Honor’s new flagship challenger, the Honor View 20, is the £500 smartphone that’s here to challenge the big boys to their hefty price tags and try and knock them off the throne. But how does it really stand up against Samsung's previous flagship, the Galaxy S9+? We’re about to find out.
The idea of comparing two phones in very different price brackets may seem a little outlandish at first, but when you start looking at the reasoning behind it, it starts to make sense. For example, both of these phones have a very similar screen size of 6.2” displays (although the View20 has a 6.4” display). Both have exactly the same screen resolution, 2310x1080 (1440 x 2960 on the Plus) and 6GB of ram. The list continues!
The main, striking difference, however, is the price. The Honor View 20 will set you back around £500. Whereas a Galaxy S9+, new, will cost you around £749.99 - that’s over £200 more. So what are the real differences? Camera? Operating system? The processing speed? We’re about to find out.
Let’s start with the basics. Released in March 2018, the Galaxy S9+ took the world by storm. Offering fairly substantial upgrades of the S8 while maintaining a high profile lead, competing directly with the iPhone X. Its main feature is that rear camera with a variable aperture lens. Meaning you can take better photos in low light conditions as well as a higher depth of field on images. Comparatively, the Honor View 20 was released just a few months ago on January 22nd of 2019, so is a very new phone in comparison to the Galaxy S9+ which is already over a year old. It also has similar specs in terms of the Memory available, screen size, battery size and camera quality.
Some would arguably state that View 20 actually also has the better camera set up for the money, with a 48MP rear camera and 24mp front facing camera. Comparing this to the Galaxy S9+’s 12-MP SuperSpeed Dual Pixel telephoto lens. The advantage the View20 has is a higher level of image data in the pictures it takes, but the Galaxy S9+ has the better mechanical zoom lens (no quality loss on zooming in). It also has better post-processing and image sensor which, when using a professional image editor, gives you way more detail and data to play with. For those of you who didn’t understand a word of that camera talk (which is perfectly understandable) it in short means, you’ll get a better image initially from the View20, but the Galaxy S9+ has way more control over lighting, picture depth and other features which give it that professional look.
The Galaxy S9+ also shoots better in 4K and Super Slow-mo, giving a better polish on video capture compared to the View 20. But this is to be expected as much of the £200 price difference between the two phones could be attributed to the Samsungs complex camera. When comparing in detail, you can certainly tell the difference between the two.
Samsungs image appears a lot crisper and richer in colour, whereas the View20, although good, doesn’t quite reach the depth and detail that can be achieved with the S9+.
The design of each phone also feels unique, with the View 20 feeling much more premium than its price tag would suggest. It’s metal bezel and reflective rear cover certainly attract the eye. Not to mention its bold, rich blue colour. Meanwhile, Samsung goes for a slightly more subtle shade of “coral blue” which also has a slight reflective shine to it in certain lights, but doesn’t quite compare to the View20’s stylish “V” holographic patterns. Both phones feel weighty, something that we as consumers often associate with quality. I must admit, I prefer the 9+’s curved screen design which has been present on the higher end models since the Galaxy S6 Edge back in 2015.
One thing I must admit is the decision of putting the volume button on the right side of the phone above the lock button instead of on the left as seen traditionally, does take a fair bit of getting used to on the View 20, but is only a mild inconvenience. I also noticed a nice small detail on the lock button where it’s slightly textured to give that sensory confirmation of what it’s purpose is to our brains.
Something I’m very pleased with for both phones is the inclusion of a headphone jack for plugging in headphones or earpieces. It’s nice to see that both Honor and Samsung still feel the 3.5mm is an important feature on a modern smartphone. Yes, I’m looking at you Apple.
Another feature both phones have is a notification indicator light at the top of the phone. Interestingly though, Honor have opted to put this light inside the speaker mesh so isn’t exactly obvious, but then again, I suppose in today’s world, we check our phones fairly often anyway. I just personally found it an odd place to put it.
Both phones are powered and charged by a USB-C port which is nice to see. My main complaint about the Honor 10 Lite was that it was still using a micro USB port and cable, so the View 20 having the USB-C is a welcome upgrade.
When it comes to UI, I’m going to straight up say that I much prefer Googles Android 9.0 compared to Honors new UI software, Magic. The main reason being is that out of the box, Android Pie looks considerably more modern and slick than Honors current Magic update with simplistic and minimalist icons and designs. On the flipside, Magic isn’t exactly an ugly UI to use, but just feels a little dated in terms of icon design and usability. For performance, both platforms feel responsive and quick to use and I’ve noticed no real issues with app crashes and freezes.
For gaming, both devices hold up very well here, with the View 20’s “GPU Turbo 2.0” certainly helps with frame rate and smoothness in games with no visible lag. The View 20 also shares similar tech to the S9 in terms of cooling, with a copper liquid cooling chamber included to distribute heat effectively.
I’ve been using the View20 for just over two weeks now and for durability, it’s not too bad. The blemishes on this particular model were already included with this particular review device but it does highlight the key areas to watch out for. The camera lens metal lips are a clear culprit here, with paint wear certainly being an area to keep an eye on. The issue being is that the lenses aren’t flush with the rear covert so when resting on surfaces, the lens surrounds will be where the phone rests on the most.
However, the rear cover has remained intact with no visible scratching despite being thrown around in a carry bag and daily, regular use. That being said, the Galaxy S9+ is certainly the winner here with it’s front and back glass covers which are very, very resistant to light scratching and blemishes. Sorry Honor, Samsung gets this one.
Battery life on both phones is very respectable with a full charge lasting an entire day on the View 20 and on the Galaxy S9. It’s worth bearing in mind that the S9 showcased is actually a refurbished device, from our very own store in fact, so it’s great to see that battery life isn’t affected in the long run.
Overall, I’m very impressed by the Honor View 20 and would consider it a genuine alternative to buying a flagship phone from the likes of Samsung, Apple or Huawei. Is it worth the £500 asking price? Absolutely. The value for money with the View 20 is incredible and it’s really taken me by surprise.
But there’s one more factor that needs to be taken into account here. The Galaxy S9+ featured in this comparison is a refurbished device from our store, costing just £499.99 compared to the View 20 at the exact same price point.
So as a final note, would I take the Honor View 20 over a refurbished Galaxy S9+? No, I wouldn’t. But would I take the Honor View 20 over the cost of a brand new S9, S10 or iPhone X? Yes, in a heartbeat.
The Honor View 20 is a real flagship slayer, offering very competitive specs and a great camera at an affordable price point. Hats off to Honor for making a great value for money smartphone, showing off just what you can really get if don’t want to spend £1000 on a new phone.