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What Windows Phone needs: A truly fabulous flagship phone

Mark Hachman | Dec. 8, 2014
As Microsoft floods the market with cheaper handsets, it's ignoring the power of one, great phone to lead the platform.

2. Free the flexibility.  Anyone who's used multiple Windows Phones, however, knows that over time there's a disappointing sameness about them. That's the flip side of familiarity: If you buy a new Windows Phone, chances are you'll be able to clone over your familiar apps and data onto a new candy-colored phone that looks very similar to your older phone.

Say what you will about Samsung TouchWiz and HTC's Sense: Android allows a framework for OEMs to differentiate and experiment, adding loyal fans in the process. Microsoft doesn't. And with virtually every Windows Phone (save for HTC's One (M8)) made by Microsoft, there's just not the flexibility that Android offers. Anyone can throw a fart app into the Windows Store, but you don't allow HTC to redo the Start screen? This is backward.

That's exactly what Apple offers through generation and generation of iPhones, obviously. But with each new generation, Apple trumpets exactly why you'll want to wait in line for the latest model. Does Microsoft? Nah.

3. Features make the flagship. There have been rumors of a Lumia with a 50-megapixel camera lurking within. I'm skeptical, too. But man, Microsoft needs something for customers to get excited about--not just unlimited OneDrive cloud storage. 

And if Microsoft does come up with something innovative, do we hear about it? Nope. I'm not impressed with the Lumia Selfie app, as it centers your face a bit too much in the frame for my taste. ("Yes, Mom, that's Half Dome. Well, trust me, it's there.") But it accomplishes two things: First, because it shoots selfies using the larger rear camera, it eliminates the need for the 5MP selfie cameras that phones like the Lumia 735 include. Second, it's an app that no other platform has

Go crazy, Microsoft. Shoot for the moon. Give every Windows Phone user who buys a Lumia 520 that shining hope that one day he's going to buy the Lumia Zeus, that six-inch quad-HD phablet that plugs into your Xbox One and unlocks when your Microsoft Band approaches it. But if you don't, at least try to convince the world you're making a difference.

4. We love names.  For those people who identify with their new BMW 325i, terrific. Personally, numbers have never meant a whole lot to me except as markers for a new generation of product. If bigger doesn't mean better, it can be confusing.

Names, however, project an aura of intimacy. The name doesn't have to be warm and welcoming: we all know what someone means when they say they love their Nexus. But with Microsoft's numeric product names, I sometimes have to think: Okay, which one is that? And because many of them look alike, I'm forced to hunt down the specs and the release date.

 

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