EMUI 10 preview: What's new in Huawei's version of Android Q

EMUI 10 (Image credit: Android Central)

Even as the future of Huawei phones continues to be mired in uncertainty, the company is hard at work on the next version of its EMUI software, based on the upcoming Android Q. This is the update we'll see hitting the Huawei P30 series later in the year — and first, a bit of background on that. Huawei has recently confirmed that, even with its current blacklisting by the US government, it'll still be able to push out Android Q to the P30 and a bunch of other phones, as well as security updates. The specifics are a bit unclear, but at least it has at least made that public commitment, and EMUI 10 will form a big part of the company's next steps in the software.

And thanks to a recent leak by unofficial firmware outlet FunkyHuawei, we have our first look at the software that'll likely ship on the Mate 30 later this year. It's very much pre-release, though remarkably stable for software that won't be shipping for another three of four months. That said, there are rough edges, and the very early glimpse we're getting here won't be fully reflective of the P30 Pro's eventual, finalized Android Q update.

Subtle visual changes

So far the visual changes in EMUI 10 aren't too striking compared to the previous iteration of Huawei's software. On the leaked firmware, the P30 Pro still looks and acts much like it did on Android 9 Pie.

Task switching

EMUI itself has a new logo, for whatever that's worth, but the interface is broadly in line with what we remember from version 9.1 of Huawei's interface, with bright whites and blue hues throughout.

The biggest visual changes so far are the weather widgets, which now have a splash of color compared to before — and this is also reflected in the Weather app itself. The quick settings dropdown has also been tweaked with a new black gradient effect, which actually looks a bit weird when settings are disabled, because you're left looking at dark grey text on a black background.

Huawei's gesture navigation is still here, and works the same as before — which is actually the same as Google's all gestural navigation in vanilla Android Q. The task-switching animation is a bit snappier now, with more pleasing physics

There are also some very minor color and design tweaks to some of Huawei's built-in apps, which you'd expect from software that isn't quite final yet. And home screen wallpapers have an odd zig-zag pattern, which we've seen in previous pre-release versions of EMUI.

Also, this build shows fake version information in its About page, which is common for pre-release versions on Huawei phones. Instead of reading EMUI 10, the firmware pretends it's actually version 9.1 running on a Huawei P10. This is usually done, ironically, to prevent info on upcoming software and phones from leaking out. If we load up a system information app, though, we can clearly see it is in fact Android Q — Android 10.0, API level 28.

All the Android Q features you'd expect

And because it's Android Q, we get the standard loadout of Android Q features. Check out our Android Q beta coverage for a more exhaustive list of what's new in the next release. But in brief, Android's permission and privacy management system has been overhauled, with prompts for one-time or permanent access to sensitive info like your location. That's in addition to a new system-wide dark mode, an overhauled sharing system and much more.

More: What's new in Android Q

Android Q's new privacy controls can also be seen once you fire up the new Huawei camera app, which is arguably the most changed of all the built-in Huawei apps in this leaked firmware.

A refreshed Leica camera app

The new EMUI 10 camera app has mostly visual changes, with the biggest difference being the font and icon changes that move further away from the Leica style we're seen for the past few generations. I'm not sure if we should read too much into that — Huawei's Leica partnership has been ongoing for several years, and it's unlikely the two will part company anytime soon.

Nevertheless, the new camera UI is much more in keeping with the rest of EMUI. The physics of scrolling between different camera modes seems smoother, as does the slightly redesigned zoom level switch over on the right side.

The longstanding "vivid," "smooth," and "standard" color options in earlier Huawei camera apps has been replaced with a vast loadout of filter options, dramatically changing the look of your photos. And there's also a new intensity slider that lets you control the strength of the filter — a welcome addition considering the all-or-nothing approach of the old Leica color options.

Aside from that, the functionality of the app, that seems pretty much unchanged right now. No major new camera features that we can see at least. Instead, Huawei seems to have focused on overhauling its camera app design language in this early build. It's likely we'll see those whenever the Mate 30 series lands later this year.

That's about all there is to say about EMUI 10 for the moment. Right now it brings a lot of the look and feel of EMUI 9, with a sprinkling of new features and the extra goodies you'd expect from Android Q. Of course, still early days, and there's ample opportunity for more exciting changes to take place before the expected September or October timeframe where this starts arriving on devices.

EMUI 10, based on Android Q is expected to ship on Huawei's next-generation Mate handset, and the company has already confirmed that 17 of its existing phones will get the upgrade.

Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.