Huawei needs to reimagine the ugly EMUI interface
Dead set on not hauling around my dedicated camera, I picked up a Huawei Mate 20 Pro for its useful “jack-of-all-trades” camera loadout. In hindsight, I should have probably chosen up a Galaxy S10+, but what is a man if he doesn't go outside his comfort zone - I had never used a Huawei device for a long period of time before, and dreaded a sub-par experience, but at the end of the day, curiosity got the best of me.
From a purely photographic standpoint, the Mate 20 Pro didn’t disappoint me at all. Sure, I could have probably came up with way more usable images if I had taken my real camera, but this little Chinese phone proved to be quite the versatile camera performer. The battery life was unexpectedly good, too, and the phone struck a very nice balance between features and compactness.
There’s only one thing that irritated me and made me want to gouge my eyes out - the interface.
Huawei's interface is awfulYes, I hated EMUI at first sight and despite my hopes that this would be some Ugly Duckling scenario in which I’d end up loving it in the end, Huawei’s proprietary interface is just not as good. Despite the troves of features and functionalities EMUI has on deck, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was using some half-baked Android Marshmallow ROM originating from the depths of XDA. It’s anachronistic and feels like an afterthought on Huawei’s part, one that hasn’t actually been visually-improved for years.
All in all, EMUI is plain ugly, and that’s despite the fact that it still tries to copy the looks of both iOS and stock Android.
While in the early days of Android EMUI the looks of the interface were getting a pass, it’s 2019 now, and software is quite an important aspect of a phone. Even more than hardware itself, actually. Thus, I find it perplexing why EMUI is still so ugly and unrefined, marring the overall otherwise-positive experience I had with the Mate 20 Pro.
Check out the screenshot above. Yeah, that’s the default icon setup of the Huawei Mate 20. Try to count all the different icon appearance styles that you can find.
- Minimalism? Yes, there are a few minimalist icons.
- Skeuomorphism? Sure thing, Sherlock, we've got that in here, too!
- Squircle icons? You betcha!
- Round icons? Why, yes!
- Flat icons? But of course.
- A rather hideous homage to iOS? We see you, Settings app!
The more you look, the worse it gets. Is Huawei's EMUI an angsty teen struggling to find themselves? I doubt it. To say that Huawei’s approach towards iconography is a hodgepodge of different styles would probably be a compliment, as the inconsistencies have little to no design merit at all. Samsung got a lot of flak for the cartoon-ish icons in OneUI, but at least those have a comforting consistency to them and make up for a very uniform appearance throughout the interface.