OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

oneplus 6t vs honor view 20 camera shootout header
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We don’t want to alarm you, but we can see smoke, and a lick of flame coming out of your wallet. It looks like the $500 or so inside needs, no wants, to be spent, and there are two smartphones vying for your attention around this price — the OnePlus 6T and Honor View 20.

You have probably heard these two described as premium midrange smartphones or “flagship killers,” with the reasonable price being a highlight. The thing is, both these phones are shrewd buys, loved by those who smirk at $1,000 price tags on devices that don’t really offer much more.

Put next to each other, the designs are obviously different but both are good-looking. It’s only when you compare the cameras that the massive differences between them start to appear. Judged on megapixel numbers alone, the Honor View 20’s 48 megapixels is “better” than the OnePlus 6T’s 16 megapixels, but more megapixels doesn’t always mean a better photo. We wanted to see how the two phones stacked up against each other in the real world, so took the pair along on a trip to Paris, Nice, and Cannes in France, with a stop in Monaco as well. Here’s what happened.

The cameras

On paper, the OnePlus 6T and Honor View 20 are quite different. The OnePlus 6T has a pair of camera lenses on the back — one with 16 megapixels and the other with 20 megapixels. Both lenses have an f/1.7 aperture, optical image stabilization, and a night mode.

The Honor View 20 has a single camera lens joined by a 3D time-of-flight sensor (TOF) to measure distance and depth. The sensor has 48-megapixels and is made by Sony, with an f/1.8 aperture, artificial intelligence-driven image stabilization, all kinds of A.I. modes including one that enhances the 48-megapixel mode, as well as a night mode too.

The apps

OnePlus goes for simplicity here. The camera app is very easy to use, and has only two additional stills modes, the portrait and night mode. It’s fast and responsive mostly, but we did have a few problems with the camera processing night mode shots, where it often spent 20 or 30 seconds “optimizing” the image after tapping the shutter button. This means you can’t take any other photos, which can be awkward.

The Honor View 20 is considerably more complex, with additional stills modes including both portrait and aperture, along with night mode on the main viewfinder screen, and even more modes when you open the More menu. Buttons for artificial intelligence, megapixel count, and even more are found along the top of the screen and under the settings cog. It’s stable and well laid out though, and didn’t frustrate despite the laundry list of features.

However, what did frustrate is the seemingly random way it retains the previous shooting mode. Often it will switch out of 48-megapixel mode and use the 12-megapixel mode, and almost never stayed in the A.I. Ultra Clarity mode. The long-winded way of selecting 48-megapixel mode also meant we often forgot about it, and ended up taking a 12-megapixel shot instead. This is a real world test, and is something to consider when buying either of these phones — the Honor View 20 needs attention to get the best from it.

Both camera apps can be quickly accessed from the lock screen using an upward swipe from the bottom right corner.

The photos

Paris in the sunshine

Right away, the two cameras took very different photographs. It’s not often we get such drastically different results from cameras on devices that cost around the same amount of money.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor View 20’s photograph of the Canal Académie building is stunning. The colors are especially spectacular, giving the building real texture and age, which blends very well with the gradient of the blue sky. The OnePlus 6T’s photo is brighter, to the point of being slightly overexposed. The building loses some of its appeal, and there’s less detail in the stone work. The blue sky is more realistic, but equally as visually appealing as the Honor View 20’s photo. They really are quite different. Not bad different, just two different takes on the scene. In this case, we prefer the Honor View 20’s photo, which we believe has more visual appeal.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Take a look at some of the other examples from Paris. It’s a similar situation in the photo of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, where the stone wall next to the river has a superior texture, while the sky is less of a natural blue than the OnePlus 6T’s photo.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Examine the Hôtel de Ville photo and see the additional levels of detail available in the View 20’s picture too.

The Honor View 20’s photos here were both taken in the 48-megapixel mode with A.I. Ultra Clarity activated. It’s obvious the difference it makes in these pictures.

Winner: Honor View 20

Zoomed in photos

The OnePlus 6T has a 2x digital zoom feature, which the Honor View 20 also offers in standard 12 megapixel mode. Honor also sells the 48 megapixel mode as offering the chance to zoom in to a photo by cropping it, without a loss of quality. We took three photos of a statue featuring the winged Goddess of Victory in Paris.

oneplus 6t vs honor view 20 camera shootout pillar zoom 1
OnePlus 6T Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This first photo is by the OnePlus 6T at 2x zoom, and even when zoomed in further looks impressive. The pillar has texture and definition, while the blue sky looks natural and vibrant.

oneplus 6t vs honor view 20 camera shootout 10 pillar zoom 2
Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor View 20’s 2x zoom with the 12-megapixel mode gives the pillar and the golden statue a different look entirely, losing the weathered style from the OnePlus 6T and adding vibrancy and glow to the statue itself, and a grey, concrete look to the pillar.

Left: Honor View 20 full 48-megapixel photo, right: same photo enlarged to show detail Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Finally, we have the Honor View 20’s 48-megapixel photo in full, alongside a version zoomed in to show the same area as seen in the OnePlus 6T’s image. While the zoomed in 48-megapixel photo by the View 20 is good, and certainly not something you could do with many other smartphone cameras, it doesn’t have the same level of detail when zoomed in further compared to the 12-megapixel photo. It also replicates the 12-megapixel photo’s handling of color and texture, which isn’t as good or as natural as the OnePlus 6T’s.

