We're over halfway through 2023 and have already seen some great smartphones from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, and Google. There are still plenty of phones to look forward to this year, but it's time to reflect and spotlight some of the best phones available so far. In addition to flagships — like the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra — to affordable flagships and best value picks, like the OnePlus 11 and the "almost flagship" Pixel 7a, I have added budget picks and other categories to provide a good mix of options. We here at XDA test almost every smartphone released to the public, so you can count on this roundup to find the right phone that suits your budget and needs. Let's dive in!
Best phones in 2023
Best smartphone you can buy right now
The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new front design, upgraded cameras, and a new all-powerful Apple Silicon for the most premium iPhone yet.
- The most powerful iPhone right now (along with the bigger Max model)
- Buttery smooth UI and performance
- Surrounded by the best selection of accessories, plus the best app selection
- Main camera blows out highlights
- Boxy design not comfortable to hold without a case
- Relatively mediocre zoom lens compared to Android rivals
Picking the iPhone 14 Pro in this spot was a very tough decision because there are a lot of worthy challengers. I'd personally use one of the best Android flagships for their superior cameras and customizability, or choose the bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max for the epic battery life if I really wanted to pick an iPhone. But this list is written for the public, the so-called "average consumer," and I believe the iPhone 14 Pro is the best phone for most people as it offers the best combination of performance, value, and availability.
Apple improved on the Pro iPhones more so than in previous years, with a new screen cutout design that switches to a pill-shaped cutout instead of a notch. The cutout also gets a new UI, named "dynamic island," which gives the illusion that the cutout can shift in shape and size depending on the UI action. The main camera got an upgrade to a 48MP camera that uses pixel binning to bring in more light and details, but the camera still tends to overexpose bright lights. The image sensor has also increased in size for the main and ultra-wide cameras, so the cameras did improve. Video stabilization continues to be best in class.
There's also the new Apple A16 Bionic, which is by far the most powerful silicon in mobile, and it is very energy efficient. You can read my colleague Timi's iPhone 14 Pro review to learn more about its battery life and other performance metrics. It should be able to finish a full 12- to 13-hour day of heavy use with some juice to spare. All these things come together to make the iPhone 14 Pro one of the most polished and best overall phones you can buy. Of course, if you're an Android fan, I'd recommend you take a look at the other options below.
OnePlus reclaimed its affordable flagship title this year
The OnePlus 11 is the company's return to form, offering an almost-flagship experience at a lower price point than what Samsung charges.
- Excellent performance-to-price ratio in flagship category
- Great cameras that can hang with the $1,000 Galaxy S23+
- Fast charging, with charger included
- No official IP rating
- The Pixel 7 Pro with better cameras is only slightly pricier
- Not available at US carriers
This category is for people who follow the smartphone market closely and want a phone with the best combination of specs, features, and value. And yes, some will take issue with us calling a $699 phone "affordable," but the OnePlus 11, for the most part, looks, feels, and behaves like a $1,000 phone. The OnePlus 11 offers a 120Hz display, a triple-lens camera system, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It might not be typically affordable, but it's affordable for what you get.
The OnePlus 11 brings back the premium design of the OnePlus 10 Pro, with a camera module crafted out of stainless steel that blends seamlessly into the aluminum railings. Its 120Hz LTPO 3.0 OLED screen is gorgeous and energy efficient, the software zips around as fast as ever, and the triple camera system is surprisingly good, with accurate colors and a fast shutter. The 50MP main camera, in particular, holds up very well against the top dogs and often handles exposure better than even the newest iPhone. The 2x zoom lens doesn't quite reach the lengths of other phones, but it's got a relatively large 1/1.56-inch sensor for a zoom lens, which results in strong bokeh for portraits and better light intake ability.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with OnePlus' in-house cooling system really shines here, keeping the phone cool even when running intensive tasks. In fact, a big reason I gave this spot to the OnePlus 11 over the Google Pixel 7 is that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is quite a bit more capable than the Tensor G2, plus the OnePlus 11 has a better display. Motorola's new 2023 Edge+ model is also a great affordable flagship that packs a lot of punch for $800. I compared the two phones not too long ago to find a definitive winner in my Moto Edge+ (2023) vs. OnePlus 11 comparison, so be sure to check out which one's better for you.
"Almost flagship" phone for $500 or less
Google's latest mid-ranger brings several improvements over last year's model, making it a great option for the budget conscious. The Pixel 7a packs the flagship Tensor G2 chip, flagship-tier cameras, an improved 90Hz display, more RAM, better durability, and wireless charging support.
- Overall performance very close to the flagship Pixel 7
- The best camera for a mid-ranger
- Looks and feels like a flagship phone in hand
- Really, really slow charging
The previous version of this article highlighted Google's Pixel 7 as the best value pick or the best "almost flagship" phone. The arrival of the Pixel 7a, however, has changed things up, and it's now the best value pick for offering almost a similar experience for $100 less. The regular Pixel 7 is not necessarily a bad phone. In fact, I currently use one every day, and it works very well. I just regret not waiting for the Pixel 7a for a few notable reasons, and I want everyone to make an informed decision.
As mentioned in our Pixel 7 vs. Pixel 7a comparison, the latter offers the best value for your money as it packs the same flagship-grade hardware as the Pixel 7 with a few notable changes. The Pixel 7a packs the same flagship Tensor G2 chip that's powering the regular Pixel 7. It also has a 90Hz display as opposed to the 60Hz panel seen on its predecessor, the Pixel 6a. The Pixel 7a also comes with the same Android 13 software and is promised to receive the same amount of updates as the Pixel 7.
The cameras on the Pixel 7a are slightly different, but they hold up very well against the regular Pixel 7. You also get almost the same battery life and other things. Be sure to read our Pixel 7a review to learn more about the phone in detail.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Getting close to the premium flagship territory
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G is a great mid-range phone. It offers a sleek design, a beautiful 120Hz display, plenty of power under the hood, and a triple camera setup on the back.
- Excellent screen for a mid-range device
- Solid main camera
- Glass back this year instead of plastic
- Mediocre ultra-wide camera
- The Pixel 7 is similar price, with a better camera and SoC
- Useless macro sensor
Samsung's Galaxy A54 is a big improvement over the company's previous mid-range A-series offerings. Instead of a plastic body, you get actual Gorilla Glass on the front and back side, though the frame is still plastic. For $450, you get a gorgeous 120Hz OLED display with a capable 50MP, f/1.8 main camera. The ultra-wide camera is solid too, but the third lens is a mostly pointless macro sensor.
Inside, the phone runs on Samsung's Exynos 1380, which is a respectable mid-range chip that surprisingly handles thermals quite well. It also supports expandable storage, which is a rarity for phones above the budget territory. IP67 and stereo speakers round out the rest of this package that punches above its mid-range price class. There is no wireless charging, however.
Truth be told, the Pixel 7a has a better main camera and a flagship-level SoC that can handle more intelligent machine learning tasks, but the A54 has a better screen and longer battery life thanks to its large 5,000 mAh battery, so if you're on the market to buy a phone for less than $500, you have to weigh your options.
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
Can't go wrong with the Galaxy A14 5G for $200
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is an affordable smartphone with a beautiful display, plenty of power, and a compact design.
- Solid performance for the price
- Smooth 90Hz LCD panel
- Good battery life
- Macro and depth cameras are wasted
- The build quality could've been better
The competition in the budget phone space is heating up as more manufacturers are now showing interest in this space. Samsung's Galaxy A14 5G is one of the latest offerings in this space, and it doesn't leave a lot of room to complain for $200. It's not the most powerful or feature-packed phone in this price range, but I believe it cuts the right corners to deliver a reliable experience and become a solid budget phone for the price.
The Galaxy A14 5G features a 6.6-inch FHD+ LCD panel with support for up to 90Hz refresh rate, which is arguably better than what a lot of other phones offer in this segment. It's powered by Samsung Exynos 1330 chipset, which performs well and is good enough to keep up with pretty much anything you'd throw at it with ease. It also packs a 5,000mAh battery which should last you for at least two days on a single charge.
The Galaxy A14 5G also packs a triple camera setup at the back, out of which only the 50MP primary camera performs well, whereas there is nothing to write home about the 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth sensor. It's a good phone overall that will serve you well for many years to come, so it should definitely be on your list of phones to consider if you're on a tight budget.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Best big-sized foldable in the United States
Samsung's latest Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a further refinement of the Z Fold lineup. The smartphone looks similar to past Z Fold iterations, featuring a 7.6-inch main screen and a tall cover screen. On the inside, it's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and a 4,400mAh battery.
