The P10 comes loaded with Android 7.0 and Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 skin out of the box. The software offering here is largely the same as I used on the Huawei Mate 9, which came with EMUI 5.0, and in general I’m not a massive fan of Huawei’s software skin here.
EMUI still comes with heaps of annoying and pointless duplicate apps. There is no need for two email clients, two gallery apps, and two music apps on this phone. It just bogs down the phone with crap and forces you to choose an app through irritating pop-ups. Duplicate apps still aren’t a good experience on Android and it’s something OEMs need to address.
There are also a number of spam apps included here. Weather, health, notepad and backup apps are unnecessary as most people already have a preferred third-party app and would rather download one through the Play Store. HiGame is also completely useless when there’s the Play Store and Play Games already included. On top of this, there’s an entire ‘flashlight’ app when there’s a flashlight shortcut in the notification pane.
Some aspects of the notification pane are decent, such as the selection of quick toggles for settings which gets its own expandable section. Others, like the notifications themselves, are a bit of a step backwards from stock Android that gives you more information through expanded summaries and better grouping of multiple messages. I’m not sure why Huawei needed to modify these features, but they did.
The settings screen is still a bit of a mess. I’m not sure why the date and time settings are hidden under the “advanced settings” page as it isn’t really an advanced feature. There are a lot of separate pages here that I feel could be condensed, which would make the entire settings screen easier to navigate.
There are some good features available in the settings, though. The ability to change the order of the navigation bar is always welcome, as is the highly customizable status bar. If you don’t want to display the carrier name and would like to see network speed, you can through customization. The battery page includes lots of data and tools to help optimize battery life, which could come in handy for the times when you’re feeling battery anxiety.
The visual style of EMUI is okay, but it differs significantly from the style of vanilla Android, which can create a disjointed feel between first-party apps and everything else available for Android. Huawei seems to straddle the boundary between Android and iOS with their design, and some choices have clearly been made to make the software more like iOS: the lack of an app drawer, and a familiar settings screen design come to mind.
Luckily, with EMUI 5.1, changing the style of the OS through themes is very easy, so if you don’t like what the P10 brings out of the box, you can modify it with ease.
I don’t hold much faith that the P10 will receive prompt updates to new versions of Android, or when security patches are available. It’s currently July, and my P10 review unit is still on the April security patches and the phone isn’t running the latest version of Android (7.1.2). Huawei doesn’t have a great track record in this regard, so you should stick to a Pixel if you demand fast updates.