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When choosing a new phone, the main considerations for most people are price and the choice between Android and iOS. Both operating systems have evolved over the years. iPhones have the advantage of an OS and apps tailor-made for them, whereas Android offers the flexibility of not being confined to a single manufacturer's features or price range.
The decision becomes more complex if you're among the few who use their phones for competitive gaming or if you desire a feature phone with physical buttons.
To help you navigate the multitude of phone options and making an informed decision, we've collected and organized our top picks into six categories, based on features, value and price...
- Best Phone for Most
- Best Value Phones
- Best Budget Phone
- Best of the Best
- Best Gaming Phone
- Best Feature Phones
Best Smartphone for Most People
The iPhone 13 remains our top pick for most: it's very similar to the iPhone 14 but it saves you $100 for the same storage capacity, starting at 128GB. It is equipped with the same A15 SoC, though it has 4GB of RAM compared to the 6GB in the iPhone 14. Additionally, it boasts an identical 6.1" OLED screen with the same notch and a 60Hz refresh rate. Unlike the iPhone 14 series, the iPhone 13 still supports physical SIM cards.
The camera system is also notably similar, featuring a 12MP front camera and two 12MP rear cameras, one of which is an ultrawide lens with 0.5x optical zoom. The primary distinctions in the iPhone 14 series include the Photonic Engine, enhancing low-light photography, and the Action mode, which is useful if you shoot videos while moving. Besides these, the major new additions are two emergency features: crash detection and, depending on the country, SOS via satellite.
If you want a smaller iPhone, you should hurry and get the 5.4" iPhone 13 Mini before it's discontinued (starts at $600). If you prefer a bigger iOS device, you are less lucky and you'll need to pay at least $900 for the 6.7" iPhone 14 Plus.
Although Apple's iPad lineup transitioned to USB-C years ago, iPhones still require a lightning cable for faster, wired charging. Rumors suggest that the first official USB-C iPhone will debut either this year or the next, at least in Europe. Still, this projection offers little solace. Moreover, Apple's omission of a charger in the box is challenging to endorse as an eco-friendly move.
While Apple's strategy prompted competitors to also forgo chargers in their packages, it has sparked a commendable trend: long-term software support. This ensures that when upgrading, you can pass down your iPhone to another family member or sell it in the second-hand market at a respectable price.
Much like the iPhone 14, the Samsung Galaxy S23 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor. However, with a newer SoC and an additional year of guaranteed software support, the $800 price tag is justified – especially when the S22 is available for $100 less and becomes an even better deal during sales.
Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – currently the pinnacle in the Android sphere – the S23 has upgraded its front camera to 12MP from the S22's 10MP. The promise of four years of major OS updates and five years of security patches addresses the long-standing gripe many Android users have about being excluded from the latest features.
With 8GB of RAM and a 120Hz refresh rate, Samsung's One UI Android interface glides effortlessly on the 6.1" AMOLED display. For those who favor larger screens, the Galaxy S23+ offers a 6.6" display (albeit with the same, 1080 pixels wide resolution), a bigger battery to compensate, and 45W wired charging compared to the base model's 25W.
The S23+ starts at $1,000, but provides 256GB of storage, so if you were planning to get that amount anyway, it's only $140 more expensive than the S23. Potential sale discounts could minimize this difference. All 256GB models utilize the swifter UFS 4.0 standard over 3.1, theoretically doubling the speed for file operations. Additionally, they introduce ultra-wide band (UWB) support, ideal for pinpointing Bluetooth-linked items such as Galaxy SmartTags.
In terms of camera specifications, both the S23 and S23+ closely resemble the S22. The 50MP primary camera, while perhaps excessive for casual photographers, showcases its prowess when you zoom into minute details. This primary lens collaborates with a 12MP ultrawide and a 10MP telephoto sensor boasting a 3x optical zoom.
