HONOR has been one of the kings of budget phones for a few years now, but Huawei’s sub-brand is looking to join the ranks of kinds of smartphone cameras with the View20 as well. While it sells for quite a bit more than the other truly budget-level phones from HONOR, the View20 competes with most flagships on every level, including using the same processor from the Mate 20, tons of RAM and storage, a brand new display with 24-megapixel punch-hole camera up front, and a brand new generation 48-megapixel camera on back. That’s an 8-megapixel resolution increase over both the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, and being a new generation Sony sensor means it’s got a slew of new tech alongside it, like the TOF camera.
Much like OPPO’s latest flagship the R17 Pro, HONOR has outfitted the View20 with a Time-of-Flight camera, which is a device that effectively measures depth information based on the speed of light.On the surface it appears that it might have even better hardware than the considerably more expensive Huawei Mate 20 Pro, but direct comparisons reveal why there’s such a gulf in price. While the main camera is incredibly similar in every way, including specialty modes like night mode and portrait mode, it’s the tertiary experiences that make up the difference. Here’s what I mean: the HONOR View20 features only a main 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor on the back, no secondary cameras for zooming in or getting wider angles.
This main camera is a huge ½-inch sensor though, which is substantially larger than most other sensors, and while the physical 0.8μm pixel size is tiny, Sony’s Quad Bayer array configuration means this one can shoot 12-megapixel shots with an effective 1.6μm virtual pixel size. The 12-megapixel size is configured out of the box and generally delivers the best balance of detail and dynamic range, but you have two other options to choose from as well. Switching to the full 48-megapixel resolution will deliver absolutely mind-blowing detail in most lighting conditions, and even delivers essentially identical detail when compared to the considerably more expensive Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The full-frame resolution brings a few disadvantages to the table though: loss of dynamic range, no zooming in the viewfinder, and worse low light performance than the default 12-megapixel mode.
To alleviate this, HONOR has developed what it calls an “AI Ultra Clarity” 48-megapixel mode that works similarly to night mode, taking several shots over a period of a few seconds, and combining these shots for wider dynamic range and sometimes even enhanced detail. HONOR has, once again, shown that a good experience isn’t one that costs an arm and a leg, but cost savings also means that some things had to be cut. Ultimately though, the core experience is as good as you’ll find right now, and it’s only in a few areas where the View20 falls shy of the mark, while excelling wildly at the vast, vast majority of every other benchmark we set. Check out our video review below to see every scenario and phone we compared the View20 to, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube!