Im leaning towards texting and actual strength, perhaps the G1?
A good first cellphone is the cheapest one that you like.
Later, when you actually settle into a usage pattern, you can match your requirements to hardware, network and contract. If possible, do not sign up online - go into a store with actual people, working to commission, and you should be able to talk them up to a better phone or deal.
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I've got an old Motorola, it takes being dropped repeatedly without falling apart. But it is old. Maybe dates back to the time when Motorola were supplying Apple with CPUs...
If you want to text alot then get an ENV2, it has a small keyboard
If you want a phone to be thrown around and beaten up then get the Boulder its literally made for being beaten
If you wanted texting then get the ENV2