Best Samsung Phone of 2023

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Samsung has a growing variety of Galaxy phones to choose from. If you have a bigger budget and want a giant screen with Samsung’s best camera, the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra is your best choice. But there’s also the budget-friendly Galaxy A12, which costs less than $200. On top of that, there are plenty of choices in between.

Samsung just launched the Galaxy S23 lineup in February, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about those models feeling outdated anytime soon. We’ll update this list periodically as we test more Samsung devices. 

Samsung Galaxy phones compared

Model US starting price (at launch) Screen size
Galaxy S23 Ultra $1,200 6.8 inches
Galaxy S23 Plus $1,000 6.6 inches
Galaxy S23 $800 6.1 inches
Galaxy S21 FE $700 6.4 inches
Galaxy A53 5G $450 6.5 inches
Galaxy Z Fold 4 $1,800 6.2 inches (cover); 7.6 inches (main)
Galaxy Z Flip 4 $1,000 1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)
Galaxy Z Flip 3 $900 (new lower price as of 8/22) 1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)
Galaxy A12 $180 6.5 inches

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 13 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 A53 5G. Those looking for the flashiest tech around — who also have deep pockets — should consider the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Galaxy Z Flip 4. Samsung typically releases new versions of its foldable phones in August, so consider whether you’d rather wait to see what the next model has in store.

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 S22 and Galaxy A53 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 Ultra

James Martin/CNET

The Galaxy S23 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.

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy A53 provides the basics for roughly half the price of the Galaxy S23. It has a much larger screen and more versatile camera than Apple’s budget-friendly phone, the $429 iPhone SE, though Apple delivers snappier performance.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 standing on end

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Usually priced at $1,800 (yikes!), the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still costs substantially more than your average smartphone. But the latest version of Samsung’s book-style foldable is filled with small improvements that add up to a much more pleasant overall experience. The hinge is thinner, the device is slightly lighter and the cover screen is a bit wider, making it feel more natural to use as a phone when closed. That’s on top of other routine smartphone upgrades like a better camera that’s similar to the Galaxy S22’s and a new processor. Our reviewer Patrick Holland called it his “favorite Android tablet.”

Galaxy Z Flip 3 unboxing

Patrick Holland/CNET

If the Galaxy Fold is a tablet that folds in half to become a phone, the Z Flip is a phone that folds in half to become a smaller phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a generation older than the newly released Galaxy Z Flip 4. But we recommend it over the Z Flip 4, since it’s cheaper while still offering many of the same benefits. The Z Flip 4 has a new processor, larger battery, a new main sensor for taking better low-light photos and a slightly tweaked design. That might sound like a lot, but these changes come together to make only a slightly improved experience over the previous generation Flip 3.

The Samsung Galaxy A12.

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The Galaxy A12 is one of the cheapest phones Samsung sells and it’s the one to consider for those of you who simply want a phone for all of life’s essentials. If you don’t care for extravagant cameras or supercomputer-levels of processing power, you won’t have to pay for them with this model. It doesn’t have 5G, but it does have four rear cameras, a 6.5-inch display and a capacious 5,000-mAh battery. Given the generally low demands of the specs, that battery should easily last a full day.

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samsung-galaxy-s21-fe-cnet-review-2022-007

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The first S20 “Fan Edition” seriously impressed us with its balance of performance and price, and the Galaxy S21 FE took that further in 2022 with a solid triple camera, a vibrant display and the same powerful processor found in the Galaxy S21 from 2021. It has a 6.5-inch screen, making it an ideal choice for those who want a phone that’s larger than the regular Galaxy S22 or S23 at a more reasonable price. Although it’s missing some of the Galaxy S22 and S23’s bells and whistles — like improved night photography and a newer processor — this phone has a sharper front-facing camera for selfies and video calls.

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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

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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Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise