Honor kicked 2019 off with a bang with the excellent View 20 and it’s looking to carry that momentum forward with an update to its N-series. For the first time, Honor is introducing a proper family of products for its “affordable flagship” line — the Honor 20 Pro, Honor 20, and Honor 20 Lite.
We’ve already heard all about the budget Honor 20 Lite, but there’s plenty to unpack about the regular Honor 20 and the upgraded Honor 20 Pro.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro.
Our verdict: Honor 20 Pro review: Everyday luxury
Honor usually reserves its major camera upgrades for its true flagship View range, but the Honor 20 series — or more accurately the Honor 20 Pro — represents a significant leap forward for the Huawei sub-brand.
Following on from the Huawei P30 Pro, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro feature a quad-lens rear camera set-up. The Honor 20 Pro has clearly enjoyed the most care and attention in the photography department and features the most comprehensive camera suite we’ve seen so far from Honor.
The Honor 20 Pro’s main camera is the same 48MP IMX586 sensor we saw on the Honor View 20, as well as multiple other 2019 phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro, Asus Zenfone 6, Realme X, Redmi Note 7 Pro, and many more.
This is the most comprehensive camera suite we've seen so far from Honor.
There have been some key upgrades, however, most notably the shift to a much larger f/1.4 aperture for improved low-light performance. Honor says light reception has improved by up to 60 percent against versions of the sensor with a more typical f/1.8 aperture.
The 48MP sensor also powers two of the Honor 20 Pro camera’s headline features — AI Ultra Clarity Mode and AIS Super Night Mode.
AI Ultra Clarity Mode is an optional shooting mode that utilizes the Kirin 980 SoC’s dual-NPU and dual-ISP to capture and merge multiple shots into a single 48MP photo with more vivid colors and improved contrast. In regular shooting modes, the 48MP sensor uses Light Fusion — Honor’s fancy way of saying pixel binning — to combine four pixels into one for an effective 1.6μm pixel size.
AIS Super Night Mode is exactly what it sounds like: a mode for capturing better images at night or low light with less blur leveraged by the AI Image Stabilization (AIS) tech we’ve seen across various Huawei and Honor phones.
The other two sensors inside the main vertical module are a 16MP super-wide angle lens (f/2.2) with a 117-degree field-of-view, and an 8MP telephoto sensor (f/2.4) with OIS. The latter supports up to 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom, and 30x digital zoom and also enables a moon shot mode. What is it with Huawei/Honor and the moon?
Finally, the fourth sensor tucked away to the right of the main module is a 2MP macro camera (f/2.4) that can take photos up to 4cm away from your subject.
From the visual appearance to the sensors, it’s fairly obvious Honor has taken some cues from the P30 Pro when designing the Honor 20 Pro’s camera suite. It may not be quite as experimental as the P30 Pro’s ambitious set-up, but for those that can’t afford Huawei’s flagship, the Honor 20 Pro could be an attractive and affordable alternative.
As for the regular Honor 20, it retains the macro and super-wide angle sensors but drops telephoto shooter for a 2MP depth assist sensor (f/2.4) and downgrades the 48MP main sensor to an f/1.8 aperture. The selfie camera, meanwhile, is a 32MP high-res shooter (f/2.0) on both variants.
Striking looks have always been an important part of Honor’s design language. The Honor 10 had its shimmering 3D glass and the Honor View 20 had its etched “V” pattern.
Now, the Honor 20 Pro has what Honor is calling a “Dynamic Holographic” glass back which gives off an even deeper 3D effect. This is achieved with a triple 3D mesh approach with the bottom “depth” layer embedded with millions of tiny crystals. While the standard Honor 20 doesn’t feature this depth layer, it has a similar overall look and almost identical dimensions.
On the other side, the Honor 20 Pro and Honor 20 both have 6.26-inch full-screen displays with a 2,340 x 1,080 resolution (412ppi). Much like the View 20, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro both have punch-holes for the front-facing camera instead of a notch or pop-up. Thanks to the punch-hole’s small size of just 4.5mm, both phones have an overall screen-to-body ratio of 91.6 percent.
Instead of an in-display fingerprint sensor like so many current phones, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro have side-mounted sensors on right edge. Honor says this was done as most users will find their thumb fall naturally on the sensor rather than the front like the Honor 10 or the rear like the View 20.
One other design change that’s likely to disappoint long-time Honor fans is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack on all Honor 20 models except the Honor 20 Lite. Both the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro include a headphone adapter for the USB-C port.
The lack of a headphone jack is disappointing.
With some OEMs reviving the headphone jack, especially for mid-range phones, it’s strange to see Honor abandoning the port and restricting users to USB-C and wireless audio options. When asked about the reason behind the move, an Honor spokesperson cited industry trends towards a more streamlined design without the jack and noted its omission makes the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro look better from a marketing perspective. Make of that what you will.
More for less
The Honor 20 Pro is backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB non-expandable storage as standard, while the regular Honor 20 comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB non-expandable storage.
The Honor 20 Pro also has a larger 4,000mAh battery compared to the Honor 20’s 3,750mAh cell, though both support 22.5W charging for topping up to 50 percent in 30 minutes.
For gaming, the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro support GPU Turbo 3.0 for improved frame rates in 25 games, including Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, Vainglory, Arena of Valor, NBA 2K18, and more. Honor also worked with the Fortnite team to optimize the virtual 9.1 surround sound experience, and the Honor 20 Pro specifically has graphene cooling to keep things running smoothly.
Read more: Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro specs
The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro come with Android Pie with Magic UI 2.1 on top. Honor also confirmed that Magic UI is now its main skin moving forward to move away from Huawei’ EMUI. Of course, when talking about software there’s a gigantic white elephant in the room right now: the Huawei-U.S. trade blacklist.
At time of writing, Huawei is currently operating under a 90 day reprieve from a government order that essentially bans U.S. companies from trading with the Chinese giant. Should the situation not resolve itself during that time, there will be major question marks over whether or not the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro will continue to receive Android OS updates and security patches from Google.
Ban worries aside, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with both phones. While the lack of a headphone jack is questionable, other omissions like a water resistance rating and wireless charging are far more reasonable at this price point.
Price and availability
The Honor 20 Pro is priced at 599 euros while the Honor 20 costs 499 euros. We’re still waiting on more details about wider availability of both phones, though we do know that the Honor 20 is coming to the U.K. for 399 pounds and will be followed by the Honor 20 Pro at a later date with pricing still to be confirmed.
That’s everything you need to know about the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro. Check out the rest of our Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro content via the links below and be sure to let us know your thoughts on the series in the comments!