In 2018, bad notches happened to good Android phones. But the design trend for 2019 is going to be much better, judging from my first experience with the notch’s successor: the hole-punch display. The Honor View 20 is one of the first flagship phones with a selfie camera cutout that’s literally just the camera itself. It’s almost exactly the size of the opening that a hole punch makes in sheets of paper, so I think the name is apt. And it helps to almost completely eliminate the top bezel of the phone. Coming to the View 20 from my jumbo-notch-equipped Pixel 3 XL has been a revelation and a delight.
The View 20 is already official in China, but it’s still a couple of weeks away from its global launch in an event in Paris on January 21st. Look out for our full review at that time, but for now I can furnish you with a few facts about the phone and my first impressions of the hole-punch life.
This phone’s screen is an LCD that measures 6.4 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 2310 x 1080. Honor’s done some clever engineering to create a cutout in an LCD, which is a trickier task than doing the same with an OLED panel. The View 20 has good viewing angles, rich but not overwhelming colors, and sufficient sharpness to satisfy my needs. The aspect where it most apparently lags flagship competition is in its brightness outdoors.
As to the software experience, that will take a bit of refinement to get just right, but most apps are basically unaffected. The cutout just nudges the notification and status icons into the middle of the display and everything goes along as it already did with notches. You can also opt to have a black bar going across the screen, should you be especially offended by any distinctive cutouts at the front of the display.
It’s a hard to think of Honor, an understudy brand to Huawei’s consumer electronics operation, as a competitive name at the very highest tier of smartphones. But this company has done a very neat job of integrating the design feature that will dominate 2019 with its hole-punch display. And with specs like a 4,000mAh battery, a 7nm Kirin 980 processor, a 48-megapixel camera, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage, the View 20 is proving to be quite the compelling start to the year.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge