3 of 10Image
First off: let's eliminate the easy choices.
My first question is: Do you want an iPhone? If so, end of discussion.
If you know you want a laptop running OS X, your decision is pretty easy, buy one of the various Mac desktops or laptops, and the same applies to Apple's phones.
If you want Siri, iOS and access to the Apple App Store, then buy an iPhone 4S, because you're not going to get that anywhere else. In fact, Apple is a bit of an anomaly to me, it seems people buy an iPhone simply because they want an iPhone, not because of what it can or can't do, and for that reason I tend to rule it out.
Either you want the comparably safe, strictly controlled walled-garden and healthy ecosystem provided by Apple, or you don't. I happen to be a 'don't'.
Photo credit: Apple
Nokia 600 Symbian Belle
I have nothing against Symbian, but with almost no major manufacturers using the Anna or Belle versions of the OS it makes it very difficult to go out and actually buy one of these phones, particularly if you don't fancy a Nokia. However, if you already like Symbian and aren't adverse to Nokia, there's always the Nokia 600 (pictured), 700 or 701 to check out.
Nokia is a lot better than it used to be on touchscreen phones, but Symbian is not an OS I can recommend to friends for straight-forward usability. I'm also a little hesitant to recommend an OS with an uncertain future.
Photo credit: Nokia
RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360
BlackBerry's new BB10 (formerly BBX) platform certainly has potential, but until those first handsets start rolling off the production line in 2012, there is no way of knowing.
That's not to say the current iteration of the BlackBerry operating system has nothing to offer; quite the contrary. It was one of the first platforms to have handsets on sale supporting near-field communication (NFC) technology — something still not offered on iOS or Windows Phone — and RIM has clearly tried to bring it more in line with its touchscreen-focused counterparts.
Despite these improvements, it stills feels to me like an OS rooted in the past. A platform that has had bits added onto it to bring it up to date, but not designed from the bottom-up as a modern smartphone operating system.
Photo credit: Ben Woods