The Honor View 20 is flashy, powerful, and notch-less, but can it take a good photo? That’s what some people care about most when looking into a smartphone. We took the Honor View 20 around town and put it through its paces.
Read other recent smartphone camera reviews:
- iPhone XS Max camera review: An easy-to-use camera that won’t fail (or amaze) you
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera review
Honor steps into the smartphone battlefield with a large 1/2-inch sensor, 48MP resolution, a 3D sensor, a wide F/1.8 aperture, and bells and whistles (all of them). It should do amazing, but theory doesn’t always match practice, which is why we are here to give you a definitive Honor View 20 camera review.
Honor View 20 camera specs
- 48MP + 3D camera
- 48MP AI Ultra Clarity
- 1/2 inch large CMOS sensor size
- F/1.8 wide aperture
- 3D modeling
- 3D motion-controlled gaming
- AI shaping
- Real-time recognize 60+ categories and 1500+ scenarios
- 960fps super slow-motion
- 25MP camera
- F/2.0 aperture
- Hardware-based HDR
- Portrait lighting
- Honor AIS
Honor View 20 camera app
The relationship between Honor and Huawei becomes immediately apparent when you open the View 20’s camera app. It looks just like the one in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. This means my opinions on the app will also be identical.
The Honor View 20 camera application is easy to learn and use.
The Honor View 20 camera app is pretty straightforward. There is a shutter button in the bottom, with a camera rotation icon and a preview button to its sides. Right above these functions you will find all your main modes: AR Lens, Night, Portrait, Photo, Video, and More. The More section is home to a plethora of specialized modes including Pro, Slow-mo, Panorama, Aperture, Light painting, HDR, and more.
A zoom button appears on the left of the main viewfinder, and settings are on the top.
I don’t tend to rely much on AI, but if you are a fan of smart photography the Honor View 20’s artificial intelligence does quite well. It can recognize the type of image you are shooting and automatically apply software enhancements to the shot. I like it when it gets things right. Shots with plenty of sky in the frame will get a more vibrant blue hue. Throw plants into the frame and the greenery will get more vibrant. I would say it gets things right about 80 percent of the time.
Throw in the 3D sensing features and you have a phone with options to spare. We won’t delve too much into those, as this post is more focused in photography, but you can learn more about them in our Honor View 20 full review.
- Ease of use: 9/10
- Intuitiveness: 8/10
- Features: 10/10
- Advanced Settings: 10/10
More light usually means lower ISOs and faster shutter speeds, which in turn results in better photos. Most smartphone cameras shine in broad daylight, but there are some issues to look out for. Strong sunlight can also cause strong shadows, which tests dynamic range.
In this case we are looking at some pretty balanced images with good detail in the shadows and a pretty uniform exposure. The photo are a tiny bit on the darker side, but this is easy to overlook. Colors are vibrant, yet not over saturated. The bright blue skies add a nice punch to images.
Colors can make or break an image. We don’t really want muted hues, nor are we fans of excessive saturation. Finding the right balance is key, and I believe the Honor View 20 has done exactly that.
Finding the right color balance is key, and I believe the Honor View 20 has.
Colors are vibrant, but don’t have the fake look we sometimes see in other phones. In other words, hues are realistically enhanced. You can mostly see this in the first and second images, which better showcase varied colors across the frame.
A larger sensor can handle noise better and doesn’t need as much softening help from software. And that, friends, means detail won’t suffer as much in post-processing!
Great work here, Honor.
I can easily see the difference when zooming into these images. Images don’t look smudged or cartoon-like as you get closer. In fact, we can see multiple layers of detail. Zoom into the wood in the second and third images, for example, and you will see the texture between the wood cracks.
The airplane captured in mid flight has no motion blur and keeps a lot of its details. Meanwhile, the buildings in the back showcase individual windows and other fine details. Even individual prices in the first image’s tags are legible. Great work here, Honor.
