EMUI, aka Emotion UI - the custom UI layer for Android that features on Honor and Huawei devices - has always taken a lot of criticism. Of course, this is true for all manufacturer software versions that aren't 'stock Android', but EMUI has previously been particularly 'heavy', which means it taken more flak. There's a simple reason why these software layers exist and are 'fully featured' and that is that Google Play services don't officially exist in China. For Huawei / Honor, where China is obviously their home market, they need to build for a world where Google isn't king. The fully rounded experience has to be developed in house, and that experience is EMUI.
As the market for the company's devices outside of China has grown however, EMUI has slimmed down to the point where today, I honestly feel that while it's not perfect, it does offer a number of improvements over stock and is close enough to still feel like 'proper Android' (particularly when you add your own stock-style launcher).
One key criticism was the battery optimisations that used to lead to missing notifications. Thankfully, this isn't the case nowadays - we'll take you through what EMUI does include on the battery front and how to manage it.
Android battery optimisation
All Android devices feature 'Doze' mode. How doze works is complex and quite nuanced (and varies slightly on different versions of Android), but the gist is that applications are prevented from firing lots of 'wakelocks', draining power on your device in the background, and are instead limited to waking up at approved times, which can cause issues with certain types of apps.
Apps can be excluded from Doze, but the options are well hidden away. Out of the box you'll notice that Google Play Services is excluded and certain apps will prompt you to make them Doze-proof after installation, one example being the Wear OS app.
To access the Doze settings on EMUI 8/8.1:
- Open the 'Settings' app
- Select 'Apps and Notifications'
- Select 'Apps'
- Press the 'Settings' cog at the bottom of the screen
- Select 'Special Access'
- Select 'Ignore Battery Optimisation'
The default view in this screen is 'Allowed'. These are the apps that are exclude from Doze mode. To exclude another app, you need to change the drop down at the top of the screen to 'All Apps', pick the app for which you'd like to change the configuration and then select the appropriate option as shown below. It's probably a good idea not to just change this en-masse because, of course, it will impact your battery life.
EMUI battery optimisation
If you're missing notifications or you're seeing weird things, it's more than possible that this is not caused by Doze, but by Huawei's own EMUI layer of optimisations. Now, let's be clear, I think this could be better from a novice user point of view but there's no denying that Huawei devices have epic battery life and this feature is one of the reasons. Previously, everything happened 'behind the scenes', but there's now at least a UI to refine what's going on.
To access the EMUI battery settings on EMUI 8/8.1:
- Open the 'Phone Manager app
- Press the battery icon
- Press 'App Launch'
You'll notice that 'Manage all automatically' is set by default. This is great, but I think I am better at knowing which apps I want to have battery draining permissions than the phone. Toggle the setting off, then select 'Manage batch manually'. You'll then see a list of all your apps, with particularly power hungry ones at the top, each with the option to prevent auto launch, secondary launch (being launched by another app) and even background running. Powerful, useful, and a great way to perfectly tune your device.
There are a couple of other useful battery related settings in EMUI too. Within the battery menu, you can enable 'Power Saving Mode', which will limit background app activity, disable auto-sync and sounds and reduce visual effects. 'Ultra power saving mode' takes things to the next level, limiting you to only a certain subset of apps. You can also manually lower the screen resolution or enable 'smart resolution' for auto switching. This is also where you can force FHD+. You can enable 'dark interface colours' to save a little power if your device has an OLED screen.
If you want to see where all your battery is going, you can access all the standard Android battery usage graphs to help you eke out every bit of your battery life.
In conclusion, EMUI provides powerful battery management features, which are more accessible than ever before, but perhaps at the expense of an ideal setup for non-expert users. Since setting my P20 Pro up manually I don't miss any notifications, battery life is still astonishing and overall performance is great too. Invest the time and effort - it's worth it!
Edited by PaulOBrien