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The best phones you can buy right now

ZDNET has tested every new phone on the market, including the iPhone 15 line and the Google Pixel 8 series. Here are the best phones you can buy.
Written by June Wan, Reviews Editor
Reviewed by Nina Raemont

With Google's most recent unveiling of the Pixel 8 series, most, if not all, major phone manufacturers have now released their flagship devices of the year. That means two things: 1) There's no better time to shop for a new smartphone than now, with plenty of options that are truly worth investing in, and 2) ZDNET has the clearest picture of what's good, what's not so good, and what phone is best for which type of customer.

Also: Best Android phones you can buy right now

Below, the team has compiled a definitive list of top phones you can buy right now, based on months of hands-on testing. Our pick for the best phone overall is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, due to its eye-candy display, reliable battery life, and wealth of useful features. Check out all of our picks for the best phones of 2023 below, no matter your budget or your preferred phone manufacturer. 

The best phones of 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Most complete smartphone experience money can buy
  • Reliable quad-camera setup
  • 256GB base storage leads the competition
  • Integrated S Pen stylus for enhanced functionality
  • Phone can be unwieldy for some, especially with a case
  • Fast charging is still capped at 45W
  • Pricier than most Android phones
More Details

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy | Display size: 6.8 inches | Storage options: Up to 1TB | Rear cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (2x), 10MP telephoto (5x) | Front camera: 12MP

Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is undeniably the most complete smartphone you can buy right now. It's built with a large 6.8-inch AMOLED display that produces vibrant visuals both in the brightest and dimmest environments, a reliable 5,000mAh battery, four cameras at the rear to help you capture a variety of shots, and an overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset.

That last bit is especially important given how much more powerful yet efficient the new Ultra flagship is, even when compared to last year's S22 series. In my ZDNET review, I mentioned that "the mobile platform brings meaningful improvements to the Galaxy phone experience, while Samsung's done its part to optimize the S23 Ultra with a larger vapor cooling chamber and more efficient back-end processing. 

Together, you get a phone that's powerful enough for any type of user, including mobile gamers." For a smartphone that's not made specifically for gaming, that's as high praise as it gets, right?

The S23 Ultra proves just as much of its worth through unique specs and features, ones that truly matter to day-to-day usage. That includes the base storage of 256GB (versus the industry's 128GB standard), the integrated S Pen that gives you enhanced precision and inputs, Samsung's five-year commitment to security updates, and even Samsung DeX, its mobile-to-desktop service that turns your S23 Ultra into a full-on computer when connected to a monitor or TV.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

iPhone 15 Pro Max specs: Processor: A17 Pro | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: Up to 1TB | Rear cameras: 48MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto (2x), 12MP telephoto (5x) | Front camera: 12MP

The new iPhone 15 Pro Max offers everything a premium flagship smartphone should. The 6.7-inch model is the largest of the iPhone 15 line and comes stacked with the latest features that Apple has to offer. It looks and feels different from the prior Pro Max models, as it's made of titanium instead of stainless steel. This makes the iPhone 15 Pro Max noticeably lighter, ZDNET Editor-in-Chief Jason Hiner noted in his review.

Another major new feature for iPhone 15 Pro Max is the USB-C connector, which supports faster charging and data transfers, the ability to charge AirPods Pro 2 (with new USB-C case) and Apple Watch from your iPhone, and the ability to connect an external 4K monitor to your iPhone. 

The iPhone 15 Pro Max also features a new 5x zoom camera lens -- the equivalent of a 120mm focal length on a mirrorless or DSLR camera. A new Action button lets you better customize shortcuts and easily open the apps you need. And the A17 Pro chip offers computer-like performance. ZDNET will continue to test the iPhone 15 models over time, and will update this list with our results.

Trying to decide between iPhone 15 models? Check out ZDNET's iPhone 15 comparison.

Review: iPhone 15 Pro Max hands-on: The 5 biggest reasons to upgrade

Pros & Cons
  • Quality cameras all across the board
  • Plenty of useful AI features
  • 5,050mAh battery with LTPO display
  • Priced to undercut the larger iPhone and Samsung Galaxy
  • Stock Android can feel too minimal
  • Capped at 30W fast charging
  • Costs $100 more than last year's model
More Details

Google Pixel 8 Pro features: Processor: Google Tensor G3 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 48MP telephoto | Front camera: 10.8MP

When it comes to camera performance, you really can't go wrong with any of the flagship devices from the big three (Apple, Samsung, and Google). Depending on your preference for color temperature and feature set, you may lean towards one manufacturer over the other. But more often than not, it's Google's Pixel camera system that satisfies the most users, and the latest Pixel 8 Pro remains a champion both for instant capturing and post-processing.

