Android has evolved from just the Droid and eris being the only two choices to choose from. There are now a good variety of devices to choose from and some times people can get overwhelmed. My biggest concern are people who do not know about phones walk into vzw and a rep sells them a dx (ie) knowing that its basically at the end of its life. Now there is nothing wrong with buying a dx now for a bargain if that is what you want but do so after having all the info in front of you so you can make that choice. (I am aware that stores are selling the dx2 and have stopped selling the dx, I used that as an example). The other thing is when you check a forum out there are so many opinions on why this or that phone is the best. Well let me clear something up. You will never have the BEST phone because it stopped being the best the moment they announced it. Oems are always looking to improve and if you are chasing the best you will be broke. Find the best device for YOU.
Lets get started:
What is the most important feature for you in a phone. Example: a lot of us use our phones for work, I use engineering apps and basic things that I can get off the market along with keeping up with company mail (which my supervisor is cool enough to send it to my gmail instead of the company mail). Security for me is not high on my list. For a person who works at a company where they can not afford to have anything leaked or lost then a secure device will be very important for you. So the number 1 feature would have to be security along with the ability to handle clients abroad and the ability to use the device internationally. For this person the best android device for them would be the droid pro, best phone blackberry. So basically write down on a sheet of paper the top 5 most important features of a phone in order.
1) Having an unlocked device where I have complete control
2) Support for the device
3) Large screen
4) A decent camera
5) A clean phone (little to no bloatware)
The phones that meet my needs above . The Nexus meets all 5, Motorola razr meet 3/5, Thunderbolt meets 3.5 of the 5 (unlockable bootloader)
But lets break this down further for those new to android.
You hear people saying an unlocked bootloader is a must. Lets look at this for a minute. What is the importance of an unlocked device and who benefits from it. Majority of users will not need to concern themselves with an unlocked bootloader. The people who are mainly concerned will be developers and people who want the ability to change the kernel. Basically if you pick up your phone and you are yelling at the csr to leave your phone alone you dont need her/him to open the box and set it up/update it for you, and you are waiting to get home and root it so you can dig into it then you probably belong in the need an unlocked bootloader category. If you root only to remove bloatware and nothing else (in other words you dont really care or know much about rooting) then a secured device may be for you.
Dual core, single core, quad core, ti vs snapdragon vs etc, AHHHHHH IM comfused. Again people on these forums love comparing devices on what is best and what beats what. But in every day use it depends who have the device and what you are using it for. Example is LG makes a nice mid end phone for multiple carriers (Metro Pcs, Vzw, sprint, att, virgin mobile, cricket, etc)
Those devices specs wise will not be up there with a razr, or galaxy s2. But people with these devices swear by them. For an everyday phone that you mainly use for calls, texting, and maybe pandora every now and then the optimus handles that great. Will it handle multiple apps like a dual core device; no, but really not everybody is trying to listen to pandora, check emails, play angry bird, and keep up with social networking all at the same time. SO if you looking for just a phone to work as a phone, you mainly use internet at work or a netbook then this type of device may suit what you need.
High end, mid end, low end......who needs what:
Low end: Sorry kids but I got to keep it real. If you have a kid in elementary school -middle school and you want them to have a phone to call you when they are done with practice or for an emergency then either a free flip phone or a low-end android phone (so they can play games) would be perfect. Kids are going to be kids and they are going to lose stuff, drop stuff, spill something on it. So why hand them a 600 phone. NO matter how much they plead with you that they NEED a high end device they really dont. They have access to the market and many of the apps that work on high end devices works on low end devices as well.
Mid end: High schoolers (they want a high end phone they should get a job but that is my opinion), people on a budget, people who really will not use the features on a high end device. Like I said above many mid-end devices are performing well and are good everyday devices. Many of the mid-end devices now meet or exceed the specs of the og droid which was the king of android 2 years ago, and is still being used today.
High end: Really the people who buy these do so because they are android nuts and have to have the next cool specs or people who are always on the road and need those specs to watch videos while at the airport. High end android devices are not required or needed to get through the daily grind, infact mid end devices handle that just fine. The good thing about high end devices are their performance are at the peak of the game.
LTE vs 3g: Lte for vzw is blazing fast and when its not having maintenance issues its the best. With that said lte users will tell you that the bugs that come with lte may not be worth it especially considering we are paying more for our devices. If you watch a lot of videos, love watching nfl mobile, or streaming videos then lte is the way to go. If you can care less about all that or you in a situation where you have a computer at home, a computer at work and in between you are just making calls and texting then lte may not be as important to you.
Do I take the free phone that is near the end of life (my dx example from above) or go with the new technology: A few times on the forum I will see some one post that they are a new insert end of life phone user and they get people asking them why they do that. Well lets talk about this. If you have a smartphone you are going to pay for a data plan along with your voice and text. So if you are going to buy an older device should you just save your update and buy it off ebay/craigslist. Personally I would say yes but there is a con to that, if you buy a phone from ebay/craiglist it may not come with a warranty where as that same phone you buy from vzw will be warranted. So a person who really dont need the next greatest and is ok with a 6 -9 month device because it performs well enough for them and it meets their needs then a free phone may be a great deal for them. Yeah it may not get the next great android update but they may not care for that any way. They are just fine having the phone set up the way it is for the next 2 years. If you want the most value for the buck then look at which oem support their device, have the issues plaguing that device been resolved, those issues are important because you do not want to be stuck with a buggy device that the oem no longer supports.
SO what phone should I get: the phone that best fulfills your needs. If you are a person who takes a lot of pictures then make sure the device you get has a quality camera. If you are a blue collar worker then look for an industrial build phone or get an otterbox. If you work in a noisy environment then make sure the phone you purchase has loud enough speakers. So my point is dont chase after the best device, get the best device that meets your needs. If you purchase a nexus because you see a poll stating its the best and you dont care for vanilla look, or the plastic build then you will be disappointed. Heck even if after going through your list and you determine the iphone is the phone that best fit your needs then purchase that device so that you insure the money you paid for a device is worth it because it is meeting your needs.