The smartphone market continues to be highly competitive, with companies being pushed and pulled by each other to innovate. In this guide we take a look at the best mobile phones of 2023, analysing what has made each of them stand out and impress.

If one of these phones catches your eye, browse our selection of affordable contract, refurbished and SIM-free devices, available in various styles and storage sizes.

Best overall phone of 2023

iPhone 15 Pro Max

• Release date: September 2023
• Weight: 221g
• Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm
• OS: iOS 17
• Screen size: 6.7” Super Retina XDR OLED
• Resolution: 2796 x 1290 pixels
• CPU: A17 Pro
• RAM: 8GB
• Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
• Battery: 4,422mAh
• Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 12MP (telephoto)
• Front camera: 12MP

iPhone 15 Pro Max Model

This is it: our choice for the best smartphone of 2023. Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max excels in every department, serving up a premium and powerful handset that masterfully handles anything thrown at it. If you want the best of the best and a truly world-beating phone, there’s no better choice.

It all starts with the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 6.7” OLED display. From a purely visual perspective, this screen is phenomenal: rich detail courtesy of the Super Retina XDR technology underneath, vibrant OLED colours and a silky-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. These features coalesce to create one of the best displays on any smartphone, whether you’re streaming a 4K film or taking a photograph.

On the performance front, the iPhone 15 Pro Max was the first handset to include the A17 Pro chipset, bringing with it a significant performance increase. The 19 billion transistor count enables the A17 Pro to process tasks faster, whilst the additional GPU core gives the 15 Pro Max a potent gaming boost. Performance is so impressive here that you can easily enjoy console-quality gaming straight from your phone.

iPhone 15 Pro Max rear camera

If you regularly use your handset for photography, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is one of the finest smartphones on the market. Its Pro camera system consists of a 48MP main camera, alongside 12MP ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, each of which can produce stunningly detailed photos.

Two of the biggest filmmaking additions on the iPhone 15 Pro Max come in the form of Log video recording and ACES (Academy Colour Encoding System) support, which provide more granular control over colour levels and bring them closer to your original vision.

Best Android handset

Google Pixel 8 Pro

• Release date: October 2023
• Weight: 213g
• Dimensions: 162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
• OS: Android 14
• Screen size: 6.7”
• Resolution: 1344 x 2992
• CPU: Google Tensor G3
• RAM: 12GB
• Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
• Battery: 5050mAh
• Rear camera: 50MP (wide) + 48MP (ultra-wide) + 48MP (telephoto)
• Front camera: 10.5MP

Google Pixel 8 Pro front, back and side profile

On the Android side of the arena, the Google Pixel 8 Pro takes the crown as one of our best-rated phones of 2023. With its fantastic display, fast performance and standout implementation of AI, using the Pixel 8 Pro is a uniquely exciting experience.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to make smartphones far more efficient, either by running processes faster, or simply taking away burdensome tasks from the user. The Pixel 8 Pro ranks highly on our list of 2023’s best phones because of the way Google have weaved AI throughout the device. Features like Call Screening and Google Assistant have been enhanced by the technology, making them far smarter and more reliable at responding to the user’s request.

Google Tensore G3 Processor

These AI enhancements on the Pixel 8 Pro are possible because of the Google Tensor G3 processor. The 3rd generation of the Tensor chipset includes smarter machine learning, which is a crucial ingredient in the overall AI recipe; without it, the AI can’t learn over time and therefore adapt to our needs.

From top to bottom, the Google Pixel 8 Pro confidently shouts above its peers. Smarter AI, superb visuals courtesy of the 6.7” Super Actua display, 7 years of updates; this is one of the best phones on the market and not to be missed.

Best Samsung handset

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

• Release date: February 2023
• Weight: 234g
• Dimensions: 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm
• OS: Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1
• Screen size: 6.8” AMOLED
• Resolution: 1440 x 3088
• CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
• RAM: 8GB / 12GB
• Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
• Battery: 5000mAh
• Rear camera: 200MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 10MP (telephoto with 3x optical zoom) + 10MP (telephoto with 10x optical zoom)
• Front camera: 12MP

Samsung S23 Ultra with S Pen

Samsung delivered a knockout blow with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This phone is a juggernaut, both in terms of size and performance, rightfully earning a place on our list as one of the best phones available in 2023.

In many ways, the Galaxy S23 Ultra isn’t just a powerful smartphone; it could give some desktop PCs a run for their money. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset plays a large role in this, providing the Galaxy S23 Ultra with an impressive peak speed of 3.36GHz to keep everything smooth and lag-free.

Samsung S23 Ultra rear camera

This superb level of performance isn’t limited to just the processor. The display technology packed into the Galaxy S23 Ultra is some of the best on the market, such as the massive 6.8” AMOLED screen, the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and 1440p resolution. When these features work together, they create a blockbuster viewing experience that few other phones can match.

If this wasn’t enough, add into the mix a hugely versatile camera array (which includes a staggering 200MP sensor in the main camera) and S-Pen support for easy note-taking.

