Honor 20 Pro Review

Honor 20 Pro Review
Honor is technically an independent brand that sells phones at amazing prices, but realistically, it’s an offshoot of Huawei, so you should not be surprised that its brand new flagship the Honor 20 Pro looks and feels A LOT like a Huawei phone. So what is special about the Honor 20 Pro?

I’ve been using the new Honor 20 Pro for the past couple of days, testing it, taking pictures with it and just enjoying it. It’s a looker, it’s got the flagship-grade Kirin 980 chip by Huawei, a whopping 256GB of storage in the base model, a large, 4,000mAh battery, and did I mention the world’s first camera with f/1.4 aperture for better low-light photos? And all of that comes at an appealing price.

Join me below as I walk you through my journey with the Honor 20 Pro.

IMPORTANT: First, the big news from these days, though: Google might strip Huawei (and Honor) off its Android license. If this indeed happens, it means you will not be getting any major future updates for Huawei and Honor phones, including this one. It’s not clear what this also means for future models. Right now, we can only say that it would be best to wait to see how this develops before buying a phone from these two companies, especially if it costs a lot of money.


Design

The new holographic look is really special

This phone has got the looks. It features a new design that Honor calls holographic and it uses tiny prisms in the back to reflect light in stunning patterns and create a unique sense of depth. We have never seen something quite like that before, it really is a mesmerizing look and shows just how far Huawei and Honor craftsmanship has gone.

Honor 20 Pro Review
Honor 20 Pro Review
Honor 20 Pro Review
Honor 20 Pro Review

All the buttons are on the right side, within easy reach, but what we find inconvenient is that the power key is recessed. The fingerprint reader is actually embedded in it, and it’s extremely fast, but it’s again the side position that is a bit annoying as you often get random vibrations when you are just fidgeting with the phone in your pocket. Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, it’s of the traditional type, and it works faster and more reliably than many modern fingerprint readers embedded under the screen.

A nice little extra that you don’t get on many other phones these days is the infra-red (IR) blaster at the top that you can use to control your TV or AC unit. And if you are looking for that LED notification light… well, it’s here, but cleverly hidden at the top, inside the in-call speaker. And on the bottom, you have the USB-C port for charging and the loudspeaker.

Honor 20 Pro Review
Honor 20 Pro Review

What you will not find on this phone is the good old 3.5mm headphone jack, as it seems that many phone makers reserve this feature for cheaper phones these days.



Honor 20 Pro

Honor 20 Pro

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

154.6 x 73.97 x 8.44 mm

Weight

6.42 oz (182 g)

Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro

Dimensions

6.22 x 2.89 x 0.33 inches

158 x 73.4 x 8.41 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Dimensions

6.2 x 2.92 x 0.31 inches

157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Apple iPhone XR

Apple iPhone XR

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches

150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm

Weight

6.84 oz (194 g)

Honor 20 Pro

Honor 20 Pro

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

154.6 x 73.97 x 8.44 mm

Weight

6.42 oz (182 g)

Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei P30 Pro

Dimensions

6.22 x 2.89 x 0.33 inches

158 x 73.4 x 8.41 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Dimensions

6.2 x 2.92 x 0.31 inches

157.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Apple iPhone XR

Apple iPhone XR

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches

150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm

Weight

6.84 oz (194 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Not an AMOLED, but still a very good-looking LCD screen with a punch hole camera


Looking at the front, you get a 6.26 inch LCD screen with a punch hole camera and very minimal bezels. The resolution is Full HD+ and everything looks perfectly sharp.

The screen does not quite have the vibrancy of AMOLED screens, but it’s one very good looking LCD display. Just make sure to go into settings and change the display mode to Natural while leaving colors balance at the default setting. At this mode, colors are very well balanced and everything looks very pleasing. And yes, the punch hole is here, but it’s really quite small and does not get much in the way.

One curious detail is that you have a couple of wallpapers by Honor itself that play with that cutout, and that’s a nice little touch!


Interface

Magic UI is basically the same as Huawei’s EMUI

When it comes to the interface, the phone runs on the company’s custom Magic UI on top of Android 9 Pie. Magic UI is basically just a different theme of Huawei’s Emotion UI, the two are EXTREMELY similar and the differences boil down mostly to just the look of the icons and a few of the first-party apps. But many apps actually look exactly the same, including the camera app!

One thing we love is the gesture navigation here: it’s so convenient that you can swipe from either side to go back a step! And the rest of the gestures are quite intuitive too: swipe up from the top to go home and swipe up and pause to get to the recents cards.

