Huawei takes the best of Google's Android operating system for its smartphones and adds its own re-skin twist called EMUI - or "Emotion User Interface". This means additional features, management and controls compared to what you'll find in other phones.
The latest Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are among the first to arrive on the EMUI 5.1 platform. A number of Huawei's previous phones have recently made their way to EMUI 5.0 - an ultimately similar system which has a focus on optimisation to ensure a long life for your handset thanks to a machine learning algorithm which learns your use patterns and can target the most-used apps with the best resources.
Thing is, if you don't know where some of the special features of EMUI are tucked away then you might not get the benefit of them all. In this feature we'll run you through the extras that will see you learn to love EMUI 5.1.
EMUI 5.1 tips: Lockscreen shortcuts
From the lock screen it's possible to quick-launch shortcuts for baked-in apps: Quick-access Recorder, Calculator, Flashlight, Stopwatch, QR code. Simply swipe up from the bottom edge of the lock screen and it will reveal the five-strong arrangement of circular shortcuts. Above is the ability to change or affix wallpaper or share a cover.
Quick camera launch. As per stock Android, a swipe from the bottom right corner of the lock screen will load the Camera app. To load the app and immediately capture a shot a double-tap of the volume down button will be your new best friend (within the Camera app this can be set to just open the camera, or deactivated entirely).
Set PIN / Pattern / Password to unlock. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Screen Lock & Passwords. Here you can set pattern, PIN, password or remove lock methods.
EMUI 5.1: Fingerprint and gesture control
Fingerprint unlock. In addition to a pattern, PIN or password lock you can register multiple fingerprints to login to your phone. On the P10 and P10 Plus the front-positioned scanner is hyper responsive and easy to operate (older P-series phones have the fingerprint scanner on the rear).
It's possible to add up to five individual fingerprints. To do so: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Fingerprint ID > Fingerprint Management (enter PIN as prompted) > New Fingerprint, then follow the enrolment process.
Fingerprint gesture control via off-screen navigation button: New to EMUI 5.1 is the addition of gesture controls for the P10 and P10 Plus. To access: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Navigation Key and you'll be presented with Off-screen navigation button or Virtual navigation bar.
Once activated, gestures work as so: press to return home; long press for Google Now on Tap; swipe left to go back; swipe right to open recent apps. As the trio of typical Android soft keys won't be on the home screen it means more space to enjoy your content, without less need to reach up across the phone screen during use. Handy.
EMUI 5.1: Home screen adjustments and organisation
Home Screen Style: App Drawer vs Standard layouts. If you're content with your app icons being present across across your homepages, the default Standard layout will suit you fine. If you prefer an App Drawer - where all apps are contained to tidy up the home screen, as per some other stock Android phones by default - this can be activated too.
To access: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > tap Home Screen Style > choose between Standard and App Drawer options.
More/fewer app icons. Once you've done that you can decide how many apps you want to show on your P10 or P10 Plus. To select between a 5x5, 4x5 or 5x4 icon grid layout, again press-and-hold anywhere on the home screen > select Settings to the bottom right corner. To the top of this settings page is Home Layout with these options available.
EMUI 5.1: Custom controls
In addition to press- and swipe-based navigation controls via the navigation button, there are one-handed, floating dock, gesture-based and even knuckle-based controls.
Add Floating Dock. Another handy feature for the larger P10 Plus is the Floating Dock, a side-positioned shortcut (which you can drag to position) that contains the trio of Android soft keys, plus a lock screen button and quick tidy-up (for closing unnecessary apps). It only comes with the five shortcuts, though, and there's no way to edit these. It's also the only way to have soft keys on the display if you're using the off-screen navigation button.
Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Smart Assistance > activate Floating Dock. Alternatively, swipe down from the top of the screen, expand the shortcuts and Floating Dock is within here.
Motion control. Also contained within Smart Assistance is a Motion Control tab.
- Flip to mute the phone when it's ringing or the alarm is sounding.
- Pick Up to reduce ring/alarm volume by lifting the device.
- Raise to Ear which auto-answers calls.
These three options can be independently switch on or off and each have deeper customisation for calls and alarm settings.
Knuckle gestures. The Huawei special. By using a hard knuckle to write on the screen rather than a softer finger, a "second layer" of commands can be instructed:
- Double-tap for screen shot (using one knuckle).
- Draw where knuckle-drawn letters activate apps (C for Camera, M for music, and so forth - each can be customised from a fuller list of apps).
- Split-screen gesture where a knuckle-drawn line across the screen when in an app screen will open the recent apps to the lower portion.
