Nokia Lumia 900
A question I've been increasingly asked is, "Which phone should I get my ____ for their 1st smartphone?". Subtracting any strong allegiance to a specific OS, I've been recommending the Nokia Lumia 900 over confusing Android devices or expensive iPhones for casual users (hardcore users, note I used "casual", aka not you) for a variety of reasons related to everyday comfort/utility...
Despite its "flagship" moniker, the Lumia 900 isn't cutting edge in features or specs (ahem, Nokia, please upgrade that camera already). But, the 900's unibody construction is rugged and provides an assured grip, it takes advantage of LTE network speeds, the screen offers a satisfyingly rich-dark contrast pop, and the design itself is attractive enough to garner curiosity amongst the iPhone set (although friends keep mistaking mine for an iPhone in a cyan case).
After months now of wading waist-deep with Gingerbread/Ice Cream Sandwich powered Android devices, I'm left with a bit of a toothache, and I still believe the Windows Phone's user interface is the most elegant of the trio of players right now for "get things done" utility. Power users will still love Android, aesthetes with the bank account will drift to the iPhone, but I'd argue the Windows Phone Lumia 900 coud be seen as the handset for everyone else.
Note: the Lumia 900 is about to receive a pair of upgrades to "Windows Phone 7.5 Refresh", then a "7.8 upgrade" which will align the 900 with the next generation of Windows Phone 8 devices, providing many of the UX bells and whistles promised by the upcoming operating system upgrade. For many 1st time casual users, this won't matter all too much when the user is just seeking a fun phone to use without hassle, worry. And it's for these simple reasons the Lumia 900 might be the perfect starter smartphone.
Available for just a penny via Amazon, if your mom, dad, young sibling or any 1st time smartphone device user is looking for something that "just works", and has little concern about keeping up with the Tech Joneses, the Lumia 900 is an easy pick.