what's considered a decent android phone rockers & gators?
other than fiddling for a few seconds w/ demo units in store, ive never really used any of them. i read online that each manufacturer bloats/tweeks the core android os for their product line and only the nexus series come w/ a lean+mean version of the OS.
what would you suggest to an older person w/ minimal needs (email, family video-calls). do android phones boogie with iPhones nicely?
(mod team: if you think that this should better be under "Misc OS/Hardware", please teleport accordingly )
These days, pretty much any Android phone is nice and usable (v7 CPU over 1GHz). Long gone are the days of the A32 chugging along with a 528MHz ARMv6 and OpenGL ES 1.1.
What to look for is hardware capabilities, some have really nice screens, NFC and whatnot, while others do not.
The big hurdle these days is (in the US) operator bloatware and (in the US and everywhere else) OS updates which on non-nexus devices, the manufacturer incentive is to sell a new phone instead of producing updates on their proprietary driver blobs. Yes, they are required to release the kernel source, but this is far from the whole
package required, often custom ROMs do not have complete camera support due to missing drivers.
Right now however, the Nexus 4 is out, which apparently is a brilliant device, cheap and capable (but without MicroSD card reader and LTE radio). And also out of stock. Apart from the Nexus series, I would look for a popular high-end device, perhaps last generation if the price is too much. This means that they will have good custom ROM support, and you can get something like CyanogenMod for it which is a great ROM that I've been running
on my HTC phones since CM6.
But, I hear you cry, is it suitable for non-geeks?
Well, I don't know, being somewhat of one myself, but do I know of one decidedly non-geeky girl who suffered some odd, cheap Samsung, and my mom picked Android right up when she took my battered old HTC Hero (CM7.2) for a replacement phone, phoning, texting and facebooking after helping her remember her passwords. (I'll be trying to get her a Nexus 4 for Christmas. Don't tell)
As for boogying with iPhones, all the standard protocols should work, whatever else you might mean i do not know
But what about all this rooting and stuff, I don't want to have to do that!
Well, don't then. These days, as of the generation of phones launched this year, the Android skinning has been stepped down a fair bit (apart from HTC who persist with their bloody Sense). Reports from the one news source I can be arsed to read say that both motorola not-blur-anymore and samsung touchwiz have been significantly reduced. OS update support is still a problem of course, but beware of making this a bigger horse than it is. The key here is again, select a popular device. Sony have previously been very good at providing updates for older hardware, but lately seem to have been losing interest.
Anyway, Android still is a bit of a minefield if you want the edge devices and absolutely crave the bleeding edge software, as my brother who chose a HTC Desire HD knows well. He does have a Jellybean ROM though, courtesy of some weirdo at XDA.
Who knows, maybe the immense desire for the Nexus 4 will kick the other manufacturers in the butt (I hear the N4 sold out in 30 minutes in the UK) and we'll get the option of not using their skin.
 custom ROM meaning any firmware for a given phone made by a third party, either by hacking together binary bits or building from source (like CyanogenMod)