Updated September 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
iPhone 14 Pro Max
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Top of the Line
Bottom Line

This is Apple’s current flagship iPhone with all the power and screen space you could want.


The new Dynamic Island transforms the necessary notch into a multi-function part of the display, shrinking and growing as needed to display more information or increase your screen real estate. It comes in four colors and in four data storage sizes, from 128 GB to 1 TB.


It’s the most expensive iPhone yet, even with only 128 GB of data.

Best Bang for the Buck
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
Galaxy Z Flip4 5G
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Unique Design
Bottom Line

Gives you the portability of a flip phone with the intuitive function of a smartphone for the best of both worlds.


The powerful 2x AMOLED screen gives you a clear picture and vibrant colors. The back camera doubles as a hands-free selfie mode that you can fold for selfies and shooting wide shots without a person behind the camera. People are surprised by the performance.


It's an acquired taste; some find the flip design tedious.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (Cricket Wireless)
iPhone 13 Pro Max
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Bottom Line

Our tech expert believes the previous iPhone flagship with its best-in-class camera is worth its high price tag.


Updated 12MP, 3-lens camera system with 6x optical zoom telephoto lens and cinematic mode. Bright, 6.7-inch Super XDR OLED display with adaptive refresh rates up to 120 MHz for super-smooth motion. Glossy, polished steel frame.


The adaptive display rate isn't 120 MHz all the time. Expensive.

Google Pixel 7 Pro
Pixel 7 Pro
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

The latest Pixel phone from Google boasts a sophisticated camera system and is among the best phones for taking quality photos.


This phone features an upgraded ultra-wide lens, a telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, and 30x Super Res zoom. Plus, Macro Focus is excellent for capturing minor details with outstanding clarity. The Tensor G2 chip offers fast performance and boasts 12GB of RAM for multitasking.


The battery life is mediocre compared to other high-end camera phones.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Galaxy S23 Ultra
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

This is Samsung’s latest, greatest, most powerful 5G-capable phone.


It can be tied to a big carrier or left unlocked to be used with a smaller one. It comes in eight colors and three data storage capacities. It has four camera lenses on the back to take advantage of a range of camera options.


It doesn’t have an SD card slot and it has less RAM than previous models.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best phones

Whether you want an iPhone or an Android smartphone, there are several things to consider before buying a new phone.    

The more features a phone has to offer, the more expensive it typically is. For example, phones with more advanced multi-lens setups generally are more expensive than those with a single-lens camera. Phones with powerful processors are also pricier than those with mid-tier processors since they offer superior performance. 

Other important considerations include screen size (especially if you want it to fit comfortably in your pocket), battery life and the right amount of storage for your needs (128 gigabytes is ideal if you take a lot of photos). 

We researched phones and found the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max to be the best. It’s perfect for those who want a fast phone with a large screen. The processor enables efficient multitasking while running high-powered apps, and the camera system takes excellent photos and records videos with exceptional clarity and detail. But there are many great phones out there to suit the specific needs of any user.

Expert Tip
Both Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri have the ability to learn your voice if you follow the prompts in the Settings apps. Take a moment to teach your phone your voice so it can more easily understand your voice commands.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Best phones

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

If you want a phone with a large display and a blazing-fast processor, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is for you. It has a dynamic Super Retina XDR 6.7-inch display and a durable, dustproof and water-resistant build that lets it be submerged to a depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes.

We also love this phone for its excellent battery life of up to 95 hours and the superb camera system, which offers second-generation sensor-shift optical image stabilization, a seven-element lens and 100% Focus Pixels for stunning photos and videos. It’s available in four colors and four storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

The foldable clamshell design of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 makes it the perfect smartphone for those who want high-tech in a small package. This pocket-sized phone expands to a large 6.7-inch Super AMOLED display, but you can see notifications and use Samsung Pay without even opening it.

Although it doesn’t have a comprehensive camera setup like some of our other favorite phones due to its design, photos and videos look excellent. The IPX8 water-protection rating means it can withstand water submersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, and apps that support Flex Mode let you use it while it’s halfway open.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

If you’re dead set on getting an iPhone but are turned off by the high price of these premium smartphones, we recommend going with the best Apple phone of 2021, which is still a high-end device. The iPhone 13 Pro Max offers functionality and features similar to the latest model, but you can get it much cheaper.

