There are stacks of phone options to choose from in 2023, so where do you even begin? Let our expert best smartphones guide show you the way to your ideal mobile phone handset, whether you're an Apple or Android user.
Given that our phones act as our do-everything devices – camera, navigation, comms, entertainment, gaming – it’s important to really consider the priority features that matter to you when picking your ideal phone. And if these options are all too physically big, then take a look at our best compact phones guide for smaller handsets.
Below, we've rounded up the best smartphones for 2023, including models from Apple, Samsung, OnePlus and many more. If you're looking for something more affordable then check out our best cheap phones guide instead.
Looking for the best deals? Mark your calendar for Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 October, which is when the best Amazon Prime Day deals will be available – it's now called Prime Big Deal Days, though – with the T3 team monitoring the best buys.
The biggest sale event in the calendar is Black Friday, though, which falls on 24 November this year. For the best Black Friday deals, however, the T3 team will be scouring all the best retailers ahead of the long sale weekend to bring you curated deals of all the hottest discounts, so we'll do the work and save you the hassle!
Which is the best phone in 2023? The top 3
Why you can trust T3 Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
The best premium Apple phone is the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The best iPhone for our money, it delivers super cameras, drops the notch, and is undoubtedly the top-tier Apple device.
The best premium Android phone is the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. A gorgeous design, superb cameras, even an integrated S Pen stylus for added versatility, Android phones don't get any more sophisticated than this.
The best phone for most people is the Google Pixel 7 Pro. Great features but at a cut of the price, plus a distinctive design and accomplished cameras, Google's 2022 flagship is a super handset without a massive price tag.
If you're looking for an Apple phone then this one is the best-of-best in the range. Introduced late 2022, the 14 Pro Max is among the first iPhones to remove the notch in favour of Dynamic Island, while adding an always-on display and other top-notch features such as upgraded cameras.
As we said in our review: "The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the ultimate iPhone and boasts three killer features that make it worth the upgrade. The new 48MP camera is truly impressive, the always-on display is really useful, and Dynamic Island is not only a feat of hardware and software collaboration but actually adds to the user experience [by removing the traditional notch and integrating the black-out area with software and design aspects]."
These new features can cost the battery life a bit, however, which is why we think this Pro Max, with its 6.7-inch screen and larger battery capacity (which we could push for 27 hours plus), is the more savvy pick over the 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro this time around. Sure, it's pricey, but it sure is punchy and worth all your hard-earned cash as the ultimate Apple phone investment.
Samsung rules the roost when it comes to premium Android phones, the Galaxy S23 Ultra being the pinnacle of its range, featuring a gorgeous design, subtly curved display, even a built-in S Pen stylus to add greater versatility to the software experience.
It's also the first Samsung phone to feature a 200-megapixel camera, which is the biggest difference versus the older Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you're looking for a similar yet cheaper handset then, as you can see from our Samsung discount codes, the older handset is bargain right now.
Around the back of the S22 Ultra is where the action lies though: that quartet of cameras, arranged in exposed lenses as part of this design, really deliver quality through wide-angle to various zoom steps. It's super easy to use and the results speak volumes, whether shooting in day or night, and having various zoom options stands out compared to much of the flagship competition these days too.
Want to know more? Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for the full breakdown about this top-end Android phone
Google's 2022 flagship, the Pixel 7 Pro, features astounding cameras that are easy to use and deliver great results in all conditions. There's Google's own second-gen processor on board, too, called Tensor G2, which is super fast and crunches through tasks with ease.
Above all else, however, it's the design that's distinctive and a real breath of fresh air. Sure, the aluminium finish does scuff too easily and should be hardier, but given the overall price of this device it undercuts the super-priced flagships and that will make it an ideal phone for most people (who aren't looking for iPhone anyway).
