The Best Smartphones for 2023: The ultimate cell phone shopping guide

The year is well under way, and sooner or later, a lot of people will be shopping for new phones. I thought to share my recommendations for the best smartphones for 2023. I have broken my recommendations down into sections, to make it easier for you to find what you want.

For example, some of the sections include: best foldable phone and most affordable premium flagship, so you can head straight to whichever category of smartphones you are interested in.

The Best Smartphones for 2023
Which are the best smartphones for 2023?

Best Foldable Phone

I kick things off with the most interesting category of cell phones in the market today: foldable phones. There are several models selling from multiple brands, but the overall best are two from the same brand.

You can get better hardware in OPPO Find N2 and OPPO Find N2 Flip, but their software and user interfaces are not as matured as what you will get from Samsung’s contestants, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. And, trust me, having software that fully takes advantage of the foldable and flip form factors makes for a much better experience. Plus, Samsung’s foldables are much more readily available in the market. You have to dig around quite a bit in most places to find an OPPO foldable phone to buy.

Foldable phones in general, are some of the best smartphones for 2023. If you want a big foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold4 is it. If you want a more compact and pocketable foldable device, go for the Galaxy Z Flip4. The Find N2 and Find N2 Flip are runners-up.

Best Gaming Phone for 2023

The list of gaming phones out there include Lenovo Legion Duel 2, ZTE nubia Red Magic 7S Pro, Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro, ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro, and Razer Phone 2. There are other phones that perform as great gaming phones, though they are not designed specifically with gaming in mind. These include iPhone 14 Pro Max. But for this category, I am sticking with phones that are equipped with hardware to meet the needs of hardcore gamers.

My recommendation for the best gaming smartphone for 2023 is ASUS ROG Phone 6 Pro. It is a hell of the beast, and you can hardly find better.

Best Small Phone for 2023

For those who want their smartphone compact and handy, you should be looking the Asus Zenfone 9, iPhone SE 2022, iPhone 13 Mini, and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4. If you want the best small Android smartphone, I recommend the Zenfone 9. If you prefer iOS and Apple’s ecosystem, go with the iPhone 13 mini.

Best Budget Smartphone for 2023

The budget category is saturated, as many brands have really competitive offerings here. Contenders include: Poco X4 Pro 5G, Samsung Galaxy A53 5G, OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G. iPhone SE 2022, and Nothing Phone (1).

The most powerful budget smartphone for 2023 is Apple’s iPhone SE 2022; no competition. No debate. The A5 Bionic hip inside blows the competition out of the water. It may be small, but it isn’t a pushover. If you do not want to step into Apple’s walled garden, my recommendations for the best budget smartphone for 2023 is Poco X4 Pro 5G. However, it isn’t widely available outside of Asia. What do you buy if you are resident in Europe or North America, or Oceania?

If your location is one of those regions and want the best budget Android phone of the year, I recommend to you Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. The Nothing Phone (1) is also an interesting Android smartphone to consider.

Best Camera Phone for 2023

If you are a lover of smartphone photography, like myself, this category will have you excited. As a rule, the best cameras in phones are found in the best smartphones.

Our contestants include: Best Small Phone: Asus Zenfone 9, iPhone SE 2022, Xiaomi 12S Pro, Xiaomi 12 Pro, and Google Pixel 7 Pro. If you are resident in China, add Huawei P50 Pro to the list, and it wins hands-down. But as most of us are not resident in China and also do not want to live without Google Mobile Services, which the Huawei lacks, we have to look elsewhere for the best camera phone for 2023.

Who wins this category? None other than Google Pixel 7 Pro has the most capable camera among the best smartphones for 2023, hands down. If you are not a fan of Google’s Android ecosystem, the 2nd best camera phone of the year outside of the walls of China is what you must buy, then: the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Best Premium Flagship

Of course, how can we talk about the best smartphones for 2023 without mentioning the premium flagship segment? If money is not an objection and you want a top-of-the-line smartphone, this year, the iPhone 14 Pro Max (iOS) and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Android) are two of the best of the best you can buy right now. They pack superb performance and and tons of features in their premium quality builds.

Most Affordable Flagship for 2023

There are many premium flagship phones out there, and they cost an arm and a leg – often over the $1,000 mark. The good news is that there is one premium flagship that is significantly more affordable than those. Costing just $899, the Pixel 7 Pro is a steal. It doesn’t feel as well built as say the Galaxy S22 Ultra (we know that from handling both here at MobilityArena), but it delivers premium flagship performance.

Did I also mention in the previous section that it is the best camera phone for the year? As a whole, Google Pixel overheating issues aside, I would say that Google Pixel 7 Pro is at the top of my list of the best smartphones for 2023.

Final words on the best smartphones for 2023

Every single phone model is one of the best smartphones for 2023. You just have to pick the category that is most important or attractive to you. I will update this list as brands announce and release their 2023 smartphone lineups.

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