The best phone 2023: top smartphones in the UK right now

Best smartphones
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is our current top pick for the best phone (Image credit: TechRadar / Samsung)

Nowadays, choosing the best phone to suit your needs is no easy task, not least because there are more great options to choose from than ever before. Picking the right device remains crucially important, too, given how integral to our everyday existence smartphones have become.

In this guide, we've compiled a list of the best phones money can buy in the UK, collating specs for each model, along with pros, cons, and links to their full reviews. The top three options highlighted below cover a range of prices, so whether you're on a tight budget or have a bottomless supply of cash, you'll find a great phone that fits your requirements (side note: those in the former camp may be better off checking out our guide to the best cheap phones).

If you're after a handset from a specific brand, you might also want to check out our ranking of the best iPhones, best Android phones or best Samsung phones. Oh, and one of the best power banks may come in handy, too!

The best phone 2023

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Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Peer Hoffmann)
The best phone overall


Release date: February 2023
Weight: 234g
Dimensions: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 200MP (wide) + 10MP (telephoto, 3x optical) + 10MP (telephoto, 10x optical) + 12MP (ultrawide, 120-degree)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

Phenomenal cameras
Bespoke Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset

Reasons to avoid

Faster charging would have been nice
Seriously expensive

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is Samsung’s most feature-packed handset of 2023. It’s big, powerful, and quite frankly more phone than most buyers will need. But for those who need it all, this delivers.

Why it’s ranked 1st: As ever with Samsung’s Ultra series, the price is excessive, but in almost every other way the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a superb phone, from its screen to its cameras, performance, battery and beyond.

Screen: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an enormous display with a QHD+ resolution, a 120Hz variable refresh rate, and a high maximum brightness. It’s among the biggest and best screens you’ll find on a phone.

Battery life: We found the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra would last well over a day with moderate mixed use, which makes its life comfortably above average. It also charges fairly fast at 45W, though some other phones on this list charge even faster.

Camera: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera setup is incredibly versatile, as there’s a wide, ultrawide, and two telephoto cameras, giving you optical zoom at 3x and 10x. Add to that a new 200MP sensor for the primary camera, and this is easily one of the best phones for photography.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best iPhone


Release date: September 2023
Weight: 221g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm
OS: iOS 17
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Resolution: 2796 x 1290 pixels
CPU: A17 Pro
RAM: 8GB (unofficial)
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 4,422mAh (unofficial)
Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 12MP (telephoto with 5x optical zoom)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

Gorgeous albeit subtle redesign
Excellent photography

Reasons to avoid

Pricier baseline (but more storage)
Charging should be faster

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best iPhone you can buy, so for Apple fans, this is the top choice. The smaller iPhone 15 Pro is also an exceptional handset that's worth considering if you prefer its more practical 6.1-inch size, but since the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max offers a 5x periscope zoom lens, the latter phone is the objectively superior device.

Why it's ranked 2nd: In truth, the iPhone 15 Pro Max rivals Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra in almost every department. If you can stomach the hefty asking price, Apple's latest flagship delivers and then some in the design, display, performance and photography departments.

Screen: The iPhone 15 Pro Max sticks with its predecessor’s excellent 6.7-inch Super XDR OLED screen, which uses Apple’s ProMotion technology to vary the refresh rate between 10Hz and 120Hz, depending on the content displayed on screen.

Battery life: In our testing, we found that the iPhone 15 Pro Max managed an impressive 28 hours of mixed use. The phone's charging credentials aren't brilliant, though; we reached 50% in 30 minutes with an optional 20W USB-C adapter.

Camera: For the first time in an Apple iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max boast a mightily impressive 12MP telephoto camera that's capable of 5x optical zoom. That lens sits alongside an unchanged-but-excellent 48MP quad-pixel main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide, all of which makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max the most capable and versatile iPhone yet for mobile photographers.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Google Pixel 6a

(Image credit: TechRadar / Stephen Lambrechts)
Still the best on a budget


Release date: May 2022
Weight: 178g
Dimensions: 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Google Tensor
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,410mAh
Rear camera: 12.2+12MP
Front camera: 8MP

Reasons to buy

Relatively compact size
Clean software

Reasons to avoid

Poor battery life
Slow charging

The Google Pixel 6a is a superb mid-range phone, and even though the newer Pixel 7a has been unveiled by Google, we still feel that the Pixel 6a offers better value for money, especially as it may now get further price cuts.

Why it’s ranked 3rd: The Pixel 6a is the most affordable entry on this list, so it’s the one to choose if you’re on a budget. But it’s not just affordable, it’s also got a clever chipset built specifically for Google’s phones, plus competent cameras, and great software.

Screen: The Google Pixel 6a’s screen is compact and fairly high resolution, with OLED tech ensuring visuals look good, but it’s let down slightly by a 60Hz refresh rate.

Battery life: We weren’t overly impressed by the Pixel 6a’s battery life, finding that the phone would struggle to last a day of moderate use. Still, that’s no worse than a lot of other smartphones.

Camera: The Google Pixel 6a’s dual-lens camera can take photos that our review found will “beat out nearly any other handset at this price”, so while there are better camera phones, you’ll also have to pay more for them. Often a lot more.

Read our full Google Pixel 6a review

Google Pixel 7 Pro phone

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
The best Pixel phone


Release date: October 2022
Weight: 212g
Dimensions: 162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 13
Screen size: 6.7-inch</