The Best Phones to buy in 2023 – our top 10 list


Best iPhone available right now PhoneArena Rating: 9.0/10 (Image credit […]

Best iPhone available right now

PhoneArena Rating: 9.0/10

If you’re looking for the best phone and you don’t have a preference between iOS and Android, the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max is the way to go. This model checks all the boxes, and except for the somewhat higher price, it doesn’t have any real drawbacks. 

For starters, it has one of the best screens we’ve ever tested, with a 6.7-inches of real estate and great pixel density, excellent color calibration, and a maximum brightness of 2,000 nits (typical content is 1,000 nits), making it easy to see outside.

Additionally, it features a 120 Hz refresh rate provided by an LTPO panel that can drop as low as 1 Hz to support the new Always-on Display feature without draining excessive battery life. These features work together to make the iOS experience smoother, more responsive, and more satisfying.

Powering everything is the Apple A16 Bionic, which is currently the fastest processor in any smartphone. This phone will tackle every task, play every game, and won’t start to feel slower over time. The camera system is also very good, so the iPhone 14 Pro Max delivers on that front as well.

The main 48 MP sensor can take high-resolution photos that look great, and there is also a 12 MP ultrawide camera, and a telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. The phone is capable of covering a wide variety of shooting scenarios and is also very good at recording video with 4K support and Cinematic Mode. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is one of the best phones on the market right now, and it’s certainly the best cell phone running iOS.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

best Android phone

PhoneArena Rating: 9.2/10

If you’re in the Android camp, your best phone bet is the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This phone has an updated, next-generation Dynamic OLED screen that can reach a record-breaking peak brightness of 1750 nits. The screen is an LTPO OLED that can switch between 1 Hz and 120 Hz to save battery life and still show smooth animations when needed.The Galaxy S23 Ultra also has something the iPhone is missing: the mighty S Pen stylus. Thanks to this little pen, the S23 Ultra is a productivity champion. You can also use it for drawing and writing; it’s super sensitive and also has its own slot inside the phone.

If you were impressed with the camera system on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, prepare to be blown away by the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The phone has a huge 200 MP sensor, which gives it a lot of flexibility. You can combine pixels to make 50 MP photos, or you can take 12 MP photos that work well at night.

Also, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has the newest and most powerful Qualcomm chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which has been overclocked for Galaxy phones. It’s one of the fastest Android phone we’ve ever tested, and by far the fastest Galaxy phone out there.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the same 5000 mAh battery as the S22 Ultra and maintains the 1440p resolution. You can count on the battery life, and there are several ways to save it if you need to. In our tests the Galaxy S23 Ultra showed a clear improvement in the battery life department compared to its predecessor. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is without a doubt the best phone Android can offer at the moment, and also the best phone to buy if you’re a Samsung fan. For a more detailed look, you can check out our full Galaxy S23 Ultra review.

Google Pixel 7 Pro 

The flagship Android with the purest Google experience

PhoneArena Rating: 8.8/10

Pixel phones have always been sort of a peculiarity, mainly due to the limited stock and availability. Google has been attempting to alleviate this with its latest Pixel 7 series by making the phones more widely available. If you care about your software features, and want to get them as fast as possible (faster than with any other phone), then the Pixel 7 Pro is the best phone for you and one of the best Android phones as well.

All of the great Google features are onboard from day one, and if you’re an Android Beta user, you’re guaranteed to get them before anyone else. This phone also manages to deliver on the hardware front as well. The Pixel 7 Pro sports one of the best displays in the industry, color-calibrated to perfection.

Google Pixel 7 Pro comes with a triple camera with 5x optical zoom and tons of software tricks in the background to enhance the quality of your photos. Plus, the Google Assistant is at its best on a Google phone. We found the integration of Google’s best software features to be the best in the Pixel 7 Pro, which is not a surprise at all.

The individually calibrated Pixel 7 Pro camera set is now up there with the best of them in wide and ultrawide camera quality, while the periscope zoom rivals the S22 Ultra quality at each zoom level, even 10+ ones. Well, OK, the Pixel taps out at 30x zoom, but that’s still plenty of magnification on demand. For a deep dive check out our full Google Pixel 7 Pro Review.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is the best Android phone for enthusiasts who want their software updates as fast as possible.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Simply the best foldable phone out there

PhoneArena Rating: 9.0/10

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 may not have a significant upgrade compared to its predecessor, but it is arguably the ultimate smartphone for tech enthusiasts who want a device that can do it all. It can function as a phone, tablet, or even emulate a desktop PC.

