For a few months my phone would crash when I tried to dial out or open up my contacts. I had to try anywhere from 3 to 10 times before the operation would work. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was, but, once I made a small change the crashes went away.
Being a paranoid person I put on an anti-virus package on my phone and tablet (along with my wife's tablet). The installation of AVAST itself was easy as it is in the Google Play Store. It is a product I used first on our windows machines and it works quite well and does not hog a lot of system resources (especially on my older netbook). AVAST works very well for us and we have not had a problem. As I was digging I noticed that it scans files with 'File Shield'. A light went off as I realized that AVAST was locking the file(s) contacts needed to scan the file when I tried to open either the phone or contacts list. I turned off the File Shield, ignored the whining about a shield being off and tried opening up the phone dialer. To my relief the dailer worked and the next thing I did was open contacts and it opened up without crashing. I did a shutdown and reboot of the phone and did the same two things and it works. For the last few weeks the machine has been stable.
If you have a problem with the phone crashing on the dialer or contact list and you are using AVAST (or any other a-v product that scans all files when accessed) you may want to look at shutting down that functionality, or, if possible put an exception to the phone/contact applications.