There's no single best phone for everyone. We each have our own needs, preferences, and budgets, so it's not exactly a one-size-fits-all situation. It's a good thing, then, that there are a variety of smartphones on the market, each one coming with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
If money is no object, the best smartphone overall would be the iPhone 14 Pro, one of the best iPhones we've seen in years, which is why it's currently our top pick. It even beats the newer Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which ranks among the best Android phones, as it offers the best value for most users while the S23 Ultra is a bit of an overkill in terms of features that can only be maximized by more advanced users.
However, if you are on a budget, the best budget phones are well worth considering too. In fact, several of them are well-deserving of a spot on every best phone list for their benefit-cost ratio. Among those is the Google Pixel 6a, which currently hits the second spot here thanks to being a fantastic bargain.
We've reviewed hundreds of smartphones, subjecting each one to multiple days of testing, run down batteries, examined cameras carefully, and lived with the phones just how you would. So, we know what to advise you on, whatever your needs or budget may be.
Just remember when choosing that your cell phone plan could sway your preference, especially as certain carriers offer great cell phone deals. You should also double-check on the trade-in value of your phone so you can gain much of its value back later.
We're also updating this list regularly as things change and new great phones emerge so check back often to see what's new. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11 are recent additions, so read on to see where these rank.
While you're thinking about purchasing one of the best phones, don't forget to add on one of the best power banks too if you need one.
The best phone 2023
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The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the best iPhones you can buy, and for anyone okay with iOS they're arguably the best phones you can buy period.
Why it's ranked 1st: Apple's iPhone 14 Pro is the most intuitive, well-designed smartphone, packed with every feature we'd want. Apple's continued service and support, with high trade-in value, make this our top pick.
Screen: The iPhone 14 Pro has the brightest screen of any smartphone, capable of an outdoor boost to 2000 nits. It's super sharp and very fast, with a 120Hz refresh rate. Instead of the familiar 'notch,' Apple now uses a punch-hole for cameras it calls the Dynamic Island.
Battery life: The iPhone 14 Pro has a larger battery than its predecessor, but we can't say that battery life has been significantly improved, and we wonder if Apple's iOS is to blame. We're hoping to see improvements in future OS updates.
Camera: The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max has the highest-resolution camera in any iPhone, as well as a 3x optical zoom camera and ultra-wide camera that can handle macro photography. Shooting is very easy and automated.
Read more: iPhone 14 Pro review | iPhone 14 Pro Max review
The Google Pixel 6a takes much of the essence of the Pixel 6 and distils it into something more affordable, making this a great mid-range option. Like all Pixels it has brilliant, bloat-free software, and it also benefits from a snappy fingerprint sensor and a compact size.
Why it’s ranked 2nd: If you’re shopping on a budget then this is arguably the best phone you can get. So while it’s not as high-spec or feature packed as most other phones on this list, it’s better value than a lot of them, and has basically everything most buyers will need, from a FHD+ display to clever cameras and a bespoke chipset.
Screen: The Google Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch 1080 x 2400 OLED display, so it’s got just as many pixels as the Pixel 6, but packed into a smaller size. The refresh rate is an ordinary 60Hz, but if you want a compact, high-resolution panel on a budget then you won’t do much better than this.
Battery life: Battery life isn’t the Pixel 6a’s strong suit, as despite having a respectable 4,410mAh juice pack we found it often struggled to last a day. Charging also isn’t fast at 18W, so bear that in mind before buying this phone.
Camera: The Pixel 6a’s 12.2MP main and 12MP ultrawide camera both perform well, and are helped out by Google’s AI tricks that get that the most out of shots, as well as powering clever features like Magic Eraser, which lets you remove unwanted elements from photos. There’s no telephoto camera though.
Read our full Google Pixel 6a review
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a phone of excess, with a massive screen, a top-tier chipset, an S Pen Stylus, and a quad-lens camera – including a new 200MP main sensor. Really the only thing holding this phone back is its astronomical price.