The camera system captures stunning photos and records videos in high-quality 4K. The 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display offers superior responsiveness, and the A15 Bionic chip lets it run smoothly. It has a durable, dust-resistant and water-resistant build, and the battery life is excellent, providing up to 28 hours of video playback.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Those who want a top-tier smartphone for photos and videos will be impressed with the Google Pixel 7 Pro. It has a fantastic 50-megapixel primary sensor which renders lifelike colors and outstanding detail, and the 48-megapixel telephoto lens has five times optical zoom that lets you focus on faraway objects while maintaining excellent clarity.

We also love this phone for its Tensor G2 chip which provides elite performance, and the crisp 6.7-inch OLED screen that features a refresh rate of 120 hertz for smooth scrolling and video playback. Plus, it has a unique design with a horizontal aluminum bar running across the camera setup and

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is hands-down one of the top two or three Android smartphones right now and is an excellent buy for anyone who wants a high-performance device that takes stunning photos. The camera system consists of a 200-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens and a 10-megapixel telephoto lens. The dazzling 6.8-inch OLED screen renders visuals in a nearly 4K resolution. 

The ultra-fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU combined with 8GB and 12GB of RAM lets you multitask efficiently without any decrease in performance. It’s available in three storage sizes: 256GB, 512GB and 1TB, and it offers multiple biometrics for security, including a fingerprint scanner and facial recognition. Plus, it comes with a responsive S Pen stylus for gaming, taking notes and more.

OnePlus 11 5G

The OnePlus 11 5G isn’t nearly as popular as most of our other favorite smartphones, but it offers fantastic value and boasts a unique design with high-quality components. The camera setup looks a bit odd since it’s different from what other phones have, but we love it because it’s not afraid to try out an innovative design.

With the OnePlus 11 5G, you’ll get a crisp AMOLED display with a smooth 120-hertz refresh rate, fast charging, a battery that can last up to two days in standby mode, fast processing and exceptional overall performance considering the price.

Google Pixel 7a

The Google Pixel 7a is excellent for those who want a Pixel phone but don’t want to spring for the high-end Pixel 7 Pro. It’s slightly smaller with a 6.1-inch screen, and although the camera system is downgraded, it takes photos and videos with impressive quality.

The Pixel 7a has the same processor as the Pixel 7 Pro, meaning you’ll get the same performance at a discounted price. Some other features the Pixel 7 Pro offers are downgraded here, such as the IP68 protection rating, now IP67, and RAM, which goes from 12GB to 8GB. However, the average user will be more than satisfied with 8GB of RAM, and an IP67 rating means you’re phone won’t get damaged by water splashing or brief submersion.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

The iPhone 13 and 14 Pro Max are fantastic, but the oversized screen might be a turn-off to some, especially for those with small hands who struggle to grip with one hand. The iPhone 13 Mini is much cheaper than most other iPhones, and the only significant difference for the average user is screen size, which on this phone is 5.4 inches.

There are other notable differences, such as a downgraded camera setup, but most users will be satisfied with the photos and videos this phone captures. Also, although it boasts the older A15 Bionic chip, we’re impressed with how fast this phone is for its size. For the price, you can’t beat it, and you’ll have a lot more room in your pocket.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

As you may have noticed with our Galaxy Z Flip 4 recommendation, Samsung is known for pushing the envelope with its smartphone designs. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also a top-tier phone with an innovative folding design that lets you use it as a tablet, and although it’s pricey, there’s no denying it’s one of the best phones.

This phone is perfect for taking notes at conferences, video calls and working on spreadsheets. The screen is large enough to offer a multi-view window function, and the rear camera has a 50-megapixel primary sensor for capturing photos with excellent color and clarity and recording 8K video.

Expert Tip
While we definitely recommend enabling Location Services on your phone so you can use features like GPS, not every app needs access to your location. Go into your phone’s Settings app to determine which apps have access to Location Services, and disable them for any apps that don’t need them.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

What to know before buying a phone

Owning vs. leasing a phone

Buying a phone upfront is expensive, but you have the advantage that you can switch carriers at any time, not to mention that you won’t have any added monthly costs. On the other hand, leasing a phone means fewer up-front costs but typically requires you to sign a two-year repayment contract that can be expensive to break.

