What are the best smartphones of 2023.
Let’s compare three phones that are really all pretty good.
Our focus today will be on the newly launched Google Pixel 7a, the Samsung Galaxy S23 from earlier this year, and the iPhone 14 from last year. Two flagship (or close to flagship) Android phones and one iOS phone enter, and only one can leave. Well, not really; there are good reasons to get any one of these phones.
But still, for the sake of competition, let’s get to it.Google Pixel 7a is a great potential swan song for the Pixel A-series
As you’ll see further down in this article, display tech is one of the only areas where there’s a clear, undisputed champion.
For starters, all three of these phones have 6.1-inch displays. The Pixel 7a’s resolution clocks in at 2400×1080 while Samsung’s is almost identical at 2340×1080. The iPhone 14 wins on resolution with a 2532×1170 figure, but the difference between all three is so minuscule that normal people would probably never notice.
The biggest difference here is actually in refresh rate. Apple’s latest base iPhone 14 maxes out at just 60Hz, a pretty low number for a modern flagship handset. The Pixel 7a is better at 90Hz, but Samsung actually wins this category going away thanks to the S23’s 120Hz refresh rate.
You may not think that matters, but the smoothness is so nice.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23
Performance is a harder category to hash out because all three phones run on completely different technology.
Samsung’s phone uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2, which is the most powerful chip Qualcomm makes at the moment. The iPhone 14 runs on Apple’s internally developed A15 Bionic chip, the same chip that powered the iPhone 13. Lastly, the Pixel 7a runs on the Google Tensor G2 chip that powered last year’s Pixel 7 phones.
This category is…kind of a wash. All three phones are going to run great under most circumstances. Pixel 7a’s performance is nearly flawless, you can always count on Apple to provide the same, and Samsung is using a top-of-the-line chipset. There may be minor differences here and there (especially where gaming is concerned) but not so much that there’s a clear winner here.
Winner: Everyone wins
This is another category where you can’t really lose, but there is a winner, at least.
According to testing done by Tom’s Guide, the Galaxy S23’s battery can last around 10.5 hours with the refresh rate unlocked. They only got about 9.5 hours out of the iPhone 14, as well. In my personal experience with the Pixel 7a, I was able to go more than 24 hours between charges, though that obviously doesn’t mean I was continuously using the phone that entire time.
But the point is that it’s a very long-lasting battery and it wins this category.
Winner: Pixel 7a
Guess what? It’s another category where every phone is pretty good!
That said, one of them is more pretty good than the others. The iPhone 14 is the weakest from a pure numbers perspective, sporting only a pair of 12MP lenses on the rear. The Pixel 7a has a 64MP main lens and a 13MP ultrawide lens, putting it slightly above Apple in terms of megapixels. Samsung is the strongest of the trio from this angle, with three lenses: a 50MP main lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a 10MP telephoto lens.
Of course, numbers only matter so much with smartphone photography. All three of these phones have robust software packed into their cameras that can enhance photos well beyond what the lenses capture normally. Google Pixel’s Night Sight feature is best-in-class, for example, while the iPhone 14 is fundamentally sound all around.
Samsung edges the other two out by specs alone, but your Instagram feed will look good regardless of your choice.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S23
There’s no competition here.
The iPhone 14 starts at $800. The Galaxy S23 starts at $860. And the Pixel 7a starts at just $500.
Yes, the Pixel 7a is technically a mid-range phone, so this is a little skewed. But it’s mid-range in name only; the Pixel 7a is almost identical to the flagship Pixel 7 in every way that matters. Its screen size is only a tiny bit smaller, but everything else is intact.
Winner: Pixel 7a
It’s hard to pick a clear winner out of these three phones because they all exist to serve different audiences.
The Galaxy S23 is for Android lovers who want the latest chipset and the best-sounding camera specs. Google’s Pixel 7a may not match it in terms of pure specs, but it’s a hell of a phone with a very agreeable price point. And last but not least, the iPhone 14 is generally excellent, but only for people who prefer iOS to Android.
With all of that in mind, I’m inclined to give the crown to the Pixel 7a. It’s got solid camera features, great performance, a long-lasting battery, and it costs substantially less than the other two. That said, you can’t go wrong with any of these phones.
Winner: Pixel 7a (but you can’t really lose here)
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