The device comes equipped with numerous polished power user features, including split-screen and windowed multitasking, a fixed taskbar, Samsung DeX, and stylus support, giving users the ability to do everything they desire with Android.

Even if you just want to enjoy media or play games on a larger screen that is still comfortable to hold, the Z Fold 4 is an excellent choice. This is the best phone for people who want to be on the forefront of technology, and also do some serious work on their phones.

However, if you are not a hardcore tech enthusiast or already own a Z Fold 3, shelling out $1800 or more for this phone may not be justified. However, during our time with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, we fount it to be a clear upgrade compared to its predecessor, so if you want the best of the best, and the latest in technology, there’s nothing better on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

The best flip phone

PhoneArena Rating: 8.0/10

In 2020, the Galaxy Flip series was introduced, offering a fresh take on the classic clamshell flip phone, which had been popular during the 2000s. This new style of foldable phone was a major technological achievement. Samsung had to solve a lot of engineering problems to come up with this new shape.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the latest iteration of this clamshell idea, and it features the flexible OLED screens that are at the forefront of the foldable revolution. This phone is all about refinement; it takes everything its predecessor did well, and amplifies it.

It’s faster, it can last longer, and its camera system has been upgraded as well. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is now a true flagship that’s not hampered by its innovative design. If you want to get a taste of the foldable phone, but don’t like the huge Galaxy Z Fold (and its price tag), the Z Flip 4 is the best phone for you. It’s even cheaper than some more “rigid” and non-folding Android phones out there.

Asus Zenfone 9

PhoneArena Rating: 9.1/10

The best compact Android phone on the market

The compact Android flagship is dead! Wait, Asus doesn’t think so. If you long for the old Xperia Compact days, there’s an alternative, and it is just great. Asus has been perfecting its Zenfone line in the past couple of years, and the Zenfone 9 is the pinnacle of all that effort.The phone has one of the highest scores on our site, and for good reason. It’s super fast, the form factor is one of the most comfortable on the market, the display is great—bright and vivid, with all the feature you could ask for (always on display, lift to wake, and more)—and the battery life is amazing, especially at this compact size.

There are almost no cons to this model, and if you want to nitpick, there’s no wireless charging, and no microSD card slot, but these are absolutely not necessary. The user experience with the Zenfone 9 is just great, and the only drawback here is that the phone is not more widely available. The Zenfone 9 is the best phone for compact enthusiasts and one of the best Android phones out there. Period.

Sony Xperia 1 IV

The first phone with a variable zoom camera

PhoneArena Rating: 8.0/10

Do you like notches and cutouts in your smartphone display? You don’t? Well, there’s one brand that stubbornly sticks to its guns and keeps on designing 21:9 phones with great displays, professional-grade software, innovative hardware, and a ton of features that are lacking from other phones. That’s right, Sony!

Sony’s Xperia 1 IV is the pinnacle of what Sony could do in 2022. It’s a very camera-focused phone, with three different apps that can either turn it into a manual shooter, a vlogging camera, or a cinematic mini rig. It also has a very impressive telephoto lens that moves physically to offer true optical zoom between 3.5x and 5.2x (85 mm and 125 mm).

This phone has it all: a 3.5mm audio jack, a microSD card slot, great battery life, wireless charging, premium design—the list just goes on and on. The only real drawback is the price. Sony was asking a ridiculous $1,599 for this phone at launch, but the good news is that just a few months later the price dropped significantly to a more pleasant level.

OnePlus 11 

Back to the flagship-killer roots of OnePlus

OnePlus used to be great, but then it became greedy. The flagship-killer days of the great OnePlus One are long gone. But are they really? The company is taking a sharp turn with the OnePlus 11 in a bid to return the brand to its flagship-killing glory.

There’s no Pro version here; the OnePlus 11 is the only model in the lineup, and it aims to do what the original first model did back then. Offer a ton of features at a great price. This phone starts at $699, and there’s little to no competition at that price range, if you want the latest hardware (and software).

The OnePlus 11 is one of the cheapest phones with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, and the only thing that comes close is the vanilla Galaxy S22, but at $100 more. The OnePlus 11 comes with a new design, a Hasselblad stamped camera system, and a super-fast charging. It might be the best budget flagship out there.

Google Pixel 7a

Best budget Android flagship

PhoneArena Rating: 8.5/10

The A series in the Google Pixel range has always brought a great value for the money, and the Pixel 7a is no exception. Granted, it’s a tad more expensive than the Pixel 6a but also brings onboard some flagship features, such as the Tensor G2 chipset (the same ticks inside the vanilla Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro), Face unlock, wireless charging, and a 90Hz display refresh rate.

