots using pixel-binning technique. It is best when used for pictures in good light and with a still object as the device takes a few seconds to process the image. Zooming is not supported in 48MP mode. The camera uses AI image stabilisation rather than optical image stabilisation.

Low light is where the phone excels the most. Even in pitch dark, the images are captured with plenty of details visible. The night-time photo magic is achieved by a separate “night” mode feature and taking multiple and long exposure shots at different ISO values to combine into one final image. But it takes four seconds to process the final image.

Even in Auto mode, it takes decent shots during night time. With 4D predictive focus, the camera predicts moving objects and focuses on them with efficiency to capture minute details while in motion.

You can shoot 4K videos at 30 frames per second and not at 60fps, but 1080p at 60fps. Slow motion can be shot at 120fps, 240fps and 960fps but 960fps only in 720p. There is also an Auto mode in slow motion that captures videos when it senses motion in a predetermined spot on the display.

The front houses the 25MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture, which handles well in lowlight conditions. The front camera does not support 3D facial technology for unlocking the device.

Selfies are good and the colours are bright and clear. When recording and taking photos with the selfie camera, you get the option to enable HDR, which is helpful when shooting against the light.

There is only a single speaker grille as the base of the device. In AR Lens mode, you have cartoon characters mimicking facial movements, but it has to be seen how many will use it. You can create GIF images with your facial expressions.

Gaming performance

The gaming on this device with GPU Turbo 2.0 is excellent, but not as good as the latest Qualcomm 845 chip set.

I played Asphalt 9: Airborne and some PBUG games without any stutters or drop in frame rates. Honor claims that View20 owners will have exclusive access to the Honor Guard outfit in Fortnite. Honor is one of the three devices apart from Mate 20 X and Galaxy Note 9 certified to run Fortnite at 60fps and this feature is coming soon to the device through a software update.

The device does not get warm as the heat gets well distributed through graphene film cooling technology.

Connectivity

Regarding connectivity, it has dual 4G LTE SIM slots, WiFi hotspot, wireless projection, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS and NFC. It has an AI Triple-antenna WiFi technology to prevent the signal from weakening when a user’s hands cover the receiver.

Battery performance

The 4,000mAh battery is decent enough to last for more than a day for heavy use and more than two days for moderate. With SuperCharge technology, the device can charge from zero to 54 per cent in 30 minutes, one hour and 30 minutes to full. It does not have wireless or reverse charging.

In video playback, the device lasted for 14 hours and 40 minutes and more than 15 hours in web browsing.

The smartphone comes in Moschino co-designed (Phantom Blue and Phantom Red) and priced at Dh2,399.

Pros

• Punch-hole display

• Great battery life

• Beautiful full view design

• 48MP and 3D rear cameras

• Reflective V pattern on the rear

• Fast charging technology

• AI Triple-antenna WiFi technology

• 3.5mm headphone jack

• AI supports photos and videos

Cons

• No water resistance

• No wireless charging

• No wide-angle camera

• Certain apps don’t support full-view design • No microSD card slot • Display isn’t top class • Magic UI still needs fine tuning • No 3D facial unlocking • No 4K recording at 60fps mode