/>
X
Innovation
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Which Samsung phone is the best? The top Galaxy models compared

Samsung's smartphone catalog ranges from cost-saving 5G phones to foldables that push the envelope of innovation. If you're ready to explore a new Galaxy, ZDNET has you covered with the best Samsung phones of 2023.

In the world of consumer electronics, Samsung is arguably the most popular, with its product empire spanning from home appliances to mobile computing to software and services. Even if we tunnel into its smartphone lines, there are almost too many options to count.

That said, ZDNET's team of mobile experts has tested. reviewed, and compared the best and worst Samsung Galaxy smartphones over the years, including the value-driven A-series, the flagship S-series, and the shape-shifting foldables that make up the Z-series.

Also: The best phones

See below for our top picks of 2023 and the phones we'd recommend from the Galaxy maker.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • An amazing quad rear camera system
  • Gorilla Glass Victus Plus display
  • Fully integrated S Pen support
  • Reliable 5,000mAh battery
Cons
  • Some Samsung bloatware apps
  • One of the largest phones on the market
  • Curved display is not for all
More Details

Tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | Display: 6.8-inches, 3200x1440 pixels | RAM/Storage: 12GB/(128GB-256GB-512GB-1TB) | Cameras: 10MP with 10x optical, 10MP with 3x optical, 108MP, and 12MP ultra wide. 40MP front-facing camera | Battery: 5,000mAh 

The launch of last year's Galaxy S22 Ultra saw Samsung fully embracing it as the Note successor by including an S Pen silo, flat and square design elements, and all of the latest and greatest specifications in a smartphone. While the S23 Ultra is on this year's docket, the S22 Ultra remains as the phone to beat until then.

Read the review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra was one of the first phones to launch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor inside. While the same resolution cameras from the S21 Ultra are found in this year's S22 Ultra, Samsung improved the cameras' performance in low-light conditions. Samsung's inclusion of two telephoto cameras also continues to stand out from Apple and Google by providing fantastic zoom capability.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • An innovative engineering marvel
  • Armor Aluminum material for a lighter and sleeker phone
  • High IPX8 water resistance
  • S Pen support
  • Improved software optimized for foldables
Cons
  • Still expensive, but generous trade-in offers abound
  • S Pen purchase and store separately
More Details

Tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 | Main Display: 7.6-inches, 2176x1812 pixels | Cover Display: 6.2-inches, 904x2316 pixels | RAM/Storage: 12GB RAM with 256GB/512GB/1TB internal options | Cameras: 12MP ultra-wide, 50MP wide angle, 10MP 3x telephoto, 10MP cover screen, 4MP under main display | Battery: 4,400mAh 

The 2020 Galaxy Z Fold 2 set the bar for foldable devices that also serve as mini tablets. The Z Fold 3 improved on that phone with S Pen support and IPX8 water resistance, two features requested by Fold users. With the Z Fold 4, Samsung again addressed user requests and improved the rear cameras and form factor of the phone. 

The cameras are not as good as those found on the S22 Ultra, but the hardware is clearly superior to any foldable before it. And it certainly helps that the Z Fold 4 is not as heavy and bulky as its predecessors.

Read the review: Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4

In addition to the new rear cameras, Samsung updated the under-display camera found in the larger Main Display for a more immersive viewing experience. There's also Android 12L, Google's software designed for large-screen experiences, operating in the background.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High-quality materials, fit, and finish
  • IPX8 water resistance
  • High refresh rate main display
  • Affordable price for a foldable
  • Folds into a pocketable form factor
Cons
  • No telephoto camera
  • Battery is reasonably underwhelming compared to larger phones
More Details

Tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 | Main Display: 6.7-inches, 1080x2640 pixels | Cover Display: 1.9-inches, 260x512 pixels | RAM/Storage: 8GB RAM with 128GB/256GB/512GB internal options | Cameras: Two rear 12MP, 10MP selfie | Battery: 3,700mAh 

While the Z Fold 4 remains the best Samsung foldable, it's the Z Flip 4 that will likely sell the most and appeal to the masses. Not only is the clamshell handset less expensive than the Z Fold, but it's more compact and portable, and has a more user-friendly learning curve.

