Best smartphone 2023: all the top Apple and Android phones reviewed
The best phones you can buy right now
If you’re in the market for a mobile upgrade, this is the list you’re looking for. From big-screen Androids to the latest iPhone flagship, we’ve reviewed the best smartphone options you can buy. And to help you pick which is the right fit for your pocket, we’ve ranked our favourites below.
To test the best smartphone options, our team takes every model out into the real world. That means binge-watching on the bus to measure battery life, snapping all day to bag an album of camera samples, and maxing out the graphics on Genshin Impact to assess processing power.
After putting each contender through its paces, we highlight the winning handsets in this guide. If you’re shopping specifically for the best Android smartphone, we’ve got a separate feature covering exactly that. We’ve also rounded up the best budget blowers, the top mid-range mobiles, and our favourite smaller phones.
What’s the best smartphone?
- Best smartphone overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Superlative in every respect, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the complete smartphone package. Design, display, performance, cameras: if you’re willing to pay, this is the best smartphone you can buy right now.
- Best affordable smartphone: Google Pixel 6a
Confirming that Google is a master of affordable phones, the Pixel 6a is a lesson in vanilla Android excellence. It’s light on luxuries, but a neat design and top-spec camera smarts make it a wallet-friendly winner.
- Best small smartphone: Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Small but mighty, Apple’s palm-friendly smartphone delivers the full-fat iPhone experience. With impressive cameras, flagship performance and no sequel in 2023, it’s a winner if you want a compact mobile.
Our pick of the best smartphones you can buy
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
If you’re shopping for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2023, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is top of the tree. Superlative in every respect, it exceeded all expectations in testing. Clad in Gorilla Glass Victus 2, it feels equal parts premium and rugged in the hand. Its sizeable 6.8in AMOLED display is sublime on the eyes, while the bundled S Pen stylus is more responsive than ever.
Performance is peerless, courtesy of a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU running at higher speeds than any rival. The Ultra simply whizzes through almost every app, task and game. The top-spec S23 also has many camera highlights to summarise: from zoom clarity to colour reproduction, it’s 200MP main sensor and trio of secondary lenses are sublime. Yes, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of squeezing an S23 Ultra into your pocket. But if you’re willing to do so, your reward will be the best overall smartphone you can buy right now.
Productivity, photography and performance abilities that are unrivalled in the Android world.
Tech spec:Screen: 6.8in, 3088×1440 AMOLED, 120Hz • Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 • RAM: 8/12GB • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB • Software: Android 13 with OneUI • Cameras: 200+12+10+10MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 163×78×8.9mm • Weight: 234g
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
At first glance, the latest iPhone doesn’t change anything. Upon closer inspection, it changes one: the notch. Now a pill-shaped cutout called Dynamic Island, the UI adapts around it to show app-specific shortcuts. Unless an app doesn’t support it, then it remains a black blob.
Otherwise, the Pro is an evolutionary iteration. You still get a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto trio of cameras, but the rear flash is brighter, macro zoom is boosted to 2x optical and the main sensor has leapt to 48MP. Stills feel detailed and alive, while low-light shots are now even better. Up front, selfies are sharper, while the vivid 6.1in display is brighter at 2000 nits. It can also be set to always-on, showing a dim version of your lock screen.
As a package, the iPhone 14 Pro is brilliant. With A16 Bionic silicon running the show, nothing fazes it. Add an industry-leading display and impressive camera revamp and you’ve got a top smartphone. But if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 13 Pro, you might want to wait another generation.
Not a revolutionary upgrade, but screen tweaks and camera enhancements improve Pro recipe where it matters
Tech spec:Screen: 6.1in, 2556×1179 OLED, 120Hz • Processor: A16 Bionic • RAM: 6GB • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB • Software: iOS 16 • Cameras: 48+12+12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 3200mAh • Dimensions: 147.5×71.5×7.85mm • Weight: 206g
Google Pixel 7 Pro
A relatively minor upgrade from its predecessor, the Pixel 7 Pro is a worthy Google flagship. It matches the outgoing model on price, while streamlining the design, adding a speedier CPU and doubling down on camera capabilities.
Slimmed by a few millimetres, it remains a sizeable handset. Like the 6 Pro, its display is a 6.7in AMOLED number, but peak brightness has been boosted to a huge 1500 nits. That makes the viewing experience even more vibrant, even if you can’t force adaptive refresh rates to stay at 120Hz.
The 50MP main sensor is unchanged, but the telephoto now has 5x optical zoom and 30x digital, while a new autofocus setup lets the ultra wide work as a macro snapper. Image quality is superb, with wide dynamic range and satisfying detail. Night Sight is faster and sharper, too.
Tweaked for gen two, its Tensor chip isn’t the last word in mobile muscle, but it matches other flagships for seamless multi-tasking. It’s also more energy efficient, squeezing a full day of use from the 5000mAh cell.