Best foldable handset

Google Pixel Fold

• Release date: June 2023
• Weight: 283g
• Dimensions: 139.7 x 3.1 x 0.5 (folded) / 139.7 x 158.7 x 5.8 (unfolded)
• OS: Android 13
• Screen size: 5.8” (folded) / 7.6” (unfolded)
• Resolution: 1080x2092 OLED (folded) / 2208x1840 OLED (unfolded)
• CPU: Google Tensor G2
• RAM: 12GB LPDDR5
• Storage: 256GB/512GB
• Battery: 4821mAh
• Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 10.8MP (ultra-wide) + 10.8MP (telephoto)
• Front camera: 9.5MP + 8MP inner camera

Google Pixel Fold

The appeal of a foldable smartphone is in how it marries together the old with the new. That classic clamshell design has been merged with modern technology, resulting in powerful hybrid devices. The Google Pixel Fold is one of the top-rated phones in this space, and a contender for the best handset you can buy in 2023.

We praised the Pixel Fold for how it tackled some of the pain points on previous foldable handsets, such as build quality and the crease that can often be present on the screen. By virtually eliminating these obstacles, the Pixel Fold looks and feels far more premium.

Google Pixel Fold open display

When watching videos, playing games or reading, the unfolded display is unlike anything else in the industry. At 7.6” this screen is enormous, with tons of space available for entertainment and productivity tasks alike. The sheer level of detail it provides is also superb, thanks to its 2208x1840 resolution.

The functionality of the Pixel Fold is the ace up its sleeve, and the skill with which Google have put it together cements it as one of the most unique smartphone experiences around.

Best alternative flagship handset

Nothing Phone (2)

• Release date: July 2023
• Weight: 201.2g
• Dimensions: 162.1 x 76.4 x 8.6
• OS: Android 13
• Screen size: 6.7” AMOLED
• Resolution: 2412x1080
• CPU: Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
• RAM: 8GB (on 128GB model) / 12GB (on 256GB and 512GB models)
• Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
• Battery: 4700mAh
• Rear camera: 50MP (main) + 50MP (ultra-wide)
• Front camera: 32MP

Nothing Phone (2)

Having only released their first phone in 2022, Nothing have a point to prove. The Nothing Phone (1) struck a chord with its unique design, but its successor – the Nothing Phone (2) – established Nothing as a brand to watch.

First and foremost, this smartphone has a style that stands out among its competitors, which isn’t easy to accomplish when an industry standard has been set. The Glyph UI design is immediately distinctive with its glowing LED curves and straight lines, almost like a futuristic hieroglyph. When you see this up close or from a distance, you know you’re looking at a Nothing phone.

These lights aren’t just for show, however. When the phone is charging or someone is calling, the glyphs will animate; a creative touch that goes a long way to establishing the Nothing Phone (2)’s unique style.

Nothing Phone (2) display

Moving onto the front of this handset, the Nothing Phone (2) is also very visually appealing. Its screen consists of a dazzling 6.7” OLED display, complete with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate depending on what you’re watching. It’s no understatement to say that this screen is beautiful, and it is exciting to see such impressive specs from a relatively young name in the smartphone space.

Other areas of the Nothing Phone (2) are just as impressive, such as the highly detailed 50MP main and ultra-wide cameras, clean NothingOS interface and lightning-fast Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor.

If you’re looking for a flagship smartphone that does things a little bit differently, the Nothing Phone (2) might be for you.

Best budget handset

iPhone SE (3rd Gen)

• Release date: March 2023
• Weight: 144g
• Dimensions: 67.3 x 138.4 x 7.3
• OS: iOS 15 (original version) / iOS 17 (can be updated to)
• Screen size: 4.7” Retina HD
• Resolution: 1334x750
• CPU: A15 Bionic
• RAM: 4GB
• Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
• Battery: 2018mAh
• Rear camera: 12MP (main)
• Front camera: 7MP

iPhone SE (3rd Gen)

The third generation of Apple’s smaller form factor smartphone packs in an impressive level of performance, standing out as an affordable entry point into the iPhone world. It expands on this core selling point of previous SE models by pushing the SE 3rd Gen forward in key areas, all of which combine to make this a device worth taking note of.

Whilst the 4.7” HD display remains the same as the 2nd Gen SE, the chipset of the 3rd Gen model is the faster A15 Bionic. The results are extremely impressive, given the affordability and small size of the SE within the wider iPhone world.

Daily tasks and apps run more smoothly thanks to this improved chipset, and photos with the 12MP wide camera are detail-rich due to the addition of Deep Fusion processing, which takes multiple rapid shots and helps you choose the best image.

iPhone SE (3rd Gen) rear camera

n important factor of any phone is battery life, and the SE 3rd Gen supports up to 15 hours of video playback. The fast-charging feature gets the SE back up to 50% in approximately 30 minutes, and the device can be charged with existing QI wireless accessories.

The iPhone SE 3rd Gen stands its ground among very lofty competition. With the additional inclusion of 5G connectivity, this handset is an affordable gateway into the iPhone range that packs in many modern smartphone features.

There you have it: our picks for the best phones you can buy in 2023. If one of these handsets sparks your interest, there are several ways you can dispose of your old device. Take a look at our guide on how you can make use of your previous phone once you’ve decided on an upgrade.