I think by now we can all unanimously agree that Tecno is winning. We might not have the figures to prove it – they’re hard to come by – but we sure have the empirical evidence. I can only imagine that things will get better for Tecno in 2014. But if they’re going to have any chance of winning more hearts, I think it’s time they started paying closer attention to what the consumers want. Here are couple of things I think Tecno have to do right this year.

Less frequent releases

It’s really hard keeping up with the plethora of Tecno devices out there. It’s not just about the sheer number of them; it’s more about the frequency of release. Take the Phantom flagship range for example. There was the Phantom A then the A+, followed by the AII and finally the AIII – all marginally incremental and released in the space of just 8 months. I can’t even justify why the AIII was released at the end of 2013 with JellyBean 4.2 OS.

I get it, this approach worked best to reduce the risk of unsold stock. A risk a then small company like Tecno could not afford. But I believe Tecno is a “big” company now by many rights. If they don’t tread softly, marginally incremental releases could be their worst nightmare in 2014. At some point, the initial excitement will wear off and consumers will begin to lose interest. Tecno should take the plunge – release one (or maybe 2?) kickass flagship this year, backed by quality ad campaigns. The anticipation alone is enough to drive in massive sales. And the other “filler” devices will easily sell themselves.

OTA Updates / Skip to KitKat

The average smartphone user is starting to care more about what version of Android her smartphone runs on. We can thank BBM in part for raising that awareness. The highest Android OS version running on any Tecno device out there today is 4.2 JellyBean. If they want to be taken more seriously in 2014, Tecno shouldn’t bother releasing any new device that will run on anything below 4.4 KitKat. The guys at Google are starting to pay more attention to optimizing Android for low-end performance so it’s actually in Tecno’s best interests. But it’s even more important that Tecno do not tow the easy route of giving the average user no other choice than to replace their barely a year-old devices, just to get software upgrades. Tecno loyalists don’t deserve that in 2014.

Tecno need to consider investing in providing over-the-air OS updates for at least their Phantom range customers. It really shouldn’t be that much of bother; the Tecno default UI isn’t remarkably inconsistent with vanilla Android. If possible, they could even cater to our unique situation by making the OS upgrades available offline, by way of a shareable download and one-click update installer app, or something similar.

A mid to high-end QWERTY device

Physical keypads apparently still have a huge place in our hearts. It’s one of the reasons the second-hand legacy Blackberry market still thrives. The Blackberry Q10 and Q5 weren’t exactly pocket-friendly and so were destined to be commercial failures.

Tecno seemed to have hit it considerably well with their 2 low-end QWERTY releases in 2013 – the Q1 and D1. They were okay devices, especially for their price range, but they kinda left me wanting more. For one, I don’t think “candybar” and “touchscreen” are in any way a good combo. Such a combination just feels forced to me.

I think it would be a nice idea if Tecno maybe released a QWERTY version of their most popular flagship from last year – the Tecno Phantom A+. They could christen it the “Tecno Phantom AQ+“, or whatever, and they should ditch that candybar form for the slider form-factor, a la Droid 4 and Xperia Pro. Yes it might be slightly heavier, thicker and maybe a little more pricey, but it will definitely be worth the trade-off. And it will self like wildfire!

So what do you think? Are all these wishful thinking or would you also  like to see less devices and more OS updates from Tecno? Would you jump on a QWERTY Phantom A+, if it became available in the market today? What else might you be expecting from Tecno this year?

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox