The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro are the newest flagship phones from Honor. They have the latest specs, latest technology, and the latest software. All of this should mean it has some of the best performance of any phone, right?. We put this to the test to see if it’s possible to get flagship performance at around half the cost of flagships from other major OEMs.
|Specifications||Honor 20||Honor 20 Pro|
|Dimensions and Weight||
|Display||6.26-inch FHD+ IPS LCD||6.26-inch FHD+ IPS LCD|
|SoC||7nm HiSilicon Kirin 980:
Mali-G76 MP10 GPU
|7nm HiSilicon Kirin 980:
Mali-G76 MP10 GPU
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery||3750 mAh with 22.5W fast charging support||4000 mAh with 22.5W fast charging support|
|USB||USB 2.0 with Type-C connector||USB 2.0 with Type-C connector|
|Front Camera||32MP, f/2.0||32MP, f/2.0|
|Android Version||Magic UI 2.1 on top of Android 9 Pie||Magic UI 2.1 on top of Android 9 Pie|
Disclaimer: Honor provided the Honor 20 for this review. Honor is also a sponsor of XDA, however, Honor’s influence on this article was recommending the games to test. We also included our own collection of games to test. All of the results were taken in GameBench and Honor has not seen any results before publication.
Honor is one of the few companies that sell phones with the Kirin chipset from HiSilicon. The only other company is Huawei, which, of course, owns the Honor brand. These chips have generally been pretty good in CPU performance and efficiency, providing an insanely good battery with great speeds. In the past, they have really lacked in the GPU department. As we saw with the Honor View20, the GPU performance on the Kirin 980, the chip included in the Honor 20, is amazing. It provided a stable framerate in almost every game we tested on it.
Since the Honor View20 launch earlier this year, Honor has had time to refine the software that runs on the Kirin 980 and create GPU Turbo 3.o. This allows the Honor 20 to cut power usage by up to 10% and optimize the underlying system to provide more stable gameplay with lower temperatures and longer battery life. While the tests below don’t include temperatures or battery stats, it will include the performance and personal anecdotes of what I experienced while testing each game.
In these tests, I only tested the Honor 20 instead of both the Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro. This is because of the underlying cooling system and hardware. It is almost identical in both devices, so testing both wouldn’t tell us much besides that they are the same.
Honor 20 Gaming Performance
Before we get into the games and their stats, I want to talk about what each stat means, starting with Median FPS. This is the average fps the game played at during the testing duration. Higher is better, of course. Next up is FPS Stability (or Frame Stability), which is the percentage of time the frames per second was not drastically fluctuating and staying at a constant FPS. Again, higher is better. CPU Usage is the amount of strain the game is putting on the CPU. This isn’t as important as the former categories, but anything under 25% is great. Next is the Average Memory Usage and Peak Memory Usage. This shows how much RAM the game is using at its peak and the average. The Honor 20 has 6GBs of RAM, so anything under 3GBs is great. Finally, we have Total Data Downloaded and Total Data Uploaded. This is the amount of data in megabytes it uploads or downloads on your network, an important stat if you have a data cap on your Wi-Fi or limited data on your cellular plan.
The Honor 20 and Honor 20 Pro both have something Honor calls GPU Turbo 3.0. This optimizes the game and underlying system for better performance and heat. I’m not going to mention this much because there is no way to enable or disable it as it’s all in the background. That means it’s enabled for all the tests and it should be enabled if you pick up an Honor 20 to use.
The following gameplay performance data was recorded using GameBench, an excellent service that helps you analyze gaming performance on Android and iOS. GameBench has desktop clients and mobile clients. We used the desktop client for our review.
Unlike most games I tested on the Honor 20, Fortnite does not work with Gamebench. So instead of performance numbers, you’ll have to trust my experience. A good way to describe it is “okay.” The Honor 20 is supposed to support 60fps in Fortnite, but whether it was the phone’s software or Fortnite, both of which were fully updated, it was capped at 30fps. At 30fps, there is nothing to call home about. The phone didn’t get overly hot and had very little touch latency. I would consider it an adequate phone for playing Fortnite, but not the best I’ve used.
