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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Best Smartphone 2023

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There’s never been a better time for smartphones. We’ve come a long way from the brick-shaped phones that came with a shoulder strap or had to be plugged into a car to use. Almost every Android phone and iPhone is a thin, glass-covered rectangle with a high-res screen and ample performance.

But that’s a double-edged sword, as almost every phone looks and performs the same. Obviously, you want something special, or offering the most features and bang for your buck at least. Luckily, we’ve seen and tested every new smartphone available today and can tell you which are the best to pick from.

We get that choosing the right phone is unlike any other device. After all, it’s something you rely on and use every day. Trust us, we won’t steer you the wrong way in your quest for the best smartphone.

TL;DR – These are the Best Smartphones:

Google Pixel 7

Best Smartphone

Google Pixel 7Google Pixel 7

The Google Pixel 7 is honestly the best value smartphone you can buy today. For $599 to start it undercuts most of its competition while packing in some great hardware. The 6.3-inch devices features a classier design with a more aluminum frame and camera bar. The 1080 x 2400 resolution has also been upgraded with an even brighter panel that hits a maximum brightness of 1400 nits so it can shine in the sun too.

Of course the biggest hallmark of any Pixel phone are fantastic cameras and this handset delivers with an incredibly sharp 50MP main camera and a serviceable 12MP Ultrawide camera. That leaves a telephoto camera conspicuously out of the picture, but the Pixel 7 makes up for this with a Super Res Zoom feature that can capture images with an up to 8x zoom – though shots stop looking so great after 5x zoom. This phone is also considerably faster at all of its smart AI-powered functions like speech recognition and Night Sight photography thanks to Google's latest Tensor G2 chip.

Google Pixel 7a

Best Budget Smartphone

Google Pixel 7aGoogle Pixel 7a

For a budget smartphone that offers flagship performance, grab the Google Pixel 7a, which costs $499—a $50 price hike from last year’s Pixel 6a at launch. However, you get the same Google Tensor G2 processor found in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. When you pair it with 8GB of RAM, this phone delivers upper-mid-range performance to cruise through games and open multiple apps at a time. That chip also lets you take advantage of some impressive AI tech.

The Pixel 7a delivers a big, bright OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate to ensure smooth scrolling, streaming, and gaming. You also get a 64MP main camera which has more pixels than the flagship models, though the sensor is smaller. It still takes photos and videos that won’t disappoint. However, the 4,385mAh battery isn’t the best but should last all day with light to moderate use. Topping the phone up is also simple, thanks to wireless charging support.

iPhone 14 Pro

Best iPhone

iPhone 14 ProiPhone 14 Pro

For an iPhone that goes above and beyond, you’ll want the iPhone 14 Pro. This version brings a slight upgrade to our previous favorite, the iPhone 13 Pro. You get a beefy phone powered by Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, making it breeze through pretty much any task you throw at it, including gaming or video editing for content creators. This version gives you an upgraded screen, which finally removes the notch for Face ID, opting for a new pill-shaped camera hole called the Dynamic Island. This feature can expand and show different animations, including alarms, navigation, and the music playing—which can be held down to access media controls. The stunning display also offers a 120Hz refresh rate that drops to just 1Hz, allowing for the new always-on-display that won’t drain the battery.

The iPhone 14 Pro totes plenty of other features that make it one of the best phones money can buy. First, there are the cameras. You get a 48MP main with 2x zoom for beautiful, vibrant images along with a 12MP wide and a 12MP telephoto with 3x zoom. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better phone cameras than these, and the 14 Pro even shines when photos are taken in low light. It’s also possible to film 4K videos. Just be prepared, as the cameras bump so big it prevents your phone from sitting flat on a surface. You also get new safety enhancements like crash detection and a satellite phone feature for easy contact with emergency services.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best Android Phone

