User Interface - Emotion UI 3.0

We've seen our first taste of Huawei's direction in UI design in my Honor 6 review. With the Mate 7 Huawei also introduced their new design language and overhaul of Emotion UI. Version 3.0 is basically a complete fresh take in terms of looks while still keeping the additional functionality that Huawei seems to be very good at to differentiate themselves from other vendors.




The basic skin that covers the notification shade and the settings menus employs a very minimalistic and white colour scheme. Simplistic icons throughout the interface offer one of the more conservative interface experiences on Android. I'd even be pressed to say that I preferred the more colourful icons in EmUI 2.3 as they added more diversity. This might not be at all an issue to most users as the main interface and colours in most applications is determined by the user applied theme.

The phone comes with a theme manager and allows for download of a wide variety of skins offered in its online browsing catalogue. Themes now also are able to set basic colour schemes of the built-in applications, meaning there's something there for everybody's taste. 

The recent tasks menu has also received a unique design, instead of having a linear list of screen caps or a card design as found in Android 5.0, Huawei offers a "tabbed" interface, showing 4 applications per screen and swipeable screens to be able to scroll through the tab windows. Swiping a tab up closes the application, swiping it down locks it from being closed by the memory manager. Alternatively you can swipe from the bottom of the screen to close all apps.

I find this very convoluted and actually impractical compared to the stock Android recent tasks screen, it adds nothing in terms of usability and even prevents you from quickly reaching an application which was less recently used as you have to swipe screens to search for it.

I've praised Huawei's modification of Android in EmUI 2.3 - luckily we find the same functionality again here in EmUI 3.0. Huawei provides fine-granularity controls over installed applications on the phone. As such, you're able to determine network access (WiFi or mobile data) on a per-app basis in the Network Manager, while also monitoring their data usage. A Notification Manager enables you to control which applications are allowed to push notifications to the system, giving the possibility to have apps prompt, or directly whitelist or blacklist them.

The Permission Manager is also extremely competent, almost totally foregoing Android's built-in permission settings. You can have an application prompt for specific permissions whenever they actually need them, and accept or deny them on a per-app, per-permission basis. The Android app ecosystem has an issue with applications requesting a lot of, sometimes dubious permissions. I see this as Huawei's attempt at alleviating user concerns about security. For those who think this might be a too bothersome system - I strongly disagree; it is not very intrusive, while still being able to provide lots of power of control.

The Battery and Power Consumption managers again offer lots of information - Huawei seems to be very strict in trying to reign in power abusive and misbehaving applications. If you have an application which is running in the background and taking up a more-than normal amount of CPU cycles a notification warning will tell you about it and give you the possibility to kill the app. A manager dedicated to listing the background power of all applications on the phone enables you to identify power drains.

A totally new feature in EmUI 3.0 is the introduction of a vast array of new security and privacy features. With the introduction of the fingerprint sensor, Huawei is able to implement easily accessible privacy features on the phone. Beyond the obvious unlocking via the fingerprint sensor, you can also use your fingerprint to protect contacts, and message conversations, private albums and even per-app locking mechanism.

The album and application locking mechanisms is what I see people actually would be using pretty often. Being able to lock certain parts of your phone while still being able to not fear to give your phone to your friend or family member is a great feature that should avoid many embarrassing moments for some people. How it works is that the OS asks for a fingerprint scan (or passcode fallback) any time you access a given album or application.

Overall Huawei offers a lot in terms of software. EmotionUI 3.0 is a great overhaul over version 2.3 and might subjectively be one of the more attractive Android OEM skins. Aside from the recent tasks screen I don't have much critique in terms of functionality of the OS. Huawei continues to pack in unique features into the OS without affecting performance or overly bloating the device. 

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  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, December 8, 2014 - link

    Here at AnandTech we post objective and reproducible benchmarks, this includes the battery test.

    Of course the phone will last 3-4 days if you use it lightly, but this all depends on your personal usage, your environment, the brightness of the screen and a plethora of other variables.
  • Bondurant - Friday, December 5, 2014 - link

    Interesting to note also that phonearena's battery test results puts Mate 7 to be better than Note 4

    HUAWEI ASCEND MATE7 9h 3 min (Excellent)

    SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 4 8h 43 min (Excellent)
    SONY XPERIA Z3 9h 29 min (Excellent)
    HUAWEI ASCEND MATE 2 4G 11h 26 min (Excellent)
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, December 8, 2014 - link

    The Mate 7 also leads the Note 4 in our tests, but only by 12%. Considering the Note 4 powers a QHD screen and has 900mAh higher battery capacity, means that the Mate 7 is much less efficient.
  • Ethos Evoss - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    because they like slagging chhinese mobiles and they ar isheeps so they dont want look bad bcos they own all iphones..
  • Bondurant - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    With regards to the UI, you mentioned the theme also customized the buit in apps, but if you notice carefully even by a basic change of the wallpaper, the whole UI and in built apps cleverly adapts to the color of the wallpaper in an elegant way. I love that aspect on the Emui3.0 and is way advanced then the amateurish theme implementation to come on Samsung.

    There are a plenty of other aspects you UI you didn't mention, like swiping down from anywhere in homescreen you get a indepth search option, or the double click vol down on screen off for 0.6 second quick shot photo or the pretty gallery interface and other minor aspects like the addition of a button on navigation bar to bring down notification panel, their one hand UI unique implementation of moving keypad to a side by motion gesture, long press of multitask navigation button to switch quick between last two used apps (they have also added split screen functionality in their latest update of Emui3.0 in China).
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    EmUI 3.0 has a huge amount of features like the one you mentioned, but I can't allocate several pages just to mention every small feature found in the phone. Things like the configurable navigation buttons are for example visible on my screenshots, and much more if you look at the UI gallery.
  • Hrel - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    "5.9” Stopped reading.

    Stupid phablets, can I get a 5" phone again? PLEASE?!
  • Ethos Evoss - Saturday, December 6, 2014 - link

    yeah get honor 6
  • Arbie - Thursday, December 4, 2014 - link

    Especially on a big-ticket item like this, I see a non-replaceable battery as a major negative. I don't mean non-swappable; I mean not user-replaceable at all.

    There are years of experience with such things by now, especially among the folks on this forum. What are people doing when their tablets or high-end phones won't charge anymore and they can't replace the battery themselves? Send it in to the manufacturer? Throw away a $500 item? Are there reliable US third-parties that do it quickly and cheaply?
  • spixel - Saturday, December 6, 2014 - link

    So did you actually do a real gaming test on this phone, or just basemark? Because I don't play basemark and neither does anyone else.

    You should put more emphasis on the real life performance of the phone and not results from benchmarks.

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