PAT PILCHER gets a sneak preview of the forthcoming Huawei EMUI 10 Android upgrade. He finds its subtle refinement and evolution to his tastes.
Huawei has been busy battling Trump. But it’s also been gearing up for its next upgrade. One which will see it moving to Android Q. In addition to a new flavour of the little green droid, Huawei is also updating its Android skin, EMUI.
EMUI has more than a few clever tweaks and subtle upgrades. All of which extend its usefulness. That said, because I was testing a beta version on a P30 Pro, not all the new features in Huawei EMUI 10 were enabled. Other nifty tricks and features are also expected to get added for the next Huawei flagship. And that’s probably going to be the Mate 30.
New devices aside, the EMUI 10 update will be available for the P30 Pro and P30, Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20X/Mate 20 RS. And it should be instantly familiar to anyone familiar with previous versions.
The optional desktop drawer, gesture or button navigation options, and menus – they all have a distinctly Huawei look about them. Even the icons don’t look all that different.
Subtle, Yet Ingenious
Many of the tweaks are subtle. And dare I say it, ingenious. Huawei has upped its design game. going with a layout that it calls the Magazine Design. Which is all about white space for menus, text, and the notification bar.
Initially, I felt a bit conflicted by this, as pixel space is a scarce commodity on a smartphone. And any unused space is a waste. In use, however, I found that the Magazine look rapidly grew on me. Everything feels just that much more uncluttered and busier screens become more comfortable to navigate.
It isn’t just about more space. Huawei has opted for colours, which see menus coloured off-white. Light grey and softer/subtle tones get used in email, clock, and the contacts apps. Not only does this lend EMUI 10 a more sophisticated look, but it’s also far easier on the eyes.
Animations have got some tweaking, too. Huawei models them on real-world physics, with a skeuomorphic sensibility. Press on-screen buttons and you see them depress into the screen and pop back up. On-screen menus and other objects are also more kinetic.
I get the impression the revised animations are not so much about pointless eye-candy … but are more about giving Huawei EMUI 10 a responsive feel. Many on-screen animations are subtle, even if they do help give an overall feeling of zippiness.
The star of the EMUI 10 show is dark mode. This is a key feature of Android Q. So why is dark mode such a big deal? With many phones using OLED displays, dark on-screen areas consist of pixels that are switched off.
Because of this, dark mode extends battery life. It also won’t dazzle you (or others) if you pick up and use your phone in low light conditions (such as a cinema – one of my pet peeves).
Huawei has thoughtfully implemented a range of colours and design styles that are comfortable to read in low light. The upshot is that instead of inverting white into black, Huawei’s cleverly tweaked colours reduce eyestrain by making everything so much easier to read.
Dark mode in Huawei EMUI 10 also applies not just to the OS, but also pre-installed apps. Huawei says they’re also working with third-party developers so they can use dark mode too. Many of the apps from the Huawei app store will make use of Huawei’s enhanced dark mode.
As expected, the P30 Pro’s camera app has also got tweaks, including a reworked zoom slider and an AI toggle. The Aperture shooting mode has bokeh levels listed by f-stop, and new photo colour processing options are there too. Instead of having the choice of photos being in a standard, vivid, or a smooth colour scheme, there are now 11 colour options.
Huawei EMUI 10 – summary
Huawei EMUI 10 is not so much a fundamental sea-change for Huawei. It’s rather as a collection of well thought out refinements. All of these combine to deliver a smoother and more visually pleasing user experience. Considering that the version of EMUI 10 I tested was a beta, I was impressed at how smoothly everything ran.