If your only camera is in your phone, then you have a crappy camera. Now, having said that, I know that there are some apps out there for smart phones that create some cool effects on photos. Period. I even saw recently an article that featured photos in Afganistan taken with the iphone. I'm ok with that.
If you spend .0002 seconds on facebook, you'll see that there's some really crappy cellphone photos floating about.
• Are you looking for a compact point & shoot camera, a DSLR, or something in between? (Or perhaps you haven't decided yet — that's okay!)
• Is this your first camera? First ever, or first digital?
• Are you interested in a high level of control, or would you prefer to let the camera do as much "thinking" as possible?
• If you had to choose, would you prefer a more versatile (large "×") zoom lens, or top-notch image quality with no zoom at all?
• What size of camera do you want? To what degree would you be willing to sacrifice other features for compactness?
• What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.
• Do you plan to spend more on additional accessories now or in the future? (Lenses, lighting, tripods, batteries, memory cards, camera bags... it adds up!)
• How long do you plan on keeping this new camera?
• What will you generally use the camera for?
• Are you going to photograph sports? What sport, and from how far away?
• Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos, or other low-light photos?
• Will you make prints, or primarily view and share images on a computer screen? If you make prints, will they typically be small (up to 5×7") or medium sized (8×10"), or are you interested in larger sizes as well?
• Are you interested in spending time post-processing to make an image "perfect", or would you prefer to use images basically straight from the camera?
• Are there particular lenses or technical features that are interesting or important to you?
• Are there particular brands or models you already have in mind?