I think it is really a matter of personal opinion. My suggestion is to make a list of must-have features, and a wish list. Then look at the options objectively. Don't get distracted by the "it" brand. Choose the phone that does what you want, so you don't have to pay a lot for what you don't need. Remember that data plans for smart phones can get pricey. You might want to consider a pre-paid model.
I have a samsing galaxy s4 and im jn love with it the s5 version is out but the only difference ive heard is that it is the waterproof version of the s4 the s4 comes with pre installed apps that you can stop but thats the only annoying thing about it. Ive has this phone for a year not a single scrach on it no glitches no anything. It also has I think an 8 megapixel camera. And some pritty cool settings.
An android device which runs the latest software and fits your budget, in short words get a Galaxy S 3, you could also prefer to get an iphone which i will highly not recommend due to the fact that you are paying more for less. i terms of camera sure the iphone gets the upper hand, but in terms of display and quality over quantity and a budget friendly phone the S3 will be the right choice. or you could get the lastest google device the nexus 4 for a 200 monthly contract with t-mobile. ;) hope my answer was of immerse benefit to your cause.
Thin, Light, Fast, and larger screen.
Also i have it and think its pretty cool :)
samsung galaxy s2 .