Built on Android 13, One UI 5.1 introduces features like convenient widget stacking, image text recognition, and enhanced cohesion with Google's Material You design aesthetic. With Samsung Dex support, users can transition to a desktop environment. Coupled with its software support, the Galaxy S23 emerges as an attractive proposition for most Android aficionados.
If you want a phone with a big, high-resolution display and a high-end camera system for a decent price, the Google Pixel 7 Pro is a great alternative to the Galaxy S23, often selling for $700 with 128GB of storage. Google guarantees three years of OS upgrades and five years of security patches. As the brain behind Android, Google's updates are as prompt as Apple's iOS patches.
Google's Tensor G2 SoC isn't as fast as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but it's paired with 12GB of RAM. The 6.7" display is sharper than the Galaxy S23+ at 1440 pixels wide, and has the same 120Hz refresh rate. The 23W wired charging speed applies to wireless charging as well, compared to the Galaxy S23 line's 15W wireless speed.
Camera-wise, the phone features a 50MP main lens, a 12MP ultrawide sensor, and a formidable 48MP telephoto camera with a 5x optical zoom. The front hosts a 10.8MP camera – ample for most needs, but its fixed focus makes the Pixel less optimal for selfie stick usage.
On paper, the OnePlus 11 combines the best of all worlds with a display and a camera array similar to the Pixel's (albeit with a 2x optical zoom), the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and exceptional 100W wired charging (80W in the U.S.) that makes up for the lack of a wireless option. However, the software holds the cameras back, and at $700 it's still too expensive for a device that may not survive a drop into water, so you should only consider it at a significant discount.
Foldable phones, like the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, might seem tempting. However, their design restricts battery and camera configurations. With a noticeable crease when unfolded, the Flip 5's $1,100 price point is steeper than the Galaxy S23+'s, and it's more scratch-prone and lacks dust resistance.
The Motorola Razr+ (a.k.a. 40 Ultra) offers a higher-quality external display that can fully replace the main one more often, a much more subtle crease, and much better dust resistance but much worse water resistance. It's also cheaper at $1,000, but comes with a last-gen SoC. Unless you really need the unique form factor, you should probably look elsewhere.
Best Value Phones
Several phones will let you enjoy the top software features and support without paying flagship money. Currently, we believe the Google Pixel 6a from the last generation offers the best value for its price. The device uses the same Google Tensor SoC found in the rest of the Pixel 6 series and comes with 6GB of RAM. The always-on 6.1" OLED display has a resolution of 1080 pixels and a 60Hz refresh rate, which might be a silver lining considering battery longevity isn't its strongest suit.
Although it doesn't provide optical zoom, the cameras perform admirably. With a 12.2MP primary sensor and a 12MP ultrawide lens, the results are surprisingly good thanks to Google's software enhancements. The front camera boasts an 8MP sensor, and considering the phone's price range, the absence of autofocus is forgivable.
If you are willing to spend a bit more (normally $500), the current-gen Pixel 7a features a newer Tensor G2 SoC with 8GB of RAM and a 90Hz refresh rate. The biggest difference is in the cameras, with the main rear unit upgraded to 64MP. The rear ultrawide and front cameras are both 13MP. Notably, these specifications exceed those of the standard Pixel 7. The 7a also introduces dust resistance and wireless charging capabilities.
If the Pixel 7 and 7a are available at the same discounted price, be aware that the regular 7 model offers enhanced resistance to water and scratches, faster charging (particularly wireless, with 20W vs. 7.5W), a higher maximum brightness, and more storage options.
If you prefer Samsung's software features, the company does have an alternative phone for you, even though it's usually more expensive than the Pixel 6a at $450. For the extra money, you'll get a 120Hz refresh rate on the 6.4" OLED screen (1080 pixels wide), expendable 128GB of storage, dust resistance and a glass rear panel.