A few power-user features like a screen recorder are also present, which we appreciate.

One useful feature that you do not get in Magic UI, however, is a system-wide Dark Mode (turns backgrounds to black for night time use), an option that seems reserved for Huawei phones.

Performance

Kirin 980 and software optimizations make this phone a smooth performer

Under the hood, the phone is powered by the Kirin 980 chip and 8 gigs of RAM. Again, the chip is made by Huawei and it was the first 7 nanometer one on Android, but these days it ranks behind the Snapdragon 855 in terms of performance and it is far behind the Apple A12 Bionic chip on the latest iPhones. Still, it feels very fast and fluid in daily operations. Navigating around the interface happens without a stutter and using this phone is just a breeze. Gamers would also be happy with the new graphene cooling sheet that dissipates heat better which helps the phone stay cooler while you play the most demanding games.

You also get a plentiful 256 gigs of on board storage and you can expand that via the nano SD card standard. This is a new standard championed by Huawei and cards are the same size as a nano SIM, so your microSD card will not fit in that slot, in case you are wondering.

AnTuTu is a multi-layered, comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device, including CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, and UX performance. A higher score means an overall faster device.

Higher is better
Huawei P30 Pro
285595
Samsung Galaxy S10+
331252
Apple iPhone XS Max
336882
Google Pixel 3
213926
Google Pixel 3a
130209

Camera

The world’s largest aperture and Huawei’s Night Mode on board

Honor 20 Pro Review

Now, what about the camera? The big feature here is the world’s largest aperture on a phone. The main 48-megapixel camera uses an f/1.4 aperture, while the closest competitors have only got f/1.6, so theoretically, this should give Honor a big advantage in low light photography.

We also get a 3 times telephoto lens, plus you also have a 5 times zoom option with the help of the main camera. Zooming any further just uses digital zoom.

Here is a summary of all the cameras on board:

  • 48MP main camera, f/1.4 aperture, 1/2-inch sensor, has OIS, AIS, EIS
  • 16MP ultra-wide camera, f/2.2
  • 8MP 3X telephoto camera, f/2.4, OIS
  • 2MP macro camera, 4cm (1.6”) ideal focus distance, f/2.4
  • 32MP selfie camera, f/2.0

The time needed to start the camera app, focus, take a pic and save it.

sec Lower is better
Honor 20 Pro
1.4
Huawei P30 Pro
1.5
Samsung Galaxy S10+
1.6
Apple iPhone XS Max
0.9
Google Pixel 3
1.1
Google Pixel 3a
1.6

Image Quality


Images from the Honor 20 Pro main camera turn out quite good, with a great amount of detail and mostly pleasing colors, and chances are that you will be pleased with the results both during the day and at night. The 3X telephoto lens is also a useful addition and it’s stabilized, so you get quite sharp pictures with it too. You can also use the telephoto lens for portraits, which we found particularly useful. The weak point in the whole setup is the ultra-wide angle camera which captures noticeably softer images with a different color temperature and the quality is not that great on it, especially in lower light. Still, we’d rather have this lens with its interesting perspective than not.

Here is what photos look when you use the different camera options during the day:

Ultra-wide Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Ultra-wide Camera

Main Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Main Camera


3X Telephoto Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

3X Telephoto Camera

5X Hybrid Zoom - Honor 20 Pro Review

5X Hybrid Zoom


At night, the camera still takes good-looking images and you can use the ultra-wide angle camera, the main one, as well as the 3X telephoto zoom shooter and the hybrid 5X zoom. Here is what the results look like:

Ultra-wide Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Ultra-wide Camera

Main Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Main Camera


3X Telephoto Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

3X Telephoto Camera

5X Hybrid Zoom - Honor 20 Pro Review

5X Hybrid Zoom


The popular Night Mode that we know from Huawei phones is also on board here, and it makes night-time photos pop with a lot more color and brightness. The one big drawback of Night Mode is that it takes more than 6 seconds to just capture the shots and then a few more to process the images, so it's definitely a slow process, but the results are often worth the wait:

Night Mode OFF - Honor 20 Pro Review

Night Mode OFF

Night Mode ON - Honor 20 Pro Review

Night Mode ON



There is also a fourth macro lens that captures photos at just a 2 megapixel resolution. It is helpful when you want to capture those close-ups from like an inch and a half from your subject.

