There's no one best phone for everyone. Because we each have our needs, preferences, and budget, it's not exactly a one-size-fits-all situation. It's a good thing that there are a variety of smartphones on the market, each one coming with its own set of strengths so that there's something for everyone.
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 beat the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, our previous top pick and among the best Android phones, as it offers the best value for most users while the S22 Ultra is a bit of an overkill in terms of features that can only be maximized by the more advanced users.
However, if you are on a budget, there are excellent best budget phones to consider as well, several of them well-deserving of a spot on every best phone list for their benefit-cost ratio. Among those is the Samsung Galaxy A53, which currently hits the second spot thanks to being a fantastic bargain.
We've reviewed hundreds of smartphones, subjecting each one to multiple days of testing, run down batteries, examine cameras carefully, and live 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 series, teased in late January, is arriving in February. Rumor has it that it might be the toughest mainstream phone yet, which means it's likely to make it on this list and even topple the iPhone 14 Pro from its throne as soon as we're done testing.
The OnePlus 11 might also make this list soon, as that's been announced in China, and will be launching in other regions in February. So there's lots to look forward to. 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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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.
Samsung's Galaxy S phones represent the cutting edge best phones around, but today we need a phone that gives us the most features for the least money, and the Galaxy A53 is best bargain phone you can buy. Between the advanced cameras, the great screen, and the premium design, the Galaxy A53 is an easy phone to recommend.
Why it’s ranked 2nd: We are prioritizing our budget, and the Galaxy A53 has all of it's priorities straight. It has a huge camera array, with four different lenses, giving you tons of options. It has a great screen, solid battery life, and it's water resistant. For the price, what you get is truly remarkable.
Screen: The A53 comes with an attractive screen that has the same resolution and refresh rate as the S22. In fact, apart from the size, most people aren't likely to see that big of a difference between this budget phone's display and that of the S22. If you're particular about the specs, you're getting a 6.5-inch panel with an FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 800 nits max brightness.
Battery life: The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a 5,000mAh battery that comes in handy, seeing as it has 5G connectivity and a bright screen. We found the phone to last roughly a day between charges, slightly less with more usage. The only downside here is it takes over two hours to get a full charge.
Camera: The A53 boasts some pretty impressive photo-taking prowess. It has a 64MP f/1.8 main camera, joined by a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide lens, a 5MP f/2.4 macro, and a 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor. There are far more expensive phones with fewer camera options.
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 3rd: We think the Google Pixel 7 Pro is the best Android phone 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 S22 Ultra. It can reach 1500 nits peak brightness.
Battery life: The Pixel 7 Pro uses a 5000 mAh 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, but with a starting price far above every other phone on our list, we need to wonder if it does too much. It's packed with powerful features, and the design is superlative. Still, we don't have the spare cash to spring for a phone that is better than the best, if it's so much more than we need.
Why it's ranked 4th: 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 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.
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 5th: 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
The Google Pixel 7 benefits from the same Google Tensor G2 chipset found in the Pixel 7 Pro, our #2 phone. 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 6th: 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 S22, 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
This year's iPhone 14 got last year's Apple A15 chip inside, but that chip was already more than powerful enough to run the best phones you can buy. It lacks the better cameras and display of the iPhone 14 Pro, but Apple's best-in-class support and service, along with high trade-in value down the line, make the iPhone 14 one of our top picks.
Why it's ranked 7th: The iPhone 14 doesn't bring many upgrades over the iPhone 13, yet still costs more in some regions, making it harder to recommend than many other iOS or even Android devices. It's an affordable way to get an iPhone, and it holds value well.
Screen: The iPhone 14 uses a 6.1-inch OLED display with 1170 x 2532 resolution. It's capable of 1200 nits peak brightness. We like the smaller screen because it's easy to hold, and Apple screens always look sharp and colorful.
Battery life: Thanks to its smaller screen but well-optimized iOS 16, the iPhone 14 has a fairly long-lasting battery despite it being a small one. You can rely on a day of use between charges, though more might be pushing it.
Camera: The two rear cameras here doesn't give you much versatility, but the dynamic range and AI optimization makes up for that to return fairly good pictures.
