The new Samsung S23 Ultra is the latest addition to our list of the best phones you can buy. See how it compares to top phones from Apple, Google, and even OnePlus.
Choosing the best smartphone to upgrade can be a daunting task. Things like battery life, camera and storage features, and even health and safety features all impact whether a new phone fits your on-the-go lifestyle.
Whether you prefer Android or iOS devices, when buying a new smartphone, it’s important to consider the price and the lifespan of the device.
With new models like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and OnePlus 11 launching nearly every year, sometimes it’s worth opting for an older generation phone over the latest and greatest. Not only can you save some money, but you can still get many of the same features, even if you have to sacrifice some performance.
To help you decide which phone is right for you, I’ve compiled a list of the best smartphones you can buy right now, all tested by ZDNET’s team of mobile experts.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- The most complete smartphone experience money can buy
- Reliable quad camera setup
- The 256GB main memory dominates the competition
- Built-in S Pen for advanced features
- The phone can be a bit fickle for some, especially with a case.
- Fast charging is still limited to 45W
- More expensive than most Android phones
Technical data: Screen size: 6.8 inches | Storage: Up to 1TB | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy | Panel Type: WQHD+ Edge | Color: Ghost Black, Cream, Green, Lavender | Battery Life: 5000mAh | Water and Dust Resistance: Yes
There’s no denying that the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the most complete smartphone you can buy right now. It features a large 6.8-inch AMOLED display that delivers lifelike images in the brightest and darkest environments, a reliable 5000mAh battery, quad rear cameras that allow you to take a variety of photos, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor overclocked with the Galaxy chipset.
That last part is especially important considering how powerful and efficient the new flagship Ultra is, even compared to last year’s S22 range. Our tests show that the S23 Ultra is as much a gaming phone as a regular phone. The same can’t be said for competing phones, including our second one, the iPhone 14 Pro.
The S23 Ultra really proves itself with unique specifications and features that are really important for daily use. This includes 256GB of base storage (up from the industry standard of 128GB), a built-in S Pen that offers more precision and input options, Samsung’s five-year commitment to updates, security updates, and even Samsung DeX , the mobile-to-desktop service that brings the S23 Ultra to an entire computer when connected to a monitor or TV.
iPhone 14 Pro max
The best iPhone ever
- Great battery life and fast charging
- 4K and Dolby Vision support
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Satellite SOS and fault detection
- SOS Satellite requires a monthly subscription
- Expensive, especially for larger storage capacities
Technical data: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage: Up to 1TB | Processor: A16 Bionic | Panel Type: Super Retina XDR | Color: Midnight, Space Black, Purple, Deep Purple, (Product) Red, Silver, Starlight | Battery life: 29 hours | Water and Dust Resistance: Yes
The iPhone 14 Pro Max joins Apple’s latest smartphone range and continues to demonstrate why the company continues to dominate the mobile space. The 6.7-inch display uses the Apple Super Retina XDR panel for vivid colors, fine detail, and enhanced contrast. It also supports 4K resolution for video playback and Dolby Vision for HDR. It also has a new Dynamic Island feature that turns the dead space notch of previous models into a notification hub.
It’s powered by the all-new A16 Bionic processor, boosting overall speed and performance to make iPhone 14 Pro Max the center of your entertainment and work. With Wi-Fi 6 support, you can enjoy super-fast wireless Internet access even when LTE isn’t available. New sensors in the phone enable Apple’s new Crash Detection feature, which automatically detects when you’re involved in a car crash or fall and contacts emergency services. It also includes the new SOS satellite system, which allows you to call for help even if you don’t have LTE service.
The battery has also been improved, giving you up to 29 hours of use on a full charge. And with the quick charge function, you can charge the battery up to 50% in just 35 minutes; And it’s perfect when you forgot to recharge overnight and need to recharge during your lunch break or business meeting.
Can’t decide between Pro and Pro Max? You can read our full comparison to see the differences between the two models.