Shape-shifting displays aside, the Z Flip 4 is very similar to the standard Samsung Galaxy S-series flagship, with a large 6.7-inch AMOLED panel that's crisp and bright, up to 512GB of RAM for those high-resolution pictures and videos, and a healthy 3,700mAh cell powering it all.

Read the review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Folks who thrive in social media and content creation will love the Z Flip 4's ability to switch between shooting styles like camcorder mode and flex mode. And for more personalization, Samsung offers its Bespoke service so you can customize the color of the back plating, hinge, and edges of the Z Flip.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Rugged build to withstand the toughest hits
  • Stacked with computing power, including 5G support
  • Relatively affordable compared to flagships
  • Four years of software support
Cons
  • Bulky and rubberized design won't appeal to most
  • 4,050mAh battery is just okay
More Details

Tech specs: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G | Display: 6.6-inches, 2408x1080 pixels  | RAM/Storage: 6GB/128GB | Cameras: 50MP wide and 8MP ultra-wide. 13MP front-facing camera | Battery: 4,050mAh 

Samsung released the Galaxy XCover 6 Pro back in September and it remains the best rugged option from the Korean giant. In fact, it's one of the only rugged smartphones that supports 5G connectivity, making the XCover 6 Pro a top prospect for industrial and enterprise users who work in hazardous environments.

By the numbers, the XCover 6 Pro is MIL-STD-810H compliant, meaning its undergone a series of military-level testing for durability and protection. The device is also rated IP68, allowing it to withstand a complete submersion below one meter for as long as 30 minutes.

Read more: Samsung's Galaxy XCover 6 Pro and Tab Active 4 Pro are built to last

The dual cameras at the rear -- a 50MP wide and 8MP ultra-wide -- are passable but you're mainly paying for the ruggedness of the phone and nothing more. Fortunately, Samsung does bundle it with a Snapdragon 778G processor and a dependable 6.6-inch display that's covered in a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus Plus.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Price is more than reasonable
  • A 'jack of all trades, master of none' smartphone
  • Reliable 5,000mAh battery
  • Up to five years of software and security updates
Cons
  • Low-band 5G support
  • Plasticky build quality
  • Cameras are clearly mid-range
More Details

Tech specs: Processor: Samsung Exynos 1280 | Display: 6.5-inches, 2400x1080 pixels | RAM/Storage: 6GB/128GB | Cameras: 64MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 5MP depth sensor. 5MP macro, and 32MP front-facing camera | Battery: 5,000mAh 

While the flagship Galaxy S and Z fold series provide compelling options, they are flagship phones priced in the $900 and higher range. In order to offer customers another alternative, Samsung created the Galaxy A series, led by none other than the A53 5G.

Here's the breakdown: For $449, you get a 6.5-inch AMOLED display that ramps up to 120Hz refresh rate, 6GB of RAM, a quad-camera setup that includes a 64MP main sensor, and a beefy 5,000mAh battery. Oh, and the A-series of smartphones fall under Samsung's five-year commitment to software and security updates, which is rare for devices in this price range.

Read the review: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

The Galaxy A53 5G only looks better when stacked next to competing mid-range handsets, like Apple's iPhone SE (2022) and Google's Pixel 6a. Not only does Samsung's bright and colorful display make for a convincing package for entertainment lovers, but its larger battery should last you much longer than the industry's best.

Tech specs: Processor: Mediatek Dimensity 700 | Display: 6.6 inches, 2408x1080 pixels | RAM/Storage: 4GB/64GB | Cameras: 50MP wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, and 13MP front-facing camera | Battery: 5,000mAh 

The flashiest of smartphone features tend to exist only on flagships, but many will find appeal in Samsung's humble Galaxy A14 5G, which boasts 5G connectivity, a massive 5,000mAh battery, and a budget-friendly $200 price tag. That's a compelling new package at a time when consumers are cutting down on spending.

Read more: Samsung just launched its cheapest 5G Galaxy phone yet

And don't let the lower cost fool you; the Galaxy A14 5G has all the specs you'd want for a feasible mobile companion, from the relatively large 6.6-inch 90Hz display -- a rarity in this price range -- to the expandable storage (up to 1TB) to Samsung's four-year commitment to security patches. Oh, and the front-facing camera is higher resolution than ever for the selfie-lover in your life.

What is the best Samsung phone?

While the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra sits at the top of this year's ranking list, here's a wider scope of ZDNET's best picks and their respective feature sets. 

Samsung phone

Price

Display

Cameras

Battery

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G

$1119

6.8 inches

10MP with 10x optical, 10MP with 3x optical, 108MP, and 12MP ultrawide. 40MP front-facing camera

5,000mAh

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

$1799

7.6 inches and 6.2 inches

10MP with 3x optical, 50MP wide, and 12MP ultrawide, 10MP cover screen, 4MP under main display

4,400mAh

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

$999

6.7 inches, and 1.9 inches

Two rear 12MP, 10MP selfie

3,700mAh

Samsung Galaxy XCover 6 Pro

$599

6.6 inches

50MP wide and 8MP ultrawide. 13MP front-facing camera

4,050mAh

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

$449

6.5 inches

64MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP depth sensor. 5MP macro, and 32MP front-facing camera

5,000mAh

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

$199

6.6 inches

50MP wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth sensor, and 13MP front-facing camera

5,000mAh

Which Samsung phone is right for you?

It was much easier to choose a Samsung phone option in the past when just the S and Note series were available, along with some low-range, basic phones. Samsung has significantly expanded its offerings with the A Series, Fold, and Flip options. So, the first thing you should now consider is your desired form factor.

First, decide if you want a standard "glass rectangle" smartphone or if you want a folding device. For maximum screen real estate, get a Z Fold 4. Or, for taking up the minimum space in your pocket and providing that extra bit of style, get a Z Flip 4 or Galaxy S22.

With Samsung's current lineup, you have phones priced from under $200 to over $1,200. Your budget should quickly help you figure out which price point is right for you. From there, begin comparing individual features, like stylus support, or which device has the best camera array. 

Choose this Samsung phone...

If you want...

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The top-of-the-line flagship Samsung phone with all the bells and whistles in a traditional form factor.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

A tablet/smartphone hybrid foldable and one of the best Samsung devices available.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

A stylish and pocket-friendly smartphone that doesn't compromise performance.

Samsung Galaxy XCover 6 Pro

The standard suite of smartphone features, packaged in a rugged shell that can take a hit or two.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

You're shopping on a $500 budget.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G

You're shopping on a $200 budget but still want a good handset.

How did we choose these Samsung phones?

We try to spend time with every phone in our best list and, if we don't get that opportunity, then we look to trusted reviewers in the mobile space. We only include phones that are still readily available since Samsung tends to clear the queue when new models are launched.

While we personally spend most of our time with higher-end models that help us get our work done most efficiently, there are mid-range phones worth consideration so we include them as well.

What is the newest Samsung phone?

The newest Samsung phones are the Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4, both sporting the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and Android 12L software for foldables.

What is Bixby on Samsung phones?

Bixby was first introduced in the Galaxy S8 phones and, according to Samsung, is an "intelligence assistant" that can be activated by voice, taps, or text. Bixby is essentially Samsung's version of Siri and can perform the typical smart assistant functions like telling you the weather, translating text, and even controlling smart home appliances.

Which Samsung phone has the best camera?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has the best camera of any Samsung phone and one of the best overall cameras on the phone market. It features a 108MP main camera along with four accompanying cameras, which allow it to take extremely high-quality shots including telephoto and ultra-wide. The S22 Ultra can also video record in up to 8K UHD quality making it one of the most capable phone cameras money can buy.

Which Samsung phone is the best value for money?

There's beating around the Galaxy A53 5G and its wealth of flagship-killing features and specs. As flagship smartphones continue to creep up in price -- no thanks to inflation -- a $449 that does everyday tasks well is both a surprise and a blessing. As mentioned earlier, the value package of the A53 5G only looks better when you compare it to other smartphones in its price range.

Are there alternative phones to consider?

Be sure to check out ZDNET's comparisons of the best phones and Android phones available. We've also listed the top (non-Samsung) picks from both those guides below for your convenience. 


Editorial standards