The 5 Best Smartphones of 2023

Android or iOS, we've got the best of both

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The best smartphones are fast and long-lasting, with beautiful displays and top-notch cameras. These five smartphones meet those expectations varying only in price, OS (Android and iOS), and extra features.

Best iPhone

Apple iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14


What We Like
  • Amazing cameras

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Small step up from iPhone 13

The iPhone 14 is sturdy and luxurious, with a sharp and bright screen identical to the iPhone 13's. It retains the physical design introduced with the iPhone 12, and it's not a massive upgrade over the iPhone 13, but minor tweaks improve overall performance and battery life.

The cameras are solid, though you'll have to spring for the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max model for a telephoto lens and a higher-resolution primary lens. The Pro models also have a higher refresh rate and always-on displays; the 14 Pro has a 6.1-inch screen like the base model, while the Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen.

The other option is the iPhone 14 Plus, which has the longest battery life in the series and a 6.7-inch screen.

Screen Size: 6.1 inches | Resolution: 2532x1170 | Processor: A15 Bionic | Camera: 12MP/12MP/12MP | Battery: 3279 mAh

Best Value

Apple iPhone SE 3rd Gen

Apple iPhone SE 3rd Gen


What We Like
  • Good camera

  • Compact

  • Inexpensive

What We Like
  • Weak battery life

Apple's iPhone SE, now in its 3rd generation, offers most of what makes the iPhone great but at a substantially lower price. It comes in a compact package but still carries the A15 bionic processor. The iPhone SE comes in three capacities (64GB, 128GB, and 256GB) behind a tiny 4.7-inch screen and Touch-ID-enabled home button.

The battery compromise that had to be made to get the phone this small also means the phone has trouble getting through a day. But the phone does offer wireless charging, which is a nice bonus. 

If you want a powerful Apple phone in a tiny package, this is the best phone that meets all those criteria.

Screen Size: 4.7 inches | Resolution: 1334x750 | Processor: A15 Bionic | Camera: 7MP/12MP | Battery: 2018 mAh

Best Pixel

Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7.

Best Buy

What We Like
  • Generous features for the price

  • Great camera

What We Don't Like
  • Screen has lower refresh rate than the competition

Google's Pixel 7 is a pocket-friendly smartphone with Gorilla Glass Victus protection and IP68 water and dust resistance. Its screen has a 90Hz refresh rate screen compared to much of the competition, including the Pixel 7 Pro. While the screen is responsive, the higher refresh rate offers smoother scrolling.

You can use your Pixel 7 to charge other devices, like a smartwatch. The camera has an increased zoom range, re-engineered Super Res Zoom feature, and is even better at capturing an array of skin tones than its predecessor.

Screen Size: 6.3 inches | Resolution: 2400x1080 | Processor: Google Tensor G2 Camera: 10.8MP/50MP/12MP | Battery: 4355 mAh

Best Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23.

Best Buy.

What We Like
  • Excellent battery life

  • Gets 5 years of software updates

What We Don't Like

The Galaxy S23 has a powerful Android chip, a beautiful screen wrapped with Gorilla Glass Victus 2, and excellent battery life. It has the same cameras as the pricier S23+ and should suffice for most people. Samsung will provide five years' worth of updates, including 4 OS updates.

Its battery life is much better than the S22, its predecessor. The series has two other models: the S23+ and S23 Ultra. The base model has a 6.1-inch display, the S23+ has a 6.6-inch display, and the S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch display. Other enhancements include larger memory options (storage and RAM), bigger batteries, and fancier cameras.

Screen Size: 6.1 inches | Resolution: 2340x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2| Camera: 12MP/12MP/50MP/10MP | Battery: 3900 mAh

Best Small Smartphone

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Apple iPhone 13 mini
iPhone 13 mini.


What We Like
  • Compact and powerful

  • Great display

  • Great cameras

What We Don't Like
  • No power brick

The iPhone 13 mini has everything the iPhone 13 has but comes in a smaller package with a smaller battery.

It's one of the most potent compact phones you can buy. You get a powerful A15 bionic processor, great cameras, and 5G connectivity. But the trade-off is that the battery is tiny by most modern standards, and it can struggle to make it through a full day on a single charge.

Of course, if you don't mind charging up a bit during the day or at work, that's not a problem.

The iPhone 13 Mini, available in three capacities: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, has flagship power in a tiny package that slips easily into your pocket or bag. It's bigger than the 3rd gen iPhone SE, which has a 4.7-inch screen and a maximum of 256GB of storage.

Screen Size: 5.4 inches | Resolution: 2340x1080 | Processor: A15 Bionic | Camera: 12MP/12MP rear and12MP front | Battery: 2,227 mAh

Android vs. iOS

When shopping for a smartphone, you must figure out which operating system you want.


Android is the world's most popular smartphone operating system, and for many reasons. Unlike Apple, which only allows iOS to be used on its iPhones, Google licenses Android to other companies. That's why the likes of Samsung, HTC, Huawei, and Google use the Android operating system.

Android is usually better at working with those apps and services if you're a tried-and-true Google user. (Google Play Music streaming service, Google Drive cloud storage, other Google devices like the Google Home smart speaker, and more.)


In the U.S., Apple’s iOS is the dominant smartphone operating system. There are plenty of reasons to go for an iPhone—the phone that runs iOS—over an Android device. The main ones, however, are that Apple builds it, and as such, it’s both super easy to use, ultra-stylish, and plays nice with other Apple devices.

If you want a simple user interface, better Apple integration, and a phone that performs better for longer, then a phone with iOS is probably the way to go.

What to Look For in a Smartphone

Once you've decided on Android or iOS, you'll want to consider other factors, including the amount of storage, screen size, battery life, and camera quality. Budget is also a huge consideration, and iOS and Android have offerings that can fit your budget.