The problem is that the Exynos 1380 SoC can't match the Pixel's Tensor. The phone features three cameras on the back, including a 50MP main unit, a 12MP ultrawide and a 5MP macro camera for close-up shots, but the software processing simply can't get the most out of them. The same is true for the 32MP selfie camera. Yet, when selling for a similar price to the 6a, it's a good option.
The iPhone SE 2022 stands out in commendable and questionable ways. Priced at $429, this compact powerhouse boasts 5G connectivity (sub-6GHz) and can outperform not only similarly priced competitors but also pricier Android flagships. Yet, you'd be hard-pressed to find such an outdated display and prominent bezel design on any other phone priced over $400.
The iPhone SE 2022 runs on the same A15 Bionic chip as the iPhone 14, ensuring blazing iOS performance and industry-leading software support. Its single-lens 12MP rear camera, although less versatile than multi-lens systems, consistently delivers. The 7MP front-facing camera follows suit.
What's disappointing, is that you'll be experiencing this hardware, and all other features, on a sub-par 4.7-inch 750p 60Hz display. The inclusion of big bezels, top and bottom, doesn't help either. Perhaps the only thing going for it here is the return of the iconic Home button with Touch ID, which some Apple users still prefer (and miss) over Face ID.
Owing to its compact design, the iPhone SE 2022 doesn't excel in battery longevity. Despite its optimized SoC and software, the 2,018mAh battery is nearly half the capacity of what mid-tier Android competitors offer. Thus, nightly charging, especially with 5G active, becomes a routine. Yet, if you really want a cheap iPhone that will last you for years, the iPhone SE 2022 with all its compromises is still the best bet for now.
Best Budget Phone
If you're in the market for an affordable device that can handle the tasks most users demand from their phones – albeit not always as proficiently – the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is a compelling option. Its 6.6" 1080p LCD display doesn't offer the best contrast, though it does run at 90Hz. Additionally, the phone supports NFC for contactless payments.
The Galaxy A14 features a 13MP front-facing camera, and on the rear, it boasts three cameras: a 50MP primary lens, along with 2MP macro and depth sensors. As expected, the MediaTek Dimensity 700 doesn't do a great job at utilizing those lenses. The phone only features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, but that can be expanded with microSD.
Thanks to the modest hardware, the phone features good battery life, but it only supports 15W charging, and at this price point, not including a charger in the box is more than just annoying. Another benefit of the budget device is the headphone jack, but on the other hand, the mono speaker is as basic as you can imagine.
If you can spend a bit more for a more capable device, you should hurry and get the OnePlus Nord N20 5G ($250 at Best Buy) before it disappears to make way for the arguably worse Nord N30 5G. The older model uses a higher-end AMOLED screen (1080 pixels wide) instead of an LCD. However, this 6.4" panel refreshes at a slower 60Hz.
Under the hood is Qualcomm's capable Snapdragon 695 5G SoC, paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of microSD-expandable storage. These surprising specs are complemented by a fast in-display optical fingerprint, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a long-lasting battery that supports 33W fast charging.
OnePlus used a triple-camera system in this model, with a 64 MP primary shooter, and 2MP macro and "depth" cameras. The selfie camera is a 16MP one. Budget phones aren't usually expected to go beyond a decent camera experience, and the Nord N20 offers just that.
Out of the box, it ships with the older Android 11-based OxygenOS, which is disappointing as OnePlus won't be updating this Nord beyond Android 12. However, security updates will keep on coming for the next two years, so your budget Android should be perfectly usable and safe.
Best of the Best
What can you expect from Apple's biggest top-tier model? On paper, it seems to offer the same features you'd find in other companies' mainstream products. However, owing to iOS and its finely-tuned apps, the performance is notably superior.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max retains a design reminiscent of the iPhone 14 Plus. The notch has been reduced in size and is now concealed within the "dynamic island" – a feature that displays pertinent information based on the apps in use. Its always-on 6.7" display is brighter and now supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The primary camera boasts an impressive 48MP, complemented by a telephoto lens that offers 3x optical zoom. For augmented reality enthusiasts, a Pro model is indispensable due to its integrated LiDAR.
