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Home > New Gear > Honor 20 and 20 Pro in hands-on: top phones at the absolute worst situation
Honor 20 and 20 Pro in hands-on: top phones at the absolute worst situation

Honor 20 and 20 Pro in hands-on: top phones at the absolute worst situation

By  Adeline Belluz 2019-05-24 1057 0

At the worst possible time Huawei shows the new Honor 20 series: the first try great phones. But the political situation raises questions.

At 5pm on May 21, Huawei drops the media embargo on the new Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro smartphones. The timing is, we now know, chosen unfavorable: After the declaration of the telecommunications emergency by the US government, several US companies have their business with Huawei set, and Android developer Google is one of them.

Honor 20 and 20 Pro

A new special regulation should ensure that the Honor 20 can still come on the market with full Android. Currently, however, it looks like the new Huawei devices will not get Android updates after that. Because Huawei is at the epicenter of the conflict between the US and China, the future of Honor phones is also uncertain in the European market. At the launch event, Huawei blotted out the tricky issue completely.


Apart from the excitement, confusion and uncertainty: Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are strong phones, as heise online has seen at a preview event on May 10 in Berlin. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, stylish design and competitive price, the mobile phones of the Huawei subsidiary can easily compete with their competitors.


Design and workmanship

Externally, Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are very similar, the slight differences in size between the models are barely noticeable. The most eye-catching design element is the main camera, which protrudes noticeably and visibly on the back, resulting in the Honor-20 smartphones always resting slightly tilted when placed on a smooth surface. The lenses are arranged differently in the two models because of the partially different functions, but you can see this only at second glance.


Apart from that, there is little exposure to design and build quality. The pre-production models at the event were also excellent, nothing creaked, different gaps were not to be found. The biggest point of criticism for some users might be the glass surface, which like the predecessor Honor 10 covers not only the display, but also the back. The hardened material with pleasant hand-lying curves to all sides looks noble, but as always a bit slippery and attracts fingerprints magically. Only regular cleaning or the handle of the enclosed, transparent plastic cover will help.


But then it hides part of the fascinating play of colors fabricated by the new Dynamic Holographic design. According to the manufacturer, in a two-phase process, millions of the smallest prisms are incorporated into the deep layer of the paint. Afterwards, Honor lays two additional layers, which are responsible for the color of the smartphone and the protection of the device. Of the prisms you can hardly see anything in everyday life, but depending on the light irradiation, the main color of the device changes from black to blue-violet or turquoise - really chic!



Equipment and display

Front and back glass are framed by an aluminum frame anodized in the respective device color. On the left side of the case, it houses not only the typical volume rocker, but also the power button, which includes the fingerprint sensor as with some older Sony models. On the opposite side, Honor integrates the SIM card slot, which houses two nano-SIMs in dual-active mode. There is no slot for memory cards. The front camera peers through a circular punch-hole notch in the upper left corner of the display, which altogether requires very little margin.


The panel of Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro is identical. Both models feature a 6.26-inch screen with a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 pixels and a pixel density of 412 PPI (pixels per inch). This ensures sharp presentation and also brightness, color reproduction and contrasts convinced in the first test. Thanks to IPS-LCD technology, there are no problems with readability even at low viewing angles.


Hardware and operating speed

The predecessor Honor 10 came last year with the then top chipset Kirin 970 in the trade, which was one of the fastest chips at the time. Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are powered by the successor Kirin 980, which is even faster and more energy efficient in everyday life. With two Neural Processing Units (NPU) he should also solve AI tasks even faster. This is especially noticeable with the camera. Whether in menus or in the browser - stuttering were not noticeable in the pre-production models.


Even demanding games should not pose a problem for the Honor models. In addition to the sheer performance of the chipset used in conjunction with 6 GB (Honor 20) and 8 GB of RAM (Honor 20 Pro), the "GPU Turbo" version 3.0 game accelerator also ensures this. He is to the bottleneck between hardware and operating system (Android 9 Pie, promised Huawei at the preview event) with user interface (Magic UI 2.1) fix and thus ensure more constant frame rates for gaming. Disadvantage: Third-party games must be specially adapted for it.


