Huawei has come a long way the last couple of years. But that doesn't mean there's not more to do.
It's something we've been happy to say for a while now. Huawei is one of the most-improved Android manufacturers to the point where we're standing up and taking notice every time there's something new on the horizon.
But while we're happy to see the leap forward so far, the never-ending road to Android perfection has much distance to travel on it for the Chinese manufacturer. And as we're at the end of another year, what better opportunity to look forward at where they could go?
This isn't necessarily what will happen in 2016. But it's what we'd like to see most of all.
1. Software, software, software
Just like 2014 before it, 2015 was a fantastic year for Huawei in regards to hardware. Some of the design, fit and finish coming out of its factories can rival the very best. It's no longer a surprise to unbox a fantastic Huawei phone.
The issues arrive when you turn it on. It's been the story of our reviews for a while now: Great hardware, sub-par software. And as good as the hardware is, it's not the thing that folks are building an experience around.
The Nexus 6P showed us what a world of Huawei hardware and pure Google software could offer, and we're seriously hoping some of this rubs off. EMUI's faults aren't so much in the appearance, but the execution. Too much stuff that just doesn't work as we'd expect it to.
We know Marshmallow is on the way with the forthcoming Mate 8, but we don't know any more than that. What we really want is for Huawei's software team to catch up to the hardware folks.
2. Be speedier with Android updates
Now that Huawei is a Nexus partner one thing we really hope is that it becomes faster at pushing out new versions of Android. This traditionally has not been a strong area for Huawei, no doubt in part due to the heavy reworking done as part of EMUI.
But others are figuring out how to push out newer versions quicker than ever before, so Huawei needs to follow suit. If it intends to be a serious player this is something that needs to be in its corner.
Not just that, but the monthly security patches from Google, too. Huawei has been pretty quiet on this front up to now, and these are essential in this day and age of ever-escalating security and privacy issues. Ignoring them just won't do.
How it can be done isn't something we can answer. But one of the world's biggest smartphone companies should be able to find a way.
3. Bring apps to the Google Play Store
It's something we're gradually seeing more and more of, led by none other than Google. The old days updating any of the core apps on a phone would require an OS update. And that's bad for any number of reasons.
Huawei has customized pretty much everything on its phones but it's all wrapped up in the OS. Putting apps in to the Play Store (using ASUS as a great example) means you can change, fix, update any part of the core experience without the need for OS updates. Update the app, push to Play Store, profit.
Given Huawei's liking for doing its own thing and, sadly, the history of things not always working as designed, breaking the apps out like this would be a much simpler way to keep everything ticking along. BlackBerry recently pushed out a whole bunch of updates to its core apps this way before the phone even officially launched. And BlackBerry's a newcomer to Android, no less.
So, as one of the bigger players, more frequent updates delivered via the Play Store would definitely be on our Huawei wish list.
4. Think about the pricing
In one regard Huawei already has a cost effective range in Honor. This sub-brand offers a mix of affordable prices, good design and solid hardware. Indeed, the Honor 7 is great value in the places you can buy it and Honor is building up a fanbase of its own.
But then you look at the price of something like the Mate S. In Europe it's available from Huawei's own store for £469 (about $600 allowing for VAT on the UK price). It's a nice phone with a lot of good things to say about it. But it's equally not a $600 phone.
Maybe in its native China, Huawei can command that kind of financial outlay. But it's still building up a new reputation in markets like Europe and it's almost non-existent in the U.S. When you're pricing a phone to rival things like the Galaxy S6, or even the iPhone, you're asking a lot of the smartphone-buying public.
There is a place for a budget brand and a more premium offering. Dare we even say Huawei's approach with Honor is very intelligent. But, the Mate S is priced £200 or so higher in Europe than the Honor 7 and it's just not worth that over its cheaper sibling.
So what we'd like to see is some smarts when it comes to pricing up these new phones. Huawei isn't the most expensive on the market, sure, but it also can't afford to be if it wants Westerners to buy its phones. When so many are offering great phones for much less, Huawei's highest-end offerings could fade away into the mist if they're that much more expensive.
5. Keep pushing along on the camera front
Since the Ascend P7 of 2014 we've said Huawei has been putting decent shooters on the back of its flagship phones. Not class-leading, but generally all-round good quality. That carried on through 2015 but what we'd like to see for 2016 is a big push to really challenge the market leaders.
The camera gets a fair amount of focus during Huawei press events, perhaps a little too much. That there is some clever software stuff going on is in no doubt, and including OIS at the high end was both necessary and impressive to see.
But good isn't necessarily going to cut it for too much longer. Samsung and LG in particular are doing extremely good work with the cameras on their respective high-end phones, and without a continued effort the rest will get left behind.
It's clearly an area Huawei wants to do well in. It'd be good to see it become an area it does great in.
These are just some of our suggestions on how Huawei can push on in 2016. But we'd love to hear yours too, so be sure to hit the comments below with your own ideas!