I need to hang onto my unlimited data plan for another year or two while I travel a lot (in the US) but my Galaxy Nexus often leaves me frustrated when I'm not in an urban area. I'm currently visiting family in the sticks and I can barely hold onto a 3G data connection even tho Verizon's coverage map shows this area as "4G Extended". Even if I set the phone on a stump in the middle of an open field, I never see a 4G connection. And my 3G is often running at under 50kbps incoming. It's exceptionally fast right now because I can load web pages to gripe.
So which of the current phones get the best data connections? I've heard good things about the Note 2 and Droid lines. I know I'll have to pay full price to keep my unlimited data plan. I really don't care about the cost or size. I care about performance and reliability.
Traditionally, Moto phones are known to have the best reception, and Samsung the worst, with the others falling in between. You will get good and bad reports on all of them however. Unfortunately, AFAIK, there is no third party, unbiased testing on devices to determine reception quality.
Yeah, it's frustrating. It'd be nice if there was something like an EPA MPG rating. It's not perfect but at least it gives you an idea what to expect. Moto's usually best but I've seen some genuine-looking gripes about the Maxx which is the one I'd prefer. Sammy's usually worst except I've seen people raving about the Note 2. I'd like to see how the Note 3 compares. I guess I'll just have to go to a store and check the signal strength first hand.
Just make sure you go into the About Phone section and check the actual dBm and not just look at the signal bars. (Though, unfortunately, IIRC, devices in store are not activated and so you may not be able to see actual signal indications)