Best Samsung Phone of 2023 – CNET

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Samsung Galaxy A54 5G

A great, affordable Samsung Galaxy phone

Samsung has plenty of Galaxy phones to choose from. Those who want a giant screen and the most sophisticated camera on a Samsung phone should consider the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra, as long as you have the budget. But there’s also the more wallet-friendly Galaxy A14, which costs $200. On top of that, there are plenty of options in between.

Samsung typically releases new Galaxy S series phones in February and new foldable phones in the August timeframe. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 are currently Samsung’s newest devices. We’ll be sure to update this list as we test more Samsung phones. 

Samsung Galaxy Phones Compared

Model US starting price (at launch) Screen size
Galaxy A14 5G $200 6.6 inches
Galaxy A54 5G $450 6.4 inches
Galaxy S23 $800 6.1 inches
Galaxy S23 Plus $1,000 6.6 inches
Galaxy Z Flip 5 $1,000 3.4 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)
Galaxy S23 Ultra $1,200 6.8 inches
Galaxy Z Fold 5 $1,800 6.2 inches (cover); 7.6 inches (main)

What is the best Samsung phone?

While the $1,200 Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra packs features to the max, although for most people it’s overkill. For us, the $800 Galaxy S23 stands above its Galaxy brethren. It has the same Snapdragon customized chip as the S23 Ultra, runs the same version of Android and costs $400 less. The Galaxy S23 has a very capable triple rear camera setup that is versatile in both bright outdoor scenes and capturing candid moments inside under mixed lighting. Overall, the Galaxy S23 is ideal for Android fans that prioritize fast performance, solid cameras and having a spacious and bright screen in a compact package. 

How to pick the right Samsung phone for you

Like many purchasing decisions, deciding which Samsung phone is right for you comes down to what you want in a phone and how much you’re willing to spend. If you want the largest screen available on a standard Samsung phone, enjoy notetaking with a stylus and need a camera with a significantly closer zoom, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the right choice. But you’ll also have to be willing to spend more than $1,000 unless you score a trade-in deal. 

Those who don’t need the stylus, prefer more compact devices and still want a top-notch camera should consider the Galaxy S23 or Galaxy S23 Plus. And if you really just want the basics, like a spacious screen, 5G and a decent camera, consider the Galaxy A54 5G. Those looking for the flashiest tech around — who also have deep pockets — should consider the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or Galaxy Z Flip 5

It’s also important to consider whether now is the right time to upgrade. If you have a relatively new phone that’s two to three years old and still functions properly, you can probably wait. Samsung has also committed to supporting four generations of Android operating system updates for devices like the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy A54 5G, which improves their longevity.

Finding the best Samsung phone will ultimately come down to preference. Choosing among so many options can get complicated, so here’s how to decide which Samsung phone is best for you. Check out our phone buying guide for more tips on how to choose the right device. Not sure whether it’s worth upgrading to the Galaxy S23? We have a guide for that too

Best Samsung phones in 2023

Samsung Galaxy S23

James Martin/CNET

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is a lot, but in a good way. It’s more than most people need in a phone, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Samsung made improvements to the camera’s resolution (200 megapixels compared with 108 megapixels), color tones and dynamic range, while retaining the same edgy design and massive 6.8-inch screen as its predecessor. There’s also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that’s been optimized specifically for Samsung’s phones, which brings faster performance compared with the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy S23 Plus is the Goldilocks of smartphones. It’s not too big, but it’s not too small either. The S23 Plus’ 6.6-inch screen is large enough to satisfy those who prefer larger phones, but it doesn’t feel as gargantuan as the 6.8-inch Galaxy S23 Ultra. Compared with the Galaxy S22 Plus, the S23 Plus has a new processor, a bigger battery and more storage in the base model, although the camera is more or less the same. If you want a phone with a big screen that doesn’t feel gigantic, a high-quality camera and an attractive design, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the way to go. Read our Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review.

