OK you convinced me. I'm responding with an abrrreviated incomplete buying primer as generic reply
to you and anyone else who might have a smartphone in their future. I pre-warn you that there'll be a bit of Toffler-esque culture shock when you look for a smartphone.
Here's what I mean:
Firstly, in case you aren't aware, you need to state what carrier you use. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint-Nextel, T-Mobile, etc. Not all models are available with all carriers (phone equipment and/or network providers).
Secondly, you need to be clear whether or not you really want JUST a cellphone or a Smartphone as there's a functional distinction.
Thirdly, many (perhaps the majority) smartphones and cellphones have speakerphone capability. However, you need to try any model personally to see how well they amplify with clarity or they amplify the noise along with the louder volume. That's a very individual depending on the model and your own hearing abilities.
Consider eliminating landline -
Another thing to consider is eliminating your landline. I'm disabled and had to think long and hard, but it's been 10 yrs since I had a landline. You may feel differently as some people like the idea of not having to rely on satellite tech variability to make your connection. Statistically the amount of uptime availability is pretty similar but not the same - depending on your area and carrier. I've been happiest with my carrier which is Verizon. Never been in an emergency and not had access. the storm that took out cell phone service coincidentally also took out landline. FWIW, cellphone came back within 24 hr and landline took 2 days.
Back to the main topic (tele-function at the junction)
Do not think of smartphone devices as tricked out cellphones. The advice about choices would be different if you are looking for cellphone function only.
Smartphones are truely mobile computers with a mix of GPS/paging/messaging device thrown in. As a result, they have shorter battery charging life, depending on the applications you load and the viewing that you do. Consider the option of getting a phone with best battery usage and/or a larger battery capacity.
Are you sure of which phone technology you want?
As an aside, you might consider just buying a cellphone. If you have friend or a relative who likes their smartphone then take some time - like at least 20 minutes and play... I mean use their favorite applications and features - accessing Internet, running GPS location and retrieving your phone messages or your email.
Added functions and/or applications
Oh yes, they also take awesome pictures now and can immediately email to your family/friends. Also, Miracle of mircales, they can now read a barcode and tell you what the right prices are and where to find it locally (with the right applications loaded).
Smartphone telephone functionality -
It's true you could still use a smartphone as only a phone, but then you'd be missing all the fun.,.and paying 50-100% more and not get the usage or the battery life. The good smartphones still perform well as phones (good voice and good reception) in addition to the other functions. This is very dependent on your carrier RF signals from towers and your local house conditions. In FL we have hurricane reinforced (rebar) standards on the newer buildings so some of us live in Faraday cages (poor signal).
My smartphone recommendation and experience -
All that being said, I've used a Motorola Android smartphone for the last 2 yrs. I was and still am a Verizon user. However, 'cause I'm not a Mac user I have limited exposure. My brother-in-law and sister are Apple-users and swear by iPhone. However, I'll tell you this: independent researchers and reviewers feel that the Motorola Android, Moto Andtoid X, HTC Android clones are very comparable to iPhone.
My personal favorite is:
Android and Droid-clones
(using Android Oper. System):
Specifically, Moto Droid recommended:
Android X2 ($100)
not Droid3..(poor voice quality and costs $200)
Android (if you can find one as it's been 2 yrs since I bought mine)
For the latest-and-greatest techy boys-girls
HTC Thunderbolt ($150) Runs on Droid OS and is 4G-capable (latest speedy network). A wide-screen (high visibility in almost any light) whopper with equally big capabilities and features, including access to an ultra-fast 4G network. But it's pricey.
My brother-in-law faves of iPhone:
Apple iPhone 4s $200 (16 gb memory)
Apple iPhone 4 $100 (8 gb memory)
Apple iPhone 3G $0 (8 gb memory; free purchase depending on your carrier)