In the early days of the iPhone there wasn't much of a choice if you wanted a modern smartphone. Sure BlackBerry was still doing its thing, and Windows Mobile found some sort of a stride, however, if you wanted a taste of the mobile future it was Apple or bust.
That's what motivated me to ditch my beloved BlackBerry Pearl and spend more money than I should at the time. Lack of video camera or MMS be damned.
Fast forward a decade to the present day and the landscape is even more convoluted. Everything is good. You have to try to find a phone that's bad. Even the $200 budget devices are essentially flagship specs from two years ago.
This begs the question of how do you figure out what to get? That's the question I get more than any other from friends or family. Yeah, I want a phone that will last, but the battery isn't my first concern. Sure I want a device that's fast, but pretty much anything with a Snapdragon 626 or newer will get the job done. Of course I want a nice display, but even 1080p AMOLED panels look gorgeous.
I've started using the same criteria I use when I buy clothes, how does it look? Design has become the most important factor when choosing a phone. I'm sure I'll be mocked, but isn't your phone an accessory in the same way a purse or a watch might be? I want something that is going to look and feel good.
That's the reason I've been gravitating away from Apple in recent years. It's not that I'm biased or have been bought off (as so many of you like to assume) it's just that their design after the iPhone 5 became boring to me. If the iPhone 8 is an unapologetic piece of finely crafted glass/aluminum/or whatever other material they decide, I'll gladly hop back on the iOS train. But so far it's been bland to my eye.
When I look at the Samsung Galaxy S8 (or +) I very much see the future the same way I saw the original iPhone. Curved glass, bezel-less design, in a package that seems too thin to be possible make the S8 look and feel like the future, and I want to be part of that. I truly don't have an OS or brand allegiance despite the outcries to the contrary. I like the best product at the time regardless of the logo on the back.
Maybe it's shallow, but I want to hold a phone that's beautiful. I find it almost inspiring. When I look at the current flock flagships I know whatever I choose will be good, fast, and powerful enough. The only real determining factor anymore is right there on the surface.