All these goodies come in a similar design package to the core Pixel 7, but cost just $499. And even though this is a $50 bump compared to the predecessor, the deal is still very sweet. If you already have the Pixel 6a, then there’s no need to worry about upgrading. But if you’re coming from an older Pixel, this phone is a great deal – the best affordable Android flagship at the moment.

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Best compact iPhone

PhoneArena Rating:9.0/10

The Apple iPhone 12 mini was pretty good and all, but it kind of lacked in the battery department. The 13 series remedied that issue. So the iPhone 13 mini has the same powerful processor as the 13 Pro, but is a tiny little phone that stays out of the way most of the time. 

And, for $600, it’s pretty hard to beat — a 5.4-inch display is OLED with excellent colors and brightness, a thin and compact body, superb performance, and pretty respectable cameras. There’s no alternative on that front – the iPhone SE is terribly outdated, and aims to capitalize on nostagia, and the iPhone 12 mini has terrible battery life.

If you tend to two-thumb type on your phone often, the 13 mini is probably not your cup of tea. If you want a phone that can fit any pocket and can bring the power and performance if you happen to need it throughout your day — that’s the contender right here.

Honorable mentions

It’s hard to pick just top 10 phones as the best ones, especially in 2023. There are some pretty niche devices that are worth mentioning, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next few lines. These are top phones that for some reason couldn’t make it into our top 10 list but they absolutely deserve your attention.

Sony Xperia Pro-I

Pro camera in a smartphone

PhoneArena Rating: 8.0/10

There’s much talk about camera phones nowadays, and many manufacturers want to coin their models as DSLR equivalents. There’s only one phone that does it right, though: the Sony Xperia Pro-I. This model comes with a 1-inch sensor taken from Sony’s compact RX-100VII camera, and if you’re into photography, this is one of the best phones for you.

Perhaps it’s the phone’s impressive camera capabilities, its surprisingly user-friendly design, or the overall unconventional concept behind it. The Sony Xperia Pro-I is unlike any other phone released in 2021.

Smartphones have replaced traditional cameras as the most popular way for most people to take photos. However, there have been surprisingly few phones made for professionals that offer the level of fine-tuning that is needed for essential features. The Sony Xperia Pro-I occupies that niche.

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate

The best gaming phone

PhoneArena Rating: 9.0/10

Gaming phones are a bit of a meme, but it’s nice to see Asus fully embracing it. The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is just what it says on the tin – the ultimate gaming phone.

It wouldn’t be a “gaming phone” if it didn’t have absolutely silly specs, too, and the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate delivers. 16 GB of RAM on a smartphone? 165 Hz screen? External cooler? Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2? Yes, yes, yes, and how else would you have it?

It’s a niche phone, absolutely, but it’s hard to keep it away from a “best” selection. After all, it is probably the (or among the) most powerful Android phone(s) out on the market right now. It could be world’s best phone, if you ask the avid gamer. Even if you don’t need all the power — you definitely get the bragging rights.

If the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is a bit too much for you, go for a more toned-down version – there are quite a few iterations in the ROG universe. They’re all just as good, there are also limited editions for Diablo fans, a Batman Edition, so if you want, you can go full-nerd with this.

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

The best midrange phone

PhoneArena Rating: 8.5/10

Samsung perfected one of the best-selling midrange phones and made it even better. The Galaxy A54 5G now looks like a flagship, borrowing its design from the Galaxy S23 series. It boasts a 6.4-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED display that delivers vivid colors and sharp details, making it a joy to use for entertainment, gaming, and work. And it boasts a 120 Hz display refresh rate!

The phone is powered by an octa-core processor and 6GB of RAM, which provides sufficient power for most everyday tasks, including multitasking and running multiple apps simultaneously. There’s also 128GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 1TB via a microSD card. (There’s a 8GB/256GB version available outside of the US as well).

This Samsung mid-range phone is one of the best budget phones you can buy. That’s because it doesn’t really make you compromise with anything. The Galaxy A54 is a great value-for-money device, and that’s why it is even Samsung’s best selling phone worldwide. You can find one on a deal for much lower than the $450 MSRP these days. It’s a steal!

Best phones – benchmarks and test results

Below you’ll find all the benchmarks and nerdy stuff, if you want to compare those phones but don’t want to be bothered to check out each and every individual review. Let’s start with the display tests.