Best phones 2023: The best of the rest
As said in our review: "the Nothing Phone (2) impresses threefold: first it's so comfortable to hold and use, with a distinctive design; two, the improvements to everyday essentials compared to the first-gen phone, such as battery life and screen quality, are a real mark of quality; third, it adds a dollop of fun on top all of that, with features such as Glyph lights not just being a throwaway gimmick.
Sure, it's pricier than its predecessor, but it's worth it and this handset is one of those rare moments of unexpected Android phone joy. That's largely down to the Glyph lights on the rear, which illuminate to alert you to different notifications and other features. Not one for everyone, but for those who take the plunge this iPhone-lookalike Android handset is a real treat.
Check out our full Nothing Phone 2 review to see if this affordable yet high-spec handset is the Android phone for you
The all-new 'Plus' model in the range has ousted the standard iPhone 14 from our list because we think the Plus's bigger screen, at 6.7-inches, is better for most people – and the bigger scale means greater battery life too.
If you don't want the camera upgrade of the Pro Max, but do want the physical screen size, then we find the Plus to be a really great balance. Not to mention, of course, that the Plus saves you cash compared to the higher-end iPhone 14 models. And that, for many, will make it an ideally positioned and more financially suitable option.
Check out our full iPhone 14 Plus review to see if Apple's newest entry to its series is a winner for you
OnePlus has risen through the ranks over the years, always offering seriously big spec for a not-so-big price point. In this handset it's the stunning 6.7-inch screen that we found to be its main lure – especially thanks to its 120Hz fast refresh rate and high-res 10-bit colour depth quality.
Another headline grab that we really love about this phone is how fast you can charge it up – it only took us about 25 minutes to take it from empty to full. That 100W wired charging is game-changing – and a good job given the fact that the battery life is otherwise just okay – and one feature that helps it stand apart from its nearest Android offerings.
Check out our full OnePlus 11 review to read why we think it's a great Android buy
The Find X5 Pro is an ideal alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, delivering a gorgeous design finished in ceramic and a really impressive camera system. And just like the OnePlus further up this page, there's ultra-fast charging too.
If you’re big on photography then the Find X5 Pro is a real stunner, its dual 50MP main/wide cameras and 13MP telephoto camera are able to take super pictures – helped along by Oppo's own processing hardware that helps it stand apart from the crowd. It's the cameras that are a real big win here.
Read our full Oppo Find X5 Pro review to get a better look at this stylish handset and its super cameras
The first ever phone to use a 200-megapixel camera, which paired with stacks of power on tap from its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, plus its curved-edge screen, gives this phone distinctive appeal. It'll make for a solid Samsung Galaxy S22 alternative for many given the very fair asking price too.
However, the battery life is so-so – but if you're near to a plug that's inconsequential as the 125W charging is blisteringly fast (and a plug is included in the box) – and that curve-edge screen won't suit all users' wants. You won't find this handset over in the States either, which is almost baffling given how accomplished a piece of kit it is.
Read our full Moto Edge 30 Ultra review to see why this high-res camera option is a great Android option
If the physical scale of the Ultra – not to mention the built-in stylus, curved screen, and additional expense – isn't appealing, but you're fixed on buying a pocketable yet near-perfect Android flagship, then the Galaxy S22 is a great choice.
It's not wildly different to the newer Samsung Galaxy S23 model, but that's no matter, as both handsets deliver great style, a super 6.1-inch display, plus a versatile cameras arrangement. The older Galaxy S22 model is also much cheaper, suring up its place on this list too.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review to see if this modest sized Android flagship is the right choice for you
If you're looking for one of the best cameras in any Android phone then you might have to look no further than the Xiaomi 13 Pro. Its main 1-inch sensor is supreme thanks to great lenses and a Leica collaboration. Seriously, in the photography department this stuff is even more impressive than what rival Samsung is offering.
There's tonnes of power under the hood too, insanely fast charging, and a display to rival the best of them. The finish is a bit too fingerprint-friendly, however, and software irks prevent this handset from sitting higher up the list... plus it's tricky to track down in many territories! Just because the brand name is less familiar doesn't mean you should ignore what this phone can do for you.
