Buying a smartphone this Christmas? These days it's a lot more complicated than just getting the latest iPhone.

For while Apple's recent iOS 7 software update has won the hearts of many - more than 200 million people have downloaded it so far - Google's Android OS has more than closed the gap. Meanwhile a resurgent Nokia (now part of Microsoft) is still producing excellent hardware, innovating in areas like camera design to great effect.

Just to make it even more complicated, the hardware has improved across the board - with quad-core processors, 20-megapixel cameras and ridiculously HD screens (with pixel density now up to 441ppi and above) now the norm.

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 5 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 favourite nine smartphones available this Christmas. Take a look at our selections of the best gadgets below.

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  • HTC One M8

    The 2014 update to the HTC One builds on the same hardware features that won the original such a fanatical response, but keeps the essential DNA intact. The massive front-facing speakers are 25% louder, the UltraPixel camera adds a second lens for depth perception (so you can refocus an image after shooting it), and there's a 5-megapixel 'Selfie' front facing lens too. [<a href="www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/26/htc-one-m8-review_n_5035163.html?1395847758" target="_blank">REVIEW</a>]

  • Sony Xperia Z2

    Sony's latest flagship Xperia smartphone is a beautiful, thin and waterproof delight. It packs in a 20-megapixels still camera capable of 4K video, a sleeker form factor, a far better screen and built-in noise cancellation technology.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5

    This year's Galaxy S adds water resistance, a slightly larger screen, a 16-megapixel camera and a heart-rate sensor into what was already a market-leading, powerful and sleekly designed device. It doesn't rock the boat too much, but it didn't need to. This is still up there with the very best Android phones.

  • Google LG Nexus 5

    The new Nexus 5 is based on the internals of the LG G2 - which means you get the same Snapdragon 800 processor, as well as the full version of Google's new Android 4.4 KitKat OS, which integrates SMS messages into Hangouts, freshens up the design and adds new features under the hood. The camera is still a little lacking, while the design is functional rather than beautiful, but at £299 off contract it's still a steal.

  • iPhone 5C

    The 5C was rumoured to be Apple's 'budget' iPhone. It isn't - and not only because it isn't that cheap. The "proudly plastic" 5C comes in five colours (see what they did there) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/10/iphone-5c-uk-pictures-release-date_n_3899557.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">but has the same internals, screen and camera as the iPhone 5.</a> It's essentially the same beautiful, high-end phone you already know and love, in a more colourful (and potentially divisive) design. As such it's hard to see how Apple won't sell a billion of them.

  • Nokia Lumia 925

    <a href="http://gdgt.com/nokia/lumia/920/" target="_blank">The Nokia Lumia 925</a> has the same great design and attention to detail we've come to expect from Nokia, but with some crucial upgrades from the 920 including a thinner, all-metal design and an improved camera.

  • iPhone 5S

    With the same ultra-clear Retina display as the iPhone 5, but now with an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/10/iphone-5s-uk-pictures-release-date_n_3898775.html?1378818683&utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">added fingerprint sensor</a>, a seriously impressive 64-bit A7 chip, an improved camera and a new gold design option, this is the best iPhone ever made. And with its consistent market-leading app selection, easy-to-use OS and delightful design, it's hard to argue against it being one of the very best gadgets ever made too.

  • LG G2

    The LG G2 is an extremely high-end 5-inch, 1080p Android 4.2.2 smartphone whose major distinguishing feature is that it has three buttons on the back of the device, which are normally found on the sides. The G2 has its camera button and volume rocker on the rear, which for many people is enough to justify the purchase alone. It also has excellent battery life for this class of device.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note III

    The Note III is huge. It's got a 5.7-inch screen, though with the same 1080P resolution as the Note II. It adds a new leather back panel, which gives it an 'office' feel in line with the productivity-plus-stylus theme of the device. It also adds a Snapdragon 8000 quad-core processor, some new software enhancements and a few new S-Pen functions into the mix. If you're looking for a giant note-taking phone, this is still your best bet.