Amidst the USA-China Trade war controversy, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor took the risk of launching the all-new Honor 20-lineup in India. And while we felt it’s not going to work, things seem to be arbitrated now, and the company has got a green light for the future updates including Android Q.
Having said that, the Honor 20i is the latest mid-range contender from Honor, devised to challenge the dominance of players like Xiaomi and Realme in the budget segment. So how does the phone fair against its competitors? Let’s check out the same in our full Honor 20i review.
Honor 20i Specifications
Before starting with the Honor 20i review, let’s have a glance at the phone’s specifications, pricing and things we get with the device.
- Display: 6.21-inch IPS LCD display, FHD+ (1080 x 2340 pixels resolution), 19:5:9 ratio, 415 PPI density
- CPU: 12nm-based octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 710 processor (4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
- GPU: Mali-G51 MP4
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB, expandable up to 1TB via microSD (hybrid slot)
- Software: Android 9 Pie (EMUI 9.0)
- Main Camera: 24MP primary sensor (f/1.8, PDAF) + 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.4) + 2MP depth sensor (f/2.4)
- Selfie Camera: 32MP (f/2.0, 0.8µm)
- Connectivity: Dual SIM (4G), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, FM radio, micro USB 2.0
- Cellular: Dual SIM
- Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, capacitive
- Battery: 3,700 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
Price: Rs. 14,999 for 4/128GB
A complete list of items you get inside the box:
- Honor 20i
- 10W Charger
- micro-USB cable
- Transparent Silicon Case
- Sim Ejector Tool
Honor 20i Review
As you’d acknowledge, the design is one of the strongest points of the Honor 20i. The phone comes with a polycarbonate back having a captivating glossy finish, adorned by gradient hues. It comes in three different colour options including Phantom Blue, Phantom Red and Midnight Black.
The Phantom Blue variant we have here exhibits light blue shade on the top which slowly merges with the purple silhouette at the bottom. Note that the back gets smudged quite easily; hence using a case is a must. Coming to the front, the phone bears a rather contemporary water-drop notch on the top, followed by thin bezels and a small bottom chin.
Talking of the in-hand feel, the Honor 20i is quite lightweight and better to hold when compared to its rivals including Redmi Note 7 Pro (review) and the Realme 3 Pro (review). All-inclusive, the phone looks modern and will likely amuse those who love flashy exteriors and light form factor.
As for the ports and placements, the volume rockers and the power button are given to the right. Whereas, the micro-USB charging port, audio jack and speaker grille are located at the bottom. The fingerprint scanner at the back is fast, reliable and comfortable to reach. There’s also a face unlock feature which works almost instantly as you lift up the device, without having to press the power button.
As noted, the Honor 20i comes with a 6.21-inch display having a Full-HD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels and a 19:5:9 aspect ratio. In our usage, we found the panel to have excellent viewing angles and good sunlight legibility. Moreover, the screen looks sharp and has vibrant colours by default which can be re-tuned in the display settings.
Unfortunately, the display lacks Widevine L1 certification, meaning that you won’t be able to enjoy media content in high definition on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Also, Honor hasn’t used any sort of screen protection which is quite disappointing as even the much cheaper Redmi 7 (review) comes with Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
Powering the phone is the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC paired with Mali-G51 MP4 GPU at its core. It’s offered only in one configuration i.e. with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Note that the storage can be expanded further up to 1TB using the given hybrid card slot.
As far as the day to day performance is concerned, the Kirin 710 shines through whatever you throw at it, be it editing pictures, browsing the web, using social media, listening to music, or watching videos. Multi-tasking ain’t an issue either and the RAM management is handled pretty well.
The phone also performs decently well even in heavy games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9. Complimented by GPU Turbo 2.0, PUBG runs smoothly in medium settings, without any lag whatsoever. And the experience will further improve in the coming EMUI 9.1 update which is touted to bring the all-new GPU Turbo 3.0 with extended support for 19 Android game titles.
That being said, while the Kirin 710 is a very capable chipset, it still can’t keep up with the Snapdragon 675 and 710 used on the Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro, respectively. As a result, both these phones will perform significantly better in gaming.
