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HTC?

All of us had HTC Desires back in the day, and we loved them. Today, however, I see nothing in HTC's lineup that intrigues me.

Katherine prefers the Sense UI to all other Android UIs and loves the HTC One's styling and design. The features and specs meet her needs as an upgrade from the Galaxy S2, but she isn't sure the battery life will be adequate for her needs. As Kat would be running the stock OS, updates matter to her; HTC has a terrible reputation here and this ultimately earns them a pass.

Josh gave the HTC One some very serious consideration, but was ultimately put off by reports of poor battery life and a lack of any option that allowed him to attach a great big honking battery to the back of it. There are battery covers, but having tried that with the S2s, he refuses to take that route as the battery covers have a nasty tendency to make the microphone both directional and less sensitive. That strikes HTC from contention for all of us.

Motorola

Motorola got a resounding pass from all three of us based upon nothing more than reputation. Moto has a history of viciously locking down phones so as to make them virtually impossible to root, unlock or load an alternate OS. It has proven stingy with updates and rarely is feature-competitive on its flagship phones.

Put simply: around here, Motorola's name is mud. Google seems to have left the company largely unchanged, which means the chances are slim that there have been changes in attitude since our bad experiences with the Milestones. Lenovo's purchase offers hope for the future, but it will take Lenovo years to work its magic on that bureaucracy and create a company that is responsive to customer needs.

Microsoft. Really?

From a business standpoint, Windows Phone offers me management and control over the devices that would make life a lot easier.

Microsoft does so many things right with Windows Phone. Updates are well handled, the OS is well designed for mobile use, and it's a stable, fluid experience that works well on any hardware. Microsoft has a phone OS that I would put on par with Apple or Blackberry's efforts, and is better than Android in almost every way.

Personally, I prefer the Cyanogenmod Android UI, but not so much so that it would sway me all on its lonesome. What does stop me is Microsoft itself. Microsoft's vision for computing seems to be one of cloud computing pay-for-everything-per-month rental and design decisions forced upon users by fiat.

All of that shouldn't matter when talking about "do you buy this phone or not," excepting that the deep ecosystem integration is the primary selling point of Windows Phone. Unfortunately, years of actively demonstrating that everyone from end users to ecosystem partners don't have a say in anything Microsoft does, means that we are in the process of either ditching Microsoft's software or moving it into legacy support.

For me, it just doesn't make good business sense to go investing in Windows Phone for the next two years. Josh doesn't like the UI to the point where he won't use it and Katherine says at least half of the apps she uses aren't available for the platform. So that's Microsoft off the list.

Samsung

Samsung scores a win with us. Josh reluctantly chose the Galaxy Note III. He found out he could get the style of extended battery he wanted and could replace the OS with ease. As far as he's concerned it's an upgrade to a slightly better screen in exchange for the time and effort to move his media, settings and apps. He does make it clear, however, that if it weren't free it isn't an upgrade he'd be interested in.

The Galaxy S4 tempted Kat, but she ultimately passed it up. There's nothing overly special about the S4; there are a number of similarly sized and specced competitors on the market. It didn't stand out, so it got binned. I'm on the fence; Josh's take on the Note III seems to match my own feelings in the matter, but I'm not sure if I want a third Samsung phone in a row. There is some desire for variety.

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