You can score up to $1,000 off with trade-ins at Samsung.com.
- Updated hinge that makes the phone fold flat
- Lighter than its predecessor
- Still the best hinge in the business
- Other foldables are thinner with bigger batteries
- Design starting to look very dated
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 isn't a significant upgrade over its predecessor, but it retains the top spot in the U.S. in terms of being the best foldable phone due to the lack of competition. Google's Pixel Fold is a close competitor, but the Fold 5 is arguably better when it comes to overall performance. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 also has a superior hinge, which allows it to fold completely flat now. You still see a visible crease in the middle, but it makes the phone lighter and the overall form factor better.
One of the highlights of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is that it brings new internals to the table to go against the top flagships out there. It's powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, making it one of the most powerful smartphones out there on the market. Samsung has made some other minor improvements, but it's largely the same as the Fold 4 overall.
Samsung has retained the same $1,800 price for the Fold 5, making it a good option to consider in 2023. You can also take advantage of some carrier and trade-in deals, so be sure to check out the links in the box above to find the best price for it online right now.
Motorola Razr+ (2023)
Tough competition to Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4
Motorola Razr+ (2023) is a clamshell foldable phone with a large 1:1 3.6-inch outside screen that allows the user to get a lot done without unfolding the phone.
- Large outer screen lets you do more
- Beautiful 165Hz folding OLED screen
- Sleek and compact form-factor
- Battery life could've been better
Motorola's new Razr+ is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, and it is currently the best clamshell foldable you can buy. The Moto Razr+ (2023), as you can see, sports a big 3.6-inch outer screen that spans across the entire front half of the device. It even wraps around the camera module, which looks pretty neat.
The bigger outer screen eliminates the need to constantly unfold the phone to check on the inner folding display. The outer screen is also quite sharp, and it supports up to 144Hz refresh rate. Once you unfold the phone to reveal the main screen, you are greeted with a 6.9-inch OLED panel with 165Hz refresh rate support. The crease at the folding point on this display is also faint and hard to see, so it's a beautiful screen to look at overall.
The new Moto Razr+ clamshell foldable is also packed with some solid internals. You get a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The phone also has a 3,800mAh battery with support for both wired and wireless charging. In addition, it has an IP52 rating for dust and water resistance, which is nice. It's a great clamshell foldable, and you can't go wrong with it for $1,000.
Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5 is also a close competitor to the Razr+ in the clamshell foldable space in the U.S., and I'd say they're almost evenly matched. The Flip 5 also has a lot going for it, including a bigger outer screen, Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip, and Samsung's unmatched software support. You can't go wrong with either of them if you're looking to buy a fun foldable phone in 2023, and I suggest you stop by our Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs. Moto Razr+ comparison to find out which one is better for you.
Pixel camera dominates, as usual
The Pixel 7 Pro is Google's best phone ever, with a refined, premium design and Google's second-generation silicon — plus awesome cameras, as usual.
- Arguably the best performing main camera on the market
- Beautiful, premium design
- Smooth UI
- Display maximum brightness lags behind top phones
- Pixel 7 is much cheaper and has same main camera and chip
With a capable 50MP main camera with a relatively large image sensor, a 5x Periscope zoom lens that can use in-sensor cropping to churn out an almost 10x optical zoom, and a sweeping ultra-wide camera, the Google Pixel 7 Pro has a very capable camera system. But what makes it arguably the best is the brain behind it all: the Google Tensor G2. Google's second-gen silicon leverages Google's all-powerful machine-learning prowess to examine the image data captured by the lenses and then produce images with awesome dynamic range, details, and clarity.
Google's machine learning also enables several smart photography tricks such as Action Pan and Night Sight, the former creates motion blur effects around subjects who may be barely moving, and the latter pulls in light miraculously in dark scenes.
Video capabilities had previously been a weakness in Pixels, but the Pixel 7 Pro also improves on this, with stable footage with excellent colors and balance. You can even apply an artificial blur that makes the footage look more cinematic.
Elsewhere, the Pixel 7 Pro is a very good phone too, with a unique design, a great 120Hz OLED screen, and fast, zippy performance. The software situation is the best in Android, too, obviously, because this is the Android phone from Google. Everything that is coming to the platform as a whole will arrive at the Pixels first.
