At an event in London, Honor just launched two new Android smartphones aimed at the “Premium” market ($450-$600), the Honor 20 Pro and Honor 20 handsets. The brand has been doing very well in that market for the past 2-3 years, taking share away from competitors.

The Honor 20 Pro and Honor 20 handset complement a more affordable offering in the Honor 20 Lite launched earlier. If you are not familiar with Honor products, the differences between “Lite,” “normal” and “Pro” are very substantial, so look beyond the family name, and into more details.

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Industrial Design

From a distance, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro look very similar, with a 6.26” display and thin bezels, achieving a 91.7% display to body ratio, according to Honor.

Both handsets have a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is fast and more affordable than in-screen ones, and both phones use a back cover with a special surface and color treatment that Honor calls Dynamic Holographic Design.

This particular way of manufacturing glass back covers creates a beautiful iridescent surface that seems to have some depth in it, thanks to an optical illusion. Honor had pioneered a micro-etching technique with the Honor View 20 but kept exploring new ways to build fun designs.

Cameras

Photography is where the biggest differences lie between the two handsets, and that’s not surprising since the camera sub-system is one of the most expensive parts of any smartphone. It is also the single most important feature for a whole lot of consumers. That’s why we have created the Camera IQ benchmark to rank the best smartphone cameras.

Honor 20 Pro

  • 27mm, f/1.4, 48MP (12 in auto-mode) IMX586 sensor with Pixel Binning and OIS
    • Phase detection AF, and laser-assisted AF
  • 16mm, f/2.2 16MP ultrawide-angle
  • 80mm, f/2.4 8MP, OIS zoom camera
    • Phase detection AF, and laser-assisted AF
  • 2MP, f/2.4 Macro camera (~4m macro photography)
  • Selfie
    • 32MP, f/2.0

Honor 20

  • 27mm, f/1.8, 48MP (12 in auto-mode) IMX586 sensor with Pixel Binning (no OIS)
  • 16mm, f/2.2, 16MP ultrawide angle
  • (no telephoto lens)
  • 2MP, f/2.4 Macro camera (~4m macro photography)
  • 2MP, f/2.4 RGB  Depth camera
  • Selfie
    • 32MP, f/2.0

There are plenty of differences between these two camera systems, and here’s what caught our attention:

Primary camera: both primary cameras use the same 48 Megapixel Quad-Bayer sensor, but the Honor 20 Pro has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) along with a laser-assisted AF.  Note that the official specs don’t mention a Phase Detection Auto-Focus (PDAF) for the Honor 20 (non-pro), but since it’s integrated into the sensor, we assume that PDAF is available to both.

Zoom camera: the Honor 20 does not have a telephoto (zoom) lens, but only an ultrawide module instead. It’s smart to reduce costs because ultrawide is generally much more used than zoom. The Honor 20 Pro has an 80mm telephoto camera that is very similar to the Huawei P30 and Mate 20 Pro on paper.

Macro camera: it’s a bit of a novelty, but Honor is trying something new with a macro camera, in case you want to capture photos from up close (~4+cm). The resolution isn’t ground-breaking, but for a first attempt, it’s enough to test the concept.

We’ll report back on the user experience later, but if the idea becomes popular, Honor can add better and better hardware over time.

Depth camera: the Honor 20 has a dedicated depth camera which is used only for Bokeh (background blur) purposes. While it may seem odd that the Honor 20 Pro does not have one, the reality is that Honor 20 Pro can use the ultrawide, or telephoto camera to fulfill this purpose with higher quality.

On paper, the Honor 20 series camera setup is impressive, especially at this price point. If the overall specifications seem familiar, it’s because they look very much like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro or Huawei P30 (non-pro).

"THE HONOR 20 SERIES CAMERA SETUP IS IMPRESSIVE"

Given that Honor is a subsidiary of Huawei and that some significant amount of technology is shared, it seems very likely that the Honor 20 Pro could achieve camera performance parity with P30, at an even lower price point.

The differences between Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are substantial: the Honor 20 does not have a telephoto lens, which is a tactic found on the Galaxy S10e and LG G8 phones as well. More importantly, the primary camera of the Honor 20 has an f/1.8 aperture without OIS, while the “pro” version gets a world’s first f/1.4 aperture with OIS.

Display

The 6.26’’ “all-view” display is identical on both Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro handsets, with a resolution of 2340×1080 and 16.7M of colors. The pixel density is 412 PPI, which is very good, even though it’s lower than the 550 PPI that high-end handsets may feature.

A 4.5mm selfie punch-hole hosts the selfie camera, and this is using the same LCD technology introduced with the Honor View 20 in December 2018. A 4.5mm diameter is still the smallest selfie punch-hole of any LCD screen on the market.

As it is often the case for Premium handsets, we don’t expect it to beat brightness or black-levels records, but these displays are built and tuned to satisfy the overwhelming majority of users, without breaking the bank.

Performance

Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are both powered by the same Kirin 980 processor, which we know very well from our previous reviews of the Mate 20 Pro or P30 Pro. It is a flagship-level processor, and although not the absolute best, it is the second best option behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that is typically found on the most expensive Android phones.

The Honor 20 should do really well in its price segment because competitors are likely to be using massively inferior processors to save on costs. The Honor 20 could prove to be an amazing gaming phone for the price.

"HONOR 20 COULD PROVE TO BE AN AMAZING GAMING PHONE FOR THE PRICE"

We expect benchmarks to show similar synthetic performance to the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro although utilization of slower RAM modules could affect the performance, so we’ll know for sure soon.

The Honor 20 has 6GB of RAM, while the Honor 20 Pro has 8GB and that’s the only difference visible from the specs sheet when it comes to system performance.

Conclusion

The Honor 20 series upholds the legacy of last year’s Honor 10 series and introduces camera features such as the f/1.4 camera aperture, that even high-end phones don’t today.

Instead of “just” re-purposing technologies introduced (at twice the price) in high-end Huawei phones into a lower tier, Honor genuinely wants to push the envelope even further.

Last year, Honor 10 was launched with advanced A.I photography features, but this year the hardware is the star of the show, so keep an eye out for the Honor 20 series Camera IQ score (Image Quality).

The official European pricing is 599 Euros (Honor 20 Pro) and 499 Euros (Honor 20). Expect to find them online for about the same numerical dollar price. That’s usually how prices translate into the US online market.

Filed in Cellphones. Read more about , and .

Product
Diagonal (inches)6.26"6.26"
Megapixel48-MP48-MP
Battery Capacity (mAh)3750 mAh3750 mAh
Processor NameHuawei HiSilicon KIRIN 980Huawei HiSilicon KIRIN 980
RAM Options6GB6GB/8GB
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