EMUI 5.1: Dual SIM and App Twin
One of our favourite features in the P10 and P10 Plus is the dual SIM functionality - ideal if you have a business number and a personal one, all within the one phone. Failing that, the second slot doubles-up as a microSD card slot, so you can expand the storage by up to an additional 256GB.
WhatsApp/Facebook per SIM card. Unlike other dual SIM phones, however, EMUI 5.1 (and version 5.0) allows you to double-up on Facebook and WhatsApp applications - one per SIM/phone number. Very smart. Huawei calls it App Twin. It's possible to have WhatsApp and Facebook twins at present, but in the future there could be more twin options (that will take third-party development and approval before it's possible).
To enable: swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > App Twin. It's as easy as that.
EMUI 5.1: Manage notifications per app
Alert notifications are useful, but you won't want to necessarily receive them all the time from every app. Notifications can be individually dismissed, by swiping them away, but you can also setup an individual app's level of notifications too, to apply to all future settings.
Allow/silence/block notifications from an app. If an app keeps popping-up notifications and you don't want it to, press-and-hold the notification which will raise the a trio of immediate options:
- Don't make sound and vibrate (silences notifications, but still allows them to display).
- Sound and vibrate (the default setting).
- Block all from this app (effectively ceases an app's notification powers).
Adjust where/how an app can display notifications. There are two ways to access the deep-dive settings: from the press-and-hold of a notification, select More Settings; or swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps. From here it's possible to see all your installed apps, individually select them, within which there is the Notifications setting:
- Display in the status bar. This is where you'll see little icons appear to the very top left of your home screen. Letter icons for mail, hash icons for Slack, and all manner of other custom icons. You might want to switch off notifications from obscure apps you don't use much, to keep things neater.
- Banners. These are the floating mini views that some apps present, such as Mail. They're a great quick access point, but if you don't want them here's where to switch them on or off.
- Display on lock screen. Keep the lock screen totally private by hiding all notification displays.
- Priority display. For those key apps; allows notifications to ring with preference.
- Ringtone/Vibrate/deactivate. If you want no notifications at all, turn off the Allow Notifications button. If you want only ringtone, vibration or both then toggle the necessary Ringtone and Vibrate buttons on or off.
Apps drawing over other apps. Some apps have special permission to draw over other apps. The Facebook Messenger pop-up bubble being one prime example. This can be deactivated by accessing Apps (swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps). Within your list of apps each can be selected individually, within which is an Advanced tab (for relevant apps only), with Draw Over Other Apps selectable within.
Not receiving notifications when you should be? If you stop receiving notifications try this to access Ignore Optimisations: access Apps (swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps) > hit the blue settings cog icon to the bottom of that screen > select Special Access under the Advanced tab > Unrestricted Data Access. Here apps can be granted always-on data irrelevant of what other settings state.
Allow system wakeup. Additionally, try this: access Apps (swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps). Specific apps will have a System Wakeup button within their Battery tab, which you'll want to leave active for an app alert to trigger even when the phone is in sleep mode.
EMUI 5.1: Do not disturb and volume settings
Notification light and status bar settings. You can select if you want a pulsing notification light, display carrier name, network speed, battery percentage, and whether notifications are icons or numbers. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Notification & Status Bar where all these settings can be found.
Activate Do Not Disturb. This lets you silence your phone, without interruptions - except for specified exceptions. You can schedule DND, add additional time rules (custom, per day), event rules (from calendar), or allow alarms and priority interruptions only. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Do Not Disturb.
Allow designated apps to interrupt. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps. Select the desired app from the list, within which there is the Notifications setting, choose Priority Display.
Set ringtone, media, alarms and calls volumes. These can be individually adjusted. Simply hit the volume up/down button, which will adjust the ringtone volume from loudest down to vibrate (or there's a mute button). This pop-up banner has a blue arrow to its top right corner, hit this to open the other individual settings to adjust.
EMUI 5.1: Battery optimisation and power-intensive prompts
Here's where EMUI works its own magic, ensuring long-lasting battery life per charge. The system is very good at alerting you when apps in the background are eating away at juice unnecessarily and will prompt you to close them. Such alerts can be dismissed individually, but will keep repeating without taking additional action.
Deactivate power-intensive prompt. This can only be activated per app, and actively used ones at that. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Apps. Select the desired app from the list, hit Battery and deselect Power-intensive Prompt.
Find out which apps are power-intensive. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Battery and under the App Power Saving Tab is Power Intensive Apps. Within here the phone will show you the active apps running in the background. It's possible to select them and close them should you want.
Close app after screen has locked. If you don't want a certain app to be eating battery life when it's not fully active and in use, follow the above step and select Close After Screen Locked.
Battery optimisation. There are three battery modes:
- Normal. The default setting, which doesn't throttle the CPU or background activity.