Why it’s ranked 3rd: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of the absolute best phones on the planet, so it belongs high on this list. But it’s also more than most people will likely need, and comes in at a high price, so we can’t give it the top spot.
Screen: The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a high peak brightness. It’s one of the very biggest and best screens you’ll find on a phone.
Battery life: There’s a 5,000mAh battery inside the Galaxy S23 Ultra and we found it lasted a day and a half with normal use, which is well above average. You can also charge it at a respectable – but not lightning fast – 45W.
Camera: With a new 200MP primary sensor, plus a 12MP ultrawide and a pair of 10MP telephoto snappers (for both 3x and 10x optical zoom), the Galaxy S23 Ultra is incredibly well equipped for photography. It’s not the best for all scene types but it’s arguably the best photographic all-rounder.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review
The Google Pixel 7 Pro isn't just the best Pixel, it's one of the best phones you can buy all around. Google improves on many of the basics, with promise of more to come. Android finally feels like a mature, thoughtful system that is easy to use, and the Pixel 7 Pro does much of the work for you in every task.
Why it’s ranked 4th: We think the Google Pixel 7 Pro is one of the best Android phones you can buy right now, but it is still expensive, even though Pixel phones are priced less than the competition. It has amazing cameras and some advanced software features you won't find on any other phones, making it a top choice.
Screen: The Google Pixel 7 Pro uses a fantastic 6.7-inch display. Like the iPhone 14 Pro, it uses LTPO OLED technology, so it can remain always-on without draining much battery. It has a 1440 x 3120 resolution, with a 512ppi that is even sharper than the iPhone or Galaxy S23 Ultra. It can reach 1500 nits peak brightness.
Battery life: The Pixel 7 Pro uses a 5,000mAh battery, as large as any of our best phones, and it can last a full day in our tests, but not more than that. It charges at 30W, which is slower than we'd like. You can charge it wirelessly up to 23W, and it can even reverse power to wirelessly charge other devices.
Camera: There are three cameras on the back of the Google Pixel 7 Pro: a 50MP f/1.9 main camera, a 48MP f/3.5 telephoto with 5X zoom, and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide lens with larger sensor pixels, capable of macro photography. The real photo magic happens in software, as the Pixel 7 Pro can use Google Photos to unblur your old images, even photos the Pixel did not take.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was our number one phone for a while, but with a starting price above many other entries on this list and a successor now available it's dropped down a bit.
Why it's ranked 5th: There is nothing the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra can't do. It has a built-in stylus, even though it's water resistant. It has a 108MP main camera as well as a 100X Space Zoom camera that really works. It can act as a full desktop computer. If you need everything, and you're willing to pay for it, you can find everything on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Screen: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a super-high peak brightness of 1750 nits. In every sense this is one of the best screens you’ll find on a smartphone.
Battery life: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a large 5,000mAh battery, and we found that in general it would last for a full day no matter how you used the phone. It also supports speedy 45W charging – though note that there’s no charger in the box.
Camera: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has almost the most robust camera setup you'll find on this list. It has a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultra wide, a 10MP 2X zoom, and a 10MP 10X zoom with real optical zoom. It also manages some amazing digital wizardry to steady long zoom images and improve the quality, so even 100X zoom photos are worth sharing.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Price comparison: The best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra deals
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are no longer the latest iPhones, but it speaks to their quality that they still rank among the best phones, with a chipset that can still rival anything in Android, along with great screens and high-quality builds.
Why they’re ranked 6th: The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are almost as good the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, but now at a lower price. They lack the Dynamic Island offered by those phones, but in most other ways they’re not far off.
Screen: Whether you pick the 6.1-inch Pro or the 6.7-inch Pro Max, you’re getting a high-end screen with plenty of pixels and a 120Hz refresh rate. The notch won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but get past that and these displays excel.