Priced at $1,100, the iPhone 14 Pro Max might seem steep, especially when contrasted with the $700 iPhone 13. However, it's just $200 pricier than the iPhone 14 Plus. If you're inclined towards a more compact device, the regular iPhone 14 Pro will save you $100.
Although it houses the same SoC, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra distinguishes itself from the rest of the S23 lineup. The design features a rectangular profile, crowned with a subtly curved 6.8" display. It's visibly longer and thicker than the S23+, but the display still looks sharper at 1440 pixels wide.
Camera-wise, the primary lens has been supersized to a staggering 200MP. Additionally, another telephoto lens has been incorporated, offering 10x optical zoom. For those who dabble in digital art or frequent note-taking, the bundled S Pen will undoubtedly be the standout feature.
The Ultra normally starts at $1,200 with 256GB of storage (upgradable up to 1TB) and 8GB of RAM (upgradable to 12GB). That's $200 more than the S23+ with the same internal specs, but on a sale that difference may shrink.
Best Gaming Phone
Competitive gaming phones cater to a very niche market: running 3D games at high refresh rates on a device as compact as a phone inevitably leads to cooling and battery-life challenges. However, if you're set on having a gaming powerhouse that fits in your pocket, we have a good option for you.
The Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, bolstered by 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage using UFS 4.0. This powers its 165Hz, 6.78" display (1080 pixels wide). The device is equipped with dual speakers and three microphones to ensure crystal-clear communication with teammates. Its design even draws inspiration from a console controller, featuring two programmable, gesture-sensitive buttons on its side and haptic feedback from on-screen buttons.
The phone features two charging ports, so you can hold it comfortably either horizontally or vertically while charging, and a headphone jack, so you won't need to use a charging port instead. It's designed to work with the included AeroActive Cooler, which doubles as a subwoofer. The drawback of all of these openings is mediocre water and dust resistance.
Priced at $1,400, the Phone 7 Ultimate may not offer the best value for non-gamers. But for gaming enthusiasts, it promises to be a comprehensive solution. The device's rear camera setup includes a 50MP primary lens, a 13MP ultrawide lens, and a 5MP macro camera. Its front camera boasts a 32MP sensor, though it downscales photos to 8MP. True to the spirit of many "gaming" devices, it has an intriguing albeit not always practical feature: a narrow rear display.
Best Feature Phones
If you want to remain available on a several-day camping trip, or you want to buy a phone because you actually want a phone, then an old-school feature phone will get you the best value by far. If you can trust any of the companies that still make those, it must by Nokia.
Thanks to KaiOS, the Nokia 6300 4G can run WhatsApp (text chat only), YouTube, Facebook and Google Maps on its non-touch, QVGA display (320 x 240 pixels). You can also use the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, but its replaceable battery isn't built for an extensive use of that feature.
The phone uses the low-end but modern Snapdragon 210 alongside 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage that can be expanded with a microSD card (officially up to 32GB). The 0.3MP camera is mostly useful for taking photos of your other camera.
The Nokia 6300 4G features a headphone jack, and the included headset also serves as an antenna for the phone's built-in FM radio. With Bluetooth 4.0, you'll also be able to use wireless sound devices. Also included is a Micro USB 2.0 charger. You could buy two units of this phone for less than the cheapest smartphone we recommend, but thanks to its dual-sim support, you may not need to.
For $20 more, you'll be able to get the Nokia 2780 Flip. The clamshell form factor allows it to include bigger buttons for easier typing, and a 5MP camera with flash.
The phone also has an external display that shows the time and caller ID. With a USB-C charging port, you may not need to carry another charger for it. Another feature that might be interesting for the phone's audience is its hearing-aid compatibility (M4/T4).