A review of lion emoji

(Un)official ranking of every lion emoji on Emojipedia

Just so we remember what we're looking for, here's an actual lion, courtesy Kevin Pluck (CC BY):

A photo of an actual lion.

Look at those proud, angled lines, ready to be startled by a bug then sit and groom for hours like nothing happened. Clearly this is the majestic king of idiot cats.

The contenders

Apple

This is a teddy bear that needs a haircut. 3/10.

Google

Oh my god what has happened to their mouth. Why is their philtrum detached from their nose. What has happened to this poor spherical beast. 1/10.

Google, Android 7.0 and earlier

Got the blob-era chubbiness, but at least their face isn't broken and they've got a happy little smile, and even some cheeky whisker spots. They do look like a shiba inu poking their head out of a bush, though. 4/10.

Microsoft

Now we're talking! Solid boxy muzzle form, colon-three kittyface smile, and a mane that actually flows in front of the ears. Have kept their nose out of the sun, probably while getting excited about PowerShell. Shame about the mullet. 9/10.

Samsung

This is Apple's with less shading. See me after class.

Samsung, Experience 9.0 and earlier

Oh god. I can see why you were desparate enough to cheat. This thing looks like Spurdo in a lion costume. Where is its jaw. Office eXPerience/10, I banish you to go hang out with Clippy forever more.

WhatsApp

A solid big ktn. Got some cheek definition and some Pink Panther-grade round lips. Diamond marking is a bold an unconventional move. Unmistakably a large felid. Timid yet full of playful wonder. 7/10.

Twitter

A simple small fren, and for that I can forgive the slightly peculiar shape. But why are they so bald and wearing this fancy neck ruff. And who shaved the inside of their ears. I can't reward Twitter for this poor abused thing. 4/10.

Facebook

oh my god this is a butt on a bed of Terry's Chocolate Orange segments. get out of here i never want to see this again. 0/10.

Facebook, old 2.0
The wall-eyed cousin of WhatsApp. I'm left wondering if some dark ritual was used to fix it up into the good ktn above, and all the bits left on the floor were swept up into the horrifying buttbeast Facebook were left with. 6/10.
JoyPixels

A little round, but this is a very friendly lion. Even got the chin scruff. A joyful 8/10.

If you dig through the history of this one you can see the layers of stylization peel back.
3.0 has got that weird pear shape everyone keeps doing,
2.2 is a monkey with a costume mane attached, and then…

JoyPixels, 2.1 and earlier

…look at this stoic idiot, mildly confused by something in the middle distance. Such majesty. Such jawls. Such good integration of the mane as sideburns, not just a neck ornament. It's honestly a little overdetailed for an emoji and would fit better on a clipart compilation CD-ROM of 10,000 WMFs, but it gets a Most Reasonable Realistic Depiction of a Lion award, and a point knocked off for not really doing the "emoting" part of emoji when small. 9/10.

OpenMoji

This is a kangaroo. NaN/10.

emojidex

Another clipart CD. Lifeless, kinda weird, but entirely perfunctory. Would fully expect to see it being used to demo that "SVG does animation" by having it rotate in a mess of stuttering and screentear on a webpage back when anyone cared about SVG animation. A very average 5/10.

LG

LG didn't even get the exposure setting right on the copier, and worst of all the source material is still really bad. Making all the same mistakes as Apple and Samsung is a dead giveaway. All of you get detention. And eaten by lions, to remind you what they look like.

Bonus round: whatever monochrome font Linux wanted to use1

University masot. Thinks they're good at "debating" but are mostly just rude.

Actually a pretty good shape, but only when big. 6/10.

1 FreeType got tangled enough that I'm not sure what actual font is providing this, but while most pre-color-emoji platforms don't seem to include the lion, turns out if I type one into my terminal I get this fella.

Facebook again

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Inspired, of course, by turtles. Images courtesy Emojipedia, and the work of/contracted-by the named companies.