Dear Santa: Please send a worthy Galaxy Nexus successor

Dear Santa:

All I want for Christmas is a new damned phone. I've had it with my Galaxy Nexus. But is there a replacement out there that will make all of my wishes come true?

To say that I've had a string of bad luck with my two-year-old smartphone is an understatement. I love the screen. But over the last two years I've had issues with sluggish screen performance, loss of data connectivity and other issues. To remedy these problems I've spent quite a bit of time with Verizon. I've wiped the phone more times than I care to remember. I replaced the SIM card once, and replaced the entire phone once. But the biggest issue for me has been the disappointing battery life. My unit seems to only last only a few hours, even when I'm not using it. That has made me, the only Android user in the household, the laughing stock as my daughter and wife get a full day of use out of their iPhones.

I've gone through all of the usual steps, including disabling all updates, turning off Wi-Fi, etc. I've installed software to optimize battery life. I even ordered a 3,200 milliamp extended life battery. But that extra thick battery pack fattened up my slim phone and required using a flimsy extended back cover that never quite fit right. To make matters worse, my $40 aftermarket protective case wouldn't fit the new form factor , and I could find no other cases that would do the job. In the end I gave the battery away.

Why should I have to go through all of these machinations? The phone is smart. It should take care of battery life issues on its own. And that's what I want in a new phone.

Most recently, the battery life issues have worsened, and the screen response is sometimes sluggish, for no apparent reason. Sometimes the screen continues to turn itself on within seconds after I turn it off and then it just stays on. This morning I took the phone off the charger, and after a two-hour drive I arrived at Computerworld to find the battery halfway consumed. When I plugged it in the phone failed to charge -- which is another intermittent issue I have had. And that's with a new battery I installed last week! The phone also wouldn't shut down properly, continuously rebooting instead. I finally solved the problem by pulling out the battery. This time, when the phone came back up all was back to "normal." That is, at least it's charging again.

Two days ago I had Verizon go over the phone one last time to determine what's going wrong. They couldn't find anything, but they did suggest that my problems might be tracked back to a misbehaving app, which they said is an unfortunate side effect of the more open Android platform. I suspect that they're grasping at straws at this point. But the implication is clear: iOS might be a more stable walled garden ecosystem.

Was there any way to track down the potentially misbehaving app? Was there any way to see what processes might be running? Nothing obvious showed up in the battery settings. But there was nothing else to do to get to the root of the problem, they said, other than wiping the phone and reinstalling every app, one at a time.

I'm not up for that again.  I think it's time to upgrade. But I have some lingering concerns.

Is Android less reliable than iOS? My phone's apparent descent into increasing randomness and disorder reminds me of the old Windows Vista machine I had. The OS had a half life of a about six months. After that point the stability of OS would have decayed to the point where I usually would wipe it and start over. My phone has been like that. My faith in Android is shaken.

On the other hand, I know two other people with the same phone that haven't had the reliability problems, although both say battery life hasn't been great. And moving to iOS might not offer the same user experience for someone like me, who makes extensive use of Google services from Voice to Docs.

Going forward I want a phone that will get me through the day - or at least most of the day -- on a single charge. I'm now paranoid about battery life. I just can't live with another phone that tethers me to a charger every three hours. And unfortunately, most models don't seem to have removable batteries. That means I can't just pull the battery if the new phone misbehaves for some reason -- my reliable last resort with the Nexus.

At this point I'm considering the iPhone 5S for a clean slate. New ecosystem. New apps. New experience. But I've heard that battery life may not be great. On the Android front, the Razr Maxx claims the best battery life by far. Or should I consider Moto X for best all around phone with a pristine version of Android? That sounds trouble free. Or the HTC One for performance? Or Samsung S4 for its expandability and overall sleek design? I don't want a bigger phone, so phablets are out.

In sum, I'd settle for a phone that works reliably, with good battery life. Five phones to consider. Six days until Christmas. I welcome your suggestions.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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