With so many different types of phone flying round, it's nightmarishly difficult to figure out which one is best. Not only do you have to consider things like price and screen size, you'll need to think how much power you need, what operating system it uses and, no doubt, how good the camera is.
'Best' is a relative concept however, especially where technology is concerned. Where one person may swoon over a 5-inch power-hungry behemoth, another's dream blower might be a slender little chap just for the essentials.
This is where we come in. Here at CNET Towers, we scour the whole range of Androids, iPhones, Windows Phones and BlackBerrys to make sure you know exactly what you're spending your money on. Read on for our advice in what to look out for and check out our picks of the current best smart phones.
One of the key choices to make in choosing a phone is which operating system to go for. Again, this decision will come down to what type of tech user you are. If you enjoy tinkering with technology -- playing around with settings to tweak and customise the look and feel of your phone until everything is exactly how you like it -- then you might fall for a smart phone running Google's Android operating system.
Android is very powerful and feature packed. It's also extremely liberal about how you treat it. If you don't like the software keyboard that's pre-loaded, you can just download another. Android also appears on a much wider selection of phones than Apple's iOS, so if you can't afford a supercharged monster, but still want to play with Android, you can find it on much cheaper entry-level phones.
In stark contrast to Android, iOS appeals more to people who love what technology lets them do, rather than loving tech for tech's sake. It's slick, polished, reliable, super-easy to use and it still boasts the most apps of all the smart phone operating systems. Indeed, if you opt for iOS, you're unlikely to miss out on the next must-have app. Many developers prioritise developing for iOS so you'll typically get the app first too.
Windows Phone 8 looks attractive and has an easy-to-use interface, but still hasn't managed to attract a vast number of supporters yet so app developers aren't as keen to bring their apps to its store. If you demand all the latest mobile games immediately, iOS will suit you more.
And then there's BlackBerry. The Canadian firm raised a fair few eyebrows with the launch of the Z10, as it was notably devoid of the physical Qwerty keyboard that made BlackBerry so popular, but brought the keys back with the Q10. BlackBerry isn't having a great time of things right now and its future is uncertain. Its software, while competent, isn't as pleasant to use as its rivals, so unless your office forces you to have one, you should probably look elsewhere.
When shopping for a smart phone, a key consideration is how fast its processor is. The most powerful phones money can buy currently boast quad-core -- and, technically, eight core -- chips as opposed to the single cores of cheaper phones. But just having more cores doesn't immediately mean you're getting a better phone. It depends what you want to do with it.
Quad-core devices excel at intensive activity such as high-end 3D gaming or heavyweight multi-tasking. Yet a powerful dual-core device can actually be quicker for some everyday mobile tasks and can offer much better battery life. If your usage requirements are modest, consider bagging a fast dual-core device -- it may well be the best smart phone for you.
If you're on a tighter budget, do look for the most powerful chip you can afford -- ideally at least dual-core 1GHz. Having an under-powered processor will really limit what your phone can do. And weak chips result in sluggish, laggy performance. It's less likely too that they'll be able to keep up with the new features added in software updates. The Motorola Moto G excels here, as it offers a solid set of specs for a rock-bottom price.
Another hardware consideration is how big a touchscreen do you want to handle? If you're on a budget, you'll want the highest screen resolution you can afford so the display is clear and easy on the eye. Any top-end phone worth its salt will offer a 1080p display.
When it comes to size, once you get beyond 4 inches, it's really a matter of personal taste. For some people, the bigger the pane the better, so they can easily ogle videos and browse full-fat websites. For others, being pocket-friendly and easy to hold is more important. If you have big hands, chances are you'll prefer a bigger phone and vice versa.
The quality of the camera is another really important consideration. If you're a keen photographer and have a good whack of cash to spend on a smart phone, be sure to opt for one of the best camera phones to avoid any image-related disappointment.
Android phones -- especially at the higher end -- come with various camera features built in, like multi-shot, panorama, HDR, and scene modes. By contrast, the iPhone has a stripped back point-and-shoot interface.
The best smart phone for you depends on your tastes and needs. How much money you have at your disposal will also play a major part in the specs you can afford -- but even £100 can buy a pretty decent smart phone these days. So don't feel you have to break the bank to jump aboard the smart phone bandwagon. Check out my guide to the budget Android world if cost is an issue.
To get you started on your smart phone search, here are some of our favourites.