I agree on many of your points.
But, I do like heavily skinned ROMs like Sense. They might not be vanilla, but they work great (A custom Sense ROM is great- it's got beauty, and everything works better than how I think vanilla does, and if tweaked right, it'll be extremely slick).
More things to add:
Some more things: make a solid phone: one of the reasons I don't go with samsung, I don't want a phone with a plastic body. I want a solid aluminum casing like on my I4g, and I want to be able to drop it on solid concrete from 5 feet while running down the stairs, and have only a tiny nick on the aluminum backing, and a little on the screen (done that multiple times with my I4g, no issues at all)
Don't make phones with screens larger than 4.7 inches. I think 4.3 is perfect, YMMV, but seriously, the galaxy note is crazy. Even 4.7 inches is way to big IMO. 4.5 inches is another good size.