As tank type residential heaters go not many players left in the game been a consolidation over the years state and ao smith one in the same company same factory in Tennessee. Bradford white another company that makes a good heater both us made. Just in my neck of the woods just cost more then state/ao smith. See american water out there once and while. Only got one model from them just because its size is different enough i could jam it in where the ao smith/state will not for apartment/condo use. Ruud,rheem,richmond don't see quite as much but they are the same company. There flame arrest system was not a great design from the service stand point.
Whirlpool and Ge water heaters have been the joke of the industry. Ge for the backwards threads and both have just poor build quality don't know who is making them other then the lowest bidder.
Maytag,Kenmore,American standard just more made by somebody else there nothing more then a name.
Then there are the specialty heater companies quite a few of them generally not selling to home use market mostly because most average homes don't need 100 gallon plus water heater at 2 million btu's mid size hotels ,hospitals, casino etc big places who need massive quaintly of water is their general market.
As tankless go don't have one i like over the other there were few companies that made some early on that are no longer in business and so no parts leaving owner with $1,000+ pile of junk. Rinnai and Navien are from what i see and read in trade publications are the to most known players.
Warranties vary by make model and cost you can always go longer for more money.