Best phones in 2023

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It’s nearly the end of 2023, and most of the major smartphone announcements are behind us. If you ask us, this year for smartphones has been quite the head-turner!


The Apple iPhone left behind its trusty lightning port, switching to the versatile USB-C connector, the Google Pixel brought even more AI features, and Samsung continued its steady march with great flagship hardware. But apart from these three, contenders like OnePlus and Nothing also impressed, with their devices striking great balance.

All in all, the year has been quite the head-turner, and here we will spotlight some of the best devices currently available that you should consider if you’re looking for a brand-new smartphone.

Best Flagship: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Front Shot
Image Credit: Aryan Surendranath

It ought to be no shocker that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is our top pick for the best flagship device in 2023. With its new titanium frame, versatile USB-C port, and hugely improved camera system — featuring an all-new 5x optical zoom telephoto camera — the device does more than enough to steal the crown from our previous top pick, the iPhone 14 Pro.

Traditionally, the large size of the phone would make it unwieldy for most, leading to the smaller Pro model being our top choice. But the switch to titanium and subtle curves around the edges of the frame make this phone extremely comfortable to use and hold. Nevertheless, if you want a smaller device, the iPhone 15 Pro is just as good as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, despite it lacking the new telephoto lens.

As for performance, the A17 Pro chip will continue to breeze past day-to-day tasks, and with the beefy upgrades Apple brought to the GPU, you can also experience AAA games when on the go — though these might be best experienced with a controller and an external display.

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iPhone 15 Pro Max

Best Flagship

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the latest and the greatest smartphone in Apple’s lineup. The smartphone is powered by the latest Apple A17 Pro chipset, coupled with 8GB of RAM. It has a more refined Titanium chassis that makes it lighter and more comfortable, and it features a new periscope telephoto camera.

Alternates

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    $450 $1200 Save $750

    The new Galaxy S23 Ultra is the go-to flagship from Samsung in 2023. It’s powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, carries the same price tag as its predecessor, and has improved gaming and camera capabilities to let you capture the perfect moment. 

  • Pixel 8 Pro pbi alt

    Google Pixel 8 Pro

    The Google Pixel 8 Pro, featuring the third-generation Tensor G3, is Google’s flagship phone for 2023. It introduces some small improvements overall, a brand-new processor to set it apart, a thermometer sensor, and promises an outstanding smartphone camera experience.

Best Battery: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

LI Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra - 14
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Source: Pocketnow / Adam Z. Lein

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra made its way to market quite early in 2023, giving it the longest time to make its mark, and it certainly did this by creating an impression of versatility for itself. Not only is the device pleasing to use on a daily, thanks to its bright and sharp display, but it features one of the best camera systems around, flaunting four different sensors, each with its unique flair.

The device is also powered by the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Now, when you put its spec sheet together, you will see that the device has a lot of powerful components, and delivering the kind of battery endurance that it does with these components is worth serious appreciation. The 5,000 mAh cell on this device is certainly a great attribute to have!

Also, in case your phone does run dry after a heavy day of use, the support for 45W wired charging will come in handy.

PBI Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best Battery

$1000 $1200 Save $200

The new Galaxy S23 Ultra is the go-to flagship from Samsung in 2023. It’s powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, carries the same price tag as its predecessor, and has improved gaming and camera capabilities to let you capture the perfect moment. 

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  • op11pbi Background Removed

    OnePlus 11

    $600 $700 Save $100

    Featuring a large 6.7-inch AMOLED LTPO 3.0 display and powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, the OnePlus 11 is one of the best Android flagships you can buy right now. It also comes with a Hasselblad- tuned camera system and a big 5,000 mAh battery that supports fast charging. 

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus +

    Samsung Galaxy S23+

    $250 $1000 Save $750

    The Samsung Galaxy S23+ provides an ideal blend of top-tier specifications, features, and affordability. It ships with a big 6.6-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and a triple camera array that’s proven itself to be reliable in any scenario.

Best Mid-range: Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 7a Review Product Images2
Aryan Surendranath / Pocketnow

It is a common notion that since Google introduced the Pixel 6 series, its devices have offered some of the best value. And in 2023, topping out choice for the best mid-range device is none other than a Pixel phone.

The Google Pixel 7a made its way to market quite some time after the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but for its price of $499 and its feature set, this device offers quite a lot of bang for the buck. And the price increase we’ve seen on the Google Pixel 8, only means that this phone is more worth its asking price.

