This year 2023 is off to an exciting start for smartphones, as Samsung released its Galaxy S23 series with the top model bringing a jaw-dropping 200MP camera, OnePlus returning to its roots with a very polished "almost flagship" at an affordable price, and Oppo and Honor launching foldable phones in Europe and throughout Asia. That 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor that helped Xiaomi and Vivo win acclaim will also make its way to more flagships in 2023. All that talk of smartphones being boring seems overblown.
We here at XDA test almost every smartphone on earth, so here's our expert guide on the best smartphones, both the best Android and best iPhone, depending on your budget or needs.
Best overall smartphone: iPhone 14 Pro
Picking the iPhone 14 Pro in this spot was a very tough decision because there are a lot of worthy challengers. And honestly, for me specifically, I'd rather use the bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max or the Vivo X90 Pro Plus over the iPhone 14 Pro, because they offer superior battery life and camera performance respectively, but this list is written for the public, the so-called average consumer, and for most people, the iPhone 14 Pro is the best combination of performance, value, and availability.
There's a lot to like here, starting with the removal of the notch in favor of a pill-shaped cutout. Apple has designed a new UI — the aforementioned Dynamic Island — that gives off the illusion that the cutout can change shape and size depending on what you're doing with the phone. Play music, for example, and you will see the album cover art and a music wave bar next to the cutout. Navigate on Apple Maps, and you'll see an arrow on the island directing you to where you should be heading. Not everyone is going to love this new UI but many of us think it's clever and potentially improves how we access the myriad of information on our phones.
Next, Apple also improved the camera performance this time, giving the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max a new 48MP camera that is used to shoot pixel-binned 12MP photos. The image sensor has also increased in size for the main and ultra-wide camera, so the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max won't have to resort to night mode as often. Video stabilization also got a huge improvement with "Action Mode," which is a form of EIS that works wonders. While it's debatable where the new iPhone ranks in the still photography department, it is absolutely the video recording champion.
There's also the new Apple A16 Bionic, which is by far the most powerful silicon in mobile, and it is very energy efficient. I already said the iPhone 14 Pro Max has epic battery life, but the iPhone 14 Pro is no slouch either, able to finish a full 12- to 13-hour day of heavy use with some juice to spare. This is despite the fact the iPhone 14 Pro has a new Always-On Display that's quite literally always on.
All of 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, we'd recommend you take a look at the other options below. But if you're a general consumer looking for a phone that will work well, last for years, keep its resale value, and have a strong hardware and software ecosystem around it, then look no further than the iPhone 14 Pro.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro brings a new front design, upgraded cameras, and a new all-powerful Apple silicon for the most premium iPhone yet.
Best affordable flagship: OnePlus 11
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 OnePluss 11 is for those who want a high-end flagship phone without going too crazy with spending. Plus, the OnePlus 11 offers a 120Hz display, 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 we 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.
The OnePlus 11 is the company's return to form, offering an almost-flagship experience at a lower price point than what Samsung charges.
Best affordable almost-flagship smartphone: Google Pixel 7
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is the better phone, but the Pixel 7 is the better option for most people. Both phones share most of the same hardware, with the Pro only gaining a higher refresh rate and a zoom lens. For most people, those two features aren't enough to justify the $250 price difference. At $599, the Pixel 7 is arguably the best value phone right now, but with a 90Hz display and "just" a dual-camera system, it shouldn't be called a flagship — although it's close enough.
The Pixel 7 continues the Pixel 6's evolution, with the second-generation Tensor G2 chip custom-designed by Google that takes the phone's machine learning capabilities to another level. The display, while "just" 90Hz, is still a looker, with FHD+ resolution and accurate color output. It's also slightly smaller than the Pixel 6 at 6.3 inches, making for a comfortable one-hand phone. The dual-camera system here features the same hardware as the Pro: a 50MP primary sensor and a 12MP ultra-wide. And they're both great.
