Buying a smartphone used to be easy – either get an iPhone, or get the best of the rest.

These days it’s a lot more complicated. Apple’s hardware competitors are now able to match it in both specs and cost, while Google’s Android mobile OS and even Windows Phone have closed the cap on iOS.

And as the hardware has improved across the board – with quad-core processors, 20-megapixel cameras and ridiculously HD screens (with pixel density now up to 441 ppi and above) now the norm – the differences between the mainstream and the few truly exceptional phones has narrowed.

Fortunately that growth in competition has also resulted in some good deals for the consumer. Even some flagship phones can be had for free on a contract, while Google’s Nexus 4 is affordable even if you buy it outright as a second device.

To make the quest for the right phone for you easier, we’ve selected our favorite seven smartphones available. Take a look at our selections of the best gadgets below.