The Huawei P20 lineup will run a new version of EMUI based on Android 8.1 Oreo, XDA Developers reports, citing recently uncovered firmware compiled for an unannounced device from the Chinese smartphone maker codenamed "EMILY." The previous firmware files suggested the successors to the P10 series will be powered by Android 8.0 Oreo-based EMUI 8.0.1, though a jump to a new version of the operating system would be in line with Huawei's recent software upgrade practices. The P10 and P10 Plus launched at the 2017 edition of the Mobile World Congress both ran EMUI 5.1 out of the box, with that particular OS version also being entirely new at the time. The difference in version numbers between the last several EMUI iterations are reflective of Huawei's decision to rebrand EMUI and bring its identifier in line with the newest versions of Android.
It's still unclear what kind of new features EMUI 8.1 may bring to the table, though the OS is likely to be "westernized" to a degree, with previous reports suggesting Huawei's management isn't pleased with some changes introduced to the recent builds of the Android-based OS and its consumer group CEO Richard Yu even supposedly calling some of them "stupid." The Shenzhen-based original equipment manufacturer is now said to be looking to revamp its mobile OS in order to make it more similar to the user interfaces consumers in the West are already accustomed to. People in the company's home country of China have radically different expectations from mobile devices and are largely unfamiliar with an Android experience that's heavily reliant on Google-made services such as the Play Store due to the fact that most of them are blocked in the Far Eastern country.
Android 8.1 Oreo itself doesn't debut any major user-facing improvements, though it may eventually lead to them as it allows developers to leverage neural processing units found on contemporary chips such as the Snapdragon 835 and HiSilicon's Kirin 970 which is expected to power the P20 series. Huawei reportedly delayed the release of its upcoming flagship lineup so as to avoid having it directly compete with Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus that are set to be unveiled late this month at MWC 2018. Instead, the P20 and P20 Plus are rumored to have been rescheduled for a debut at a Paris-based product launch event in late March and should hit the market in April.