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Samsung’s emoji are bad

by nytime
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Emoji were once just a fun little addition to text messages, but at this point, they’re a very important part of how most of us communicate with one another. That’s why it needs to 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 else is built on top of the Unicode standard. That standard is what makes it possible for 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’s their favorite, but as far as Samsung’s go, I’ve just never been a fan.

Samsung’s emoji style has, for years, 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, perhaps with a bit more color or slightly different positions.

That style persists 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 certainly feels a bit 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, which makes it harder to see the details (which is already a struggle when emoji are so small).

Let’s look at some examples.

First, the single-most used emoji out there: Face with Tears of Joy. Apple’s and Google’s looks have closed eyes, a fully wide smile, and big tears that extend out of the face. Samsung’s isn’t all 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 all off – the eyes are too small, and the tears are too big.

Then, there’s the Face Savoring Delicious Food – or “Yum” – emoji with its tongue sticking out. This one tends to have a lot of use cases, which is why 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 weird.

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 little off. One UI 6 makes this better, but the tone still feels different.

And just look at 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 way closer now to Google’s native Android emoji while not being all that different from Apple’s. It’s a great middle-ground.

I’m glad Samsung isn’t giving up on trying to improve, but I also wish the time that was taken to “improve” emoji in One UI 6 led to more meaningful improvements.

There’s a solution just sitting on the table too. #BringBackTheBlobs.

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