Best Phone to Buy for 2023 Whether you’re looking to snag the hottest new phone tech or something

In this article:

What is the best phone for most people?​

Best phones in 2023​

How we test phones​

Phone FAQs​

It’s 2023 and quality smartphones are in abundance. Consumers have their pick of a wide variety of phones with fast processors, vibrant displays and powerful cameras. But with so many options, deciding which one’s right for you isn’t always easy. To simplify the decision, we’ve rounded up our top picks — each phone on this list meets the requirements for what CNET considers to be the best smartphones. From flagship phones to budget phones under $500 and everything in between, there are plenty of worthwhile options for everyone.


Every phone on this list has been thoroughly reviewed and tested, and you’ll find options across iPhone and Android that fit different needs.

What is the best phone for most people?

The Apple iPhone 14 and 14 Pro impressed us with excellent performance from their processors and the cameras. But if you aren’t after the best iPhone around, you still have plenty of smartphone choices, including the Pixel 7 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. They both offer everything you could want, from high-end performance to superb cameras.

Those who want something cheaper should consider the $599 Pixel 7, while the Galaxy S23 may be more suitable for people who prefer smaller phones.

There are a number of other great smartphones with eye-catching features, such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Fold 4, which has a foldable screen. These can be quite expensive, but if your cash doesn’t stretch that far, worry not. More and more affordable phones, such as the new Pixel 6A, pack great specs, high-speed 5G connectivity and more-approachable prices.

Most of the phones below are available unlocked and should be compatible with the big four US wireless carriers, unless otherwise specified. Many of the best phones of 2022 remain available below, but we review and update this list regularly and will keep you posted as we test new models in the year ahead. For more info, read our guide to help find the best phone for your needs and take a look at our tips on how to buy a new Apple iPhone or Android phone and where to snag the best phone deals.

Best phones in 2023

A deep purple iPhone 14 Pro with three cameras pointing upward lies on a yellow background

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

The best iPhone you can buy

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce sweeping changes like the Dynamic Island, a new 48-megapixel camera system and Apple’s new A16 Bionic processor. All of these upgrades come together to make for an experience that feels fresh and fast. The upgrades to the main camera allow it to take some truly stunning photos, making the phone a solid option if you’re into mobile photography.

As Apple’s top phone it doesn’t come cheap — especially if you want the larger Max model — but if you’re looking for the best all-round performance in an iPhone, then the 14 Pro is the phone to get.

Read our Apple iPhone 14 Pro review.

Apple iPhone 14

James Martin/CNET

Apple iPhone 14

Good upgrade for most people

While the base iPhone 14 doesn’t have the same triple camera array or new Dynamic Island notch as its pricier 14 Pro sibling, it still offers a lot to be excited about and comes with a more affordable price. CNET editor Patrick Holland describes it as “a good upgrade for most people” thanks to its solid performance, updated main camera and various other tweaks including a more repairable glass back in case it takes a tumble.

It’s not a huge overhaul from last year’s models, but if you’re in the market for a new iPhone and you don’t fancy spending the big bucks on the Pro series, then it’s a great option to consider.

Read our Apple iPhone 14 review.

Pixel 7 Pro face down on a wooden table next to a cup of coffee


Google Pixel 7 Pro

Best value for a premium Android phone

With its stellar triple camera, refined design and spacious 6.7-inch screen, there’s a lot to love about the Pixel 7 Pro. Although it’s not very different from the previous Pixel 6 Pro, it will feel like a big change to those upgrading from a phone that’s more than two years old. Google has improved the zoom capabilities on the Pixel 7 Pro, giving it a 30x digital zoom compared to the 6 Pro’s 20x range for capturing tighter shots. Both the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting some new features powered by Google’s Tensor G2 chip, such as the ability to sharpen old photos. You’ll also get free access to Google’s VPN on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.

At $899, the Pixel 7 Pro is cheaper than both the $1,000 Galaxy S23 Plus and $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra at their regular starting prices, making it a solid choice for those who want a giant screen and an excellent camera for less.

Read our Google Pixel 7 Pro review.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

James Martin/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Best premium Android phone

The Galaxy S23 is a lot, but in a good way. It’s more than most people need in a phone, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Samsung made improvements to the camera’s resolution (200 megapixels compared to 108 megapixels), color tones and dynamic range, while retaining the same edgy design and massive 6.8-inch screen as its predecessor. There’s also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung’s phones, which brings faster performance compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Starting at $1,200, it may be an understatement to call this phone expensive. But those willing to pay more for a giant screen and a high-quality, versatile camera won’t be disappointed. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S23


Samsung Galaxy S23

Best small Android phone

Android fans looking for a petite phone don’t have much to choose from. But the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 provides a compelling option for those who want a phone that feels compact but still provides enough screen space. The Galaxy S23 comes with routine upgrades like a fresh processor (a version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s been optimized for Samsung’s phones), a slightly new design and a higher-resolution selfie camera. But it’s the Galaxy S23’s larger battery that makes it worth recommending. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23.

Google's Pixel 7


Google Pixel 7

Best Android phone for under $600

The Pixel 7 costs significantly less than the Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14, but nails the basics extremely well for a phone of its price. You’ll also get extra features that are specific to Google phones, like the ability to have the Google Assistant wait on hold for you.

The Pixel 7 isn’t very different from the Pixel 6, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it adds refinements like a closer digital camera zoom, a slightly upgraded design with a more prominent camera bar made of metal and face unlock. The new Tensor G2 processor also brings some new photography improvements, like Photo Unblur, which sharpens old photos.

Overall, the Pixel 7 is a great choice for those who want a new Android phone with a reasonably large screen at a price that’s more affordable than Samsung’s Galaxy S23 family.

Read our Google Pixel 7 review.

Google Pixel 6 Pro displaying home screen and rear of device


Google Pixel 6 Pro

Best high-end phone at a discount

Google no longer sells the Pixel 6 Pro through its website, but you can still find it through some third-party retailers at a significant discount for now. The Pixel 6 Pro’s unique design, great software additions, superb camera quality and solid all-around performance earned the phone an excellent rating when CNET reviewed it in 2021. It’s more than a year old, but many of our initial impressions still hold true. All told, it’s a worthwhile choice for those who want a spacious screen and a top-notch camera on a budget.

Read our Google Pixel 6 Pro review.

Apple iPhone 13 on a table next to a latte

Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple iPhone 13

Best everyday phone

While Apple’s new iPhone 14 and 14 Pro might be the more exciting options with their upgraded cameras and the Pro’s new Dynamic Island notch, Apple is still selling the base iPhone 13.

The standard iPhone 13 is a reliable choice for most people, sporting a 6.1-inch screen and two excellent rear cameras. We loved the iPhone 13’s balance of power, camera performance and price and while it’s not a huge amount of money saved over the base iPhone 14, if you’re looking for a new handset and trying to keep your costs down it could be money well saved.

Read our Apple iPhone 13 review.


OnePlus 11

High performance flagship with a lower price

The $700 OnePlus 11 is a powerful phone that’s well equipped to handle gaming, video streaming and other common tasks. In typical OnePlus fashion, this phone is also cheaper than the $800 Galaxy S23 and $900 Pixel 7 Pro. The cameras aren’t the best, but they’re fine for casual photographers that just want to capture their next vacation or a night out. What sets the OnePlus 11 apart from many of its rivals is its blazing fast 100-watt fast charging, which can replenish the battery in just 25 minutes. (The US version only supports 80-watt charging, but that’s still an improvement over the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 45-watt charging). Overall, the OnePlus 11 is ideal for those who want a powerful phone that charges quickly and won’t break the bank. Read our full review of the OnePlus 11.

iPhone SE

Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Most affordable iPhone

Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE may not have the incredible multiple cameras of the top-end iPhone 13 Pro, but the iPhone SE has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a great experience without spending flagship levels of cash. It’s 5G-enabled, for one, it runs the latest iOS 15 software and it packs the same A15 Bionic processor found in Apple’s top phones. As a result, performance is lightning-fast.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2022) review.

The back of Google's Pixel 6A phone

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Google Pixel 6A

Best Android phone under $500

The Pixel 6A is Google’s newest midrange phone, replacing the Pixel 5A as the $449 device in its lineup. CNET’s Lisa Eadicicco called it the “best Android phone under $500” in her Pixel 6A review, noting that it keeps the same Tensor chip seen in the $599 Pixel 6 and many of its features.

The phone is slightly smaller than the Pixel 6, featuring an 6.1-inch OLED display and a refresh rate of 60Hz. And it has a similar camera to the Pixel 5A, including a 12.2-megapixel main camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. But by including the Tensor chip, photos can benefit from its Real Tone skin tone feature, Face Unblur, Night Sight for darker photography and the Magic Eraser for removing unwanted elements from a photo.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 in Flex Mode in someone's palm

Patrick Holland/CNET

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Best foldable phone

Samsung’s $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the most portable and fun phone CNET’s Patrick Holland reviewed last year. It inherits the best parts of the Z Flip 3, like its pocketable flip phone-inspired design and Flex Mode, which makes it easier to use the phone when it’s propped open halfway. The Z Flip 4 also has a new image sensor, which improves image quality compared to the Flip 3, along with a bigger battery and newer processor.

These improvements address some of the Z Flip 3’s biggest shortcomings, even though Samsung didn’t give us everything we wanted (like a larger cover screen). But all told, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a great choice for those who want a phone that’s more portable than almost anything else you’ll find on the market.

You could also go for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, which Samsung still sells at a lower $900 price. But that’s still a lot to spend on a new phone, so I’d recommend spending a little extra now that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is roughly a year and a half old. You might as well invest in newer technology that will last longer if possible, especially if you can score a good trade-in deal.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review.

back) are tested in a variety of conditions from bright sunlight through to dark scenes (for any available night modes), and we compare our findings against similarly priced models. We run battery tests, running them down from full to see how long they’re likely to keep going out there in the real world.

We take into account additional features like 5G, fingerprint or face scanners, styluses, fast charging, flexible displays or other extras that can be useful. And we of course balance all of this against the price to give you the verdict on whether that phone, whatever price it is, actually represents good value.

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