Honor 20i Review- Score high on camera and AI

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HONOR couldn’t have brought the HONOR 20 series to India at a more crucial time than this. The brand and their parent company Huawei had been tackling the Android Licencing issue globally and things have to an end rather peacefully. In our first impressions, we took an overview of the 20i and now its time for a deep dive.

HONOR 20i Specifications

  • Display: 6.21-inch LCD, FHD+
  • Software: Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes
  • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 710 Octa-core processor
  • RAM: 4/6 GB
  • Storage: 64/128 GB internal, microSD support
  • Main Camera: 24 MP (f/1.8) + 2 MP + 8MP, dual-tone LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: 32MP (f/2.0)
  • Connectivity: micro USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM
  • Battery: 3,400mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable

Box Contents

A complete list of items you get inside the box:

  • HONOR 20i smartphone
  • Sim Ejector Tool
  • Charger
  • Silicon Case
  • Warranty and User Guide

Design

HONOR 20i comes with the signature dual-tone gradient design on the back. It’s a tried and tested design choice which we have seen on other HONOR smartphones as well. This time the phone is made of high-quality plastic instead of metal and glass which might be the case to cut cost and pack in more features and hardware. We quite liked the curved back which gives a comfortable hold, but you must be careful with it since it picks up smudges and scratches very easily.

You get a vertically placed triple camera setup on the back along with the LED flash. The fingerprint sensor is perfectly placed in the center which allows for quick unlock. The triple-slot tray is on the top along with the secondary mic. The right side houses the volume rockers and the power bottom while the 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB port, and the speaker grill are on the bottom. Turning the phone reveals the gorgeous 6.2-inch display with a teardrop notch and minimum bezels.

Display

The HONOR 20i features a 6.21-inch FHD+ display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This is the same display that is found on the HONOR 8X and the HONOR 10 lite. You get a Waterdrop notch and HONOR has trimmed off quite a lot of bezels and has even kept the notch to a minimum. The display used here is of a very good quality something we have seen on the past HONOR smartphones as well.

HONOR 20i does not come with the widevine L1 support so you won’t be able to enjoy HD content from apps like Amazon and Netflix which is the complete opposite on the slightly pricier HONOR 8X. If for some reason, you are not satisfied with the color profile, there is an option under the display settings to tweak the color profile as per your needs. HONOR has a full-color wheel to play with, and a few presets like Normal and Vivid modes. Apart from this, you get an Eye comfort mode which lowers the Blue light emission to soothe your eyes.

Software and Performance

The HONOR 20i comes packed with the tried and tested Kirin 710 chipset which we have seen on a number of other HONOR smartphones. The Kirin 710 is a mid-range chipset and is more than capable of pushing the phone through the day to day tasks. Furthermore, our test unit came with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage with the ability to expand the storage via a microSD card. With the 4GB RAM variant of the phone with us, we didn’t really face any issues while switching between apps or other processes.

We took the chipset for a spin and ran titles like Asphalt, FIFA, and PUBG which were playable without any issues at medium to high graphics. The GPU Turbo 2.0 here does helps with games like PUBG and will provide satisfactory gaming sessions to users. Thought HONOR has started rolling the new GPU Turbo 3.0, which further enhances the performance but our unit didn’t receive the update as of writing this review.

Coming to the software, the Honor 20i ships with the Android 9 Pie-based EMUI 9.0 interface running on the top. Like on the previous EMUI iterations, this one also comes loaded with apps like Honor Club, Honor Care, Health, Huawei App Gallery, Themes, a Phone Manager, Compass, Phone Clone, Party Mode and Ride Mode which may or may not be usable for everyone. Apart from these stock ones you get social media apps and the Google Apps suite.

The latest Android iteration does bring some add-ons like the Digital Balance which is essentially the Digital Wellbeing found on stock Android along with navigation gestures. People coming from Stock Android would find the software experience too cluttered which we hope HONOR addresses in the upcoming EMUI updates.

Camera and Battery

Following on the footsteps of its bigger siblings, the HONOR 20i comes with a triple camera set-up on the back. The phone includes a 24-megapixel primary camera with f/1.8 aperture along with a secondary 2-megapixel camera for AI portraits and AI scene detection for detecting different scenes. There is also an 8-megapixel 120° ultra-wide-angle lens which is like icing on the cake.

After numerous software fixes that our unit got, the camera performance seems to have improved a lot. The areas where the 20i shines are macro and night shots. We took close-up shots with the phone and they came out really good with rich colors and a decent amount of detail. Thanks to the added AI Super Night mode, the phone was able to be bring out details in the night shots but it’s still a hit or miss as shots tend to contain a lot of noise at times.

With the AI mode, the phone was able to detect the scenes correctly and adjusted the parameters accordingly. The shots taken in a well-lit environment were decent, with a good amount of details. For most of our testing part, we kept the AI settings on which gave similar results to that of an HDR mode.

There is no change in the camera app and you get modes like Aperture, Night, Portrait, Panorama, Pro, and Time-lapse as standard. Talking about the selfies, there is a 32-megapixel camera with f/2.0 on the front and boy it takes some of the best selfies in the game. The phone has beautification enabled by default and tweaks the overall image. Apart from you get a Bokeh mode, which lets you blur the background for those professional looking selfies, AR mode which applies Snapchat like filters to the selfies.

As for the battery, the 20i comes packed with a 3,400mAh battery During our tests, we managed to get around 6 hours of screen-on-time and on average. Our tests included light gaming sessions, a bit of social media, calling and watching videos. There is no fast charging, and the supplied charger took close to 2 ½ hours for a full top-up.

Pros

  • Good Build quality
  • Decent Display
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No Type C and Fast charging
  • No widevine L1 certification

Verdict – Should you go for it?

Now that the whole US-Huawei issue has been resolved there are no doubts about the future of the smartphones. The HONOR 20i excels in the design and camera department but lags in some basic areas like no HD streaming support. Furthermore, the lack of some kind of fast charging and the dated microUSB slot doesn’t help the cause either.

In the end, if you’re a fan of the HONOR design and love taking selfies, the 20i should be your first choice. Buyer can also look at the Redmi Note 7/7 Pro, Realme 3 Pro, and the recently launched Realme X.

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