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Dear Nokia: Please make better Windows phones

I'm on Lumia number four and it's getting flaky on me. Give me one good reason why I should go for number five.

By Andy Patrizio on Tue, 12/18/12 - 11:11am.

For some time, I have sought alternatives to my iPhone. Not out of any anti-Apple sentiment, but simply because I was getting tired of the comparatively tiny screen. While the industry has been moving to four-inch and larger screens, Apple had stubbornly stuck to the 3.5-inch, and the iPhone 5 only stretched it one way, not both ways.

But the fact was my alternatives always stunk, because I don’t like Android. I don’t like the aesthetic, the design or its incredible vulnerability to malware. It’s a shame because the Galaxy SIII is a beautiful piece of hardware.

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So I’d settled on a Windows Phone from Nokia. It certainly had enough rave reviews coming out of 2012 CES and the live tiles struck me as fine for a phone or tablet (just not my PC).

I purchased the Lumia 900 on launch day, which was Easter Sunday. I live in Orange County, California. There must be at least a dozen churches between my house and the AT&T store. Let me tell you, those store employees were not happy working that day.

The Lumia 900 didn’t have all the apps I wanted, but it had enough. Within a month, though, mine wouldn’t start. Nothing I could do would reboot it. So I made the 25-mile journey to a regional AT&T store in south OC that could do the exchange.

One week later, that phone was dead, too, and I was making another 50-mile round-trip.

Around that time, word came out that Windows Phone 8 would not work on existing hardware. Increasingly frustrated, I switched back to the iPhone 4S. It never froze, never locked, never got stuck. It just worked.

With the release of WP8 and the Lumia 920, I thought I’d give WP one more try. The Lumia 920 is a true beauty of a phone. The iPhone screen just pales in comparison. And I like that it has some weight to it. I know this may sound crazy, but the Galaxy SIII and iPhone 5 are too light. They feel insubstantial.

WP8 was fantastic. I loved the smaller tiles and immediately customized the phone. It was great how it incorporated my Outlook contacts, Skype contacts, Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections in one place. A friend at Microsoft got me out of the dark ages (Office 2003) and into the modern era (Office 2010), which integrated beautifully with the Lumia’s contacts and calendar. And it even had Angry Birds.

Unfortunately, the problems piled up almost immediately. The Lumia would not play nice with my Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset. Calls were dropped constantly. In one case, I could not answer a call. It said "Slide up to Answer Call" but I could not slide the screen up to take answer the call.

Despite the Lumia offering LTE and the iPhone 4S being a mere HSPA+ phone, the Lumia had terrible indoor reception. I could be inside the cavernous local Costco or Best Buy and do a web search on the iPhone, albeit a slow one. The Lumia wouldn’t work even if I stood by a window, and I frequently got "No Service" errors.

This morning, it was frozen. I had to do yet another hard reboot of the phone. I’m now a few days from the cutoff on returning it. Do I flip a coin and get what would be my fifth Lumia, or do I finally wash my hands of the Finnish foul-ups and get an HTC Windows Phone 8X? The HTC 8X is my only choice, assuming I’m not willing to wait a month or two for the Samsung ATIV S, which is the Galaxy SIII running WP8. It doesn’t have a release date in the U.S. due to a shortage in parts, since the SIII is selling so well. So wait or go now?

What would you do?