Playing it safe, Google’s improved the Pixel 7 Pro in all the right places to produce one of the best point-and-shoot camera phones around
Tech spec:Screen: 6.7in, 3120×1440 OLED, 120Hz • Processor: Google Tensor G2 • RAM: 12GB • Storage: 128/256/512GB • Software: Android 13 • Cameras: 50+12+48MP (rear), 10.8MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 162.9×76.6×8.9mm • Weight: 212g
Delivering killer specs at a competitive price point, the OnePlus 11 hits a home run. Its all-screen frontage fits the modern mould, complemented by a tactile matte back. The display itself is simply brilliant, with dynamic refresh rates ranging from 1 to 120Hz.
A trademark alert slider marks it out as a OnePlus handset, while Hasselblad branding on the distinctive circular camera bump hints at enhanced shooting modes. Results are great in most conditions, with Pro and 12-bit RAW+ options offering useful flexibility for serious snappers and low-light seeing an improvement from last year.
Performance is predictably superb, while battery life proved impressively frugal throughout our testing. When the 5000mAh cell did run empty, 100W SuperVooc refuelling had it back to full in just over half an hour. If you’re after a flagship bargain, the OnePlus 11 comfortably undercuts every major rival.
Almost everything you could ask for from a flagship phone, at a sensible price.
Tech spec:Screen: 6.7in, 3216×1440 AMOLED, 120Hz • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 • RAM: 8/12GB • Storage: 128/256/512GB • Software: Android 13 with OxygenOS • Cameras: 50+48+16MP (rear), 16MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 163×74×8.5mm • Weight: 205g
Oppo Find X5 Pro
If you’re not fussed about shooting subjects from afar, the Oppo Find X5 Pro has the chops to challenge for that coveted spot in your pocket. From its punchy 6.7in screen to its powerful internal hardware, it does a whole lot to justify the big number on its ticket. Top-spec Snapdragon silicon delivers power in spades, matched by stupidly quick 80W wired charging speeds. And while it might be a fingerprint magnet, the way the ceramic shell curves seamlessly around the camera housing is a work of art.
In all ways but one, camera performance is similarly brilliant. The main and ultra-wide snappers capture bright, detailed and balanced results, whether you’re shooting in daylight or after dark. A MariSilicon X neural processing chip also enhances things with the aid of machine learning. Only one spec holds it back from perfection: the meagre 2x optical zoom offered by the telephoto. But if that’s not a dealbreaker, this is a five-star smartphone.
A stunner of an Android smartphone, let down only by a limited zoom range
Tech spec:Screen: 6.7in, 1440×3216 AMOLED, 120Hz • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 • RAM: 8/12GB • Storage: 256GB • Software: Android 12 with ColorOS • Cameras: 50+50+13MP (rear), 32MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 163.7×73.9×8.5mm • Weight: 218g
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra
Impressive hardware and effortless style combine in the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra to earn plenty of street cred for its maker. From a premium finish to ridiculous 125W charging speeds, it has pretty much everything going for it. A streamlined design lifts it above Moto’s more affordable handsets, while 144Hz refresh rates make its punchy OLED display among the smoothest out there. It’s also a sharp shooter, courtesy of a pixel-packed 200MP main camera and 60MP selfie cam.
It’s not without limitations: the build isn’t waterproof and the storage isn’t expandable. Zoom fans might also feel restricted by the 2x optical range. But slimline software and slick multi-tasking modes do a lot to alleviate any minor grumbles. As an alternative to the usual big hitters, the Edge 30 Ultra offers almost everything you’d want from a high-end phone – only without the painfully expensive asking price.
A fast-charging powerhouse with superb camera specs at a tantalising price
Tech spec:Screen: 6.67in, 1080×2400 pOLED, 144Hz • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 • RAM: 8/12GB • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB • Software: Android 12 • Cameras: 200MP+50MP+12MP (rear), 60MP (front) • Battery: 4610mAh • Dimensions: 162x74x8.4mm • Weight: 199g
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Two years after its launch, the iPhone 13 Mini is the best small smartphone you can buy in 2023. A compact model with very few comprises, it’s a pocketable handset with full-fat performance. And with no successor in the iPhone 14 line-up, it looks like the last palm-friendly iPhone for a while.
Physically smaller than the iPhone SE (2022), it maximises the real estate with a frame-filling 5.4in OLED that’s rich, sharp and bright. Its 12MP main camera delivers impressive results, aided by optical image stabilisation. And while screen refresh rates are capped at 60Hz, an A15 Bionic processor – the same chip found inside the iPhone 14 – means iOS 15 runs snappily.
Battery life is one of the few trade-offs, although it still out-performed the standard iPhone 12 in testing. And at its new lower price, the iPhone 13 Mini cements its status as the top smartphone with smaller proportions.
Offering full-size performance in compact packaging, this is comfortably the best small phone you can buy
Tech spec:Screen: 5.4in, 2340×1080 OLED, 60Hz • Processor: A15 Bionic • RAM: 4GB • Storage: 128/256/512GB • Software: iOS 16 • Cameras: 12+12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 2406mAh • Dimensions: 131.5×64.2×7.65mm • Weight: 141g
Google Pixel 6a
We’ve long been fans of Google’s affordable phones, and the Pixel 6a only continues that record. Well-rounded and wallet-friendly, this is as streamlined as Android excellence gets. There’s none of the Nothing Phone 1’s snazzy lighting, but the composite shell does a stellar impression of the glass used by its premium cousins. You’re also getting pure Android 12, which the 6a’s Tensor CPU runs without a stutter.
