Shopping for a new smartphone is an exciting and arduous experience. It holds the promise of something better and the fear of a two-year commitment. For gadget enthusiasts, it also involves pouring over specs and reviews, and fretting over what’s coming out in the near-term. As we publish this buyer’s guide, we face potential upheavals in the mobile space. Samsung’s Galaxy S II lineup will arrive at three major US carriers, the next iPhone perpetually looms in the distance, and a new generation of Windows Phone handsets is close upon us. You might ask, “Why would anyone buy a smartphone today, when something better is coming tomorrow?” Friends, that’s the blessing and curse of the mobile world — there’s always something better coming. You can’t wait forever, though, and if you want to purchase a smartphone today, we’re here to make the process easier and help you make an informed decision.

While our choices are sometimes contentious, they’re backed with experience that you can rely upon. If you’re looking to make a quick decision without much effort, you can rest assured that our selections won’t steer you wrong. Still, we encourage you to educate yourself before you decide on a smartphone that best fits your needs. Our Primed series is an excellent place to start, where you can learn about dual-core processors and mobile displays. As always, you’re encouraged to share your own experience in the comments, and we hope you have fun listing your own favorites, too. Just remember that we have an $80 ceiling for our budget selections. Compared to our previous buyer’s guide, Samsung has begun to lose ground, and while Android maintains dominance, it’s found some unexpected competition. Curious to see how it played out? Read on, as we round up the best smartphones of the day.