Like other Honor phones, the Honor 20i runs the company’s custom-built EMUI 9.0 skin. Based on Android 9.0 Pie, the UI offers nifty customisation features on top, including a system-wide dark mode and other theming options.
For navigation, you can switch between gesture, three-key, and dock navigation systems. Amongst other features, there’s an option to tweak the display resolution- you can either set it to HD+ or opt for the ‘Smart Resolution’ mode which lowers the screen resolution automatically to save battery whenever possible. There’s also a dedicated Ride mode, similar to Samsung’s S-Bike mode for managing calls and notifications while riding.
One can further play around with the display dynamics, including color temperature and vibrancy in the display settings. And for those who use phone till late night, there’s an eye-comfort mode which blocks blue light and helps reduce eye strain. Besides, the UI does bring a lot of bloatware – this includes apps like Honor Club, Party mode, Email, and more, which thankfully can be disabled in the settings.
Overall, the EMUI is a well-optimised and good looking skin, and we didn’t face any lag or frame drops throughout the use. Worth mentioning, I’ve recently shifted from Pixel 2 XL to Huawei Mate 20 Pro and in my experience, it’s quite easy to live with EMUI, compared to other custom skins like MIUI, Color OS or even Samsung’s OneUI. Anyways, in the end, the software is one’s personal choice, and hence, we leave it upon you.
For photography, the Honor 20i gets a triple camera setup at the back. The module comprises of a 24-megapixel primary camera with f/1.8 aperture, an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor capable of 120-degree shots, and a 2-megapixel sensor for depth sensor. For selfies, there’s a 32-megapixel AI camera.
Pictures captured by the primary camera turn out really good in daylight conditions. Images are sharp, have plenty of detail and accurate colour reproduction. We loved the fact that AI doesn’t overly saturate photos anymore. While the camera shoots well-lit pictures in low-light, the oversharpening and lack of detail tend to spoil the overall grandeur. Although there’s a built-in night mode which rescues details by a little margin, noise is still evident in the pictures.
The wide-angle shooter performs above average under good light, and the fish-eye effect too is kept to minimal. However, it starts to struggle in low-light and images turn out to be soft and dull. The portrait shots, on the other hand, have the beauty mode trickery on by default, disabling, which gives decent results with on-point edge detection. In the video department, the Honor 20i can record up to 1080p at 60fps- sadly, no 4k here. Also, there’s no OIS, and instead, the phone uses AIS to stabilise videos.
Coming to the selfie camera, the results are reasonably impressive and ready-to-post on social media for the most part. However, the edge detection in portraits is not as good as the rear camera but manageable once you get it right.
Battery & Audio
The Honor 20i gets powered by a 3,400mAh battery, which is quite disappointing as most other phones in this segment have started to offer 4,000mAh or larger units. Anyways, the real-life results were not as bad as we expected.
The EMUI handles battery management exceptionally well, and we were able to get over 5 hours of screen on time over a day of use that comprised of watching videos, listening to music over Bluetooth, surfing social media, using GPS navigation for a while and browsing the web.
Unfortunately, there’s no fast charging here which when clubbed with the lower-capacity battery brings it below the competitors. For those worried about charging speeds, it takes about 2 hours to go from 0 to 100%, which is just adequate. The audio output via speakers is not the best we’ve seen at this price and the output via headphone jack too is decent.
- Looks premium, comfortable to hold
- Sharp, vibrant display
- Worthy performance
- Promising Cameras
- Well-optimised software
- Battery life is good, could’ve been better
- No 4k video recording
- Lack of Widevine L1 certification
- No fast charging & micro-USB
Honor 20i Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
The Honor 20i turns out to be a well-polished mid-range smartphone that looks beautiful, feels good to hold, performs well, and has promising cameras. However, the competition is really tough in the segment, where smartphones like Redmi Note 7 Pro and the Realme 3 Pro easily take the crown when it comes to the overall value for money.
Nevertheless, if you want better software, light-weight form factor, perks of having a wide-angle camera and a great display, the Honor 20i is still a compelling option for a price of Rs. 14,999, especially when you’re getting double the internal storage offered by the rivals.