For years, I preferred Android over iPhone, usually citing its customizability and availability from a large number of manufacturers. This stands in stark contrast to iPhone, which has notably fewer customization options than Android and is only made by Apple. IPhone has no homescreen widgets; non-App Store apps are very difficult to install; it has no centralized storage; and the list goes on. There is one area in which iPhone continues to outshine Android though: security.
Because Apple makes their own devices and designs their own bespoke operating system (iOS) to work more or less seamlessly with their hardware, they have total control over critical security and system updates. When they detect or are informed of a serious flaw in their software, they can push out an update to all Apple devices at once.
This stands in stark contrast to Android. When the iPhone was released and took the world by storm, Google knew the only way they could compete was to adopt the opposite strategy from Apple, namely, making Android's operating system free, open source, and completely customizable by the various manufacturers. That's why iPhones are always iPhones, but Android phones vary wildly in design, features, internals, and software. A phone manufactured by Samsung looks and acts very differently from a phone designed by Lenovo, even though they are both running Android.
It is a testament to miniaturization that we can now fit an entire entertainment system onto devices no larger than flash drives. Streaming dongles plug into your HDTV’s HDMI port and play content over WiFi. Dongles offer some great entertainment options for those on or off a budget.
I'm sure by now you're all-too-familiar with the annual mobile device product line refresh. Every fall we get updated versions of the now ubiquitous mobile devices. Apple, Amazon, Google, and others all push out slightly updated hardware just in time for the holiday shopping season. This year's upgrades are almost all incremental. If you already own a 2012 device, you should feel comfortable hanging on to it. Users looking to upgrade from models that are two or more years old or shoppers new to mobile devices have good reason to be excited.
Updated November 2013: After a year of living with much of this tech, I have some new insights that should help you decide if you want to settle for slightly older hardware at cheaper prices when shopping for the 2013 holiday season. I have also provided links to the updated versions of the devices that were listed in 2012 as alternatives to the standard Apple/Amazon/Google/B&N devices.