This year's model features a reliable triple lens setup, with a 50MP primary lens, a 48MP ultrawide that's notably more capable at capturing macro and close-up photos, and a 48MP telephoto lens for far-distance shots. Should you want more granular control over the Pixel 8 Pro's camera quality, there's now a series of Pro controls that allow you to tweak settings like the exposure and shutter speed.

But real-time capturing is only half the battle with mobile photography; there's also post-processing and how flexible devices are with editing and tweaking subjects around. To that regard, the Pixel 8 Pro may just have the most flexible and creative photo toolbox on the market, with AI features like Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, and Best Take that can turn any bad photo into a good one.

ReviewGoogle Pixel 8 vs. Google Pixel 8 Pro: Which one is right for you?

Pros & Cons
  • Lighter and thinner design
  • Slew of multitasking and productivity features
  • S Pen stylus support
  • Sturdier hinge design
  • Camera system is a step below industry flagships
  • Pricey at $1,799
More Details

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.2 inches and 7.6 inches | Storage options: Up to 1TB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto| Front camera: 10MP and 4MP inner

The foldable phone market is heating up this year with the likes of Google and OnePlus joining the fray. That brings some much-needed competition to what has, for the past few years, been a one-man show, owned and operated by Samsung. That also means that Samsung's foldables come with a touch more refinement and features, with the latest Galaxy Z Fold 5 being the embodiment of just that.

Compared to the competition, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 fields greater multitasking features and opportunities to leverage the larger internal display. Being the fifth generation model of the Z Fold series also means that the latest device is not only more polished by design -- with a thinner and lighter form factor than ever before -- but is more durable. Samsung says the Z Fold 5 has a sturdier hinge mechanism now, allowing the device to withstand up to 200,000 folds.

The camera system on this year's device is much like the last, which is not the worst thing. You have the same flexibility of a triple camera setup, and the flex hinge design of the Z Fold 5 means you can set the phone at an angle and capture group photos, long-exposure shots, and other use cases that would typically require a tripod.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Pros & Cons
  • Large cover screen is a phone in and of itself
  • Incredibly compact
  • First dust-resistant foldable
  • Form factor lends itself to creative camera features
  • Battery is just good enough for a day of use
  • Repair solutions remain up in the air
  • Undeniably more fragile than the typical slab phone
More Details

Motorola Razr Plus features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Display size: 3.6 inches and 6.9 inches | Storage options: 256GB | Rear cameras: 12MP main, 13MP ultrawide | Front camera: 32MP

Flip phones have made a (somewhat) triumphant return, even if teenagers and young adults are opting for the dumber option of the two types. The Motorola Razr Plus marks the return of the old-school handset, or as I put it in my full review, "a return to form, modernizing a classic flip phone into one of today's best foldables."

With the new Razr Plus, Motorola has equipped the outer cover of the phone with a 3.6-inch display. Besides doubling as a rear-camera viewfinder, the external display basically serves as a secondary, smaller phone. You're able to run the same apps and services that you would on the inner 6.9-inch panel, including making phone calls, text messaging, watching TikToks, and playing games. The same can be achieved with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, though you'd have to jump through a loophole or two.

The foldable form factor of the Razr Plus ultimately lends itself to an improved camera experience. Since you're able to flex the display at an upright angle, it's easier to get everyone in the frame for group photos, take selfies, and capture long-exposure shots that would typically require a tripod or mounting accessory.

Review: Motorola Razr Plus (2023)

Pros & Cons
  • Competitively priced at under $450
  • Large and bright 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Long-lasting 5,000mAh battery
  • Up to five years of software updates
  • Plastic body can feel cheaper than glass
  • Front-facing camera is just passable
  • Exynos processor still lags behind Qualcomm
More Details

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G features: Processor: Exynos 1380 | Display size: 6.3 inches | Storage options: 128GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro| Front camera: 32MP

Believe it or not, Samsung's best-selling smartphone last year was not one of its S-series or foldable devices, rather it was the humble Galaxy A53 5G, which delivered an uncompromising phone experience with a smooth-scrolling screen, reliable battery, and up to five years of software support. The device was priced at just $449, undercutting its more premium competitors and heavy-handedly beating Apple's own mid-range handset, the iPhone SE.