The 4,335 mAh battery is relatively small. It is actually smaller than the Pixel 6's battery, but battery life is still good thanks to the Tensor G2's efficiency. The software on the Pixel 7 is also one of its biggest highlights. The phone comes with Android 13 out of the box and given that it's a Pixel, you can truly enjoy Android 13 the way it's meant to be. There are lots of AI features that Google introduced this generation, including Live Translate, Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and more. Google also promises three years of Android version upgrades and 5 years of security patches for the Pixel 7. This makes the phone future-proof, and you can use it for an extended period.
If you're looking for a phone that excels especially in the camera department, and one that has clean and up-to-date software, you cannot go wrong with the Pixel 7.
Google Pixel 7
The Pixel 7 packs the second-gen Tensor SoC, a brighter display, and improved cameras for a flagship phone at a low price.
Best budget smartphone: OnePlus Nord N20
The OnePlus Nord N20 debuted at $299 but has since dropped to $229, and at this price, it's hard to find a phone stateside that's more capable. For a quarter of the price of an iPhone 13 Pro Max or Galaxy S22 Ultra, you're getting a 5G-ready handset, a solid main camera, and a pretty design.
While the 6.4-inch screen is only 60Hz, it is an OLED panel, so you'll get punchy, vibrant colors. That 60Hz panel also helps the 4,500 mAh battery last all day, and if you do need a top-up, there's a 33W fast charging brick included with the package. There's also a headphone jack, and 5G support too.
The main 64MP camera is fine in good lighting conditions, but don't be fooled by the large second camera lens (and the smaller third lens): those are just 2MP sensors that don't do much of anything. At this price point in the U.S. though, one good rear-facing camera is acceptable.
Otherwise, the usual OnePlus zippy software can be found here, and while OxygenOS has lost some of its character, it's still clean and minimalist software compared to what you get with other Android brands.
OnePlus Nord N20
The OnePlus Nord N20 is an affordable Android for the US market that brings a clean design and solid performance.
Even the very definition of "budget" differs from person to person, and a singular choice may not be able to properly appreciate the nuances of all individuals. If you're looking for more options, here are some other great cheap Android phones for you to consider.
Best large foldable smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 corrected a lot of initial concerns about foldable phones. Samsung managed to add water resistance while shedding weight and lowering the price. And 2022's Galaxy Z Fold 4 makes mostly iterative changes, and while each change is relatively small, together they further polish an already very refined foldable.
This time, Samsung shrunk the hinge protrusion a bit, so that the Fold 4 is a bit more comfortable to hold in folded form. What's more, Samsung gave those precious few millimeters saved to the screen, so the Fold 4 has a slightly wider screen than the Fold 3. Samsung also further shed weight to 263g, making for the second-lightest large screen foldable around behind the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2.
The cameras also got some much-needed improvements. Samsung upgraded the Fold 4's main sensor to a 50MP, 1/1.55-inch sensor which drastically increases light intake. Compared to the Fold 3, the Fold 4 brings a quite noticeable improvement in main and zoom camera photography. The 3X zoom lens here, in particular, is a huge jump over the 2X lens from last generation.
Samsung also refined the software to allow the Fold 4 to jump into multitasking mode a bit easier. Previously, it took three taps to go into the split-screen mode, now you can do so with one tap in some instances. The Fold 4, just like previous Folds, offers superior multitasking due to the larger screen. Whether it's reading a press release in Gmail while taking notes in Google Docs, or running Twitter side-by-side with WhatsApp, the Fold 4's larger screen and improved software just make the experience feel more seamless. No matter how you refer to it, it's essentially a pocket PC that you can carry around with you to get some serious work done or enjoy consuming media like no other phone can.
All of this is handled by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC which means everything you do on the phone is fast and snappy, no matter how many apps you run. The S Pen support introduced last year is also back, so artists or notetakers can take full advantage of that larger canvas.
The internal display is a 120Hz OLED panel with an under-display front camera (UDC), giving the screen an immersive look. If you game a lot on your phone or even read a lot of e-books, you can't find a better phone than this thanks to that huge display. Samsung also upgraded the outer cover display to a 120Hz panel to make things more uniform. The phone is also now IPX8 water-resistant making it one of the most durable foldables out there.
With a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, excellent speakers, and that large 7.6-inch screen, the Z Fold 4 is excellent for gaming or movie-watching. While the cameras aren't the best around, they're still quite good and enough for most.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is Samsung taking the most polished large foldable and making it even better, with a less intrusive hinge, a new processor, and much better cameras.
Best small foldable smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 was one of the most stylish-looking smartphones to come out in recent years, and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 wisely brings back the exact same look, but with more color customization options. We adore the two-tone finish and the petite size when folded up. But don't mistake small size for lack of power. Along with the Fold 4, the Z Flip 4 is the most durable foldable phone ever, with IPX8 water resistance and "Armor Aluminum" build material.
The Flip 4 is an awesome device for those who find modern Android phones too large and hard to pocket. Unfolded, the 6.7-inch, 1080 x 2640 display looks and behaves like any other top Samsung screen, with vibrant colors, top-notch sharpness, and a fast refresh rate up to 120Hz for buttery smooth animations.
New to the Flip 4 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, which has a stronger GPU and superior battery efficiency. The latter is important, as battery life has always been a slight weakness in previous Flips. While the Flip 4 isn't going to win any battery endurance awards, it is now possible to get all-day use provided you're not pushing it too heavily.
Samsung also improved the software for the outer "Cover Display," allowing users to open any app on the smaller 1.9-inch display. Sure, some apps will look silly in the cramped space, but other apps will benefit from it. You can, for example, scroll through your Spotify playlist directly from the outside screen.
While the pair of 12MP cameras here aren't amazing hardware-wise, Samsung's computational photography is very smart, so it will help compensate for the older hardware with AI trickery to produce shots that are usually vibrant and well-detailed. Of course, with Flex Mode, the Flip 4 can shoot in a lot of creative ways too. Overall, the Flip 4 is an iterative refinement to already an excellent small foldable.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the ideal phone for those who want something more pocketable and stylish. It's a clamshell phone that has a small display when folded up.
Best smartphone camera: Google Pixel 7 Pro
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 ultrawide 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 to the Pixels first.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is the best point-and-shoot camera for most people because it almost always gets the shot right. It's also a great all-around phone with a 6.7-inch OLED display.
Most versatile smartphone camera: Galaxy S23 Ultra
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 wide-release 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 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 ultrawide 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.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
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.
Best big smartphone: iPhone 14 Pro Max
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 the 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 are unmatched in the mobile space, which means you're getting the best hardware and software synergy in the mobile industry.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the biggest and best possible phone to come out of Cupertino. It's also an absolute powerhouse.
Best small phone: iPhone 13 mini
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. Apple even improved on the below-par battery life of the iPhone 12 mini for this generation's update.
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 to be used like any other phone in 2022. Battery life is the single biggest upgrade that the iPhone 13 mini brings and that alone is a big win according to us. We now have a compact phone that doesn't need to be around a charge by afternoon.
While the capacity 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. The display, while still being stuck at 60Hz, has a smaller notch and is slightly brighter than the iPhone 12 mini.
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.
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
The iPhone 13 mini is the phone to get if you want a small phone that you can easily use with one hand.
Best small Android phone: Asus Zenfone 9
The Asus Zenfone 9 is a small but mighty phone, and the clear choice to get if you want a small phone that runs Android. With a 5.9-inch OLED screen, measuring 146.5 x 68.1 x 9.1 mm and weighing just 165g, the Zenfone 9 is a very easy phone to use and hold with one hand. Many of us at XDA actually think the Zenfone 9's 5.9-inch screen is the perfect "small" size, as the iPhone 13 mini's 5.4-inch panel is just a bit too cramped for most modern content.
Asus didn't just make the phone small and called it a day. Asus also gave it some unique features, such as a gimbal stabilization system supporting the main 50MP camera. This allows the phone to shoot smoother pan videos. Then there's the right side of the phone, which houses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner/power button, volume rockers, and a touch-sensitive panel that allows the user to quickly launch apps or actions.
Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, whose energy efficiency allows the 4,300 mAh battery to power the phone all day for all but the heaviest users. All the other smartphone bits are great too. That aforementioned display is a 120Hz panel, and the ultra-wide camera produces punchy sweeping landscape shots. Heck, there's even a headphone jack.
Asus's software is easy to use for beginners, but also very rewarding for power users because it's full of shortcut gestures in the form of taps, swipes, or interacting with that touch-sensitive side panel. We are also fans of how the phone looks overall, with a polycarbonate backplate that offers a sandstone-like, grippy texture, and large symmetrical camera rings.
Asus Zenfone 9
The Asus Zenfone 9 is easily the best small Android phone around. But even if you don't factor in the size, it's still a very capable smartphone overall.
Best gaming smartphone: Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
If you do lots of mobile gaming and want a device that can keep up, then look no further than the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro. Between the blazingly fast and buttery smooth 165Hz OLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC, large 6,000 mAh battery, dual front-facing stereo speakers, and up to a whopping 18GB of RAM, there isn't a smartphone out there more equipped to handle mobile gaming.
Of course, because this is a gaming phone, the ROG Phone 6 Pro also has "AirTriggers," which are functional capacitive touch panels on the right side of the phone that serve as shoulder triggers when the phone is held sideways, or when you're gaming. There’s also a rear display, named “ROG Vision,” and while it doesn't do too much, it does allow you to show off the phone by giving it more flair.
From our testing, the ROG Phone 6 is a beast of a performer, able to run games at 60 FPS with few drops. All the benchmarks are chart-topping too. On the camera front, you have the main system consisting of a 50MP IMX766 main sensor, 13MP ultrawide (f/2.4) and 2MP macro setup, and a 12MP selfie camera. Photos captured by this phone are sharp, punchy, and overall good, but video recording isn’t the greatest, as footage suffered from poor stabilization and dealing with sudden shifts in lighting.
As a gaming phone, the cameras are naturally not the star of the show, but the optics here can be considered solid. Asus packed the Sony IMX766 50MP sensor as a primary shooter, a 13MP ultra-wide, and a 5MP macro camera. There’s no dedicated telephoto option here, but Asus uses the 50MP sensor to shoot at 2x lossless in bright light situations. When it’s dark, it turns to digital zoom. These cameras won't win any awards, but they're more than good enough for most people.
ASUS ROG Phone 6
The Asus ROG Phone 6 is an absolute beast of a phone, with a 165Hz screen, 6,000 mAh battery, 18GB of RAM, and the newest and most powerful chip in Android. What more do you need for gaming?
Best international smartphone: Vivo X90 Pro Plus
There are lots of phones that can make this list, but the Vivo X90 Pro+ takes the title because it has the absolute newest mobile components that no other phone on this list even has. The Vivo X90 Pro+ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, uses UFS 4.0 storage, and has a 6.8-inch Samsung E6 OLED display with 2K resolution and LTPO 4.0 technology. Then there are the cameras, which are headlined by a Sony IMX989 1-inch sensor along with a pair of very capable zoom lenses. The ultra-wide and selfie cameras are also excellent.
Handling image processing is Vivo's V2 imaging chip, and if you've read our reviews of previous Vivo flagships, you'd know Vivo's V chip has very good HDR capabilities. In fact, if this phone was available for sale globally (which should happen in early 2023), we'd have named this the best camera phone. But as of right now, the phone is still limited to only the China market.
Vivo X90 Pro Plus
The Vivo X90 Pro Plus has the most cutting edge mobile components on any phone on this list right now. But it is so far only on sale in China, with a global launch likely to take place in January.
There are a lot of good phones to choose from right now, and we hope this guide helped. We think the iPhone 14 Pro is the best all-around option for most, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra, OnePlus 11 and Google Pixel 7 are also very good alternatives. We will update this list regularly so be sure to check back often -- or the next time you're on the market for a new phone.