Google Pixel 7 Pro:-
The best camera phone
- High quality cameras all over the world
- First approach of the user agent
- 5000mAh battery with LTPO display
- Competitive price $899
- There is no 1TB storage option like Apple/Samsung
- The stock of Android may seem very small
- It is limited to 30W fast charging
Technical data: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage: up to 512GB | Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Panel Type: OLED | Color: Ice, Obsidian, Hazelnut | Battery Life: 5000mAh | Water and Dust Resistance: Yes
Months later, the Google Pixel 7 Pro still impresses with its range of cameras, with a 50MP main lens, a 48MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens that takes better-than-ever photos in low light. Like last year’s Pixel 6 Pro, Google’s new flagship packs updated camera hardware with proven processing features, including Magic Eraser for instant content filling and new macro focus for one improved image zoom. (up to 30x) and beyond.
However, this does not detract from the overall design and performance of the Pixel smartphone. The latest Pro model still features the now-iconic Pixel camera that shines from side to side, a quality brushed aluminum build, and a vibrant 6.7-inch LTPO display that refreshes between 1 and 120Hz. The bigger ones also make room for a massive 5,000mAh battery, which should keep the Pixel going for hours.
At $899, the Pixel 7 Pro beats out its closest competitors, the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Again, you can expect high performance from a Tensor G2 chip with at least five years of constant software and security updates.
Google Pixel 6a
Best budget phone
- Less than $450
- Display OLED
- Adaptive battery
- Titan M2 security chip
- No Wi-Fi support 6
- There is no 4K video support
- No drip or drip detection
Technical data: Screen size: 6.1 inches | Memory: 128GB | Processor: Google Tensor | Panel Type: OLED | Colour: anthracite, sage, chalk | Battery Life: 4,410mAh | Water and Dust Resistance: Yes
If you’re looking to buy a phone for your child or teenager, the Google Pixel 6a is a solid choice. It costs less than $500, which is good news for your budget and for forgetful parents of kids who might not be responsible enough for an expensive smartphone. And just because a phone is cheap doesn’t mean it skimps on features.
The 6.1-inch display uses an OLED panel to enhance size, color gamut, contrast, and enhance detail. The Google Tensor processor makes running apps, calling, texting and video chatting easier and faster, while the Titan M2 chip and Tensor security core protect your phone from eavesdropping and hacking.
With 128GB of internal memory, there’s enough space for your photos, videos, applications and documents. And if you need more storage, you can sync your phone with your favorite cloud storage service to free up your local drive. The phone is also waterproof to a depth of 1.20m, so you don’t have to worry about rain, sweat or spills ruining your phone.
The battery features an adaptive power mode that automatically reduces power consumption when the phone is not in use, increasing battery life to approximately 24 hours. This is especially useful as you and your children don’t have to remember to have a charging cable handy at work or school.
One plus 11
The best fast charger
- Fast and smooth performance
- 100W fast charging (80W US) with included charger
- Great build quality for the price
- Competitive main camera for photos
- The memory and RAM configuration is limited to 128GB/256GB
- There is no wireless charging
- There is an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance
Technical data: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Memory: up to 256GB | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Panel Type: AMOLED | Color: Titanium Black & Eternal Green | Battery Life: 5000mAh | Water and dust resistance: IP64 only
Slow phone charging can be a real problem, especially if you’re constantly on the go. Because of this, the OnePlus 11 is best-in-class, beating out Apple, Google, and even Samsung when it comes to charging speeds. The latest model comes with 100W or 80W Super Voice fast charging in the US, which is still pretty cool. For comparison, the best-in-class iPhone 14 Pro Max has a charging speed limit of 30W and the newly released Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a maximum charge of 45W. Both devices take at least an hour to go through from 0% to 0 % 75% Battery.
The OnePlus 11 can go from empty to full in less than 27 minutes. This charging speed and the fact that OnePlus includes its own charger in the box is a game changer.
Above all, the rest of the phone is not left out either. You get 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 to get the job done . Overall, OnePlus charges you a starting price of $699, which is about as good as the best budget smartphone on this list.