This year's A54 5G ticks just as many boxes as its predecessor but with a series of subtle yet useful upgrades. For example, the display is still a large 6.4-inch panel that ramps up to 120Hz refresh rate, but now shines at 1,000 nits of brightness (from 800 nits), the battery size is still a healthy 5,000mAh capacity, and the unit is now powered by an Exynos 1380 chipset. That's a minor bump from last year's Exynos chip, but a bump nonetheless.

The Galaxy A54 also features an exterior design that's more in line with Samsung's S-series phones and a new camera system that's headlined by a 50-megapixel main lens. From our testing, the photo results -- both in daytime and nighttime -- were evenly lit and sharpened just enough for you to share with others with confidence. Video capturing is capped at 4K, though the 128GB internal storage that can be expanded via MicroSD card should be ample enough for use.

Review: Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

Pros & Cons
  • Snappy and smooth performance
  • 100W fast-charging (80W in the US) with charger in the box
  • Premium build quality for the price
  • Competitive main camera for photos
  • Storage and RAM configuration is limited to 128GB/256GB
  • No wireless charging
  • No IP68 rating for water and dust resistance
More Details

OnePlus 11 features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.7 inches | Storage options: Up to 256GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 32MP telephoto| Front camera: 16MP

A slow-charging phone can be a real pain point, especially if you're always on the go. That's why the OnePlus 11 carves out its own best category, beating Apple, Google, and even Samsung when it comes to charging speed. The latest model comes with 100W SuperVooc fast charging or 80W in the US, which is still great. 

For reference, the highest-end iPhone 15 Pro Max has a charging speed limit of 30W and Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra caps out at 45W. From ZDNET's testing and comparisons, both of those devices take a least an hour to go from 0% to 75% battery, falling noticeably short of the OnePlus 11's numbers.

In less than 27 minutes, the OnePlus can go from empty to full. That charging speed, and the fact that OnePlus includes its proprietary charger in the box, put it a step above the rest.

The best part is that the rest of the phone is no slouch either; you're getting a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a 5,000mAh dual-cell battery, and a competitive triple-camera array that gets the job done. In total, OnePlus is charging you a starting rate of $699, which is just as good of a value pickup as the best budget smartphone on this list.

Review: OnePlus 11

Asus Zenfone 10 specs: Screen size: 5.9 inches | Storage: Up to 512GB | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Panel type: AMOLED | Color: Black, Blue, Hazel, White, Red | Battery life: 4,300mAh | Water and dust resistant: IP68 

Asus Zenfone 10 features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 5.9 inches | Storage options: Up to 512GB | Rear cameras: 50MP main, 13MP ultrawide | Front camera: 32MP

There's no denying that, over the past five years, smartphones have become more and more unwieldy. Apple now offers Plus and Max-sized iPhones, Samsung has an "Ultra" beast, and even Google has a foldable that opens up to 7.6 inches. On the other end of the spectrum sits the Asus Zenfone 10, a device that deviates from the norm in favor of ergonomics and in-hand comfort, and the decision pays off.

Like last year's Asus Zenfone 9, which I called "the iPhone Mini alternative for Android enthusiasts," the newest model features a compact 5.9-inch AMOLED display, all the power you'd need in a modern-day phone thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and two capable cameras on the rear.

The battery life on the Asus holds up surprisingly well, too, with my review unit recording nearly two days of usage before hitting 0%. Some smaller yet significant details to note include the 3.5mm headphone jack on top, a physical side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a texturized back cover that looks and feels great in the hand.

Review: Asus Zenfone 10

What is the best phone?

Our pick for the best phone overall is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. It features everything you could want from a smartphone including a large display, four cameras that can shoot 200MP photos and 8K video, up to 1TB of storage, a built-in S Pen for writing and drawing, and a 5,000mAh battery powering the system. Here's how the S23 Ultra fares with the rest of our top picks.

Best phone model



Screen size

Battery size


Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra


Up to 1TB

6.8 inches


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

iPhone 15 Pro Max


Up to 1TB

6.7 inches


A17 Bionic

Google Pixel 8 Pro


Up to 1TB

6.7 inches


Google Tensor G3

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5


Up to 1TB

6.2 inches and 7.6 inches


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Motorola Razr Plus



3.6 inches and 6.9 inches


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G



6.4 inches


Exynos 1380

OnePlus 11


Up to 256GB

6.7 inches


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Asus Zenfone 10


Up to 512GB



Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Which phone is right for you?

Choosing a phone can be a daunting task. But having a list of your must-have features can go a long way toward narrowing down your options. If you're a mobile professional or travel a lot for work, you'll want to choose a phone that can provide you with at least a full day of use on a full battery as well as both LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. 