While all three are decent photos, we’d pick the OnePlus 6T here, for the greater level of detail in the final image.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Food

Want to share photos of the delicious dishes you order? Yes, us too, so performance here is important. Here are three examples of how these two cameras performed.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The first is a mont blanc from Angelina in Paris. We snapped the photo in standard mode, and let the camera decide where to focus. These are often one-shot deals, so it needs to be right first time. The Honor View 20 (in 12-megapixel mode) focused better than the OnePlus 6T, and we prefer the color too.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Moving on to the photo of the scallop ceviche from the excellent Peixes restaurant in Nice, the situation is reversed, and the OnePlus 6T produces a more natural looking photo, with beautiful whites and yellows. While the Honor View 20 — with the A.I. Food mode, which activated automatically, and at 48-megapixels — added too much color to the food, making it appear unnatural and filtered.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Finally, at Restaurant Albert in Antibes, in the photo of a salmon pasta the differences are swapped. The OnePlus 6T injects more color and vibrancy, while the Honor View 20 (a 12-megapixel photo here) washes the photo out. The OnePlus 6T is closer to real life, and definitely the more appetizing and instantly shareable photo.

Winner: OnePlus 6T

Epic scale

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Our first photo here was taken in Monaco, overlooking the marina at La Rascasse corner, and the entrance to the Formula One pit lane area. At first glance the Honor View 20’s photo (at 12-megapixels) looks better, with greater definition and color management, but get in closer and the OnePlus 6T’s photo is pin sharp, and we love how glassy the water looks. Both are great images.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Taking a photo from the tower at Musée de la Castre in Cannes, it’s the same situation. We like both photos, with the Honor View 20 (again, at 12 megapixels) looking so attractive overall, but we’re also are impressed with the sharpness of the OnePlus 6T’s photo.

Winner: Draw

Night photos

Night mode: Activate! Both these phones have a dedicated night mode for taking better photos in low light.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The first is from the beautiful Ezé village between Monaco and Nice, and was taken after sunset at 6:15 p.m. The winner here is clear, with the Honor View 20 (12 megapixels) performing far better than the OnePlus 6T, which makes the scene look like it had a light sprinkling of snow over it.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The second photo was taken after 10 p.m. on the streets of Paris, and again the Honor View 20 (12 megapixels) wins with so much more detail — look at the shadows of the trees on the wall to left of the photo — and less blur on the statue itself. The Honor View 20 holds the shutter open for several seconds to capture these photos, while the OnePlus 6T acts faster, but spends longer processing the shot afterwards.

Winner: Honor View 20

Sunsets

We were treated to a stunning sunset in Nice. Both cameras took great photos, but handled the scene differently.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

While the sun is still in the sky, the View 20 takes a startling photo filled with detail and emotion, with a great breadth of colors in the sky. The OnePlus 6T is a little less impressive, losing some of the beauty of the water and sky.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When the sun went down, the Honor View 20 added a vignette-style look to its photo that looks great, emphasizing the pink and blue of the sky and the reflection on the water, while the OnePlus 6T goes for an orange glow. For realism, the Honor View 20 wins here, while the OnePlus 6T is the photo we’d share without editing. However, the Honor View 20 takes the win when both photos are considered, and both its photos were taken at 48 megapixels.

Winner: Honor View 20

Bokeh and interiors

The Honor View 20 uses a 3D Time-of-Flight sensor to generate its bokeh mode, while the OnePlus 6T has a second camera sensor.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We tried this out in the Musée de la Castre in Cannes, and found both phones took great photos, with the results being too close to call. Perhaps shooting inside can split the pair?

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: Honor View 20 Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We took several indoor photos throughout the trip, and found this picture inside the Prince of Monaco’s Car Collection museum illustrated how they both performed. The Honor View 20 (12 megapixels) produced a more detailed picture that exposes more in the darker areas than the OnePlus 6T — look at the tires and front wheel well, and the interior, on the Ferrari 288 GTO in the forefront for proof. However, the red colors are far brighter in the OnePlus 6T’s picture. Neither are perfect here, but we prefer seeing more detail in the View 20’s photo.

We need a decider here, so we examined a photo taken in the tower at the Musée de la Castre in Cannes. This was a tough photo. It’s in a relatively dark old tower, shooting towards a bright window looking out on to a French town scene. We wanted to see the town, and still capture the stone walls and ceiling. We took photos in both standard and night mode, and first is the OnePlus 6T.

Left: OnePlus 6T, right: OnePlus 6T Nightscape Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6T’s regular photo is good, but the view through the window is not very clear and rather misty. The night mode shot is a disaster, completely obscuring the view from the window, and altering the color of the walls entirely.

Left: Honor View 20, right: Honor View 20 night mode Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Honor View 20 performs very well in both modes, and at 12 megapixels. In standard, the camera balances the scene expertly, with a clear view through the window and wonderfully grey stone walls. The night mode shot also handles the walls extremely well, and manages to also show the outside world. It’s an impressive performance, and because both photos are better than the OnePlus 6T, it takes the win.

Winner: Honor View 20

Conclusion

The Honor View 20 takes four wins here, the OnePlus 6T takes two, and the pair draw in a final category. While it looks like the Honor View 20 takes a decisive win, this was a very hard fought battle. We took dozens and dozens of photos with both phones, and were consistently impressed with the results from both. Apart from the shots in the tower from the OnePlus 6T, we were not disappointed with any, and felt both captured moments from our time away we’d be happy to share and keep.

However, that doesn’t take anything away from the superb performance of that 48-megapixel camera on the back of the Honor View 20. Now, time to take one of those 8000 x 6000 resolution photos and get it printed out.

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