Where the Pixel 6a really excels is in the shooting stakes. With powerful algorithms in its arsenal, almost every image it captures is balanced, noise-free and packed with detail. There’s no telephoto, but autofocus is rapid, while Night Sight pulls true-to-life stills from tricky late-night scenes.
It’s not without compromise. You don’t get luxuries like wireless charging, while 60Hz refresh rates mean similarly priced rivals top it in the display stakes. But you’ll struggle to find a better all-round Android experience for less.
It has a few rough edges, but the latest cut-price Pixel still delivers a software and shooting experience that’s second to none
Tech spec:Screen: 6.1in, 1080×2400 OLED, 60Hz • Processor: Google Tensor • RAM: 6GB • Storage: 128GB • Software: Android 12 • Cameras: 12+12.2MP (rear), 8MP (front) • Battery: 4,410mAh • Dimensions: 152.2×71.8×8.9mm • Weight: 178g
Sony Xperia 1 IV
The Xperia 1 IV isn’t a mainstream mobile, and Sony’s fine with that. It’s a phenomenally capable Android handset, with exceptional performance, a cinematic 4K display and day-long battery life. And it’s packaged in the smartphone equivalent of a sharp business suit. But it has a very clear target market: photographers.
Rapid burst shooting, extensive manual options and stellar image quality make it a serious tool for skilled snappers. Daylight results had exceptional clarity in testing, while images remained sharp, balanced and largely free from noise in low light. The 1 IV also debuts a continuous optical zoom lens, getting you closer to subjects without digital trickery. Sony’s camera app is comprehensive, while object-tracking autofocus is unnaturally fast.
It’s true that rival devices do more to hold your hand, often for a smaller outlay. Heating can also be a concern when pushing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon with heavy loads, such as shooting 4K HDR video. But it still demolishes benchmarks and runs the Android interface breezily. Fans with deep pockets won’t be disappointed.
It’s a niche and costly proposition, but Sony’s no-compromise camera phone is a true flagship for seasoned snappers
Tech spec:Screen: 6.5in, 1644×3840 OLED, 120Hz • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 • RAM: 12GB • Storage: 256GB • Software: Android 12 • Cameras: 12+12+12MP (rear), 12MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 165x71x8.2mm • Weight: 185g
Motorola Moto G82
Not everyone wants to spend the best part of a grand on a smartphone. If your budget’s smaller by two thirds, this sub-£300 smartphone is a steal. The Motorola Moto G82 packs an OLED display with 120Hz refresh rates, a generous 5000mAh battery and an optically stabilised 50MP camera. All features you’d expect from handsets costing a chunk more.
Sure, there are some signs of the compromises required to reach its price point. Its plastic build doesn’t break the G-series mould, while the 2MP macro camera is little more than a token addition. The Snapdragon chip inside won’t set any benchmark records, either.
But thanks to Motorola’s minimal take on Android, overall performance is far from shabby. The main sensor also impresses, producing detailed, realistic images, while the packaging is neat and no-nonsense. If you want a mid-tier mobile that nails the basics at a keen price, this is your pick.
It won’t set your world on fire, but the G82 is long-lasting all-rounder that offers excellent value for money
Tech spec:Screen: 6.6in, 2400×1080 AMOLED, 120Hz • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G • RAM: 6GB • Storage: 128GB (expandable) • Software: Android 12 • Cameras: 50+8+2MP (rear), 16MP (front) • Battery: 5000mAh • Dimensions: 160.9x8x74.5mm • Weight: 173g
The best foldable smartphone you can buy right now
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
It’ll leave a bend in your bank balance, but Samsung’s top-spec foldable sets the benchmark for folding smartphones. As sturdy and stylish as you’d expect for the price, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is heftier than a normal handset when folded, but easier to handle than its predecessor.
The main display has a less noticeable crease than previous Z Fold devices, while desktop productivity features make multi-tasking a breeze. It helps that the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is zippy in the extreme. Top-tier shooting skills are inherited from the Galaxy S22, too. The main sensor produces consistently detailed stills in almost all scenarios, while the telephoto snapper zooms with impressive clarity.
With colourful OLED tech and 120Hz adaptive refresh rates, the outer panel is as good as you’ll find on any flagship phone. Yet it’s the lesser of the two: the 7.6in screen inside is bright, smooth and vibrant, offering acres of space for scribbling with the S Pen. We just wish there was somewhere to stash the stylus. Perhaps inside that empty wallet.
With streamlined styling, improved cameras and slick software, this is the premium foldable to beat
Tech spec:Cover display: 6.2in 2316×904 AMOLED 120Hz • Main display: 7.6in 2176×1812 AMOLED 120Hz • Cameras: 12+50+10MP (rear), 4MP (front), 10MP (cover) • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 • Battery: 4400mAh • Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB • RAM: 12GB • Dimensions: 155.1×130.1×6.3mm (unfolded) • Weight: 263g