Google Pixel 7 ProGoogle Pixel 7 Pro

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a closer to perfect smartphone than the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which offers even more greatness than the Pixel 6 Pro. Don’t expect it to blow every phone out of the water by every metric, but just realize that everywhere you look, you’ll find excellence. The phone comes with a unique design that helps it stand out while still providing a solid build. Inside that frame, Google has put plenty of oomph with the new Tensor G2 processor that handles everyday tasks and gaming with ease. It even renders images quicker and powers some impressive speech recognition. Beyond that, you get ample battery life with faster charging, Face Unlock, and a top-notch camera system.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro totes a huge, sharp display, hitting a wild 1,500 nit peak brightness that’s made all the better with a 120Hz variable refresh rate. That display makes for a solid viewfinder to use with the triple camera system on the rear. You get a phenomenal main sensor that captures a wide dynamic range, warm colors, and excellent detail. The main camera is flanked by an ultra-wide camera for getting everything in the shot, and a 5x telephoto camera goes all the way to 30x digitally. All that, and Google is only asking $899, whereas its competitors ask over $1000 for their top-spec models.

Asus ROG Phone 5S

Best Gaming Phone

Asus ROG Phone 5SAsus ROG Phone 5S

For a beast of a gaming phone, you'll want to turn to the Asus ROG Phone 5S. The latest iteration improves upon the already great ROG Phone 5. The system is now powered by a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset backed up by 16GB of LPDDR5 memory (can go up to 18GB), so speed and capacity won't be an issue. Games load from a solid 256GB of fast, UFS 3.1 storage. And, when you need a reliable connection for gaming, you can enjoy 5G on the go or the latest Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. You'll be able to get in some marathon gaming sessions thanks to the phone's 6,000mAh battery, but you can keep playing even as you’re juicing up since there’s a charging port on the side of the phone.

Sure, plenty of phones offer fast internals, but it's what Asus does on the outside that sets it apart for gaming. The Asus ROG Phone 5S has a zippy 144Hz AMOLED display that scans for touch inputs at a wild 360Hz. Asus also includes more controls, so you're not stuck handling all the complicated actions of games with just your thumbs. Two ultrasonic side buttons can work like triggers or even handle swipe gestures. And, there's a motion control system that will let you set up 10 different phone movements to correspond with in-game controls – think tilt to turn. Heck, there's even some cool RGB lighting on the back of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best Phablet

Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

If you’re looking for a big screen packed with loads of power behind it, nothing beats the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The company’s latest release features a design very similar to last year's model, with a bright 6.8-inch AMOLED display that offers a speedy 120Hz refresh rate. It even comes with a stylus slotted inside, making it easy to jot down notes or do some sketching while connecting the phone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse via a USB-C hub for more functionality is even possible.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display is stunning, but the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and 8GB of RAM make this phone a standout, letting it act like a tiny computer. It shouldn't break a sweat, even when running multiple apps or completing more taxing tasks like editing videos or gaming. Of course, we can’t forget to mention the bordering-on professional cameras with exceptional levels of zoom, a RAW mode, and a wild 200MP sensor that shoots 8K video.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Best Foldable Phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a far cry from the flip phones of yesteryear, though it does look nearly identical to its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 3, with just a few minor improvements. It rocks a 6.2-inch display and remains relatively thin when folded. However, you can open the phone like a book—using the redesigned hinge to make the action smoother—and inside lurks a 7.6-inch screen, meaning you basically get a little tablet that’ll fold neatly into your pocket. Just be prepared for the phone to feel a bit awkward at first due to its unique dimensions, and there’s still a slight crease where it folds.

If you’re worried about the quality of the two seamless displays, you should find them plenty bright and smooth thanks to the Dynamic AMOLED panels offering a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Samsung has added a taskbar to the Z Fold 4 to house your most used apps and improved the under-display selfie camera to better blend with whatever is on screen. Powering those displays is a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor paired with 12GB RAM to cruise through tasks and games. A 4,400mAh battery is loaded in, so you can use it all day without it dying, though there’s a fast charging feature if it does. You also get decent cameras, but unfortunately, they don’t compare to the stunning cameras on Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra.


Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

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