Honor V20 Review: It Raises The Flagship Bar Higher

This afternoon, Honor officially released the V-series new generation flagship smartphone the Honor V20 in Beijing. In the Honor product line, the V series is positioned as a technology pioneer, and as we know, any pioneer is a leader. We should understand such products focus on the freshest technology. So what’s new in the V20? Let’s dig deeper and learn everything about this amazing handset. We are going to review the Pantone Blue version.

Honor V20 Design: V-Type Gradient Is Something New

Of course, the most outstanding feature in the Honor V20 appearance is its punch-hole screen. The camera is placed in the upper left corner. It looks like an eye behind the dark curtain.

Honor V20 review

The ‘Magic Eye Full-Screen’ is actually the latest solution for manufacturers to avoid the bangs and solve the problem of where the camera should be placed after canceling the notch screen approach. The Honor V20 is not the first smartphone with such a design, as previously, the Samsung Galaxy A8s and the Huawei Nova 4 were released with identical displays. Inside, it is integrated with the screen, and the camera can avoid the effective display area of the screen. So it does not affect the viewing at all.

Honor V20 review

The fascinating ‘Magic Eye’, in fact, is a front camera, shooting through 18 layers. The difficulty of this solution is that when the screen is placed in front of the camera, its transmittance will be relatively low. It is difficult to ensure that the transmittance of each part of the screen is consistent. The solution of Honor is to make the aperture of the front camera’s light transmission area as small as possible while ensuring that the front camera achieves the best results. Specifically, the Honor V20 uses a more difficult ‘Blind Hole’ solution. Those 18 layers realize a special function of light transmission to ensure the visual beauty and good selfie effect. To achieve this kind of process is not an easy task.

Honor V20 review

Actually, there is another approach of putting the front camera under the display. It’s called ‘through hole’. According to Honor, the latter requires machining of the display glass to drill through holes, while the ‘Blind Hole’ solution of the Honor V20 has the advantages of a smaller aperture and greater reliability. Specifically, the V20 has a 4.5mm aperture.

Honor V20 review

Due to the use of the Magic Eye Full-Screen, the Honor V20’s front panel is more ‘harmonious’ than the previous notch screen design. The screen border is also relatively narrow, and only the chin is slightly wider. But it does not affect the overall look.

Honor V20 review

Let’s take a look at the back of the Honor V20. Unlike the previous Honor Magic 2’s vertical arrangement of the camera, the V20’s camera has a horizontal layout. It consists of a 48MP clear pixel lens and a TOF stereo-sensing lens. There is also the phrase ‘AI VISION’ on the right side of the camera. Below the camera is the fingerprint identification module, located on the central axis of the back. On the lower area, we can see the polished plating mark of ‘HONOR’. The back of the Honor V20 uses a 3D hyperboloid glass design. It is worth mentioning that the V-shaped light and shadow effect is made by a unique process under the glass, and the V-shaped diffracted light and shadow are flowed by using nano-level lithography. Honor proves it was inspired by the statue of ‘The Winged Victory of Samothrace’.

Honor V20 review

In the Pantone Blue version of the Honor V20, the metal middle frame is also blue. The surface is treated with a spray process. The top of the middle frame carries a noise reduction microphone, infrared emitter, and 3.5mm headphone jack. The right side comes with a volume rocker and a power button. The SIM card slot in on the right side. Finally, on the bottom of the middle frame, we can find the speakers, antenna ribbon, USB Type-C interface, and the call microphone.

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The Honor V20’s body weight is 186g. In the hand, it is light and comfortable. The phone has a great ergonomic due to the soft curvature.

Honor V20 review

Honor V20 System: Magic UI 2.0 System Adheres to the Wisdom of Magic 2

The Honor V20 comes with Magic UI 2.0.1 system out of the box. It is based on Android 9.0.1. The system UI’s interactive interface is rich in color, good at using, and reveals the youthful vitality. There is also a custom-made wallpaper of the Italian luxury brand MOSCHINO. In fact, this is also joint cooperation between Honor and MOSCHINO.