Now moving to performance, let’s see which one is the fastest out there.

And finally, the battery. A phone can be amazing on all fronts but if the battery dies prematurely, it’s as good as a door stopper, right? Here are all the battery tests for the best phones you can get.

Best upcoming phones in 2023

Why should you trust this buying guide

The Author

Mariyan Slavov is a technology enthusiast and expert in mobile phones. With a background in Nuclear Physics and Journalism, Mariyan is the former Editor-in-Chief of PCWorld Bulgaria and currently writes for PhoneArena. He enjoys writing about emerging technologies such as graphene batteries, holographic smartphone displays, smart contact lenses, and nanotechnology. In his free time, Mariyan can be found playing guitar, practicing Japanese, or hitting the running track.

The Publisher

PhoneArena has been around since 2001 and, as the name suggests, was intended as a platform where phones can be explored, compared, and pitted against each other. We never stopped building and evolving our expertise and with our 20-some years of experience we serve an audience of over 5 million monthly US readers.

The Approach

We believe that there is not one true phone that is “the best” as each user has their unique needs and preferences. Through our wide range of testing procedures and review approaches, we try to find where each phone shines and what it lacks, and we strictly follow our rating guidelines. We spice it up with our professional opinion and empower you to make an informed decision on which phone is “the best” for you!

How to choose the best phone for you in 2023

So, which is the best cell phone? After all of the devices you’ve seen on these list, you’re probably wondering how do you pick the best one for you? Well, as you should know, everyone has different needs from their smartphones. Some are into photography and need the best camera smartphone there is. Some want the best screen and performance. And some are more modest and want a more affordable, yet all around good and reliable smartphone. On this list there are great camera phones, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the Sony Xperia 1 IV. The best performance and screens are once again found in the Samsung and Apple, but also in OnePlus’ 10 Pro. 

When it comes to functionality or quirkiness, you will find it in Samsung’s foldable Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 phones. Example of an affordable, yet good smartphone, are the Galaxy A53 5G, the iPhone 13 mini, and the OnePlus 10T. The 13 mini is one of the few compact phones left, and it is actually an excellent device to have, as long as you’re not looking for a battery champ. 

Consider all we’ve spoken about in this list carefully, and when you’re wondering which phone to pick, ask yourself what are the main features I need daily. That mentality should make your decision a lot easier.

How we test the best phones

We won’t lie, we’re putting our review phones through many, many tests. The include display, performance, and battery life tests, among others. We are checking every screen’s color temperatures, brightness, we are checking the performance of its processor and memory, and we are running days worth of tests to determine how much the battery lasts in different conditions. 

Still, real-life conditions are just as, if not even more important. That’s why we make sure that we always spend enough time with the devices we review so we can say with certainty what are their strengths and weaknesses. Cameras are very important in phones too, so we put these to the test in many conditions in our goal to determine which one wins and which one is still behind in the smartphone photography race.

Should you go for Android or iOS when choosing the best phone

The safe answer to this question is to go for a platform that is familiar to you. For example, if you’ve been using an Android phone your whole life, an iPhone will be quite an adjustment, and vice versa. Still, you should consider what phones your close friends and family, the people that you’re going to text and share files with, are using. If most of them are using an iPhone, AirDrop will be a very missed feature once you switch to Android. If you have a MacBook or an iPad, getting an iPhone is the most logical thing, as it will allow you to stay in the ‘ecosystem’. But Apple’s iOS doesn’t let you share files via Bluetooth-only to any device, so if that’s a feature you use often, then an iPhone is a no no. 

When it comes to customization and freedom, Android was and still is king. iOS 16 is set to allow for more iPhone customization by the user, but we doubt it will go to the lengths Android has gone. Android also allows you to download and open files more easily, and supports more types of these. That’s another important feature if you’re either a gaming or app enthusiast. 

But the elephant in the room is the fact that iPhone users tend to hold onto their phones much longer than people with Android phones. That’s mainly because the long-term software optimization of iOS phones is superior to Android phones. Also, iPhones get major OS updates for many years, while most Android brands only give you two to three years of software updates. Apple’s phones also tend to stay fast and unproblematic for longer, which as you may have heard isn’t the case with most Android-running phones.

However, you should also consider what you get for the money you spend. Here, the mid-range Android phone market is offering you phones with many flagship features for much cheaper than Apple. That’s a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked. Of course there’s also a downside to this lower class and lower price tag type of phones. These tend to loose their value with time much quicker than iPhones.

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