Read our full Xiaomi 13 Pro review to see if this tip-top camera phone delivers all the right points to make it your perfect Android match-up
How to choose the best phone for you
Choosing the right phone is no easy task, as there are so many on the market and, truth be told, many of them are very similar. There are some core questions you should ask yourself before pulling the trigger on a smartphone upgrade, though.
Firstly, you need to establish if you're going to buy the phone SIM free (as in buy the phone outright upfront) or on contract. Both these options have their own strengths and weaknesses.
For example, buying a phone outright, and especially if it is a premium handset, can cost a lot of money, so you need to be able to swallow that. Once the phone is bought, though, then it is yours and you can go about getting one of the best SIM only deals, which offer better allowances for less money.
On contract purchases are great in the sense that they often put the phone in your hand for comparatively very little money or even for nothing, but then you need to pay for the phone over the period of your contract, which is tied to a network SIM plan that, most of the time, doesn't offer as good allowances or value as a SIM only one.
Next up you should ask yourself what you budget is, and what you're primarily going to be using the phone for. If you're a gamer then you're going to need to ensure you have a phone with good gaming functionality, while if you're a creative then you could benefit from a phone with digital stylus support. Equally, if you love taking photos then you need to prioritise a phone with a great camera system, while if you're a massive streamer then bagging a phone with a large screen is smart. If you're a busy working professional who travels a lot, then you'll want a phone with a large battery.
Once you've identified your needs and budget you can start to get more granular with your sorting. Next up we'd suggest identifying which OS and phone platform is right for you. The two main ones are Apple's iOS, which runs on all the maker's iPhones, as well as Android. iOS tends to be better for people who don't have too much technical knowledge and just want a streamlined, heavily guided usage experience, while Android is more open and complex.
Finally, once OS is decided start to add or take away features that you need or don't. For example, reverse wireless charging is really neat, but not every user will need it or use it, while phones that comes with huge amounts of RAM or storage may be useful for enthusiasts, but would go unused by many others. 5G connectivity is great and it is the future, but if you live in an area where there is no 5G coverage then do you really need a 5G phone?
These are just a few of the things we recommend people consider before buying a new phone, but we feel that providing each person does their research well (something this buying guide can help with), there's an ideal mobile for everyone.
How we test the best phones
There's a lot to consider when reviewing one of today's best phones, and for T3 we have a detailed five-stage process that each new device goes through.
Firstly, we judge the phone from a build quality and fit and finish point of view, as well as how comprehensive its package is. This stage is very much ascertaining how a phone feels in the hand, how robust it looks and what extras it does or doesn't come with. If a phone has a cheap plastic backplate and a spongy screen then we'll find out and let you know.
Next up we review the phone from a setup and hardware point of view. This stage sees us set up the phone as we would if it were our own, as well as examine exactly what hardware it comes with, such as its processor, RAM, storage and GPU, among other things. The goal here is to see how accessible setup is and what, on paper, your money is buying you.
Thirdly, we then move onto the phone's software and highlight features. So, for example, on Android we test out how good the phone maker's user interface skin is, as each one if definitely not made equal. Or, for example, if testing a new Galaxy Note phone, we'll absolutely test out its digital stylus. We also test features like biometric security, fingerprint readers and reverse wireless charging.
Our forth stage of testing is dedicated purely to the phone's camera system, as truth be told they are one of the most important parts of a phone today and a primary reason why people choose one model over another. This stage involved taking photographs with the phone and testing out each of its main shooting modes, as well as analysing what video capabilities are on offer, too.
Lastly, we then consider each phone from a purely experiential point of view – as in, how is it like to use on a daily basis? This is a really important part of our testing as it strips away all the technical jargon and components and is just intended to reveal how good it is use. This procedure takes one to two weeks and often also encompasses battery testing.
Only then, when all five of these phone review procedures are complete, do we award a score to a phone, with 5 stars been the highest rank a product can get.