Choosing an iPhone is easy -- do you want the 5S or the 5C? Buying an Android phone is more challenging, but potentially also more rewarding. Google's operating system can now be found on dozens of mobile phones, not to mention tablets, ebook readers, TVs and even cameras.
Whether you're looking for a palm-spanning multimedia powerhouse or just a compact, competent smart phone, there's an Android device for you.
Android comes in various different versions, the most recent of which is 4.4 KitKat. New phones will hopefully run KitKat but version 4.3 Jelly Bean is still acceptable and is what you'll find on most phones until companies get around to upgrading them.
If you're shelling out for a really expensive smart phone, you'll certainly want the most recent version of the operating system that money can buy to maximise your chances of getting future updates. Older phones tend not to receive the latest updates, often because the hardware is not up to the task of running demanding new software.
Google's Nexus partner phones like the Nexus 5 are used to showcase the latest updates to the software so receive new software generally earlier than other devices.
Most mobile makers put their own software skin on top of Android, such as HTC Sense. When this works, it can give Android a welcome dash of style. When it doesn't, it can be a high-tech car crash, so try before you buy.
Spare a thought for the processor at the heart of the phone. The speedier the chip, the faster everything will work, from flicking through photos to surfing the Web. The top phones have quad-core -- and, technically, 8-core -- processors to help make them total powerhouses for multimedia, but dual-core processors can still provide plenty of juice, without being as heavy on the battery.
Phones with quad-core chips aren't automatically a better buy -- it depends what you want to use the device for. Those extra cores will help with very demanding activities such as high-end 3D gaming or loads of multi-tasking -- having scores of tabs open on your browser, for example.
If you just want a really capable all-rounder then a fast dual-core device should be more than adequate. A dual-core chip with a fast (above 1.4GHz) clock speed will be able to cope with the vast majority of apps from the Google Play store, but might not be as smooth with multi-tasking.
The Motorola Moto G is an exception to all the budget rules as it packs a nippy quad-core chip and costs very little. If you don't want to splash much cash but still want to tackle the apps your mates are talking about, the Moto G should be your phone of choice. A fast 1GHz chip will cope with the essentials, but you won't find anything in the budget line that even comes close to the Moto G.
The next step is to take a tape measure to your pocket to see how much space you've got for today's super-sized screens. Rampant display inflation seen over the last year means the 5-inches of the Galaxy S4 is now pretty standard. Bigger displays are easier to navigate, great for viewing websites and superb for perusing videos, but they'll also munch through battery power quicker. You'll also have a larger lump to lug around with you, obviously.
The screen's resolution and touch responsiveness is key. Think twice before buying any phone with less than a 320x480-pixel resolution, even on a really budget phone. Squinting at the screen eliminates virtually all of Android's cool factor and makes Web browsing a depressing chore.
Mid-range phones will typically offer resolutions in the region of 480x800 pixels, although the Moto G's 720p display again has the budget market beaten. The very sharpest high-end phones max out at 1,920x1,080 pixels -- that's Full HD.
The high resolutions mean that more pixels are packed into the screen -- what's known as pixel density or ppi. The higher the ppi, the sharper the screen will be. Apple's retina display was once the top dog in that category, but many of the new top-end Android blowers have it beaten.
Next, think about the camera. Some high-end Android phones can take stunningly good snaps these days and even some mid-range handsets can turn out reasonable results, so don't assume you have to make do with a sub-par lens if you're shopping on a budget.
One assumption you definitely shouldn't make is more megapixels equals better photos. The quality of the lens, optics, image processing chip and software are all very important. Here at CNET UK, we include test snaps in our phone reviews so be sure to check you're happy with the quality of your chosen 'droid's photography by eyeballing our photos before buying.
Finally, think about extra features. Do you want high-definition video recording or are you happy with a standard 480x640-pixel resolution? What about near field communication (NFC) -- are you excited by the thought of paying for stuff with your phone or are you not bothered? Do you want a really slick robotic voice assistant in your pocket or are you more interested in impressive audio?
Now check out the best Android phones reviewed here on CNET UK. You'll never look enviously at a boring old iPhone again.
Additional reporting by Natasha Lomas.