Macro Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Macro Camera

Macro Camera - Honor 20 Pro Review

Macro Camera



Last but not least, you also get a 32 megapixel camera up front. Unfortunately, you don’t get HDR for the front camera and many of the selfies we took burned the highlights and were not as good as on other phones.


In terms of videos, the main camera can record 4K at 30 frames per second, and you don’t have a 60fps option, which is a bit of a shame. 4K30 does not look bad, but we noticed that brighter areas are burned pretty badly which ruins the otherwise good detail and overall quality in videos. We should also say that the on-board stabilization does quite a good job.


Battery Life and Charging

4,000mAh battery that will last you enough

On the battery front, the Honor 20 Pro comes with a large, 4,000mAh battery cell and in our experience it would easily last most users around a day and a half, and even two days with lighter use.

Unfortunately, we could not run our proprietary battery test on the Honor 20 Pro. Just like most other Huawei and Honor phones, the Honor 20 Pro does not support fully manual brightness control. What this means is that even when you switch off automatic brightness adjustments, the brightness will still fluctuate significantly. For our test, it is crucial that screen brightness remains truly fixed to ensure that we have equal conditions for all phones that we test. Unfortunately, that was not possible on the Honor 20 Pro.

Good news is that the phone ships with a fast charger in the box, and you can top it up to 50% in just half an hour. One feature that is missing, however, is wireless charging. That one seems left out for pricier devices.

Conclusion


Honor 20 Pro Review

All in all, the Honor 20 Pro ends up being something like a more affordable version of Huawei’s flagships. Honor is not likely to sell this phone in the United States, but it will bring it to Europe and the UK, and the price is set at 600 euro, less than the price of a OnePlus phone, which is definitely very competitive.

The Honor 20 Pro does not quite have the camera chops of the P30 Pro, nor the vibrant AMOLED screen, and it lacks a few of the tricks like an in-screen fingerprint scanner, but it gets most things right: the long battery life, an LCD screen that still looks very good, the fast and smooth performance, and certainly - the looks.

The big question here is called Google and Android. If Google does indeed cut Honor’s access to Android, this means no future software updates, and this is a real problem. Our advice? Wait it out for a few months and only then consider buying this phone.

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

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11 Comments

1. OneLove123

Posts: 841; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

$399 and it will sell like hot cakes.

2. alanrock

Posts: 258; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

i think 6s is that much.

3. mimicryXD

Posts: 173; Member since: Apr 03, 2015

Why would u buy this and 3 months from now its gonna be a mess. Yeah u can say that Android is an open platform but side loading apps with other 3rd party sites and not in google playstore is annoying. I dont know what will happen to Huawei or their partnership with google but i feel like people should wait until their is a clearer path if US will backtrack 3 months from now or not then decide if u really like Huawei phone. Afterall there's many alternative.

4. RaresMalinschi

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 15, 2019

Wow this thing is cool

5. Farcaster

Posts: 152; Member since: Apr 16, 2018

I miss the days when phones from HTC, Sony, LG, Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Google, Nokia, Blackberry competed based on unique design and features. These days, competition is limited to Apple, Samsung and the Chinese manufacturers. Everyone just copies one template core design/features, then competes by undercutting others.

9. User123456789

Posts: 549; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

What new stuff Apple and Samsung bring? Since s6, all features were copied from other brands.

6. vasra

Posts: 118; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Let's see: - No 3.5mm jack - No card slot - No future Google Play, Google Maps, Ggmail and fast Android update support if trade wars continue - Performance that still loses out to SD855 - Still issues with video quality and colour casting and white balance - No bootloader unlocking so that you could circumvent the lack of future updates. Looks like a good phone, but way too many small niggles and shortfalls and the unfortunate uncertainty from the Huawei blacklisting fallout. It is hard to see this phone selling huge amounts outside China and rest of the Asia. Xiaomi/Redmi and Realme upcoming models look to offer more features and guaranteed Android support.

7. aman5mathur

Posts: 238; Member since: Mar 28, 2014

Umm i think u guys mixed up the main camera sample with the wide one and 3x with the 5x in the first (road) scene

8. User123456789

Posts: 549; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Looks a review to me, not preview

10. TKS97

Posts: 1; Member since: May 24, 2019

Is its punch hole smaller than Samsung's ? seems like !!!

11. Cat97

Posts: 1764; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

This phone (and any other Huawei phone) is going to work and take nice pictures for as long as you keep it, even 2-3 years, for the right price I see no reason not to buy it.
20 Pro
  • Display 6.3" 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • Camera 48 MP / 32 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin 980, Octa-core, 2600 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 4000 mAh

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