I care about:
- Freedom (I want root on my phone without having to jailbreak it)
- Hardware quality
- Operating system quality (random crashiness is not acceptable)
- Operating system longevity & upgradability (Maemo and Meego went away pretty fast, and I don't want to buy a device that will never see another OS upgrade)
I'd rather have a physical keyboard, either in addition to or instead of a touchscreen, but I can stand not having one. And I have basically no hope that I could get a device made under fair labor practices and with any attentiveness to the environmental impacts of its manufacture, but am willing to be surprised.
I really do not care how many apps are available for a phone -- I'll be fine if it browses the web, makes and received phone calls, and it would be lovely if it takes mediocre photos and plays music. And it can be big and heavy and ugly and I don't mind as long as the hardware is robust.
I am planning on buying a device, that is, buying an unlocked one separately from getting a data/voice plan from a carrier (see again: my interest in freedom). I acknowledge that I am being picky here so I'm fine with spending commensurately. And I live in the US but am willing to purchase devices from abroad. For example, if multiple people have tried the Geeksphone Zero and can recommend it, I'm willing to pony up.
(Crosspost from Ask MetaFilter.)