In PUBG, we get a smooth 60fps with frame stability of 98%. This means there were very few frame dips below 60fps. The CPU usage was around 18% which is low for the number of frames the GPU was pushing out. The only thing about this game was the device heat. While Gamebench doesn’t show the GPU temperature, I can feel the body of the phone. It was very hot.
During this test, I was almost unable to hold the phone. It got so hot I wasn’t able to play comfortably. Now, this could have been because of the HDR and Extreme FPS setting, which makes sense. At the temperature it was, I don’t think that 60fps would have lasted long before throttling down.
Underlords got a nice 30fps with frame stability of 99%. Unlike some of the other games we tested, Underlords is capped at 30fps. The game didn’t have any options to change texture quality or frame rate, so I was stuck at whatever it downloaded. The quality on the display looked really good, so I assume it’s using HD textures. The Honor 20 is more than capable of playing DOTA Underlords.
The device didn’t get very hot while playing Underlords. It felt a little warm at the end of my play session, but not to the point where I was worried about holding the phone, like with PUBG Mobile.
Honkai Impact 3rd
Honkai Impact 3rd got a pretty stable 30fps with a solid frame stability of 94%. I didn’t notice any of the frame drops during my play session, so I would consider this a great experience. For Honkai, I downloaded the HD texture pack just to push it to its limits. Again, there was no option to enable 60fps, so it was capped at 30fps.
The phone didn’t get too hot either. It stayed pretty warm, but again, not so hot that I was worried about holding my phone.
Shadowgun Legends is one of the first games where I noticed thermal throttling come into play. As you can see, it got a framerate of around 54fps average and fps stability of 85%. When I first launched the game and set the graphics settings, I enabled high graphics and 60fps. For the first 10 minutes, it was running at a smooth 60fps with no issues. It was getting very hot during this time though, so by the end of the test, which was about 20 minutes, the framerate was noticeably dropping.
ARK: Survival Evolved
ARK is one of the more interesting tests because of the very low 15fps result. ARK is capped at 30fps, so I expected to get around 30fps. When I did actually get 30fps it only lasted for around 3 minutes until the phone started to overheat and throttle a lot. The framerate slowly drop from around 30 to 12fps with the median being around 15fps. This is what most gamers say is “unplayable.” This was most likely due to thermal throttling.
Guns of Boom
Guns of Boom got a great and smooth 60fps with 99% frame stability. I had the game set to high quality and 60fps framerate during the test as well. The Honor 20 was able to handle it with no problem at all. It didn’t even get that warm. Guns of Boom isn’t the most intensive mobile game ever, but it still manages to push the phone a bit.
Like a few of the other games we tested, Asphalt 9 is capped at a maximum of 30fps even at its highest settings. So in our tests, we got an average of 30fps with an fps stability of 95%. Asphalt as a game has lots of physics and intense graphics, so 30fps with 95% stability is really good. The low CPU usage is also impressive with how demanding the game is.
Arena of Valor
With a median fps of 31 and fps stability of 96%, the Honor 20 can tackle Arena of Valor with no issues. Unlike most other games, Arena of Valor was averaging around 31fps. The fps hit a maximum of 34 and a minimum of around 14. This is interesting to see how most games are capped at 31fps. This leads me to a few conclusions: Arena of Valor might be capped at a weird fps, the Honor 20 couldn’t handle Arena of Valor at anything over 30fps, or there was some funky stuff going on here. Luckily, it is still hitting 30fps reliably so don’t expect it to be unplayable like ARK.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
The Honor 20 was able to handle Mobile Legends like it was nothing. It used under 1% CPU usage, had an amazing 99% fps stability, and maintained a stable 60fps the entire testing duration. The Honor 20 handled this game like a complete beast. These results are amazing for the game and show just how lightweight mobile games can be.
Just like most of the other games with an uncapped framerate, the Honor 20 was able to easily handle 60fps with great stability of 95%. The settings in Vainglory were set to the highest quality at 60fps, so it’s great to see the phone was able to handle such a great framerate at the highest settings. It’s good to note that the device did start to get warm, but not overly warm, and it didn’t feel as though it was going to start to thermal throttle any time soon after I finished my 20-minute testing session.
