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Honor 20 Pro Hands-On: Four Cameras and a Unique Look

Honor has taken the wraps off a new lineup of flagship phones, highlighted by multiple cameras, an eye-catching design and a desire to break out of the shadow cast by parent company Huawei.

At an event in London today (May 21), Honor showed off the Honor 20 Series, which actually consists of three phones. While the Honor 20 Lite made its European debut a few weeks back, this was our first chance to see the Honor 20 and the high-end Honor 20 Pro, which is the most interesting of the bunch.

There's quite a few similarities between the new 20 Series and the Honor View 20, which came out at the start of 2019. While the 20 Pro adopts a few of that phone's features, right down to the punch-hole cutout design for its front camera, Honor's latest is a significant evolution on the Honor 10, with every part of the phone getting a significant refresh if not a major redesign.

Honor's choices mean that the 20 Pro still isn't a technical marvel, but it remains a fairly powerful, versatile and usable handset available at an accessible price. Here's what we’ve learned about the Honor 20 Pro after getting to spend some time with the phone.

Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro Specs

Phone
Honor 20
Honor 20 Pro
Price
€499
€599
Screen (Resolution)
6.26-inch LCD (2340 x 1080)6.26-inch LCD (2340 x 1080)
CPU
Kirin 980Kirin 980
RAM
6GB
8GB
Storage
128GB
256GB
Rear Camera
48-MP Main (f/1.8), 16-MP wide (f/2.2), 2-MP depth assistant (f/2.4), 2-MP macro (f/2.4)48-MP main (f/1.4), 16-MP wide (f/2.2), 8-MP telephoto (f/2.4), 2-MP macro (f/2.4)
Front Camera
32-MP (f/2.0)
32-MP (f/2.0)
Battery
3,750 mAh
4,000 mAh
Colors
6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches6.1 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches
Size
Sapphire Blue, Midnight Black
Phantom Black, Phantom Blue

Price and availability

The Honor 20 Pro will start at €599 for a version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That converts to around $667, which would put the Honor 20 Pro in OnePlus 7 Pro territory. (Phone makers rarely do straight currency conversions, though, instead adjusting the price to fit whatever region they're selling the phone in.) The Honor 20 comes in at €499 for a model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

It's a certainty the phone will be available in Europe. The Honor 20 Pro's fate in the U.S. is less clear, though, as Honor phones typically skip that country, given the U.S. government's ongoing dispute with Huawei, and the reluctance of wireless carriers to offer phones from either Huawei or Honor.

Display and design

Both the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro feature a 6.26-inch LCD screen, which makes the display look pretty dim compared to many other phones on the market. However, this does make for a narrower frame, so the 20 Pro fits beautifully in your hand, aided by the slight curve of the phone's back. This is aided by the indent in the center of the phone's right side edge, where you'll find a button doing double-duty as both the power button and fingerprint reader.

An in-display fingerprint reader is becoming the standard on premium Android handsets, but Honor's approach isn't a step back. The Honor 20 Pro's-unlocking side sensor is just as intuitive and fast; if anything, it's too easy to activate. You can set the phone to wake up either by resting your finger on the sensor or by pressing the button, but either one means you can't easily check your notifications on your lock screen without using an unregistered finger or the side or the nail of one which is. If you are trying to get into your phone, though, the 20 Pro's fingerprint reader is excellent, reliably activating the first time and with your hand holding the phone just as you would normally.

There's another reason to keep the fingerprint reader off to the side: It gives the Honor 20 Pro more screen space, especially since the 20 Series uses the same punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera found in the Honor View 20. (The camera itself has been upgraded to a 32MP sensor, up from the View 20's 25-MP shooter.) Between the 4.5mm punch hole and the lack of bezels to house a fingerprint sensor, the 20 Pro offers a 91.6% screen-to-body ratio, Honor says.

The phone's back, which comes in either Phantom Blue or Phantom Black, is made with what Honor is calling "dynamic holographic" glass, which contains a depth and color layer underneath the glass. The approach gives the 20 Pro a bright solid appearance from a distance, but up close you can admire how the millions of tiny prisms create a complex texture that make it look like the phone's been coated in expensive wrapping paper.

Cameras

Honor has given a lot of attention to the 20 Pro's cameras, doubling the rear cameras from the two lenses found on the Honor 10 to four on its new phones. The 20 Pro's main rear cluster features a 48-megapixel standard sensor, a 16-MP wide angle lens, and an 8-MP telephoto lens, which offers a 3x optical zoom and a maximum of 30x. You also get laser autofocusing and optical-image stabilization on the main and telephoto lenses. (On the less- expensive Honor 20, swap out the telephoto lens for a 2-MP depth assistant and say goodbye to OIS.)

The final camera on the Honor 20 Pro is a 2MP macro lens, designed for 4cm distance, super close-up photography. Many photography-oriented phones have a macro mode in their options menu, but having a dedicated lens is a new approach.

A shot from the Honor 20 Pro's macro lens

A shot from the Honor 20 Pro's macro lens

In practice, the 20 Pro's macro lens does all right in mid- to low-light conditions, but if there's too much light around, you end up with very washed-out shots. As a result, you're probably better off taking close-ups with the main lens a lot of the time. I'll try again for our full review of the Honor 20 Pro, but for now I'm not convinced by the macro lens' inclusion on this phone. (The Honor 20 has the macro lens, too.)

All the same, having four cameras that each serve a distinct purpose means the Honor Pro 20 can provide a wide variety of shots, including pictures of goslings without having to concern their irritable goose parents, a zoom-in of the moon, or just a pleasant landscape of London's canals.

Performance, software and battery

Underneath the phone's casing, there's the ever-faithful HiSilicon Kirin 980 processor, backed up with a maximum of 8GB RAM and 256 GB storage space. There are phones with more memory available on the market, but the top of the line Huawei chip means you still have more than enough power to handle your performance needs with room to spare.

Honor's Magic UI is back as version 2.1, which shares a lot with Huawei's EMUI, in that it's efficient, easy to navigate, but has a lot of additional apps bundled in that you likely have no interest in. Honor's also promising that Magic UI will see more changes that will distance it from EMUI, in line with the brand’s recent attempt to move away from its parent company's designs. Honor says the 20 Series will still get security updates despite Google's decision this week to suspend Huawei's Android license as the Trump administration bars U.S. tech companies from selling or transferring technology to Huawei.

The 20 Pro has a 4,000 mAh battery providing it with power. Thanks to Honor's fast charging technology, you can get you to 50% capacity in 30 minutes. I've had the Honor 20 Pro for only a little bit, but the phone lasts as long as we'd hope. I use my phone to stream a lot of music and video, as many people do, but would often return home after a day at the office with 60% or more charge. Stay tuned for a more formal battery test.

Outlook

Sadly, as with all Honor and Huawei devices, there are issues buying this phone in the United States. It's definitely coming to the U.K., but considering how many troubles the U.S. government is causing for the Chinese company, it's not going to be straightforward process for American users.

The only other weakness the 20 Pro has is its external speaker. It's armed with what the company calls "virtual 9.1 surround sound," which means you can get an impressive amount of volume from the single speaker located on the right side of the phone's bottom edge. But so far I've noticed the Honor 20 Pro lacks power in the bass notes it produces, and simulating multiple speakers can't compete with having actual stereo sound, like you find on more expensive Android phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro. Still, for what is likely going to be a £550 to £650 phone, this is a pretty clean bill of health to have, part of which the Honor engineers have no influence over.

We aren't finished examining the Honor 20 Pro yet, so be sure to check back on Tom's Guide soon for our full review.

Credits: Tom's Guide