The Google Pixel 7a features the same Tensor G2 processor found in the other flagship Pixel phones and like the Pixel 7 features a FHD display that refreshes at 90Hz. Its battery performance is also comparable to the device.

When it comes to the cameras, the Pixel 7a does feature a different set of sensors, but the overall experience remains nearly in line with that of the flagship devices.

Overall, it’s the perfect example of device that embodies a flagship in a cheaper package, making it the best mid-range option to consider.

PBI Pixel 7a Sea Blue

Google Pixel 7a

Best Mid-range

$374 $499 Save $125

The Pixel 7a is the new affordable smartphone from Google, featuring much-awaited features such as a 90Hz responsive display, a more powerful camera setup, and support for wireless charging. The Pixel 7a is powered by the Tensor G2 chipset, and it’s the best device in the A series yet.

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    Nothing Phone 2

    The Nothing Phone 2 features a 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED display with LTPO technology. It ships with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and also has a 50-megapixel dual camera setup. Powering it all is a 4,700 mAh cell that will allow for all day use.

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    Samsung Galaxy S23 FE

    $600 $700 Save $100

    The Samsung Galaxy S23 FE is an excellent smartphone. It features a powerful triple camera setup, a flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, and a large 4,500 mAh battery that lets you take photos, play games, and browse the web for a day. It supports 25W wired charging, and 15W wireless charging.

Best Camera: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Camera Array
Image Credit: Aryan Surendranath

We’ve already covered why the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best flagship device to pick in 2023, but here, let’s dive a little deeper into understanding the camera tech and experience that’s on offer, which makes it worthy of the best camera phone title.

It’s now the second year running, that the iPhone’s headline camera is a 48MP shooter supported by a 12MP ultrawide and 12MP telephoto. With the improved processing offered by the A17 Pro and the new Smart HDR 5 algorithm, we’ve experienced a photo-taking experience that’s more streamlined than it’s ever been.

A primary complaint we have with the iPhone 14 Pro series was the oversharpening of subjects captured via the 48MP shooter; this is no longer the case with the iPhone 15 Pro series. Its photos are crisp, color-accurate, and overall pleasing. The 12MP ultrawide remains quite familiar but shows software-based improvements.

But coming to the telephoto, this year, the sensor comes with an increased range, providing 5x optical zoom, adding an extra bit of versatility to the system. It’s a huge upgrade over the 3x, in our opinion, as the former didn’t do much to differentiate itself from the performance of the 2x sensor crop (zoom) that Apple has offered via the 48MP camera.

And when it comes to shooting video, the iPhone maintains its supremacy, helping it edge out of the competition, as this title is not granted only on the basis of capturing still images. Moving objects are still recorded with incredible fluidity, and switching between the variety of cameras remains as smooth as ever. Add to this the new ability to shoot in LOG and transfer data directly to external storage via the USB-C port, and you’ll see how the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a great camera to have in your hands.

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iPhone 15 Pro Max

Best Camera

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the latest and the greatest smartphone in Apple’s lineup. The smartphone is powered by the latest Apple A17 Pro chipset, coupled with 8GB of RAM. It has a more refined Titanium chassis that makes it lighter and more comfortable, and it features a new periscope telephoto camera.

Alternates

  • Pixel 8 Pro pbi alt

    Google Pixel 8 Pro

    The Google Pixel 8 Pro, featuring the third-generation Tensor G3, is Google’s flagship phone for 2023. It introduces some small improvements overall, a brand-new processor to set it apart, a thermometer sensor, and promises an outstanding smartphone camera experience.

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

    $450 $1200 Save $750

    The new Galaxy S23 Ultra is the go-to flagship from Samsung in 2023. It’s powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, carries the same price tag as its predecessor, and has improved gaming and camera capabilities to let you capture the perfect moment. 

Best Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

samsung-galaxy-z-fold-5-hero-38

Pocketnow / Adam Z. Lein

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn’t bring a significant set of changes over its predecessor, but for those in the United States, it still remains as the best foldable to consider due to the robustness of its software experience and consistently improved hardware. Not to forget, there’s also the value offered due to aggressive trade-in deals on Samsung’s part.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 features flagship hardware in most aspects too, featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and a larger 5,000 mAh battery. All of these contain elements that drive the two bright displays, which also refresh at 120Hz. This display is also known to support the S Pen stylus. We feel that support for such input hardware should be included on every foldable, as it does add to the experience.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Best Foldable

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the latest foldable flagship in the lineup. It’s equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, a powerful triple rear camera, a large 6.2-inch cover and 7.6-inch main display, and a large battery that can last all day on a single charge.

