I've got the note 2, if it wasn't for the stylus and the huge screen this phone would be a piece of ****. The build quality sucks, its very plasticy and after less then a year its showing its wear. I had a small drop and the menu buttons stopped working. Samsung's warranty is ****. If you have a problem they expect you to send your phone back and wait a week while they fix it. A defective iphone can be swapped out at an Apple Store.
Android is terrible, I've had it for my past 3 phones. I've rooted other phones and ran the aosp (android stripped of bloatware and manufacturer overlays) and it still sucks. This note 2 is running factory firmware and with has 2gb of ram, which is double to 4x what most smartphones have, I still find myself holding down the center button and manually closing applications down. I don't even have a lot of aps installed.
The best phones I've seen out as an alternative to the iphones are the new Nokia Windows Phone 8. The ui is clean, it has great navigation and public transit software, and is really fast.
Nokia's build quality is amazing, there are videos on YouTube of people abusing them and they keep going. The gf already dropped hers in the toilet and it still works great.
The Nokia's camera is the best I've seen in a smartphone.
Windows Phone 8 doesn't have a ton of aps yet but give it time. At this point I cant think of a single ap I'd miss that android has and windows phone 8 doesn't.