Hands on: Honor 20 review

Honor's newest affordable flagship

What is a hands on review?
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Image credit: TechRadar

Early Verdict

While it's basically just a low-specs version of the Honor 20 Pro, there's a lot to like in the Honor 20, and it won't break the bank either.

For

  • Affordable price tag
  • Sleek design
  • Lightweight body

Against

  • Honor 20 Pro is better in many ways
  • No headphone jack

After Google suspended Huawei's future access to the Google Play Store and security updates, there are serious question marks over the future of Huawei and Honor phones.

While Google, Huawei and Honor have promised to support phones currently on the market, it's not clear for how long they'll receive Android updates or access to the Play Store, which would severely curtail their usefulness compared to the competition.

Honor has released its 20 series of phones in a strange order, unveiling the Honor 20 Lite a few weeks before launching the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro simultaneously. The Honor 20 is the middle device of the three, but it has a lot more in common with one phone than the other.

While the Honor 20 Lite is a big step down from its siblings in terms of specs, the Honor 20 and 20 Pro are basically the same phone – they have the same design, same display, and many features in common. The main difference between the two is the price, and so many will see the Honor 20 as the more desirable device.

Honor 20 price and availability

The big question mark over the Honor 20 is to do with its release date, as Honor has yet to announce when people will be able to get their hands on this phone – of course, we'll let you know when they do.

You can pick up the Honor 20 for €499 / £400 (roughly $560, AU$810), which gets you 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, so it's priced fairly competitively as a premium mid-range device.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Design and display

The Honor 20 has a 6.26-inch LCD display, which puts it in the realms of a plus-size handset. That's not high-end display tech, and colors looked a little muted when we viewed them, but the max brightness was pretty high.

We noticed that the 'punch-hole' camera ate up quite a bit of the screen, which did make its use here rather redundant, given that the whole point of this feature to increase the amount of useable space.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

There's a lot to like about the design of the phone, and it sat nicely in our hand so that its side-mounted fingerprint sensor was right where our thumb fell, and most of the screen, as well as the volume rocker above the power button, could be reached comfortably.

The camera array on the back of the phone presented quite a bulge, and we could see this being a bit annoying for people who like to watch media or play games, as it was definitely noticeable when we held the phone horizontally.

Bad news music lovers: there's no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Honor 20, and the only port you'll find is the USB-C port on the bottom of the phone.

Camera and battery life

The Honor 20 camera setup is a slightly downgraded version of the Honor 20 Pro's: you've got the same 48MP main and 16MP super-wide-angle snappers, but both the  telephoto lens and the macro camera for close-up images are 2MP, so lower in resolution than their equivalents in the 20 Pro.

Image 1 of 2

Wide-angle. Image credit: TechRadar

Wide-angle. Image credit: TechRadar
Image 2 of 2

Close-up. Image credit: TechRadar

Close-up. Image credit: TechRadar

We didn't have the opportunity to take a great variety of shots when we tested the phone, as we were in a rather dark room, but the camera seemed to take pretty decent snaps. Wide-angle shots took in a good field of view, and the night mode did a good job of capturing bright-looking photos. We'll test the phone further for our full review.

The camera did feel a little slow compared to the Honor 20 Pro's, with a slightly less reactive shutter, and changing modes caused the phone to lag a tiny bit, but it wasn't a huge problem.

The main takeaway here is that the Honor 20's four cameras make it the most affordable handset with this kind of array, which will make it a compelling option for those who want lots of photography power without a huge price tag.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

The Honor 20's battery is 3,750mAh, which is a fairly average power pack for a phone like this, but we'd expect it to last through at least a day of typical use – the 22.5W fast-charging doesn't hurt either.

Features and specs

The Honor 20 runs on a Kirin 980 chipset, one of the latest processors, which we've previously seen in the Huawei P30 series; this is teamed with 6GB RAM, and navigating the Android 9 operating system is a fast and fluid experience.

We'll put the phone through its paces more thoroughly for our full review, but it felt solid in general use, although we'd expect problems like the aforementioned slower camera to be exacerbated if you use the phone for more intensive tasks.

Image credit: TechRadar

Image credit: TechRadar

Honor has an ongoing partnership with Fortnite, so we'd expect the Honor 20 to be optimized for online gaming.

Early verdict

The Honor 20 presents a serious problem for the Honor 20 Pro, as it's basically the same phone but cheaper, and what downgrades there are don't detract greatly from the user experience.

With its easy-on-the-hand design and powerful camera array, the phone felt enjoyable to hold and play with, which isn't something you can say about all phones just from picking them up.

At its price point, the Honor 20 could be a serious contender for the title of 'best affordable smartphone' – but we'll have to put it through our full review process before we can say for certain, so check back with TechRadar soon for that.

Image credits: TechRadar

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.