With continued efforts, Honor has now attained a successful position in the budget smartphone segment. The Honor 20i is the latest mid-range smartphone from Honor designed to challenge the dominance of Xiaomi, Realme and now even Samsung. The Honor 20i offers a promising camera and a flashy body design. If we disregard the uncertain future of the Huawei smartphones in the Android market, the Honor 20i is a strong contender in the price segment.
The Honor 20i uses a polycarbonate shell flaunting the gradient design on the back, according to the brand, this has been achieved through a 3D photolithography process. The Honor 20i comes in three color variants, Phantom Blue, Midnight Black, and Phantom Red. The design incorporates a rim around the rear and front panels keeping them together. The curved edges of the smartphone ensure grip despite the overall slippery nature of the smartphone. The rear panel has a glossy surface and attracts smudges and scuffs very easily, the build quality is average but we could notice subtle flex in the rear panel.
The button positioning on the Honor 20i is well done, the power button and the volume rocker are placed to the right side of the smartphone and offer good tactile feedback. There is a dual SIM card tray to the top of the smartphone that houses two Nano-SIM cards or a single SIM card accompanied by a microSD card. The 3.5mm headphone jack, micro-USB charging port, and the speaker are all located at the bottom of the smartphone.
The smartphone is designed ergonomically and one-handed usage is not much of an issue, the tapering edges make the phone look a lot thinner than it actually is. The rear of the smartphone has a vertically oriented triple camera setup that protrudes slightly from the body. The fingerprint sensor, on the other hand, is slightly recessed into the body and was very easy to reach with the index finger. The overall speed and accuracy of the fingerprint sensor were pretty good as well, Overall, neglecting the slight flex of the rear panel, the Honor 20i is a pretty well-designed smartphone and is aesthetically appealing for people who like gradient designs with vibrant colors.
Software and Performance
The Honor 20i comes with a 6.21-inch FullHD+ resolution display having an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 bringing the screen to body ratio to over 90-percent. The display panel has an average pixel density of 415ppi, the panel is also certified to cut down the blue light emission by TUB Rheinland, providing overall better user experience. The processor on the Honor 20i is powered by the company’s in-house Kirin 710 SoC clocked at 2.2GHz which is paired with 4GB of RAM. The Honor 20i comes with 128GB internal storage which can be expanded to up to 512GB via microSD card.
In the optics department, the device fares well with a triple camera setup on the rear, the primary 24MP sensor has an f/1.8 aperture and is paired with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor with a 120-degree field of view, there is also a 2MP depth-sensing camera for portrait mode. The Honor 20i runs on EMUI 9 software based on Android Pie. The EMUI software offers loads of customizations including three different gesture navigation schemes.
The sad part about the EMUI software is the inclusion of all the pre-installed applications including Honor HiCare, Honor Club, Honor Store, and Phone Clone. There are a few other tools such as Ride Mode, SOS and Recorder implemented as individual applications. The third-party bloatware includes Netflix, Camera 360, Vigo VIdeo, and Facebook Suite.
The display on the Honor 20i is crisp and vibrant with good viewing angles and brightness levels. Even under bright sunlight, the display was very usable and we never had to crank up the brightness to full. The display offers a few calibration options allowing you to adjust the display temperature manually. By default we found the display to be warm which can be changed to vivid in the color mode for a better viewing experience. When the battery is low, the software automatically reduces the resolution from FullHD+ to HD+ to save power, there is also a reading mode in the software that puts in a yellowish tint to reduce blue light emitted.
The Honor 20i is powered by the Kirin 710 chipset which has proven itself in the past for a lag-free usage experience even with multiple applications running in the background. The overall interface, switching between applications and launching new applications were all smooth without any jitter. We ran a few benchmarks on the Honor 20i, the AnTuTu gave a score of 1,36,997 while Geekbench returned a single-core score of 1,512 and a multi-core score of 5,411.
The gaming experience was pretty good as well, we could comfortably play PUBG on the smartphone at medium settings and Asphalt 9: Legends also offered a good experience without any frame drops. Switching between applications while playing heavy titles was a little jerky and we noticed occasional input lag on the heavy game titles.
The Honor 20i is one of the only smartphones in the price segment to offer a triple camera experience on the rear end. However, the phone does still struggle under harsh sunlight and renders images soft with washed-out colors. The camera does perform much better in regular ambient lighting, the results are sharp and have a good depth of field. The camera application has a portrait mode that uses the secondary 2MP depth sensor for a background blur effect and the software did a good job overall in highlighting the objects in focus as well as with the edge detection.
The 32MP front camera sensor on the Honor 20i produces bright selfies with good detail, the software does apply a lot of whitening and skin smoothening effects making the background look very dull. POrtrait selfies had flawed edge detection despite the subject being highlighted in focus. The camera application comes with a host of features to play with including AR lenses, Live filters, and others. The Wide-angle sensor is extremely useful for capturing wider frames but the images captured using this sensor had a cooler temperature and showed some distortion to the edges.
The night mode in the Honor 20i is decent for low light photography, the results are average and help bring out colors in the low-light scenes, enhancing the edges of the object as well. The result images contain a lot of noise and grain, there is no night mode for the selfie camera. There is an aperture mode that allows the use of a depth sensor to change the point of focus and adjust the blur accordingly. The video mode in the camera allows recording in FullHD at 60FPS, the camera does struggle to lock focus sometimes and lacks hardware and software stabilization.
The beautification mode in video works only while shooting at HD resolution, there is no 4K support on all the sensors and the ultra-wide-angle sensor doesn’t support FullHD at 60FPS either. The camera app doesn’t even come with a slow-motion mode.
The Honor 20i barely lasted a day with the 3,400mAh battery, our regular day consisted of social media usage, web browsing, music over Bluetooth and slight gaming. On heavy gaming, the battery lasted even less and we weren’t very happy with the overall battery performance on the device. We saw the battery completely drain out by the time we reach home around 8 PM with no juice left for music or social media on the way back home which did spark a few concerns. The bundled charger takes about 2 hours to fully charge the device, there are power-saving and an ultra power saving mode that comes handy to save some battery.
The Honor 20i is a very capable phone, in terms of perfromance the phone does well in handling most productivity tasks and social media applications with ease. Heavy gaming does take a toll on the device overall but the Honor 20i manages just well enough to play most games. The EMUI software is loaded with features but also comes loaded with a lot of bloat which most users might not like. The camera performance is mixed, while the features are many, the actual performance is sub-par, especially the night mode and the portrait mode are weaker than what is offered by the competitors.