The HONOR View20 is the latest and greatest smartphone HONOR has to offer, while the Galaxy Note9 is still Samsung's most powerful handset, though that may change soon with the Galaxy S10 series right around the corner.
In today's comparison we'll take a look at how these smartphones stack up against each other as they're both competing in the high-end segment of the market. The Galaxy Note9 is the more expensive option here, and we will try to find out whether the price difference is actually worth it. While also taking into consideration that the Galaxy Note9 is now quite a bit more affordable than it was back when it launched in Q3 last year.
These two phones are fairly similar in terms of the design. Both phones are made out of metal and glass, and you will get a similar premium feel while holding either. They both also have a similar footprint overall. However, there are quite a few differences to note. Firstly, the Galaxy Note9 is considerably heavier at 201 grams compared to the HONOR View20's 180 grams. The Galaxy Note9 also comes with a curved display, while the View20 sports a flat panel.
In spite of both phones sporting a thin bezel below the display, there are some considerable differences at the top. HONOR opted to include a display camera hole in the top-left corner of the View20's display, while Samsung opted for a thin bezel with no obstructions in the form of a notch or a display hole.
If you flip the two phones around, you will notice that both have multiple cameras on the back, and horizontally-aligned. There's also a fingerprint scanner on the back of both phones. The HONOR View20's fingerprint scanner is circular, while the Galaxy Note9's is oval-shaped. Both phones are curved on the back, and both are quite slippery. It is also worth noting that the View20's back is easily recognizable due to V-shaped light reflections that can be found there. Compared to Samsung who opted to keep things a bit simpler with the Galaxy Note9.
So, which phone wins in this category? To be quite honest, it is not that easy to decide. They both offer similar build materials, and quite frankly feel quite similar in the hand despite the weight difference. If you hate notches / display holes, and you like curved displays, the Galaxy Note9 will be the better choice for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer thinner bezels no matter the cost, and like the reflection design on the back of the View20, the HONOR View20 is the phone for you.
The HONOR View20 and Samsung Galaxy Note9 actually sport displays of the same size, even though their aspect ratios are slightly different due to the View20 having a slightly taller ratio. Both handsets feature 6.4-inch displays, though the Galaxy Note9's display offers higher resolution (2960 x 1440 vs 2310 x 1080), and is an OLED panel compared to the LCD one included with the HONOR View20. To cut straight to the point – the Galaxy Note9 is the clear winner here. The 6.4-inch fullHD+ panel on the View20 is not bad, and it's one of the better fullHD+ LCD panels out there, but it's simply not up to par with the Galaxy Note9's display – which is still among the best on the market, if not the very best.
The Galaxy Note9's display is sharper, and thanks to the fact it's an OLED panel, you're getting those pure blacks, and a really nice contrast as well. Viewing angles on both displays are quite good, and you will not have any major issue with either of these two displays. If you prefer OLED displays, and really want one of the best displays out there, then the Galaxy Note9 is the phone for you. If you don't care all that much and simply want a good display, both phones will serve you just fine.
One aspect that may play a factor for some is that the Galaxy Note9's display is curved, while the View20's is not.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note9
Both of these phones are true powerhouses when it comes to performance. The Galaxy Note9 is fueled by the Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845, depending on the market, while the HONOR View20 comes with the Kirin 980 SoC. The Kirin 980 is a newer chip, but all three of these processors are still extremely powerful, and in combination with the software installed on the Galaxy Note9 and View20, the devices offer a very decent level of performance.
The Galaxy Note9 comes with Samsung's Experience UX out of the box, and the One UI overlay comes to the device via the Android 9 Pie update.
Magic UI which comes installed on the HONOR View20 does feel smoother than EMUI, even though it's basically an upgraded version of EMUI.
All in all, both of these devices offer great performance and both might prove subject to the occasional hiccups seen with pretty much every phone. Otherwise, there's not much difference between the two devices in terms of sheer performance. So much so that we really could not decide on the winner in this category, so it's a draw.
Both the HONOR View20 and Galaxy Note9 come with a 4,000 mAh capacity battery, and even though both devices are admirable in this department, the View20 has an edge here. The combination of the Kirin 980, a lower-res display, and HONOR's software, results in the View20 becoming a real road warrior in terms of battery life.
HONOR included some aggressive battery-saving options in the device, but even if you leave everything as it is out of the box, the phone will be able to provide great battery life which trumps the Galaxy Note9. Back when we reviewed the Galaxy Note9, we were able to get 6+ hours of screen-on-time with the device before it shut down. The HONOR View20 goes above and beyond that.
We're still testing the battery life in detail, but we have used the phone for a while now and it does offer well over seven-hours of screen on time in a day, with some juice left. The HONOR View20 also offers faster battery charging than the Galaxy Note9, even though it does not support wireless charging like the Note9 does.
Winner: HONOR View20
If it's a great camera you're looking for, well, the HONOR View20 and Galaxy Note9 are definitely both great choices. The HONOR View20 actually managed to surprise us with its camera quality as its 48-megapixel sensor on the back in combination with the 3D ToF camera works great, and even in low light. In fact, both of these phones can shoot great images in low light without you having to mess around with the setting or enable special modes. Just take out the phone, point and shoot, and as long as you're not in pitch dark situations, you will be able to get decent shots with the two phones.
As far as daylight performance goes, the two devices are on the same level here as well. This has proved to be quite surprising, as we did not think that the HONOR View20 will be able to compete with the Galaxy Note9 in this respect. Both phones are capable of shooting images with great details and dynamic range, though do keep in mind that the HONOR View20 works best if the pixel binning tech is enabled, which means that the phone will create 12-megapixel images in the end. You can still shoot 48-megapixel images, but you will lose some dynamic range in the process, even though you will benefit in the detail department.
The Galaxy Note9 does have a telephoto lens, which is something the HONOR View20 lacks, but if you shoot in full-res, you will be able to crop the photo and get a great level of detail in the process.
The front cameras are more than capable on both phones, and both do well in the video capture department as well. Even though the Galaxy Note9 offers more in this regard with 4K video at 60FPS, but both devices offer really great stabilization in the process.
This is yet another category where these two phones are closely matched, and another category in which we've opted for a "draw." If you'd like to know more, check out our camera comparison.
Before we get around to declaring the winner, it is worth noting some of the other differences between these two phones. Ones that did not fit in any of the categories above.
First and foremost, if you're looking for great audio, the Galaxy Note9 is the phone for you. This handset not only offers stereo speakers, but is also able to provide you with 32-bit/384kHz audio, the HONOR View20 lacks in this department. Although both phones do offer a headphone jack.
If you require your phone to have expandable storage, the Galaxy Note9 wins again as it comes with microSD card support, unlike the Galaxy Note9. The Galaxy Note9 also comes with the S Pen stylus which opens a ton of possibilities for users, and if you need a feature like this then there's no phone out there like the Galaxy Note9.
Considering everything we've mentioned in this article, it's safe to say these two phones are closely matched, although there are a few advantages to of the Galaxy Note9 do come to light, which is why we'll give it a win in this comparison. It is close, but the Galaxy Note9 is the winner.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note9