This model looks like last year’s iPhone 13 pro max (apart from the new deep purple colour option), yet there are plenty of changes. First, the true-depth camera system, which enables Face ID, has shrunk to a tiny lozenge of blackness instead of a bigger cut-out. This area is home to the Dynamic Island, which changes shape as the phone performs different tasks, and makes for a new, even more intimate experience as you use the phone.
You’re halfway to the train station when you realise you’ve left your smartphone at home. Do you turn round and hurry back for it, even if it’ll make you late? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.
The smartphone has become an essential accessory, replacing our wallets, for a start. It means we can take great pictures without a standalone camera; upload those photos instantly to social media; provide video distraction during the commute; get directions in a strange city, and even (did you know?) make phone calls.
Mobile phones have grown in size over the years, with displays that, thanks to tiny bezels around the edges, can still fit in the hand (though only just, in some cases). So, it’s worth trying the phone in your hand before you buy. If you’ve had a large phone before, downsizing can make for more room in your pocket or bag, but you may find it hard to go back to a smaller display.
Meanwhile, smartphone cameras are now so advanced, you can safely leave your dedicated snapper behind in most situations – all the phones included in this round-up take decent pictures and some have advanced extra features, such as image stabilisation for great action shots or videos, or machine-learning that recognises what you’re taking a picture of and adjusts accordingly.
The phones in our list are also long-lasting, which helps offset the initial outlay, which isn’t always cheap.
How we tested
Every aspect of these phones has been put through its paces, from ease of setup to simplicity of day to day use. The smartphone cameras have been tested in a variety of situations. We checked out how the screen looks to see how smooth it is when watching videos, playing games or just scrolling through menus. Smartphones are sophisticated devices, but they need to be resilient too, so we checked out how much or little they scratch or take on damage during everyday usage. Above all, we tested how long the battery would last: the slickest phone in the world becomes an unwanted weight if it runs out of juice halfway through the day.
The best phones for 2023 are:
- Best overall – Apple iPhone 14 pro max: £1,199, Apple.com
- Best display – Sony xperia 1 IV: £1,049, Sony.co.uk
- Best for design – Oppo reno 8 pro: £599, Carphonewarehouse.com
- Best camera phone – Huawei mate 50 pro: £1,199.99, Huawei.com
- Best Android phone for software – Google pixel 7 pro: £849, Google.com
- Best value premium smartphone – OnePlus 10T: £629, Oneplus.com
- Best for fast charging – Xiaomi 12 pro: £949, Mi.com
- Best large folding phone – Samsung galaxy Z fold4: £1,649, Samsung.com
- Best pocketable phone – Motorola RAZR 22: £949.99, Motorola.co.uk
- Best mid-range Apple phone – Apple iPhone 14: £849, Apple.com
- Best phone for innovation – Nothing phone (1): £399, Nothing.tech
- Best affordable smartphone – Nokia X30 5G: £349, Nokia.com
- Best big-screen phone – Vivo X80 pro: £1,199, Amazon.co.uk