Honor V20 review

The Magic UI of the Honor V20 is based on the Magic series, which is mainly equipped with artificial intelligence and comes with the smart voice assistant YOYO.

First of all, YOYO’s wake-up word is ‘Hello, YOYO’. Under normal circumstances, you only need to tell a wake-up call to your smartphone to wake up YOYO. We were more interested in whether YOYO will wake up accurately in a noisy environment. So we used another handset to play music next to the Honor V20. Honestly, in this case, YOYO was not too sensitive.

In terms of the natural degree of human-machine dialogue and the smoothness of communication, YOYO is basically satisfactory. But in fact, there is no real advantage in comparison to other smart voice assistants on the market.

YOYO’s compatibility with the apps is quite good. We were able to send messages through various messengers, get routes, play music, etc.

In addition to the voice assistant YOYO, the Magic UI 2 system has other interesting features as well, such as the smart shopping function in Smart Vision. It can be imported from the top left corner of the camera interface. In fact, the use of AI camera to recognize various products is not uncommon. But we were surprised by the accuracy of its recognition. It could even identify non-branded products.

In Magic UI 2, there is also a more useful feature, namely the Smart Screen. In a third-party app interface, press the screen with two fingers to trigger the smart screen function. Under this function, the system will ‘explode’ the text on the screen, and then you can select the text to copy, search or go to maps to find place names, etc. It can be also fully translated. If there are picture elements, you can also automatically identify the picture and get shopping information. If it’s an article, you can add it to the ‘Read later’ list.

In addition to the performance of wisdom, the Honor V20 has a feature worth mentioning, that is, unlimited projection. The function entry is in the Magic UI’s drop-down shortcut menu. Click on the ‘Wireless Screening’ button and it will search for nearby monitors that support wireless connections. Click on the connection on the phone to project the content of the phone to the big screen. Honor also optimizes the display mode of the large screen for this function.

After the connection is successfully implemented, the user can control the mouse cursor of the display desktop on the virtual touchpad of the smartphone. However, from the perspective of experience, the cursor sensitivity of the display is higher, and the displacement of the finger touch is magnified on the cursor. So we should state the control experience is not good. From a functional point of view, the current wireless projection is mainly suitable for displaying PPT or other files in a meeting or sharing a video or game with others.

Honor V20 Performance: Familiar Kirin 980

As the flagship phone, the Honor V20 is equipped with the most powerful processor of the current Kirin family. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first built-in dual NPU flagship processor. The CPU architecture consists of two Cortex-A76 cores with a maximum frequency of 2.6GHz, two Cortex-A76 cores with a maximum frequency of 1.92GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores with a maximum frequency of 1.8GHz. It has a 75% improvement in CPU performance, a 58% increase in energy efficiency, a 46% increase in GPU performance, and a 178% improvement in GPU power efficiency. We are reviewing the 8+256GB top version of the Honor V20.

The Geekbench 4 single-core and multi-core scores reached 3261 points and 9792 points, respectively. In comparison, the average single-core and multi-core scores of the Snapdragon 845 were about 2400 points and 9000 points, respectively. In Master Lu, the comprehensive performance score of the Honor V20 can easily exceed 310,000. In AnTuTu, the phone’s comprehensive running score exceeds 300,000 mark, up to 307,446 points.

Honor V20 review

The Honor V20 also supports the upgraded version of GPU Turbo 2.0. The overall efficiency of GPU graphics computing is greatly improved, significantly reducing click delay and sliding delay.

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Of course, the phone won’t face any issues when running social media apps, surfing in the net, etc. as for game test, first, we used PUBG. We adjusted the picture quality to the highest level and used the evaluation software to detect the frame rate of the game and observe the core scheduling of the Kirin 980. The results show that the whole game process is relatively smooth, the frame rate of the picture can be basically stabilized at 40fps, and there is no case of a stuck frame. When the game is in progress, the two A76 core frequencies of the Kirin 980 fluctuate between 1.4GHz and 1.9GHz, and are stable at 1.4GHz for most of the time; the two A76 IF core frequencies are basically maintained at 1.3GHz; the other two A55 energy efficiency cores fluctuate between 1.2GHz and 1.6GHz. Generally, during the game, the Honor V20 has a reasonable performance resource allocation for the Kirin 980. We also measured the temperature of the Honor V20, and near the fingerprint recognition module on the back of the fuselage, it was up to 40.4 degrees Celsius.