Samsung's Galaxy S23

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Android fans looking for a petite phone don’t have much to choose from. But the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 provides a compelling option for those who want a phone that feels compact but still provides enough screen space. The Galaxy S23 comes with routine upgrades like a fresh processor (a version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s been optimized for Samsung’s phones), a slightly new design and a higher-resolution selfie camera. But it’s the Galaxy S23’s larger battery that makes it worth recommending. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23.

The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 phone

Rich Peterson/CNET

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the biggest leap forward Samsug’s flip phone has seen in years. Samsung has significantly expanded the size of the cover screen located on the outside of the device, meaning you can look up directions, take photos and send messages without opening the phone. It’s this combined with the Z Flip’s solid battery life and sturdy design that makes it a top pick.

Samsung's new Galaxy Z Fold 5 phone

James Martin/CNET

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is an incremental improvement that further refines Samsung’s large-screened foldable. If you’re looking for a phone that can double as a tablet for viewing work-related documents, running multiple apps on screen at once or watching movies, the Z Fold 5 is our top choice. The Pixel Fold may have better cameras, but the Z Fold 5’s bright screen makes Samsung’s phone better at its intended purpose: providing a big display that fits in your pocket.

samsung-galaxy-a54-5g-cnet-review-7

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Though it’s one of the cheapest phones you can buy from Samsung, the Galaxy A54 stills packs great features, like 5G connectivity, a decent multiple rear camera setup, solid battery life and power enough for your everyday essentials. It looks pretty, too, and it’s one of the few remaining phones that lets you expand the built-in storage using microSD cards.

Samsung Galaxy A14 5G running YouTube Music

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The $200 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is one of the most functional phones under $200 available right now. Even though it’s at a budget-friendly price, this Samsung phone includes 5G support for faster data and NFC for contactless payments using Google Wallet. While both of those inclusions are highlights for this price range, Samsung is also planning to support the Galaxy A14 with two years of software updates and five years of security updates, making it a phone that will be safe to use for several years.

How we test phones

A man holding an iPhone 14 Pro outdoors on a remote hillside

We test the battery, screen, performance, cameras and more on every phone we review.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

We test every phone in real-world scenarios focusing on its features, design, performance, cameras, battery life and overall value. We document our findings in an initial review that is periodically updated when there are new software updates or to compare against new phones from phones from competitors like Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus.

Photography

Photography is a major focus for most phones these days, so we take pictures and videos of various subjects in a variety of settings and lighting scenarios. We try out any new camera modes such as Action mode that debuted with the iPhone 14 line or the Unblur photo tool that launched with the Google Pixel 7 series.

Battery life

Battery testing is conducted in a variety of ways. We assess how long a phone lasts during a typical day of use, and note how it performs during more focused sessions of video calls, media streaming and gaming. We also conduct a video playback test, which isn’t always included in the initial review and added later in an update.

Performance measuring

We use benchmarking apps to measure the performance, alongside our own anecdotal experiences using the phone for our review. Of particular note are how graphics and animations look. Are they smooth? Or do they lag or stutter? We also look at how quickly the phone switches between horizontal and vertical orientations and how fast the camera app opens and is ready to take a photo.

We perform processor-heavy tasks like editing photos, exporting videos and playing games. We evaluate whether a newer version of a particular phone includes enough features to make it worth upgrading from older models.Read more: How We Test Phones

Samsung phone FAQs

Why buy a Samsung phone instead of other Android phones?

The right phone for you depends on a variety of factors, such as your budget, your current phone and whether you own other mobile accessories from the same company (like earbuds or smartwatches). Many people prefer to stick with phones from the same company because the experience is more consistent and there’s less of a learning curve when switching to a new device.

Which Samsung phone series is best, Galaxy A or Galaxy S?

Samsung’s Galaxy A and S families serve different purposes, so which one is right for you will depend on your needs and budget. The Galaxy A lineup is Samsung’s midtier and budget line, and it’s the best choice if you’re looking for a phone under $500 without a trade-in deal. These phones typically offer core features like a big screen, large battery and multiple cameras at a cheaper price.

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