Best Google Pixel Phone to Buy in 2023 – CNET

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The back of Google's Pixel 6A phone

Pixel 6A

The best Google Pixel if you’re on a tight budget

We’ve reviewed every Google phone, from the original Nexus line to all of today’s Pixels, so we know what makes a phone truly worthy of your hard-earned money. Google’s Pixels have always been top performers, with specs rivaling those of other flagship phones like the iPhone 14 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Pixel 7 Pro sits at the top of the pile, with the best performance, a slick design and a triple camera system that takes some of the best images you can get from a phone. And it does it at a price that undercuts its rivals by a healthy measure. 

But if you’re shopping on a smaller budget, the most recent Pixel 7A still offers a stellar all-round experience, with powerful cameras, a smooth and enjoyable interface and a price that won’t leave quite as big a dent in your bank balance. Then there’s the Pixel Fold. It’s the most expensive of all Google’s phones, but it has a folding display that opens up into a large 7.6-inch screen that’s great for watching YouTube videos or playing games. 

The range has grown, and with older models still on sale it can be a bit confusing to work out which one’s best for you. We’ve pulled together the top Pixels currently on sale to help you decide. 

Read more: Best phone to buy in 2023

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are set to launch in early October, so it may be worth waiting a while if you’re specifically looking for a Pixel phone. 

What is the best Google Pixel phone right now?

The Pixel 7 Pro remains at the top of Google’s phone lineup, packing the latest Tensor G2 processor and a superb triple camera system into a great-looking body. It’s not the cheapest Google phone, but if you want the best the company has to offer (and you don’t want to splash the cash on its foldable), then the 7 Pro is the one to go for right now. 

pixel-7-pro-watch-lanxon-promo-27

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The Pixel 7 Pro is the best overall phone Google makes. It packs the latest Tensor G2 processor, which provides more than enough power for gaming and photo editing, its Android software is slick and easy to use and the aluminum and glass design looks great.

Google's Pixel 7A phone

James Martin/CNET

While the Pixel 7 Pro might have a better camera system and a larger display, many of the other features are the same, including the processor and software. But the Pixel 7A also comes with a significantly lower price tag, which makes it a much better value for those of you simply not interested in paying for the more advanced camera.

The back of Google's Pixel 6A phone

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Released in July 2022, the Pixel 6A is one of the older models on this list, but Google still officially sells it alongside its more recent handsets — and with a cut-down price. The Pixel 6A packs a solid dual camera, 5G connectivity and a decent display into a relatively compact body. While it doesn’t have the most up-to-date Tensor processor, its older chip will still cope with all your everyday essentials.

A Pixel Fold laid on a table, partially unfolded to watch a YouTube video

Stephen Shankland/CNET

The Pixel Fold is the first foldable phone Google has made, and it’s not a bad first effort. The 5.8-inch outer screen unfolds to reveal a 7.6-inch internal screen that provides ample room for watching videos or for using the various split-screen apps available. The phone’s performance and cameras are solid. Plus, the Fold’s overall build quality — including its folding hinge — seems good.

How we test phones

Every phone on this list has been thoroughly tested by CNET’s expert reviews team. We actually use the phone, test the features, play games and take photos. We assess any marketing promises that a company makes about its phones. And if we find something we don’t like, be it battery life or build quality, we tell you all about it. 

We examine every aspect of a phone during testing:

  • Display
  • Design and feel
  • Processor performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera quality
  • Features

We test all of a phone’s cameras (both front and back) in a variety of conditions: from outdoors under sunlight to dimmer indoor locales and night time scenes (for any available night modes). We also compare our findings against similarly priced models. We have a series of real world battery tests to see how long a phone lasts under everyday use.

We take into account additional phone features like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, fast charging, foldable displays and other useful extras. And we, of course, weigh all of our experiences and testing against the price so you know whether a phone represents good value or not.

Read more: How we test phones

How to choose a Pixel phone

Deciding which Pixel phone is best for you will likely come down to how much you’re willing to spend. As with anything, the more cash you splash, the better features you’ll get. The Pixel 7 Pro is the most expensive of the range (excluding the foldable) and as a result it comes with the best camera system. 

But if photography isn’t important to you, then you can save yourself some money and look instead toward the Pixel 7A. It has the same processor as the 7 Pro, so you can expect similar overall performance, but its dual rear camera is aimed more toward those of you simply wanting to take the odd snap of your kid on the beach, rather than those looking for Instagram stardom. 

If you want the most cutting-edge piece of tech in your pocket then the Pixel Fold’s foldable display certainly makes it stand out in the range. But you’ll pay a hefty price for this brand-new technology meaning it’s not a phone for everyone to consider.

Pixel phone FAQs

What about the Pixel 7?

While we loved the Pixel 7 when it first launched thanks to its solid all-round performance and lower price, the arrival of the cheaper Pixel 7A means we no longer recommend buying the Pixel 7. The 7A shares many of the Pixel 7’s features, including the processor and excellent dual camera setup. But since the Pixel 7A is newer, buying that now over the Pixel 7 will mean that you’ll get a few extra months of software and security updates.

When does the next Pixel phone launch?

Google is expected to take the wraps off the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro in October. The phones are set to get the latest Google-made processor, the Tensor G3, along with various updates to the cameras and software. If you want the latest, greatest tech from Google, then it’s worth holding onto your money for a little while to see what Google has in store later in the year. 

Are Pixel phones good?

We’ve consistently given Google’s Pixel phones high scores in our reviews thanks to their decent all-round performance and typically good camera quality. They don’t have the most high-performance processors around, but they offer enough power for almost any of your needs, while the pure Android software makes them smooth and easy to use. 

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