If you're looking for your teen's first smartphone, a budget-friendly and less feature-heavy option may be better to prevent overspending as well as misuse. And if you're a content creator or other creative professional, you'll want a phone with an excellent front and rear camera to capture photos and videos for your social media feed.

Choose this best phone...

If you want...

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

A no-compromise smartphone that virtually any type of user can take advantage of. It's the only 2023 smartphone with a built-in stylus.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

The best iPhone money can buy. It has a large screen, the longest-lasting battery out of all the models, and a toolbox of a camera system.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

A flagship camera experience at your fingertips. The Pixel 8 Pro differentiates itself with a slew of AI-powered camera tricks like Magic Editor and Best Take.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

The best phone-to-tablet foldable that money can buy. And if you're a power user, the multitasking features especially will serve you well.

Motorola Razr Plus

A flip-style foldable that's both compact and performant. With a large 3.6-inch external display and the market's first dust-resistant build, this is the foldable to buy for most people. 

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

A more budget-friendly smartphone that doesn't compromise on performance and battery life. The A54 5G is also eligible for up to five years of software and security updates, besting that of any phone of a similar price.

OnePlus 11

A phone that lasts long and charges from 0% to 100% in just 30 minutes. The OnePlus 11 is quietly good value, too, starting at $699.

Asus Zenfone 10

A compact phone that's easy to pocket but doesn't compromise on performance and specs. The Zenfone 10 is also competitively priced, starting at $699.

How did we choose these phones?

The process to make our phone selections includes real-world testing and researching about the phones for weeks, consulting with colleagues, industry experts, and analysts who also have hands-on experience with the smartphones, and then selecting the best from all of the available choices. 

Ultimately, we weigh in the following aspects when curating this list:

  • Design: There's only so much you can do with a slab design, but size differences, material choices, color options, and even the ability to bend a screen in half give shoppers enough diversity to have a preference. That's why we have a recommendation for every form factor.
  • Performance: For many, smartphones are the center of our lives, which means the best ones are performant and can handle most, if not all, tasks you throw at them.
  • Camera: Arguably the most valuable feature of a smartphone; the consistency and reliability of a camera system can make or break the overall mobile experience. We test every device in broad daylight and in the darkest of nights when finalizing this list.
  • Battery: Every option in this guide should last you at least a day of moderate use. We also take into consideration what devices support fast charging and/or wireless charging.
  • Value: Price points are noted, but the most important thing with buying a phone is getting your money's worth. With these picks, you can rest assured that you're getting the best bang for your buck. 

Which phone has the best camera?

It's debatable between the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Google Pixel 8 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. For long-distance shots, Samsung's 200MP rear camera with 100x Space Zoom can capture subjects as far out as the moon. For point-and-shoot pictures and a rather simplified (but effective) camera experience, Google's Pixel phones have always been at the top. If you're a videographer at heart, then the iPhone 15 Pro, with Cinematic mode and Action mode, makes for an excellent tool to get the shots you need.

How long should a phone battery last?

The average phone battery gives you about 22 hours of use on a full charge, which is great for staying connected on your commutes, work flights, and at home in the evenings. But that's just the average, actual use time varies by phone model and by what you're using your phone for. 

For example, the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts a 29-hour battery life. But you'll most certainly get less than that if you habitually scroll through social media or stream video and music. And the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has just a nine-hour battery life, which is further reduced by streaming, social media, and making calls.

How much storage should my phone have?

Most smartphones have a base storage capacity of 128GB, which is plenty of space for average users to download apps and music, take photos, and shoot videos. However, if you're a mobile or creative professional, you'll need more space. Many smartphones have expanded storage options up to 512GB or even 1TB, and you can always sync your phone to your preferred cloud storage service to free up local storage space.

Which phones are also worth considering?

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, there are tons of options out there. Whether you're looking to upgrade or get your first smartphone, Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus have great choices:

iphone 15 on a table


iPhone 15

The iPhone 15 brings major upgrades to the standard iPhone line, including USB-C charging, Dynamic Island, and new matte finishes.

View at Apple
OnePlus Nord N30 on a table


OnePlus Nord N30 5G

If you're on a tight budget, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G is highly recommended at $300. For the price, you're getting a 6.72-inch display that ramps up to 120Hz, 5G, a 5,000mAh battery, and more.

View at Amazon
Google Pixel Fold on a table.


Google Pixel Fold

If you're a fan of Google's cleaner, bloatware-free approach to Android and want to test the foldable waters, the Pixel Fold may be for you.

View at Best Buy
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