Honor V20 review

Next is the test of Honor of Kings. During the game, we also adjusted the various image quality options to the highest. The results show that the Honor V20 feels more comfortable when running this game rather than the PUBG. The Kirin 980 two A76 core frequencies are basically stable at 1.4GHz, occasionally rising to 2.6GHz; the two A76 IF core frequencies are basically maintained at 1.3 GHz, while the frequencies of the other two A55 energy-efficient cores are stable at 1.2GHz. The measured temperature was 34.5 degrees Celsius.

Honor V20 Camera: Sony IMX586’s Strength is Extraordinary

On the back, the Honor V20 carries a camera with a main sensor of 48MP. The CMOS is the Sony IMX586 that Sony introduced in July this year. This is a 1/2.0-inch outsole CMOS with a diagonal size of about 8mm. It is slightly smaller than the Huawei P20’s IMX600, the number of pixels is more than the IMX600, a single pixel size of about 0.8-micron, and it supports 48MP resolution photos.

Honor V20 review

At the same time, IMX586 adopts ‘Quad-Bayer’ 4-pixel color filter, which supports four-in-one pixel technology, which outputs high-quality photos equivalent to 1.6-micron large pixels. This is the same idea as the Huawei P20 and Mate 20 series implemented, but the pixel lighting ability is improved. The amount of light entering is increased to reduce noise. So it can perform better under dark conditions. The IMX586 also has Sony’s exposure control technology and signal processing functions, can support real-time image output, dynamic range value is 4 times that of traditional CMOS, etc.

The Honor V20’s main camera has a F/1.8 aperture. In the strong complex light and dark contrast, AI HDR intelligent judgment prevents overexposure and underexposure.

After understanding these backgrounds, let’s look at the real samples of the Honor V20. The daytime proofs show the picture style is unique, it has high contrast, it is layered, the white balance is slightly yellow, it has an accurate exposure, and there is basically no local overexposure. After zooming in, you can see the details of the dark light are also well preserved, and the overall level is still relatively high.

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After opening the AI mode, we can see that the difference between the two is not very obvious. It only deepens the color saturation and the contrast of the picture, and it looks more layered.

When opening the 48MP resolution shooting mode, we can see, compared with the 12MP mode, the color reproduction is even lighter and the white balance is warmer.

We should also note that the Honor V20 also supports AI ultra-clear optimization function, which can optimize the detailed performance under the 48MP resolution.

Next is the scene of the big backlight. The Honor V20 sample shows this function works perfectly. The picture is sharp and clear.

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After opening HDR, the highlights of the Honor V20’s picture sample are further suppressed, and the details are a bit more. But there is a green light on the right side of the picture, which should be some deviation in the algorithm.

In the macro photography, the Honor V20 still accurately captures the details. At the same time, under the F/1.8 aperture, the background blur is sufficient.

Let’s take a look at the nighttime photo effect. The first impression is that it is clearer and purer, and the overall look is better. Looking at the picture carefully, the overall exposure of the sample is also balanced and harmonious, except for the slight overflow of the corner chandelier highlights, and the other parts are not overexposed.

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The Honor V20 also supports the night scene mode, that is, the AIS handheld super night scene function, which can automatically calculate and synthesize dozens of images in a short time. Although it is called ‘short time’, in fact, it takes about 3 or 4 seconds.

The Honor V20’s front camera module is the Sony IMX576 with a 25MP resolution, a F/2.0 aperture, and an AI beauty support. The self-portrait experience of the Honor V20 is not significantly different from that of other models available on the market.

