About the same time that Aaron was unboxing his brand new Samsung Galaxy Note II, I was also unpacking my brand new phone. A couple months ago, I was talking about the choice to get a new phone. I had been really happy with my original HTC EVO 4G, but its time was done and it was the dawn of a new era in my life – the Note II era. I want to talk about the decision that I made to get the Note II, and how I got to that decision because I know this is a decision that we all make at one time or another, and hopefully my insights will help you make a decision.

Now you might also remember that I mentioned that there was a chance that I might be getting a business phone from the computer company I work for. Well, that is exactly what happened, but I was the one that got to pick out the phones that we were getting. So not only did I get a brand new phone, I got it for free, plus I save money every month on my own phone bill. That’s a win/win/win in my book! It took very little convincing to get my bosses to decide on the Note II. The only real sticking point for them was the actual size of the phone, but they quickly got over that after holding one in their hand at Best Buy.

So how did I come to the decision on the Note II? Let me tell you it wasn’t an easy decision.

Durability/Price

The first thing I had to look at was durability and price. I had my EVO for two years, and every phone before it I also used for two years. That means that any phone I chose had to last me for at least the next two years. For that reason, I only looked at the high end phones. With technology, you almost always get what you pay for. If you get a free phone with a new contract, odds are pretty good that it will be a very simple phone, and also most likely cheaply-made. There are of course exceptions to this, and sales are one of the exceptions. Multiple times before Christmas, you could pick up a Samsung Galaxy SIII for $50 – and that’s definitely a high end phone. So price-wise, I was looking at phones that would cost me over $200 out of my own pocket (or my bosses as the case ended up being). This decision led me to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC EVO 4G LTE, and of course the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Operating System

For some people, the first thing that you look at is the operating system, and I believe it is worth a mention here. For me, the answer to this question was an easy one. While I love my iPad 2 and have come to deal with the things I don’t like about iOS, my phone had to be an Android. There are many reasons why it has to be this way for me, but I won’t go into all of them here for fear of starting another Apple v. Android war.

While I was choosing another new Android smartphone, my sister and her husband were upgrading to iPhones from their EVOs. I talked them into giving the EVO a try over two years ago when they wanted iPhones, and now they are getting their wish because, in the last two years, Sprint has started selling iPhones. A lot of the choice between iOS and Android is a personal preference one, so I would just suggest you give both OSes a try before making your final decision so you will be happy with your choice.

Carrier

Another decision you need to make is what carrier you want to go with. Now, if you have a family plan where everyone got phones at different times you might not be able to switch carriers right away. If every line has a different contract end date, it might cost you a bunch of money to switch your entire family to another carrier. But if you are free to make the switch, you will need to look at the different plans that each carrier offers. One of the biggest things you will need to look at if you are getting a smartphone is how the carrier handles data. Some have unlimited plans, and others will cap you at a certain amount. I spend about 90% of my week connected to WiFi, so even though I was used to unlimited data on Sprint, my 2GB a month limit won’t be a big deal for me on Verizon. However, you will need to take a close look at your data usage to find which plan works best for you.

4G

Also a part of the whole data and plan equation is 4G. I had been with Sprint for more than a decade, but my bosses are with Verizon. Because they had family with different line contract dates, they decided to roll everything into a Verizon business plan. That meant that I had to port my number over to Verizon, which didn’t bother me a bit because as I said before it saves me money every month. As a bonus,f Verizon is the only carrier in my small community (30,000 people) to have 4G available. In the two years I had my EVO I only ever had my 4G turned on once, and that was as I was driving through Chicago. Now I am on 4G every day. If 4G speeds are important to you make sure you take a look at the different carrier’s coverage maps.

The Extras

The last thing I will mention when deciding on a new phone are the extras. I would put in this category things like NFC, Google Wallet, Samsung Share, digitizer pens, Siri, Swype, and lots of other little things like these. To some people, none of these things really matter to them. They just want a phone – a way to check their email and Facebook, and go online every once in a while. I wanted a phone that had NFC capabilities, Swype, and the Samsung Share features. The fact that the Note II comes with a digitizer pen was just a bonus to me.

There are a lot of other factors that you might use to decide on your next phone, but in the end it came down to a choice between the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy S III, and I loved the idea of having a different kind of phone than everyone else. In the few weeks I have had it, I can tell you it gets noticed a lot more than any regular smartphone ever does. My decisions led me to the Note II, and you will soon be seeing a lot more about the great features of this phone. Where did your decisions lead you to in the search for your next phone?