Not too long ago we took a look at the HONOR 20 flagship and we thought its decent specs and value-for-price proposition were the points that made the phone noteworthy – fast forward about two months and its upgraded sibling, the HONOR 20 Pro looks to be an even better value for money deal – we find out why.

Telling the two phones apart won’t be an easy task – they look identical from the front and have the same 6.26-inch FullView IPS LCD display. Like the HONOR 20, we found the display to be adequate, even if not Super AMOLED panel you’d find on its main competitor, the Xiaomi Mi 9.

The HONOR 20 Pro’s photography performance is its selling point – the phone scores an impressive DxOMark of 111, putting it in second spot behind joint-top scorers, the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G – both at 112.

Helping the phone achieve that feat is its quad-camera setup – 48MP main + 16MP ultra wide + 2MP macro lens + 8MP telephoto. The main lens here is the hero – it’s bolstered with a wider aperture of f/1.4 (the regular HONOR 20 had an aperture of f/1.8); while the addition of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) helps reduce camera shakiness.

As you may notice, HONOR’s goal this time around is to improve night-time photography performance – a wider aperture allows more light into the lens, while a more stable camera means sharper night time shots.

But if that doesn’t quite cut it, the phone offers a maximum ISO of 204,800 – four times as much as what you’d typically find in a camera smartphone today. However, when practicality is in question, there aren’t a lot of situations that’ll warrant a six-digit ISO.

I tested it out at a very dark rooftop level somewhere in Malacca (withholding exact location for obvious reasons), and the phone would only go up to 52,000 ISO which did well to brighten the shot with minimal noise. I guess the only time you’d really need the full 204,800 is when you’re deep in a jungle somewhere way off-grid.

In keeping with the spirit of revamping the photography experience for the Pro variant is the introduction of an 8MP telephoto lens, which replaces the regular HONOR 20’s depth assist camera. You’re able to zoom up to 3 times optically, 5 times hybrid and 30 times digital – just like the Huawei P30. You can now probably see where the HONOR 20 Pro is positioned in Huawei and HONOR’s offerings. I’ll elaborate later.

Your remaining two lenses are the same 2MP macro lens and a 16MP super-wide angle lens – the latter comes in handy as all wide angle lenses do. The 2MP camera has an effective range of 4cm, so you’ll need to get real close to your subject – don’t try taking pictures of fire ants, trust me.

The phone comes with a host of nifty features such as AR lens, slow-mo, panorama, light painting, time lapse, super macro and more. The pro mode lacks the option to adjust the aperture which is weird considering users would want the f/1.4 aperture set anytime they want.

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For all things vanity, the HONOR 20 Pro retains the same 32MP selfie shooter – it does well in broad daylight but struggles just a bit in low light situations. The beautify feature works like a charm – it does well to make me looks palatable, and the lens employs AI scene recognition too.

Under the hood is a Kirin 980 chipset – Huawei’s best – and it benchmarks not far off the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Samsung’s Exynos 9820 and Apple’s A12 Bionic. Our unit comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. The phone runs spritely, touches are responsive, regular scrolling is smooth – while gaming PUBG ran with no stutters with graphics set to HD with Ultra framerates and obligatory “buttery smooth” is in order here.

Another plus is that the phone stays relatively cool even after long hours gaming. Speaking of long gaming hours – the phone is equipped with a decently-sized 4,000mAh battery that’s more than adequate to last you an entire day with regular web browsing and occasional video consumption.

The phone supports 22.5W HONOR SuperCharge via USB C, and we were able to juice it up from 10% to around 80% in one hour or so, which is speedy. Like the HONOR 20, there is no 3.5mm port here but a Type-C headphone adapter will come in the box. Oh, and there’s no headphone jack, but a Type-C dongle does come in the box.

The phone ships with Android 9 layered on top with HONOR’s Magic UI 2.1. As typical of Magic UI, the design is on the practical side, so don’t expect flair. But hey, at least you get an app drawer here. Now I mentioned earlier about where the phone is positioned in the grand scheme of things – if it isn’t obvious already, this is placed between the regular HONOR 20 and the Huawei P30. It offers the power both these devices do, while boasting possibly better cameras than the Huawei. It also has a bigger battery than both phones and more storage space.

Verdict

At RM2,299 the HONOR 20 Pro is a value for money buy; but if you’re looking for something cheaper, the Xiaomi Mi 9 (RM1,999) would be a good choice with its Snapdragon 855 that’s more powerful, as well as a set of cameras that aren’t too far off the HONOR 20 Pro’s.

The HONOR 20 Pro offers nearly everything you’d want from a flagship for a fraction of what other mainstream names go for – It’s sturdy and performs spritely on all fronts too. Give this phone a go if you’re one for photography, and it offers great performance to boot. You’ll be able to get the Pro in two new colours – Phantom Black and Phantom Blue. The phone will officially go on sale on August 15 at HONOR Experience Stores, Shopee as well as HONOR’s online store.

The Good

  • Flagship-level performance
  • Fantastic set of cameras
  • Great night time photography
  • Competitive pricing
  • Decent battery life
  • Responsive fingerprint sensor

The Not So Good

  • Mediocre display
  • Bulky size
  • Lack of expandable storage

 

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