Landscape photos usually cover a wide area. There is ample variation in exposure, shadows, highlights, and textures. The Honor View 20 suffers a bit in the shadows, as not much detail is shown in the darker areas. In addition, image four (bottom left) is underexposed.
These photos are alright, just not much to write home about. While AI does a good job, it also fails to expose the frame well in one of the images — something we noticed throughout this Honor View 20 camera review.
Portrait mode simulates the bokeh effect (more widely known as “blurry background”). We often see this effect in DSLR cameras using lenses with a wide aperture and shallow depth of field. Phones can’t do this naturally, so they use multiple lenses to figure out distance between the foreground and background in relation to the subject. They then artificially add blur behind your subject.
The main issue with phone-based portraiture is that phones often do a bad job outlining the subject, confusing the subject and what is in the distance. Phones often blur areas that shouldn’t be, or leave some background parts in focus. Our Honor View 20 camera review unit does a pretty good job here, but it is not perfect.
The Honor View 20 does a pretty good job here, but it is not exactly perfect.
The camera struggled with outlining hair, but you have to zoom in and look closer to notice it. Outlining the body and clothing is nearly perfect, and I like that the blur is gradual, which gives images a very natural-looking bokeh effect.
Take a look at the first image, for example. The art is sharp closer to me, and begins to blur out towards the back. In the second image we can see how the camera was able to keep distance and focus relevant in the wooden logs. I assume we can thank the 3D sensor for this.
High dynamic range (HDR) is used to more evenly expose a frame with multiple levels of light. Traditionally it accomplishes this by mixing a number of photos taken at different exposure levels. The end result is an image with reduced highlights, increased shadows, and more even lighting.
In the case of the Honor View 20 camera, HDR is not as noticeable. This can be good and bad — excessive HDR can make an image look over-processed. In this case, photos look more natural, but the shadows are not exposed as well as they might be with more aggressive HDR shooters.
Regardless, you do get pretty good detail in the shade. We can see this clearly in the 3rd image. The Wells Fargo box was in a very dark room with a lamp right next to it. I am surprised we can see texture in the wood. I feel like things didn’t look as clear in real life.
As we can see in the images above, this camera mode manages to get much more detail, more even exposure, and greatly reduced noise levels. None of these photos show signs of grain, despite some taken in excessively dark conditions.
Honor's Night mode works wonders.
The front-facing camera in the Honor View 20 may be innovative for getting rid of the dreaded notch in favor of a punch hole, but is it any good?
It seems no phone can get selfie cameras right, but the Honor View 20 does a half decent job. Everything is well-exposed and nicely colored. Detail is not amazing, but we can probably blame some of this on the now-usual softening. It’s not excessive enough to make me look like a porcelain doll, but it’s there.
I am no fan of the sun flare in the beginning of the video. The 30fps frame rate also makes things stutter a bit when panning. I’m a fan of the image stabilization going on here, though. I am no smooth walker, but this camera made it seem like I was floating around. I have seen other phones do slightly better, but definitely not when shooting 4K, which usually cancels some of the stabilization.
Otherwise, the video is crisp and colors pop. Exposure is not always spot-on, but it’s good enough.
I am no smooth walker, but the Honor View 20 makes it seem like I'm floating around.
Honor View 20 camera review overall score: 8.48
The Honor View 20 gets a very high score from us, and for good reason. This device turned out to be a pleasure to use. It captured a surprising amount of detail. Furthermore, you can expect super sharp images, well-tuned colors, amazing low-light capabilities, natural bokeh in portrait mode, and a clean app.
The Honor View 20 beats the clamored Huawei Mate 20 Pro, by my book.
This camera phone doesn’t underwhelm in any category. The lowest score we gave it is a 7.5 (Selfie and HDR), so nothing really weighs it down that much. Where it doesn’t do great, it at least does alright.
The Honor View 20 beats the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, in my book, and it’s much cheaper, starting at 570 euros (~$640). Unfortunately, it’s also much less available in most markets, but those who can get it will have an awesome camera phone.
And that wrap ups our Honor View 20 camera review. Let us know your thoughts!