Honor 20 Pro hands-on first impressions: Quad cameras at mid-range price

Anuj Bhatia
Honor 20 Pro first impressions: It s got the hole-punch display, fast and reliable Kirin 980 processor, and a battery that promises to last a day, and an impressive array of four cameras on the back.

Over the past few years, Huawei s sub-brand Honor has gained a repute by selling flagship-level smartphones at mid-range prices. And that strategy has worked for Honor in China and Europe. The Honor 20 Pro, announced at an event in London, isn t as feature packed as the OnePlus 7 Pro, but strikes a nice balance between luxury and affordability.

It s got the hole-punch display, fast and reliable Kirin 980 processor, and a battery that promises to last a day, and an impressive array of four cameras on the back. The Honor 20 Pro features a lens with an f/1.4 aperture. That’s the largest aperture to ever found in a smartphone camera, Honor says.

At 599 Euros (approximately Rs 46,500), the Honor 20 Pro is aggressively priced and that changes the narrative. I had some hands-on time with the device at a pre-briefing in New Delhi last week, and I can tell you the Honor 20 Pro is a pretty decent phone, though I am yet to thoroughly test its camera prowess. For that, you have to wait for a full-fledged camera review. The Honor 20 Pro launches officially in India on June 11. Let s pe in.

Honor 20 Pro hands-on and first impressions: Design and display

This is a gorgeous phone. If you look at the picture below, I think you ll get what I m trying to say. Honor says it put a lot of effort in fine-tuning the aesthetic of a phone with something called a Dynamic Holographic Design for a 3D optical illusion effect. With an all-glass bodyshell, the Honor 20 Pro offers a mirror-like gloss finish. Overall, the Honor 20 Pro looks stunning and fits in the hand perfectly.

The Honor 20 Pro mimics the Honor View 20 and the Galaxy S10 with its use of a hole-punch display. The small hole near the top-left of the 6.26-inch screen (the screen-body ratio is at 91 per cent) allows the front-facing camera to embedded in the screen itself. That s another way to make an all-screen smartphone without a notch.

Honor says it put a lot of effort in fine-tuning the aesthetic of a phone with something called a Dynamic Holographic Design for a 3D optical illusion effect

The screen is flat, unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro which has a curved display. Inadvertent screen presses are a common issue on phones with curved screens. Thus, I am rather happy to see a flat display on the Honor 20 Pro.

Unlike the Galaxy S10, the Honor 20 Pro uses an LCD instead of an OLED. And I m absolutely fine with an LCD display. It looks great. Until unless you re not comparing the phones directly side by side, it s a lot less noticeable.

The Honor 20 Pro mimics the Honor View 20 and the Galaxy S10 with its use of a hole-punch display

That also means there s no in-display fingerprint sensor both optical and ultrasonic sensors require an OLED display. Instead the Honor 20 Pro uses the side-mounted fingerprint scanner in the power button. It s fast, and I like the implementation. Samsung Galaxy S10e is another smartphone that comes with the side-mounted fingerprint scanner.

Honor 20 Pro hands-on and first impressions: Hardware and software

The phone is speedy. It uses the Kirin 980, the same 7nm chipset that powers the flagship Mate 20 Pro and P30 Pro. Combined with 8GB RAM, it is one of the most powerful smartphones on the market. Honor also packed in a third-generation GPU Turbo, both of which promise a more responsive gaming experience.

It s good to see that the Honor 20 Pro, a premium mid-range phone, boasts flagship-level hardware. It just shows that mid-range phones have become so good.

The Honor 20 Pro uses the side-mounted fingerprint scanner in the power button.

I briefly used the phone during my hands-on time, and there was no delay in anything. Though Honor gave us a test version, the unit was not laggy, with pre-installed apps loading up fast. I will have more to say about the performance once I have the final retail unit.

Coming to the software, the Honor 20 Pro runs Honor s Magic UI, which is based on Android 9.0. Let me be clear: Magic UI does not feel different from Huawei s custom EMUI. It s slightly different, with some minor additions. The company executive told me that Magic UI is the first step to make a clear distinction between Honor and Huawei phones. Going forward, Honor will be making Magic UI more distinctive than EMUI.

And the Honor 20 Pro has an impressive 4,000 mAh battery with 22.5W super-charging support. All of these features combine to make this phone a beast.

Honor 20 Pro hands-on and first-impressions: Camera

When it comes to smartphone photography, Honor s (including Huawei s) phones have been some of the best. The new Honor 20 Pro is no different. In fact, Honor wanted the Honor 20 Pro s cameras to match up the level of P30 Pro, Galaxy S10+ and iPhone XS Max. That s why it went with a quad-camera setup on the Honor 20 Pro.

Yes, the phone has four cameras on the rear; a main 48MP camera with Sony IMX 586 and f/1.4 aperture lens, a 16MP ultra-wide camera with f/2.2 aperture, an 8MP telephoto camera with 3X optical zoom and f/2.4 aperture, and an f/2.4 aperture 2MP camera which is a dedicated macro camera. Plus, there have been optical image stabilization on both the main and the telephoto lens, and the selfie camera (32MP) is improved, too.

There is a 2MP macro lens which allows you to focus extremely close to a subject.

The new Honor 20 Pro s main camera has an aperture of f/1.4 lens – the widest on a phone to date. Aperture size does matter when it comes to the quality of smartphone cameras. Simply put, it determines the amount of light entering the camera. A wider aperture allows more light to hit the sensor, which means better photos in low-light.

Then there is a dedicated 2MP macro lens which allows you to focus extremely close to a subject. This is a big deal, because previously you would need to buy a special lens attachment to get up close to achieve for super macro pictures on smartphones.

The Honor 20 Pro has an impressive 4,000 mAh battery with 22.5W super-charging support

Given I only had a short amount of time with the Honor 20 Pro, I couldn t test the camera extensively, but the primarily tests reveal the phone has a calibre to produce nice shots, with plenty of details, colours, and contrast. At this point, I am not sure how the phone performs in low light, as I would need more time with the Honor 20 Pro.

Honor 20 Pro hands-on and first impressions: Early outlook

Which brings me to the most appealing feature of the Honor 20 Pro: the price. The device starts at Euros 599 (approximately Rs 46,500), which is lower than the starting price of the 64GB OnePlus 7 Pro. That makes the Honor 20 Pro a better deal compared to the competition.

Granted, the Honor 20 Pro doesn t offer a flip rotating camera like the one seen on the Asus Zenfone 6 or a 90Hz AMOLED display on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Honor has played safe this time around, and that s okay. I believe Honor wanted to avoid all the gimmicky features being adopted by its counterparts and instead aim to focus on those features that really matter to consumers. A very Apple-like approach.

Disclaimer: The reporter is in London on the invite of Honor India.