Dragon Ball Legends
Dragon Ball Legends is one of a few games without a quality setting but instead gives you the option to download HD textures. That’s what I did, and after waiting 2 long hours for the 2GBs of textures to download, I was finally able to run the test. Dragon Ball Legends got a great 30fps with a stability of 96%. There was no option to turn the framerate up, but I doubt it would have any trouble handling 60fps.
Real Racing 3
Unlike Asphalt 9, Real Racing 3 allows for some of the smoothest gameplay at 60fps. It handles this 60fps very well at an amazing 100% fps stability. This means that throughout the entire testing period, the fps dropped below 60 almost never. This test really shows the capability of the GPU in the Honor 20.
While Subway Surfers might feel like a lightweight time-killing game, it really isn’t. It has lots of physics and graphics tracking to run through. That’s why the 55fps with 100% fps stability was all the more impressive. If you’re the casual gamer who likes to open up Subway Surfers to kill some time, the Honor 20 will be able to keep you on the run without dropping any frames.
Rules of Survival
Last, but certainly not least, is Rules of Survival. Just like all the other battle royale games we tested, Rules of Survival was able to handle its maximum framerate, in this case, 60fps, with ease and keep it stable as well. This is shown by the 99% frame stability. Throughout the 20-minute gaming session, the phone barely overheated and felt as though it could last for hours more.
Gaming Results Summary
I know reading through a bunch of stats usually isn’t the easiest, so all the results have been organized in the chart below. Every game we tested was set to the highest settings with the highest framerate enabled. Not every game supports 60fps, so that’s why you see some 60fps and some 30fps.
|Arena of Valor||31||96%||5.68%||654 MB|
|ARK: Survival Evolved||15||39%||8.69%||1482 MB|
|Asphalt 9||30||95%||8.69%||928 MB|
|Guns of Boom||60||99%||9.85%||481 MB|
|Honkai Impact 3rd||30||94%||11.26%||838 MB|
|Shadowgun Legends||54||85%||18.38%||930 MB|
|PUBG Mobile||60||99%||16.12%||943 MB|
|DOTA Underlords||30||99%||14.96%||916 MB|
|Dragon Ball Legends||30||96%||7.45%||1128 MB|
|Mobile Legends: Bang Bang||60||99%||0.36%||24 MB|
|Real Racing 3||60||100%||6.91%||629 MB|
|Rules of Survival||60||99%||11.56%||1209 MB|
|Subway Surfers||55||100%||9.68%||261 MB|
The gaming experience on the Honor 20 is very similar to most other phones. The glass back and aluminum sides give a nice grippy feel and the size makes 2-handed gaming easy and comfortable.
One of my main concerns with the Honor 20 and gaming is heat. As I mentioned in the PUBG Mobile section, the phone got so hot during my testing period that I couldn’t hold it. The phone was not hot enough to burn me or anything, but it was hot enough that it was uncomfortable to hold and I had to set it down and sparingly pick it up when in combat situations.
The phone reached this level of “I don’t want to touch you” hot after playing 3 games in succession. These games were ARK: Survival Evolved, PUBG Mobile, and Shadowgun Legends, probably some of the more intensive games I tested. However, the phone should start to throttle itself before it becomes so hot you can’t even hold it.
The hole punch wasn’t as much of an issue as you might assume. All the games filled up the entire display and it never really got in the way. It might have covered a tiny part of one of the games UI’s, but I was never bothered by it. For a little more about the experience of playing with a hole punch, I recommend checking out our Honor View20 gaming review. It has a dedicated section specifically about playing with the hole punch.
The Honor 20 isn’t meant to be a gaming phone like the ASUS ROG Phone or Nubia Red Magic 3. The Honor 20 is meant to be a comparatively in-expensive flagship for everyone. It might not focus on gaming, but it sure can game well enough for most users.
The Honor 20 doesn’t have the fancy gaming modes like many Samsung or OnePlus modes, but what it does have is pure performance. The device has good enough baseline performance that it doesn’t need a game mode or game locker, but instead, a behind-the-scenes GPU boost. That is all the Honor 20 needs to be an amazing gaming phone.
This is by no means the best phone we’ve tested for gaming performance, but for its price and performance, it is a great value for gaming and just all-around usage. If you are more interested in what the device is like using it day-to-day, I highly recommend checking out our Honor 20 review or the Honor 20 Pro review. Both give a great picture as to what the devices offer in normal usage.
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