The Honor 20 is the first smartphone launched and put on sale by Huawei since Trump’s blacklisting of the company in May.
In effect this is one of the phones Trump tried to ban, but as it happened the Honor 20 had already passed through the Android certification process before Google was forced to stop working with Huawei.
In reality, Trump’s actions have had little to no effect on the £400 Honor 20, other than a slight delay in release in the west, and now there is an expectation that at least some of the restrictions will be lifted by Trump.
The phone itself treads a tried and trusted formula: glass all-screen on the front, metal sides and a glass back. It weighs 174g, which is fairly light compared with the 200g-plus large phones, and its 7.9mm thickness compares favourably with rivals.
The screen is also smaller than some recent gigantic rivals, at just 6.26in on the diagonal, which is welcome. Phones have become too big recently.
Because the Honor 20’s screen is flat, not curving at the sides to the metal edge, the phone is a little wider at 74mm than the screen size might suggest – 0.6mm wider than the Huawei P30 Pro with its larger 6.47in screen. Still, it feels slick in the hand and is relatively easy to use.
The FHD+ LCD screen itself is excellent, crisp, bright and colourful, with slim bezels, a hole punched in the top left corner through which the selfie camera pokes and good viewing angles all round. It can’t match the top OLED displays, but then it doesn’t cost £500-plus.
The design is, however, a little dull, particularly in black compared with some of the flashier phones in 2019, including the Honor View20. Get it in blue for something a bit more interesting.
There’s no headphone socket and the fingerprint scanner is under the power button on the right hand side. It’s fast, accurate and easy to reach with your right thumb, but less so with your left index fingers. Left-handed users might want to think twice before buying.
Screen: 6.26in FHD+ LCD (412ppi)
Processor: octa-core Huawei Kirin 980
RAM: 6GB of RAM
Operating system: Magic UI 2.1 based on Android 9 Pie
Camera: rear 48MP wide, 16MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor, 32MP selfie
Connectivity: USB-C (2.0), LTE, wifi, NFC, Bluetooth 5 and GPS (dual-sim available in some regions)
Dimensions: 154.3 x 74 x 7.9 mm
Reliable performance and battery life
Huawei has a knack for making fast but power efficient processors and equipping lots of phones at various prices with the same top-of-the-range chips. The Honor 20 uses the same Kirin 980 chip as all of Huawei’s top-flight phones and performs just as well.
Technically it is a generation behind the top Snapdragon 855 chip from Qualcomm that’s used in most other 2019 flagship phones, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, but the performance differences are only noticeable in the most graphically intensive games that do not support Huawei’s GPU Turbo optimisations.
So what you get is top-level performance at a mid-range price, which puts the likes of the similarly priced Google Pixel 3a XL to shame.
Huawei, and therefore Honor, phones are the current battery life kings. The Honor 20 is no exception.
With medium to heavy usage the phone lasted about 32 hours between charges, meaning it would make it all the way from 7am on day one until 3pm on day two.
That was while using the Honor 20 as my primary device with lots of email, messages and push notifications, a couple of hours browsing in Chrome, five hours of Spotify via Bluetooth headphones, 90 minutes of Futurama from Google Play, a 30-minute phone call and about 20 photos.
The Honor 20 lacks wireless charging but has relatively fast cable charging, reaching 80% in an hour and a full charge in under 90 minutes using the included power adapter and cable.