All the shooting modes you can ask for
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the best phones on the market, packing an all-new 200MP sensor, a refined design, a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, and One UI 5.1.
- Two zoom lenses
- S Pen stylus adds useful features
- Customized Qualcomm chip performs well
- A bit too big to hold comfortably
- Main camera isn't as good as Pixel 7 Pro or Xiaomi 13 Pro
Samsung's absolute top slab phone, the Galaxy Ultra series, has held this "most versatile" spot for three years running, thanks to it being the only widely-released phone to pack a 10x optical zoom (Huawei has two phones with a 10x zoom lens too, but they were mostly sold in China) and the usual ultrawide, wide, telephoto focal lengths. This year's S23 Ultra steps it up by upgrading the main camera to a 200MP sensor, which not only allows the phone to use 16-in-1 pixel binning for more computational trickery but also allows the phone to use an in-sensor crop to achieve another near optical zoom length. It's unlikely any phone launching in North America the rest of the year will come close to challenging this level of versatility.
The rest of the package is excellent but unexciting since it either has the same components or the expected generation bump. The S23 Ultra runs on the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy that's a bit overclocked, specifically for this phone, and the 6.8-inch display gets a bit brighter than last year's. Other than that, virtually everything else — from the S Pen to the ultra-wide and two zoom lenses to the in-display fingerprint scanner — are the same components as last year's S22 Ultra.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the Galaxy S22 Ultra remained a top-dog phone for the past calendar year, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is going to keep this title easily.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
Biggest iPhone and battery endurance champion
The A16-powered iPhone 14 Pro Max is the highest-end 2022 Apple phone. It supports the Dynamic Island and Always-On Display feature.
- Epic battery life
- Biggest iPhone with the best screen
- Center of the most popular digital ecosystem
- Big, heavy, and uncomfortable to hold
- Camera system lags the best Android phones
- Doesn't do anything different from smaller iPhone 14 Pro
If you want an unapologetically big phone, then the iPhone 14 Pro Max, with its 6.7-inch screen in a boxy design, is the phone you should be looking at. The iPhone 13 Pro Max was already a very big phone, and the new 14 Pro Max one-ups it by adding a bit more thickness (from 7.7mm to 7.9mm). In return, you get even better battery life over the previous model, which makes the iPhone 14 Pro easily the battery endurance champion of any smartphone right now.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max ditches the notch in favor of Dynamic Island, which has been a bit divisive, but we here at XDA see it as a new and creative way to interact with all the information we get daily on our smartphones. The camera performance has improved thanks to a new 48MP main camera that shoots pixel-binned 12MP photos and slightly larger image sensors for the ultra-wide camera too. This means the iPhone 14 Pro Max can take in a lot of light in dark scenes. In fact, sometimes the photos may be too bright, but you can dial this down in settings. The iPhone 14 Pro Max brings back awesome video capabilities with even better stabilization thanks to a new EIS mode Apple has dubbed "Action Mode."
Then there's the A16 Bionic, which is still the best SoC in the mobile industry today. For doing intensive tasks on your phone, like gaming, or editing and rendering videos, the iPhone 14 Pro Max would be a perfect choice. Apart from raw performance, Apple's hardware and software integration is unmatched in the mobile space, which means you're getting the best hardware and software synergy in the mobile industry.
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Remains the best phone for one-handed use
The iPhone 13 mini is a tiny phone that packs plenty of power. If you dislike big phones, then this is for you.
- Excellent for one-hand use
- Very lightweight
- Still powerful even if it's almost two years old
- The screen is perhaps too small
- You likely won't be able to upgrade to a newer version of this down the line
- Weak battery life
There was no iPhone 14 mini during Apple's launch last fall, so if you love small phones, the iPhone 13 mini is the phone for you. This thing isn't just small; it's tiny. It's a phone that most people will be able to use with one hand with ease. Despite its small size, it's still among one of the most powerful phones around, thanks to that Apple A15 Bionic chip and well-optimized iOS.
The iPhone 13 mini was a dream come true for small phone enthusiasts. Apple finally made a flagship phone with powerful, top-of-the-line internals that fit into a compact form factor that could easily fit into your denim pockets. Small phones were a thing of the past until Apple resurrected the category with the iPhone 12 mini. However, the small form factor brought along with it a big drawback: average battery life.