- Power Saving. Select this for a slight lift in battery life. It will limit background app activity, such as push notifications, and limit the CPU.
- Ultra power saving. For when battery life is really low as you'll get more than double life from this setting. It sets the phone into a simple mode, with only basic call and SMS apps available. One for emergencies/festivals. It can also be activated from a swipe down from the top of the screen and selecting from the expanded shortcuts.
Show battery remaining as a percentage. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Battery. The bottom option is Remaining Battery Percentage (the font of which differs to the active Theme).
EMUI 5.1: Display adjustment
Screen too warm or cold? Huawei allows you to adjust the colour to suit your eyes, your mood and your content.
Customise colour balance. Swipe down from the top of the home screen > hit the settings cog icon > select Display. Under the Screen tab is Colour Temperature where it's possible to select pre-defined Warm or Cold, plus use the colour wheel to specifically customise the colour balance to your preference.
Change font size. Within the Display settings (method above) under the Personalised tab is Font Size. Choose between Small, Normal, Large, Huge and Extra Huge (the last is only available for Messaging, Contacts and Dialler).
Eye comfort (for night reading). Within the Display settings (method above) under the Screen tab is Eye Comfort. This filters out blue light to relieve visual fatigue when reading for long periods. It makes the screen look rather yellow, though, so you won't want it on all the time. It can be activated as you please or even scheduled per day, plus a slider between Less Warm and Warmer allows for comfort customisation.
EMUI 5.1: Dual camera tips
Huawei's push into dual camera technology is one of the features which makes the camera stand out compared to its competitors. The P10 and P10 Plus both have one colour and one monochrome sensor, meaning it's possible to shoot true black and white whenever you want.
Activate Monochrome shooting. Open the Camera app, swipe from left side of the screen to open the Modes menu. Select Monochrome from here to use the true black & white sensor to full effect.
Activate Pro Mode for full control. By defauly the Camera app is a point-and-shoot affair. There's a small tab with an upwards arrow just above the virtual shutter key, however, which when pulled upwards activates Pro Mode. This offers metering, ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, focus type and white balance control. It's available in both Colour and Monochrome (the latter minus white balance of course).
Create shallow depth of field (blurred background). Part of the reason Huawei has opted for two cameras is that it can offset the data between them, creating a depth map and the ability, via software, to blur the background as if it was taken with a much wider-open aperture. The Leica-endorsed camera of the P10 and P10 Plus support from f/0.95 to f/16 in post. Simply click on the circular aperture setting at the top of the screen. As these phones are so powerful it's also possible to shoot video with this effect operating in real time.
Portrait mode. An EMUI 5.1 special (you won't find it this advanced in phones prior to the P10 and P10 Plus), the Leica-endorsed front-facing 8MP camera will load with Portrait mode selected. The phones are able to 3D map faces for accuracy when blurring the background, but also so that colour accuracy is heightened for the subject's face. It works really well.
Wide group selfie. If more than two of you are trying to get that killer selfie, the P10 and P10 Plus will figure that out for you. When the phones detect multiple faces looking to the front-facing camera, it will automatically adjust the angle of view to be wider to fit you and all your friends into the frame. You don't even need to do anything - this is automatic.
Highlights. The Gallery is more advanced in EMUI 5.1, so the P10 and P10 Plus will automatically arrange your shots by where they were shot, when, with who and various relevant fields so that they're easy to find in the future. This happens daily, so once you're years into shooting it won't be tricky to find what you're after by going into the Discover
GoPro Quik integration. Another EMUI 5.1 special is the subtle integration of GoPro's Quik app. This uses the highlights in each Discovery album to generate a short video reel with attached music. You can save the video, share it, edit it to suit, or discard it (and all future ones) as you please.
Shoot raw images. In addition to JPEG files there's support for DNG. Simple go into the camera settings (method above) and hit the Raw button.
Capture a burst of images. Simply press-and-hold the screen to whirr off a rapid burst of capture, which is saved as an image stack. Useful for fast-moving or high-speed subjects. This press-and-hold can also be used to activate focus control, adjusted within the settings.
EMUI 5.1: Live record the screen
Another Huawei specific feature is the ability to live record your device - which could be handy if you wanted to make a how-to video to share with a friend. It's activated by tapping two knuckles twice on the screen.
The resulting video is saved in your Files > Videos area (not Screenshots as the system claims). It's a nifty feature.
EMUI 5.1: Business card scanner
Another EMUI special: it's possible to capture business card information and render it as a contact using the camera.
Open Dialler > hit Contacts > then either hit Business Cards at the top of your contacts list, or hit the Scan button on the floating widget bottom centre. A QR-like reader will pop up allowing a card to be scanned in to render a new contact.