(Honor V20 on the right)

The key function of the Honor V20 is naturally the rear-facing TOF stereoscopic lens. TOF, the time of flight, that is, the method of time-of-flight 3D imaging, is to continuously transmit light pulses to the target, then receive the light returned from the object with the sensor, and obtain the target distance by detecting the flight (round-trip) time of the light pulse. Thereby, knowing the depth information, the Honor V20’s built-in TOF stereo deep sensor can be used in various scenarios, such as somatosensory games, 3D dolls to restore the subject’s movements, 3D beauty body sculpting, etc.

However, we understand the current TOF stereo deep lens only supports 3D beauty body shaping function, and other functions need to be supported by system update. As for this function, it is stored in the video mode of the camera application. When you enter the beauty interface, you can see the ‘beauty body’ function. However, it must be said that the effect of body shaping is not natural enough.

Honor V20 Camera Samples and Comparison With iPhone XS Max

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Honor V20 Connectivity

At the press conference, the Honor V20 was announced to sport an interesting feature, namely LINK TURBO. It allows application clients to use WIFI and LTE at the same time to further enhance the communication capabilities of the terminal to ensure low-latency and high throughput transmission.

The Honor V20 also has a dual-frequency GPS positioning function. Since GPS navigation is also a function that is often used in many apps, we tested it. In the test, we used the iPhone XR and the Honor V20 to compare and select the location where the GPS signal is usually weak and compare the positioning accuracy of the two phones with the same map app at the same place.

The first place is the workstation in the office. Indoors, the GPS signal is usually weak. Here, the current position of the two smartphones is slightly different and more accurate.

Next, it was tested on the bridge near the company, where the GPS signal is also easily disturbed. This time the Honor V20 can accurately locate the location, while the positioning of the iPhone XR deviates to another road.

Later we went to an underground garage in the company’s industrial park. After coming here, the accuracy of the positioning of the two phones is somewhat different. The Honor V20 is basically performing well, while the iPhone XR deviates from the other building.

So we can say, the Honor V20 can accurately make positioning most of the time, without being affected by the surrounding environment, especially in the underground garage, which can accurately reflect the location of the object. Honestly, it is not easy.

Generally, the V20 supports advanced communication technologies such as AI dual-frequency GPS navigation, L1+L5 dual-frequency GPS, HiGeo 2.0 tight coupling and global road network mode, and the overall communication capabilities have been comprehensively strengthened.

Honor V20 Battery

The Honor V20 is equipped with a 4000mAh battery. The standard charger power is 4.5V/5A. In the test, the initial battery power was set at 100%, screen brightness at 50%, volume at 50%, mobile data network was turned on, WiFi was on, Bluetooth and location service were on as well.

During the test, we found out that:

  • Surfing in the net for 15 min will consume 2% power;
  • Using social media apps for 15 min will consume 2% power;
  • Making a call for 15 min will consume 1% power;
  • Listening to music through headphones for 20 min will consume 1% power;
  • Playing a 1080P video for 45 min will consume 7% power;
  • Playing a game (PUBG) for 30 min will consume 10% power;
  • Doing various things in WeChat for 20 min consumes 3% power;
  • Reading news articles for 20 min consumes 2% power;

After a 180-minute endurance test, the Honor V20 has a remaining battery power of 72%. This is excellent.

Honor V20 review

As for the charging speed, the Honor V20 will be fully charged in 78 minutes. With the support of SuperCharge technology, the charging speed of the Honor V20 is very fast.

Honor V20 review

Bottom Line

From the point of view of product configuration and actual experience, the Honor V20 can be described as the true flagship of Honor in 2018. It comes with the new ‘Magic Eye Full-Screen’ and the most powerful Kirin 980 chip. In terms of photography, the 48-megapixel camera gives the phone stunning basic photo quality, and the intelligence of Magic UI 2 is also an important feature. For most consumers, it has no obvious shortcomings.


Argam Artashyan

Back in 2010, he was dismissed from his position as a lecturer at the university. This made him get another job at his friend’s digital marketing company as a blog writer. After a few years, when he was thinking the article writing is his mission, Google pushed the Panda update and affected the company and websites he was working at. (Un)fortunately and surprisingly, he got an offer to head a large knitting factory. In 2016, he got his Ph.D. and resumed teaching at the University … and writing tech-related articles following his passion.

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