Our smartphones are at once the most personal, useful, and most-used device in our lives. Yet with rare exceptions, we buy a single phone and stick with it for two years or more, making that initial purchase a somewhat daunting task. Choose wrong, and you're stuck with your clunker for at least the next 24 months.

Today’s smartphone market is ripe with great phones, fast networks to use them on, and countless apps to to use with them, but choosing the right one isn’t easy. In this guide, we’re not going to be talking too much about specific models, but rather we’re here to give you advice for navigating the minefield and picking the right phone for yourself. (One note: this guide will be focusing on US carriers.) Making the right choice for your needs can be difficult: with so many smartphones on the market, where does one even begin? Right here.

This guide was last updated November 14, 2013