Wireless carriers

Most people subscribe to one of the big three wireless carriers: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. That’s usually the simplest way to go, but it’s not always the cheapest. If you want to save money, consider a provider who lets you pay monthly instead of requiring a contract. Mobile virtual network operators such as Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless rent networks from the big three and then offer no-commitment contracts. The only catch is they sometimes don’t have the latest phones, so you’ll likely have to settle for an older model.

Android vs. iOS

There are two main mobile operating systems for smartphones: Google’s Android mobile and Apple’s iOS. Most phones run Android because it’s designed for various hardware manufacturers, and iOS is only found on iPhones. Apple’s iPhones are more expensive but last longer than most Android phones and hold their resale value. They’re also designed to integrate seamlessly with other Apple products like MacBooks and Apple Watches. Android-based phones are more affordable and often see cutting-edge features, such as an ultrawide front camera, well before Apple devices. If you own other Apple devices, get an iPhone, but if money’s tight, it may be best to go with an Android phone.

Screen size

A screen that’s too small can be frustrating since you may not be able to see enough at once. However, you don’t want one that’s too big either since you could end up with a phone that won’t fit in your pocket. Smartphone screens typically range from 4 to 7 inches, so consider which size you prefer most.

Expert Tip
Buy an extra charging cable or three. You never know when you’re going to need to plug in, and cables are affordable, so it’s easy to always be prepared.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Phone features


Even if you live most of your digital life in the cloud, you’ll still need local storage to keep your photos, videos and downloaded files. We recommend a minimum of 64 gigabytes of file storage, but if you take lots of pictures and videos, a minimum of 128 gigabytes is recommended.


Smartphone cameras have quickly evolved since getting a nearly pro-quality camera and taking frame-worthy photos with the right model is now possible. Phones with a multi-lens setup offer more features, such as zoom and various photography modes. If you’re into photography or take many pictures, a smartphone with a 12-megapixel or better camera is the way to go.

Battery life

A phone with poor battery life can be frustrating since you’ll have to charge it often. Battery life varies depending on phone usage, but generally, you want a phone that offers at least 5 hours of screen time and a full day in standby mode.

Water and dust protection

You want your phone to be protected should it come in contact with water. Most phones have an Ingress Protection rating which indicates how waterproof and dustproof they are. For example, a phone with an IP67 is completely protected from dust particles and can withstand water submersion in one meter for up to 30 minutes. If you’re unsure what the IP rating indicates, a quick Google search will break it down.


  •  Put your smartphone in a case. A phone case is essential to protect your phone from accidental drops. It also keeps it in good condition if you decide to sell it when it’s time to upgrade.
  • See if your wireless provider has a smartphone widget to help you track data usage. Most wireless providers give you a certain amount of wireless data monthly and then charge you for any overages. Download your wireless carrier’s app if you’re worried about how quickly you’re going through your mobile data. Many include widgets that allow you to quickly check in on your data consumption from your phone’s lock screen.
  • Enable the location and security services on your phone first. Before you do anything else on your new phone, go through the security setup so you can take action and quickly locate it if it’s ever lost or stolen.


Q. How much does a phone cost?

A. The price of a brand-new phone varies depending on features, hardware and performance. Phones with lots of RAM, powerful processors and comprehensive camera systems can cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000. However, there are plenty of terrific budget-friendly phones for $400 to $800 that offer excellent performance and features for most users.

Q. What’s the difference between a locked and an unlocked phone?

A. A locked phone is limited to one wireless carrier and cannot be used on other networks, while an unlocked phone can be used on multiple networks. Carriers can sometimes unlock locked phones once a contract is complete.

Q. Are smartphone screen protectors worth it?

A. A screen protector is the easiest way to keep your phone’s screen from scratching, getting dinged or cracking. They’re the most cost-effective option for keeping your phone’s screen in good shape, especially considering replacement screens cost over $100.

Q. What’s the easiest way to get my photos from my old phone onto my new phone?

A. We recommend backing up your photos to a cloud-based service like Google Photos, so you can easily access your older pictures with an app. A cloud-based storage app will save you from manually transferring every photo file from one device to another.

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