"This being Canada, "bring your own phone" doesn't give you much of a rate discount"
Amen brother! Although having had smartphones in both the UK and Canada, it seems fair to suggest much of your headache arises from being in Canada. The selection of handsets available is pretty poor, all things considered, and the 2-year minimum contracts (recently reduced from 3) means there's little incentive for the carriers to entice you with newer handsets.
I look enviously at the choice available in the US, and in Europe - multiple versions of Sony's Xperia; Samsung Galaxy S4 widely available, and you can upgrade to it in less than a year; all sorts of Android, Windows and iOS devices in a range of sizes and colours.
Mind you, the underlying problem is broadly the same. Windows phones are uninspiring; iPhones are ubiquitous, and Android is pretty variable in execution and reliability...