The processor is essentially the brain of a computer, or in this case, a phone. More powerful processors mean your phone can "think" faster, meaning tasks are completed quicker, multitasking is zippier, and your phone will perform longer. Longevity is essential here: A phone with a sub-par processor might be perfectly fine at handling current apps, but that may not be true of the apps being released in two years.

There are a few companies developing processors for smartphones. Apple designs its processors in-house, but Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Samsung all produce processors for Android phones. In the U.S., Qualcomm chips are the most common, and in 2018, the flagship Qualcomm chip was the Snapdragon 845. The higher the number here, the better.

If you want more powerful processors, look for ones with multiple "cores." Traditional processors can only perform one task simultaneously, but a dual-core processor can process two, and a quad-core processor can process four.


Storage is perhaps the most important thing for most people to consider. The more storage you have on your phone, the more files, apps, photos, videos, etc., you can keep on there. It’s easier to get by with less storage if you use cloud storage like Apple Photos or Google Drive, but some things can’t work without being stored on your phone. We recommend getting a phone with at least 16GB of storage (for light users), though 32GB is going to be much better, and 64GB or more should be enough for heavy users.

Some phones also allow external storage, usually through a MicroSD card slot. With this slot, you can buy a small card about the size of a SIM card, which can be used to store files. MicroSD cards start at a low price for low-capacity ones and range from there.


A few things make a great camera, but the most important is the software behind it. Two phones with identical camera specs can yield vastly different results. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to shop for a phone with a great camera by only looking at specs on paper.


RAM, or Random Access Memory, is another form of storage, but instead of saving files, your system uses it to keep things that it might want to pull up quickly. Open apps are usually held in RAM so that when you close them and open them again, they can show up on the screen without reloading.

Generally speaking, more RAM is better when buying a smartphone, but phones with more RAM often cost more. You’ll find budget phones with about 4GB of RAM, but a device with 6GB or more is recommended for most users.

Display Type

When it comes to phones, a screen isn’t just a screen. There are a few different types of displays, and they’re not all created equal.

The LCD or Liquid Crystal Display is the most common in mid-range and low-end phones. LCDs are inexpensive to produce, which is why they’re used so often, but the trade-off is that they’re not the best at conserving battery life and generally don’t produce the deepest blacks or brightest colors. There are two LCD types: TFT-LCDs, which are cheaper and the worst at color reproduction, and IPS-LCDs, which are a little better at color reproduction and wider viewing angles.

These days, high-end phones are doing away with LCDs in favor of OLED displays. Because OLED displays light up individual pixels rather than the display as a whole, saving battery life. On top of that, when black shows up on the screen, OLED displays don’t light it, meaning that blacks look deeper, and contrast ratios are higher. You might see “Super AMOLED” displays, which is Samsung branding for its OLEDs.

You’ll probably only notice the difference between LCD and OLED displays if you have a sharp eye, although you might find the battery improvements that come with OLED displays worth the extra cash.

Screen Size

Phone display sizes have gotten much bigger over the years, which might be important to you. Smaller displays come in at four inches, while larger displays can range up to seven inches.

Biometric Authentication

Gone are the days when you had to enter a PIN code to access your phone. These days, most smartphones have a fingerprint sensor built into them, ensuring you can get into your device quickly, easily, and at the touch of a sensor. Higher-end phones also have other forms of biometric authentication, like iris scanning or facial recognition.

Many consider fingerprint sensors the easiest way to authenticate, though it depends on their placement. While some phones mount a fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, others have a sensor on the back, making it easy to quickly scan your fingerprint as you take your device out of your pocket.

Nowadays, some phones also have facial recognition, which is safer and sometimes easier to use. All you have to do to authenticate yourself with facial recognition is look at your phone, which does present some difficulty if your phone is on your desk, for example.

We recommend a phone with at least a fingerprint scanner, though other authentication methods can also be helpful.

Battery Capacity

Not all batteries are the same size, and a smaller battery can seriously impact how long your phone lasts on a single charge. Battery capacity is measured in milliampere-hours, or mAh—where a higher number represents a larger capacity. Of course, it’s not always as simple as “larger batteries make your phone last longer.” A phone with a larger battery but an equally high-resolution display and a power-hungry processor may not last as long as a phone with a smaller battery, lower-resolution display, and less intense processor.

  • Which smartphone has the best camera?

    Top-tier smartphones all come with excellent cameras and usually feature multiple rear sensors. You typically get a primary sensor for regular shots, an ultrawide sensor for wide-angle shots, a depth sensor for bokeh, and a telephoto sensor for zoomed images. This is true of top phones from Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, Google, and others. The Google Pixel lineup is well known for its excellent software augmentation, allowing for improved low-light shots and post-processing. The iPhone and Samsung flagships have a superb hardware array and AI-enhanced shooting. Look at our list of the best smartphone cameras for more details.

  • What is the best Android smartphone for overseas?

    The Android phone market is extensive, with options ranging from premium to ultra-budget devices. In terms of pure hardware, the latest flagship from Samsung is typically the best Android phone on the market. However, it does have plenty of rivals, especially overseas, where you'll see great options from Xiaomi, Realme, and even Huawei.

  • What is the best budget smartphone?

    Just because you're on a tight budget doesn't mean you have to settle for less. There are plenty of mid-range and budget options available. While they won't have the latest and greatest processor, you can get plenty of new features like the edge-to-edge design, a sleek build, multiple rear cameras, and even 5G support. Samsung offers phones at many price points, while Nokia has a variety of mid-range options packaged in a stylish design. Motorola and LG have great workhorses as well.

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