Emoji were once just a fun little addition to text messages, but at this point they are a very important part of how most of us communicate with each other. Therefore, it must be said that even after the latest update, Samsung’s emoji are just bad.
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The emoji you see and use on your phone, tablet, computer or whatever is built on top of the Unicode standard. That default is what allows everyone to see slightly different emoji depending on their device. Apple, Google, Twitter/X, Meta and many others have their own take on what emoji should look like, and so does Samsung.
Everyone has a style of emoji that is their favorite, but when it comes to Samsung, I’ve just never been a fan.
For years, Samsung’s emoji style has felt like a cheap imitation of Apple’s emoji on iOS. The style is somewhat 3D and generally tends to take Apple’s style and tweak it, maybe with a little more color or slightly different positions.
That style continues in One UI 6, which launched in beta this week. The update brings a new version of Samsung’s emoji, which updates the design language. It definitely feels a little more like it actually stands out from others, but this new iteration almost feels worse to me. Colors feel more muted than in One UI 5.0’s emoji, making it harder to see details (which is already a struggle when emoji are so small).
Let’s look at some examples.
First, the most used emoji out there: Face with Tears of Joy. The appearance of Apple and Google has closed eyes, a full wide smile and large tears extending from the face. Samsung’s isn’t that different, but I think it’s objectively worse. In One UI 5, the tears are much smaller compared to Apple and Google, and in One UI 6, the proportions feel completely off – the eyes are too small and the tears are too big.
Then there’s the Face Savoring Delicious Food – or “Yum” – emoji with tongue sticking out. This tends to have many use cases, so getting the tone right is crucial. Samsung’s One UI 5 design was pretty much on par with Apple and Google, but One UI 6’s design is just strange.
Another emoji I’ve always disliked on One UI is the Grimacing Face. While it gets the point across, I’ve always felt the tone is a bit off. One UI 6 does this better, but the tone still feels different.
And just look how they’ve massacred Android’s adorable turtle.
Of course, it’s not like Samsung hasn’t made genuine improvements. The Thumbs Up emoji is now much closer to Apple and Google, as is the Raising Hands emoji. Loudly Crying is also now much closer to Google’s original Android emoji, while not so different from Apple’s. It’s a great middle ground.
I’m glad Samsung isn’t giving up trying to improve, but I also wish the time spent “improving” emoji in One UI 6 led to more meaningful improvements.
There is also a solution on the table. #BringBackTheBlobs.
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