With so many great choices, how do you pick the right phone?


There was once a time where I knew exactly what my next smartphone would be at any given time.

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of BlackBerry, and although there were much better options around the time the BlackBerry Tour 9630 hit Verizon shelves in July 2009, I didn’t want anything drastically different from before. My last smartphone purchase at the time was the BlackBerry Curve 8330, which I had nearly carried for two years.

Not long after I purchased the Tour, however, the smartphone market expanded, accelerated, and matured. It was as if it all happened overnight. New Android phones started hitting the market every couple months, the iPhone started seeing drastic hardware upgrades, and we had our first run in with webOS.


In 2009, all I wanted was a BlackBerry Tour.

Suddenly, I wanted to try them all. And I did. 2010 was a year where I owned at least two dozen phones. And 2011 was only a continuation of that – perpetually buying, selling, trading smartphones.

While that was great fun for a while, it also got old very quickly. Setting up a new phone every few weeks became a chore, and it didn’t excite me like it once had. The resale value of smartphones started dropping more quickly as new phones turned old in mere weeks. And I eventually realized that “newer” didn’t always directly translate to “better”; the upgrades between hardware iterations were often negligible or poorly optimized.

I bowed out of the smartphone hustle and focused on picking only a few new phones each year, phones that stuck out, that were more meaningful.

Last year, that translated to: the Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note II, Luima 900, One X, and iPhone 5, not necessarily in that order. I quickly returned the buggy Lumia 900 and sold the original Note in anticipation of the successor. But choosing all these phones wasn’t very difficult. There weren’t a ton of great choices last year. Android was still a laggy mess; until the 920, Windows Phone had no seriously compelling devices to compliment the software; and iOS received the iterative upgrade, as usual.

That’s not to say the options were … bad. But in comparison to the vast selection of phones this year, it was much easier to narrow down the selection to a single device. Essentially, you chose the lesser of two evils.

This year, that choice has become much more difficult. All the heavy hitters’ flagship smartphones are well-rounded, polished devices. The HTC One, Galaxy S 4, G2, Lumia 1020, iPhone 5S, Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z1, and Moto X are all very low-compromise devices.

So we’re asking you: with so many amazing choices, how do you choose the right phone? How do you pick the perfect smartphone for you?

candybar-form-factorIt’s no easy task.

Currently, two official smartphones appeal to me directly – the Galaxy Note 3 and Moto X. And there is at least one rumored phone that I want: the upcoming Nexus. Obviously, I don’t want or need all three, but I’m having a terrible time deciding which will be the best phone for me, which one I can pick and stick with for months on end.

The more I think about which one I truly want, the less certain I am that any one of the three is the right choice.

taylor-moto-x-7The last three weeks with the Moto X have been surprisingly great. As meager as some call the phone, I think its better described as “modest.” Yet it’s still very efficient and effective.

And as much as I loved the Galaxy Note II, the Note 3 is a continuation of that – a refined, more mature version. I’m sure I would love it just as much as the Note II, if not much more.

The Nexus 4 has been my fallback phone for months on end. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or bored with everything else, I pop my SIM card back in the Nexus 4, and all is well in the world. We don’t know the exact details of the Nexus 5 yet, but there are several things we can count on. It will likely be affordable and sold near cost. It will be running the purest form of Android. And the whole will likely be greater than the sum of its parts.

Ultimately, I know my impatience will get the better of me, and I’ll likely end up choosing the Note 3. Why? Utility. The S Pen and multitasking features give it much more value proposition than the others, despite the heavily laden TouchWiz. And battery life has always been a standout feature of Note handsets. However, I’m worried about the size. The Mega 6.3 was entirely too large, as was the Z Ultra. The Note 3, physically, is no larger than the Galaxy Note II, but the display is marginally larger. So the only way to know if it’s the phone for me is to get it and use it for a few days.

Typically, if I realize I made the wrong decision after I get a phone, I try to sell it for as much as possible and buy the next. But I try to avoid doing that, as I’ve lost a lot of money on phones through loss in resale value.

As superfluous as this problem may sound, having trouble choosing just one phone because there are so many great phones is a great problem to have. But we’re curious, readers. How do you choose a single phone when so many great options appeal to you?

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About The Author
Taylor Martin
Based out of Charlotte, NC, Taylor Martin started writing about technology in 2009 while working in wireless retail. He has used BlackBerry off and on for over seven years, Android for nearly four years, iOS for three years, and has experimented with both webOS and Windows Phone. Taylor has reviewed countless smartphones and tablets, and doesn't go anywhere without a couple gadgets in his pockets or "nerd bag." In his free time, Taylor enjoys playing disc golf with friends, rock climbing, and playing video games. He also enjoys the occasional hockey game, and would do unspeakable things for some salmon nigiri. For more on Taylor Martin, checkout his Pocketnow Insider edition. | Google+