Read more: iPhone 14 review
The OnePlus 10 Pro is the top choice for OnePlus fans. This fairly new release has a fantastic display, plenty of power under the hood, and fast charging capabilities. The best part is that it's more affordable than rival Pro phones.
Why it's ranked 8th: One of the most powerful Android phones right now, the OnePlus 10 Pro is also an affordable way to get into the pro-level smartphone market. It has amazing cameras and performance specs that can go toe-to-toe with some of its best rivals – like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, for example.
Screen: The phone’s 6.7-inch 2K Fluid AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate makes streaming TV shows, playing games, or devouring social media content such a pleasure. That's especially thanks to its high max brightness of 1,300 nits and the OnePlus' LTPO 2.0 tech for automatic refresh rate changing. The phone also supports a billion colors and HDR10+.
Battery life: There’s a big 5,000mAh battery here, but that bright and fast screen – not to mention a powerful processor – keeps the battery life middle-of-the-road. It should give you a whole day of use, however, and fast-charging is on hand when you do run out of battery. That 65W charging (US only) should let it go from zero to full in no time.
Camera: Taking photos and videos is among the OnePlus 10 Pro's greatest strengths, thanks to the 48MP f/1.8 main, 50MP f/2.2 ultrawide and 8MP f/2.4 telephoto (for 3.3x optical zoom) camera trio that delivers great performance. Your photos will come out well-lit, vibrant, and detailed – even the wide-angle ones.
Read more: OnePlus 10 Pro review
iPhones tend to be expensive, but the iPhone SE (2022) gives Apple fans a cheaper entry to owning own of the best phones you can buy. Apple gave this phone a solid upgrade recently, and it uses the same chips inside as the iPhone 14, making it a solid performer for the low price.
Why it's ranked 9th: This isn't Apple's most powerful iPhone, but it's the best value for people who want to jump into iOS 16 without paying through the nose. It has a much smaller screen than the best iPhones, and some may find that appealing. It still has the old-school home button with a fingerprint reader, which the newer iPhones lack.
Screen: This new iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch screen borrowed from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, so it's bigger than the original iPhone SE, but remains one-hand-friendly. That's become important for people who have been demanding a smaller phone, especially since there is no new iPhone 14 mini.
Battery life: As long as you aren't a power user (who would likely opt for the iPhone 11 series anyway), then you'll be OK with what Apple offers in terms of battery life. It's not going to last you any longer than a day, but even with 5G running all day and non-stop use, you'll be able to squeeze up to 12 hours of battery life.
Camera: For the money, the iPhone SE 2022 takes perfectly fine photos in good light. You won't notice much of a difference outside of it occasionally failing to nail perfect exposure levels and depth of field outdoors during the daytime. Dim the lights, however, and you'll notice one glaring omission: the night mode that's on the more powerful iPhones. That requires an upgrade to at least the iPhone 12.
Even though the iPhone 14 is available, Apple still sells older models at a reduced price, and the iPhone 13 is one of the best phones Apple sells. Since Apple didn't launch an iPhone 14 mini, the iPhone 13 mini is the only way to get the smallest size iPhone with the biggest features.
Why it’s ranked 10th: Even though they were last year's phones, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini use the same processor as the iPhone 14, and keep many of the same great features. Battery life is proven to be solid, and the cameras take great photos. You get everything you'd want from an iPhone, at a reduced price.
Screen: The iPhone 13 uses a 6.1-inch display, and the iPhone 13 mini get a smaller 5.4-inch screen. Both screens are super sharp and bright enough to hit 1200 nits at peak brightness. The iPhone 13 mini has a lower resolution, but packed into a smaller screen it has a higher ppi density.
Battery life: In our tests the iPhone 13 reliably lasted through a day of use, but not much more. That puts it in fairly average territory, yet it’s still an improvement on many previous iPhones here. The iPhone 13 mini has a slightly smaller battery and may need to be charged sooner than it's bigger sibling.
Camera: Both the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini get the same cameras. They lack a telephoto zoom, but main and ultra-wide cameras work very well. The iPhone 13 gets Apple's sensor-side image stabilization, a feature normally found on pro-DSLR cameras. With plenty of shooting modes and features, there’s a lot to play with here, and a lot to like.
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.