Battery life: The iPhone 13 Pro Max has some of the best battery life you’ll find from a flagship phone, and while the 13 Pro’s isn’t as good, it still performs admirably. Just note that charging isn’t especially fast, and there’s no charger in the box.
Camera: These phones have a trio of 12MP cameras on the back, and they’re among the best for delivering high-quality snaps if you just point and shoot. But there are plenty of tools to play with if you want to dive deeper too.
Read more: iPhone 13 Pro review | iPhone 13 Pro Max review
The standard offering in Samsung's latest flagship line is an excellent, near-perfectly proportioned Android handset that boasts an excellent camera array, the most powerful Qualcomm SoC yet, a gorgeous screen and a multitude of other capabilities. But it does not outshine the S23 Ultra or the iPhone 14 Pro.
Why it's ranked 7th: The standard Galaxy S23 isn't Samsung's most powerful phone, but it represents great value to those who aren't interested in the premium features offered by the beast-like (and expensive) Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Screen: Samsung's Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O FHD+ display is essentially unchanged from Galaxy S22, but that's not a bad thing. Everything from photos and videos, to apps and games look great here, and the 120Hz refresh rate means that the latter, in particular, look and feel smooth and ultra-responsive.
Battery life: As long as you aren't a power user, then you'll be more than satisfied with the Galaxy S23's 11-hour (or thereabouts) battery life. The phone supports the same peak 25W wired charging as its predecessor, along with fast wireless charging and wireless PowerShare, if you want to charge the likes of your Galaxy Buds 2 Pro or Galaxy Watch 5 off the back of it.
Camera: The S23's rear camera array is virtually unchanged from the S22, meaning almost all photography improvements can be credited to the excellent image processing afforded by its chipset, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy. You'll get a 50MP main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide sensor and a 10MP telephoto sensor here, which is a setup capable of taking photos that rival the best Apple can offer from its iPhone 14 line.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S23 review
Price comparison: The best Samsung Galaxy S23 deals
The Google Pixel 7 benefits from the same Google Tensor G2 chipset found in the Pixel 7 Pro. That doesn't just mean it performs as smoothly as Google's best. It also means you get the photo unblur, improved assistant, and other upcoming Google AI features that are exclusive to Tensor phones.
Why it's ranked 8th: The Google Pixel 7 is capable and polished, and it's also a good value among flagship phones. Google prices its Pixel 7 less than the Apple iPhone 14 and the Samsung Galaxy S23, without making as many sacrifices for the base model. The Pixel 7 gets all of the exclusive software features found on the Pixel 7 Pro.
Screen: The screen on the Pixel 7 isn't quite as good as the fantastic display on the Pixel 7 Pro, but it's still very nice to use. It's a 6.3-inch OLED capable of 1400 nits peak brightness. It has a 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution, with always-on capabilities, unlike the iPhone 14.
Battery life: Battery life on the Pixel 7 was fine, and we got a full day of use out of the phone, but not much more than that. It has a 4355 mAh battery inside, and it's capable of charging of to 30W. Google says you can charge to 50% in 30 minutes. There is also 20W wireless charging, and it can reverse wireless charge other devices.
Camera: The Google Pixel 7 gets the same main camera and ultra-wide macro lens that you'll find on the Pixel 7 Pro. Photos were fantastic from the 50MP main lens and the 12MP ultra-wide, though we miss having grand telephoto capabilities. The Pixel 7 gets the same photo unblur and editing magic found on the Pixel 7 Pro, thanks to the Tensor G2 chip.
Read our full Google Pixel 7 review
The OnePlus 11 more affordable than many flagship phones, yet it has a lot going for it, from a big, bright screen to excellent performance and a large battery. But there are omissions too, which stop it from ranking higher on this list.
Why it’s ranked 9th: The OnePlus 11 excels in many areas and at a lower price than key rivals, but a slippery build and a lack of significant water resistance make damaging it a worry.
Screen: There’s a 6.7-inch 1440 x 3216 AMOLED screen on the OnePlus 11 with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s big, high resolution, and can pump up the brightness to a high level.