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  • pbi-oneplus-open-voyager-black

    OnePlus Open

    The new OnePlus Open is powered by the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and comes with an inward folding design. It houses a 7.8-inch main, and a 6.3-inch cover display with 120Hz refresh rate. It has a powerful triple camera setup, and support for 80W wired charging.

  • pbi-honor-magic-v2

    Honor Magic V2

    The Honor Magic V2 is the thinnest and lightest foldable phone on the market. The Magic V2 has a large 7.92-inch inner foldable display and a 6.43-inch cover display. It also features a triple camera array and runs on the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.

Best Compact Phone: Apple iPhone 15

iPhone 15 review 7

Source: Pocketnow / Jaime Rivera

When it comes to compact smartphones, post its iPhone 15 event, Apple discontinued its iPhone mini offerings. It means, the undisputed champion — the iPhone 13 mini — is no longer a valid option. So, if you’re looking for a small phone your option are now in the realm of devices with 6.1-inch displays and over, barring the ASUS Zenfone 10, which has a 5.9-inch display, albeit a large body.

But our top pick for this segment is the standard iPhone 15, which we reviewed after using it extensively for a month. These new models are some of the lightest and comfortable phones to hold, as they don’t dig into your palm, as much as their predecessor, provided you used them without a cover.

And coming to the performance and other aspects of this phone, it ships with the A16 Bionic chip and features a 48MP camera that will capture great images. The display on this phone can also hit a peak of 2,000 nits that makes outdoor legibility a non-issue.

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iPhone 15

Best Compact Phone

The iPhone 15 comes with a 6.1-inch OLED display with the new Dynamic Island, a dual camera setup, new colors, and a USB Type-C port. It’s powered by the Apple A16 Bionic chip, and it’s the most affordable high-end iPhone you can get your hands on today.

Alternates

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S23 Green

    Samsung Galaxy S23

    The Samsung Galaxy S23 enters the market as a leading option for those who want a compact flagship. It ships with the powerful, yet efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and has a triple camera array that’s proven itself to be reliable in any scenario.

  • Google Pixel 8 pbi

    Google Pixel 8

    The Google Pixel 8 features a 6.2-inch display with adaptive refresh rate (up to 120Hz). It also ships with the improved Google Tensor G3 and a 4,575 mAh cell that will allow for all-day use. And if you enjoy capturing images on your smartphone, its cameras, enhanced by AI will help capture the best moment in your life.

Best Flip-style foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

samsung-galaxy-z-flip-5-img-15

The last section we have on our list is for the best flip-style foldable, and here, the undisputed winner is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, although, Motorola did come awfully close to dethroning the Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 doesn’t change much in its recipe, as it remains a great pick for those wanting to experience folding phones. The new outer display brings additional usability to the device, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset packaged inside ensures that everything continues to run efficiently.

It also features an IPX8 water resistance rating to calm your nerves if you live someplace, where rain is more common than a sunny day.

All in all, the Z Flip 5 is a folding phone offering a balanced experience. It doesn’t cut short on any aspect of the experience it offers and will be the perfect pick for many.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 PBI main

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Best Flip-style Foldable

$1000 $1120 Save $120

The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 comes with a large 3.4-inch cover display, a 6.7-inch AMOLED foldable display with 120Hz refresh rate, upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, dual-12MP cameras, and much more.

Alternates

  • motorola razr plus 2023 pbi

    Motorola Razr+ 2023

    Best Compact Flagship

    The Motorola Razr+ (2023) (also known as Razr 40 Ultra in some regions) is the company’s latest flip-style foldable. It features a 6.9-inch AMOLED foldable display, a 3.6-inch cover screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, 12MP and 13MP cameras, and much more.

  • Find N3 Flip pbi

    OPPO Find N3 Flip

    OPPO Find N3 Flip is the company’s clamshell-style foldable powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 chipset. It features the same 3.26-inch AMOLED cover screen as the previous model but now comes with a new 32MP Telephoto lens next to it.



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