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UI Showdown: MIUI 8 vs Flyme 6 vs EMUI 5.0 vs Smartisan OS 3.0

by Habeeb Onawole 8

The advent of Chinese phones changed the smartphone market in no small way. Starting first as shameless rip-offs of other popular brands, they have now evolved into more refined devices that boast important features missing on the brands they used to imitate in the past. Most, if not all of these features are software-based and are built into the UI of each manufacturer.

Want to know how the top Chinese Android UIs compare against each other? Then you should read this to the end.

Xiaomi’s MIUI is in its eight iteration already and offers tons of features but how does it compare against Meizu’s recently announced Flyme 6 UI or Huawei’s EMUI 5? Can anyone of them even stand against Smartisan OS 3.0?

Home Screen

All four UIs lack an app drawer by default, leaving you with an homescreen packed full with all your apps. If you are coming from an iPhone this shouldn’t be an issue for you, however those switching from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nexus or HTC phones will have a hard time adapting to this and might be forced to install a launcher with an app drawer. However, EMUI 5 has an additional setting that lets you choose app drawer mode.

From the image below, there is no much difference between MIUI and EMUI apart from the bottom row of icons which are lower in MIUI and still have texts beneath them. For Flyme OS, the icons are a bit bigger and are more spaced, making them cover more than half of the whole screen.

Smartisan OS on the hand differs completely, as its homescreen is filled with apps that reach the top of the screen, making it feel like you are still using an iPhone.

Another major difference is that while the other three UIs have texts beneath their icons, Smartisan OS gives you the option to toggle it on or off. This gives it a neater and more matured look compared to the other three.

UI Comparison

UI Comparison

Notification Drawer/Quick Settings Menu

The notification drawer and quick settings menu differ for each UI. Flyme 6 and MIUI 8 both use a single page system where you have the quick settings shortcuts at the top and notifications at the bottom. MIUI 8 is however more colorful and has more features such as a search box at the top.

EMUI and Smartisan OS use a two-page system which presents your notifications on one page and quick settings shortcuts on the other.  You can flip between both pages via a single tap.

UI Comparison

Recent Apps Menu

The recent apps interface is another place where the UIs are different. Flyme 6 uses a 3D carousel design to list the recently opened apps and Smartisan OS uses a flat card system (four apps per screen). MIUI 8 and EMUI 5 both use the same 2D flat design but in a different way. Instead of grouping them in fours like you have in Smartisan OS, they are arranged in a horizontal line which you can scroll through. MIUI 8 even has the option to shrink the cards into small icons in case you do not want to get a preview of what is currently running in each app.UI Comparison

Special Features

Each UI has a unique feature of its own. Flyme 6 lets you customize what mode (a total of three modes) your phone unlocks to depending on the fingerprint you use to unlock the phone. MIUI on the other hand let’s you use two accounts for the same app on a single device, so you can have two Whatsapp accounts, two Facebook accounts, and two twitter accounts and so on and so forth. EMUI 5 does the same (App Twin) but is limited to only Whatsapp and Facebook.

MIUI 8 also let’s you create a second space on your phone which you can switch to with the tap of a button. This second space can consist of apps you use for work and you can customize what apps and files you want to show up from the main space.

EMUI’s version of second space is called PrivateSpace and works more or less the same way as that of MIUI 8. While split-screen multi-tasking just came to stock android, it’s been available on some other Android UIs like Samsung’s TouchWiz and now, EMUI 5. We believe the split-screen feature will be available to all the devices getting the EMUI update irrespective of their android version.

READ MORE: Huawei Honor Magic to Offer Surprises Through Its Customized Android OS, EMUI

Smartisan OS has its own special features too. There is a built-in screen recorder which even lets you annotate the video while recording. You can also use the front facing camera to record yourself in case you are making a tutorial video. Smartisan OS also has a feature called Big Bang which is basically like Google’s Now on Tap though not as feature rich.

smartisan-os-screen-recording-inset smartisan-os-screen-realtime-markup smartisan-os-big-bang

Which UI is your favorite? Are there any features we missed? Do let us know in the comment box.

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  • Rob

    Well I’ve only used flyme from all the above and really do like it so that gets my vote! Seriously though I like it because it’s very smooth, doesn’t ever lag/stutter/crash and is nice and fast, what more could you want?

  • Saku

    I’ve been a past user of Meizu and I must say, the old Flyme versions turned me off. I’ve had a Xiaomi ever since 2015 until now, so vote goes to Xiaomi’s MIUI. MIUI simply does great, they often had optimized updates and so far, I don’t think I’ll be switching anytime soon.

  • Ionut Johnny

    I’ve used MIUI, FLYME and now EMUI, all 3 got my vote, no lag, smooth as butter.

    • Ben Cherian

      Don’t you feel the Emui is bit more matured in design and gives premium feel than the cartoonish miui ?

      • Ionut Johnny

        You can change everything on Android.

  • Great to see a comparison of UI’s, we need more of these kinds of comparisons. However, the comments here are pretty academic if you install a launcher like Nova, as I always do. Then you can have apps right at the top of each screen regardless of which UI you are using. Also, in Nova you can turn off the app labels underneath the apps, which I agree is neater.

  • Alvin Leong

    Any UI lacking an app drawer put me off. Apple (and Windows 10) which dump all apps on the homepage are for idiots who cannot, will not, or cannot be bothered to organise their phones.

  • Ben Cherian

    I always felt the emui is bit more premium feel than the miui