There's a limit to the size of a battery you can put inside a small phone like the iPhone 12 mini, and that limit meant that the phone had sub-par battery life. The iPhone 13 mini fixes this very problem and finally presents a strong case for a small phone. Battery life is the single biggest upgrade that the iPhone 13 mini brings, and that alone is a big win.
While the cap city of the battery has increased, what's responsible for the increment in battery life is mainly the A15 Bionic chip from Apple. It's more power-efficient than last year's A14 Bionic while being one of the most powerful chipsets around. The iPhone 13 mini is also a performance beast and can play the most graphic-intensive games with ease. You can also shoot and edit 4K 60fps videos directly from the phone, along with the option to record videos in the new Cinematic Mode.
Since the series is likely gone for good, the iPhone 13 mini could also be considered a collector's item. It may be the last small phone Apple ever makes.
Asus Zenfone 10
One-ups its predecessor to become the best
The Asus Zenfone 10 takes what was great about the previous generation and improves on it without losing what made the phone so wonderful. It's still compact but full of high-end specs and helpful software features to make it to perfect small phone.
- Compact form factor
- Impressive performance
- Digital gimbal feature works well in video mode
- 144Hz refresh rate is limited to gaming
The ASUS Zenfone 10 comes with a lot of upgrades to offer a better package overall compared to the Zenfone 9. It continues the tradition of offering flagship specifications and features in a compact form factor. It's similar to its predecessor in many ways, but you are looking at things like an updated chipset, support for wireless charging, and more to go against the modern flagships out there.
The Zenfone 10 sports a 5.92-inch display with support for up to 144Hz refresh rate. The 144Hz refresh rate mode, however, will only kick in when you're gaming, and it tops out at 120Hz otherwise. That's still on par with a lot of other flagships out there, so no complaints there. New to the ASUS Zenfone 10 is sup ort for up to 15W wireless charging, which was missing on the previous-gen model. Alternatively, you can also use a 30W wired charger to top up Zenfone 10's 4,300mAh battery.
The Zenfone 10 is not available to purchase in the U.S. just yet, and it's expected to hit the shelves sometime in Q4 2023. If you don't want to wait for the Zenfone 10, then you can consider checking out the Galaxy S23 instead. The smallest member of the Galaxy S23 family is quite capable and is easily among the best phones you can pick up right now.
Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
Ultimate flagship for gaming
The Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is one of the most powerful smartphones that you can buy on the market in general, and it packs everything and the kitchen sink into one device.
- Everything you could ever need in a smartphone
- Impressive performance
- Great battery life
- Expensive price tag
- The cameras could've been better
If you are in the market to buy a new gaming phone, then look no further than the ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate. This phone, as the name implies, is the ultimate flagship for gaming. It comes with all the latest and the greatest set of internals, and it also carries the aesthetics to match. In fact, it looks very similar to last year's model, which is good because neither of them screams "gaming," as most o her gaming phones do.
As far as the internals are concerned, the ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and it's coupled with 16GB of RAM and 512GB UFS 4.0 storage. You also get a beautiful 6.78-inch OLED panel on the front with support for up to 165Hz refresh rate and 1,500 nits brightness. The internals of this particular phone, as you can tell, are pretty powerful, and ASUS also includes its AeroActive Cooler 7 accessory with the phone in its box.
The ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is among the most powerful devices out there on the market. We have a lot of details about the performance of this phone in our ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review, so be sure to check it out. You also get a decent set of cameras at the back of this phone, and there's also a massive 6.000mAh battery inside to keep the lights on for hours. Some other highlights of the ASUS ROG Phone 7 Ultimate include two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, Wi-Fi 7, and more.
Best phones in 2023: The bottom line
There are lots of excellent phones on this list, but the one that suits the most people would be the iPhone 14 Pro because it has global availability, the best chipset and screen, and is surrounded by the best ecosystem of apps and peripheral devices. I'm personally an Android guy, but I can't deny that finding accessories or software that play nice with the iPhone is an easier task than with, say, a Pixel. The iPhone 14 Pro also has longer software support and holds its resale value better than all Android phones.
Now, that was the safe choice for the average consumer. If you're a gadget enthusiast who wants something more exciting with better cameras, I'd recommend the Pixel 7 Pro. Or, if you want a phone that can do more things, get the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new front design, upgraded cameras, and a new all-powerful Apple Silicon for the most premium iPhone yet.