Battery life: The OnePlus 11’s 5,000mAh battery lasts all day and charges extremely quickly. However there’s no wireless charging.
Camera: The OnePlus 11 excels at portrait and landscape photography but is less good for macro or telephoto shots. It’s not the most versatile setup, but photos can look really beautiful.
Read our full OnePlus 11 review
If we only cared about style, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 would top this list of best phones. It's totally capable, with a huge display and great performance, but it simply oozes style. Folding it closed and snapping it open feels like nothing else in the smartphone world, and that experience is worth a top spot on this list.
Why it's ranked 10th: It may not score as high all around as some of our other best phones, but it makes up for so much in style and usability that we had to give extra credit to Samsung. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is simply fun to use, it's a thrill to show off to spectators, and it truly changes the way we use and feel about our phone.
Screen: You won't believe this compact foldable is hiding a huge 6.7-inch display inside. The screen is bright enough, at 1200 nits peak, with 1080 x 2640 resolution. The tiny cover screen is a 1.9-inch, 260 x 512 bit of OLED window to show off notifications and give you a camera viewfinder for selfies with the main camera.
Battery life: The battery life on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 was a bit underwhelming, as the foldable shape and thin design preclude a huge battery inside. You get a 3700 mAh cell, and it only charges at 25W. We get a full day of use from it, but cut things close late in the evening.
Camera: The cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 are disappointingly simple, with only two 12MP shooters around back, but it has a secret weapon. The main lens uses very large pixels on the sensor, so shots are better than you'd expect. You can also aim that main camera directly at your face, using the cover screen as a viewfinder. So instead of the 10MP selfie cam, you can use the full fledged main cameras for selfies.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
How to choose the best smartphone
The first thing you need to decide when buying a new smartphone is how much you want to spend. The smartphone market varies dramatically, from very high-end handsets that cost well over four-figures, to much cheaper phones that can be found for only a few hundred. We have options at the top of our list at both ends of the price spectrum.
Once you've decided how much you want to spend, you should decide whether you want to try one of the best Android phones or go for one of the best iPhones. Often the platform decision has more to do with your work, your friends and family and what they use to share photos and messages, and what sort of computer or devices you already own.
Now that you've settled on your price and platform, you should decide on the cameras. Are you a serious photographer looking for a serious camera? Or do you like to take easy photos that are fun to edit and share? Phones with more lenses and higher megapixel counts demand more, but offer versatility; simpler phones with a 12MP limit tend to do more work for you.
If you're looking for something outside the norm, we have plenty of unique options as well. There are phones with a built-in pen for writing, and phones that fold in half to be more compact. There are large phones, small phones, and Max-sized phones. We have phones with space-level zoom, and phones that specialize in touching portraits.
No matter what phone you choose, you can be sure that we have thoroughly tested and vetted every phone on this list, and we know you'll be satisfied with any of these in your pocket.
How we test the best phones
Every phone we consider for inclusion on this list is subject to a full TechRadar test process and review. This is the way we can ensure that the products we recommend to our readers are truly worth their hard-earned money.
At the very core of that test process is by emulating how you'll use the device if you buy it. We do so simply by using each phone as it if was our own for at least a week, slotting our SIM card in (or eSIM, in the case of the new iPhones). We then use it for all our every day mobile needs, from making calls and using our social media account to media consumption and photography.
At the very core of that test process is by emulating how you'll use the device if you buy it. We do so simply by using each phone as it if was our own for at least a week, slotting our SIM card in (or eSIM, in the case of the new iPhones. We then use it for all our every day mobile needs, from making calls and using our social media account to media consumption and photography.
So, we'll game to work out how powerful a phone is, time it when it's charging, test how long it takes to run down, and see just well it handles the day-to-day over a period of time. Naturally, we focus more on the most important aspects such as its design, display, cameras, software, battery life, price, and overall performance.