Software UI - EMUI 8.1

On the software side the P20’s ship with Android 8.1 out of the box and they use Huawei’s EMUI 8.1 customisation. I’ve never had large issues with EMUI and generally the only real thing that bothered me was Huawei’s horizontal multi-tasking menu that ended up being ditched a few versions ago.

EMUI 8.1 on the P20’s is extremely conservative in terms of its customisations to Android and is I think Huawei’s lightest variant to date. The default launcher has no application drawer, rather opting to store the apps in its right-hand homescreens. In particular this global version of the firmware seems very much very “Googly” as the default launcher even includes the Google feed when swiping right from the homescreen – just like on the Pixel phones.

In terms of UI design, EMUI 8.1 is also very clean and pleasant to look at and honestly I didn’t see anything really bothering me – with the only nitpick being that some elements didn’t quite follow my customised reduced text size, such as for example the Google feed or a few other UI elements throughout the interfaces.

An interesting feature that’s hidden in the battery settings and only available on the P20 Pro is the ability to switch to a dark UI. Huawei here clearly gives the users to take full advantage of the AMOLED screen on the P20 Pro and it does give a very slick look to the settings menu for example. Naturally Huawei offers a full theme store with custom themes that you can apply.

The notification and quick access menu was also kept very clean and again, there’s not much to say here as everything was functional. The only thing that I feel was missing was an additional switch to toggle auto-brightness as that would avoid the trip into the settings menu.

In regards to the notch – I did not encounter any issues in any applications with it. Here Huawei’s firmware clearly separates the notch area from the regular application space and I didn’t see anything having issues with it. In fullscreen applications, the apps stop at the edge of the notch so effectively the notch ears aren’t used in landscape mode, giving the impression of balanced bezels on the sides of the phones, although the bottom bezel is still ever so slightly bigger. For all the noise over the last few months in regards to notches, this was by far the least controversial experience I had. Huawei’s choice of going for an extremely wide aspect ratio and then actually dedicating that added area to notch functionality works very well.

I could go into more depth of the various Huawei system applications – but there would be nothing exciting to read there as there’s nothing controversially different in EMUI 8.1 – it just offers a good out-of-box experience with no surprises.

All in all EMUI 8.1 is pretty non-eventful. It delivers a very fast and streamlined experience, while still adding in Huawei specific touches to it that elevates it from stock Android. Huawei devices have over the last few years been historically been one of the fastest in terms of overall UI snappiness and again the P20’s here don’t disappoint.

Introduction & Design System Performance
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  • chrnochime - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Widespread success in western market? Europe maybe but North America? I doubt it. Reply
  • Retycint - Friday, June 15, 2018 - link

    Literally in the next paragraph, "put an end to Huawei’s ambitions in the US ... However, outside the US, Huawei products are as popular as ever"

    It would be good to remember that US is just one country out of 'Western countries", and in Europe Huawei is one of the top selling brands on par with Apple/Samsung.
    Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    US is the only western country that matters, though. Reply
  • beginner99 - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    Except that Europe has double the population from US... Reply
  • mkaibear - Saturday, June 16, 2018 - link

    >double the population from US...

    And a bigger economy. Admittedly the US GDP/capita is higher but...
    Reply
  • dustwalker13 - Sunday, June 17, 2018 - link

    only if you take the whole EU as a unit including the comparatively poor eastern european countries.

    central europe has the us beat in terms of gdp/capita and the total economic power of the pop of the whole eu is significantly higher than the us.

    in the end though, neither the us nor eu are as big as the asian market at this point. i find the 'merica! guys almost funny. it is like watching an old society lady bitch about that progressive lord next door, imagining her opinion had any weight still, while in reality both are sitting in crumbling castles and the world has moved on years ago.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Monday, June 18, 2018 - link

    "only if you take the whole EU as a unit including the comparatively poor eastern european countries."

    well, as Crooked Hillary said (and it's true) her votes came from districts that produced 65% of GDP. The Evil One, of course, snuck in on the basis of the skewed Electoral College biased to the low information, low income, low education empty states. the poor will always be with you.
    Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - link

    This is simply not true.
    Districts do not produce GDP, working people do.
    And most poor and stupid actually voted for Clinton:
    <$50,000 53% Clinton 41% Trump
    $50,000-$100,000 46% Clinton 49% Trump.
    $100,000 & over 47% 47%
    https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections...

    Keep telling yourself the lies though.
    Reply
  • Round - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    This is supposed to be about a second rate phone from china and gullible buyers, not politics, but oh well...

    The only problem with Crooked Hillary (besides her not being in a CIA black-site prison for the rest of her unnatural life) and her comment/assessment, is that many highly-educated, high intelligent people decided that her brand of sociopathy was too much for them. Many hard working, also intelligent, people also found her lies too hard to swallow.

    While we have a crass and utter buffoon in office now, the myth that anyone smart enough to see Hillary for the conniving waste she is must be "low information, low income, low education" is only believed - and spewed ad nauseam - by the malignantly ignorant, non-thinking masses of clueless progressives. N.B. I an NOT talking about democrats (an endangered species), I'm only talking about the worst ignorant identity-politicing progressives.

    Perhaps learning what Hillary's globalism really means to Americans and the GDP/per capita income, instead of relying upon the dishonest pablum coming from the nuts and sociopaths on the left would be worth some time. Just a thought.....
    Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - link

    "central europe has the us beat in terms of gdp/capita"

    False. Only tiny countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg (in the latter case because of out-of-country commuters - similar mistake like GDP per capita in the suburbia-dominated American cities incorrectly calculated by taking product produced by all people working in the cities, including commuters from suburbs (usually producing the most product by value), but dividing them only by the number of people living in the cities.
    Statistical slight of hand, one of the many employed by liars.
    Reply

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