The rest of the hardware is as comprehensive as it is for top smartphones. WLAN is available with the latest ac standard mi 2.4 and 5 GHz (MiMo), LTE depending on the network operator theoretically to Cat. 21 in place and Bluetooth implemented in the latest version 5.0 LE. For locating the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are not only like the previous model on A-GPS, the Russian GLONASS and the Chinese BDS (Beidou), but also on the European positioning network Galileo and even the Japanese locating system QZSS. The biggest drawback is the slower data transfer rate of the Type C port according to USB 2.0 standard for a top model.


The technology is powered by the Honor 20 of a lithium-polymer battery with 3,750 mAh, in the Pro model is a power dispenser with 4,000 mAh. Given the rest of the technology that should easily provide for run times beyond a working day. In an emergency, the included 22.5-watt super-charge power supply, according to the manufacturer, provides a charging rate of 50 percent of the maximum battery charge in 30 minutes. Wireless charging dominates the Honor -20-series like its predecessors.



Highlights of the two big Honor-20 models are the cameras. Although both smartphone variants have four modules for the main camera, there are differences in detail. The largest optics of the two models provide the user with 48 megapixels each, but the Honor 20 has a smaller aperture with f / 1.8 than the Honor 20 Pro with f / 1.4. This should have a positive effect on the Pro model, especially for photos with low light.


The second lens, identical in both models, allows for super wide-angle shooting with 117 degrees of field of view and distortion correction, but there is a big difference in the third lens. It is responsible with its 2 megapixels in the Honor 20 exclusively for better depth detection for natural artificial bokeh, in the Pro model, however, is an 8-megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom. The Honor 20 Pro also features 5x hybrid zoom and up to 30x electronic zoom. The fourth and last camera lens of both models is identical again, they take macro shots with 2 megapixels at an aperture of f / 2.4.


Both camera quartets feature both optical, electronic and AI-based image stabilization (OIS, EIS and AIS). Especially with zoom recordings with the Honor 20 Pro, the extreme image calmness is noticeable even at maximum magnification, which also allowed for free first-try photos without motion blur. This was previously reserved for the top model Huawei P30 Pro. A positive surprise also offered the with just 2 megapixels conspicuously low-resolution macro lens. It allowed on the event extreme close-ups that looked pleasingly sharp, at least on the display even in the zoom.


Light Fusion and AI

The Honor devices also master a technique. Huawei calls "Light Fusion." The camera software always uses information from four pixels and then assembles it into a higher-quality superpixel, which is intended to give a higher overall picture quality than the maximum resolution.


Another advantage: The Honor 20 can largely zoom lossless on electronic ways by then no longer made four pixels at maximum magnification, but a section of the camera sensor is used, in which a pixel actually corresponds to a pixel. The benefits of pixel binning are then abandoned, but missing image information does not need to be "guessed" by the software, as in conventional electronic zooming, which usually results in a significant loss of image sharpness.


As an autofocus technology Honor uses a combination of phase detection and laser. It also adds a wealth of software and AI features to further enhance the result. These include, for example, the so-called Clarity Mode and the Super Night Mode for shake-free night shots. The AI ​​functions can also be deactivated on request.


Availability and conclusion

At least at first try the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro convinced all along the line. The two devices hardly differ in performance, and the Honor 20 should not cause any problems with 6 GB RAM in everyday life. More important than the jump to 8 GB of RAM on the Pro model is likely to be the jump from 128 to 256 GB of internal memory, especially as a slot for a MicroSD card is missing. In addition, speak again the slightly larger battery and the better camera for the Pro model. However, this is otherwise missing a real USP - maybe Honor should have integrated features such as wireless charging for a better demarcation between the two models here.


The Honor 20 Pro should be available in the colors Phantom Black and Phantom Blue, the Honor 20 also in black and blue. Honor currently announces its availability for the Pro model at the beginning of July, and the Honor 20 is due to be launched on June 4. The standard model costs 499, the Pro version 599 euros. Given the technology used, that would be almost a bargain - if there were not the political concerns that make the purchase of a Huawei mobile phone at present a risk.


 You may also want to read:
 Huawei Honor V20 review: a punch hole display and a high-end CPU under the hood
 Honor 20 Pro could have a periscope camera like Huawei P30 Pro
  Honor 20i featuring a 32MP AI front camera will be released on April 17


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