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Best Phones of 2023



For most of us, the smartphone is the most important piece of technology we own. So having a device that’s reliable and secure is vital. 2023 saw plenty of phones that meet those requirements but what were the best?

On Sky News Weekend Edition with Tim Gilbert, I went through the top phones of the past year, offering suggestions for the best in various categories. After sitting on the fence last year, I had to come up with one, overall winner.

USB-C unlocked the full potential of the iPhone 15 Pro Max

That was the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It was a very close call as I say in the vide above. I almost gave it to the Samsung S23 Ultra but there were a few things that got Apple across the line. I will say there was plenty of outstanding devices in 2023, including in the ‘affordable’ range – $990 or less.

We saw improvements across the board with cameras but there was nothing earth shattering. The 200MP sensor in the S23 was incredible but pixel-binning saw that resolution used rarely. The 10x optical zoom is fantastic but I’m more impressed with the selfie camera. It consistently gave me much better results than the other phones.

The S23 Ultra was a very close runner up

But I could not go past the iPhone, even with all the smarts of the Pixel 8 Pro. The discarding of the lightning port was a massive, massive change. Not only for compatibility reasons, but for data offloading speed as well.

This enabled truly professional use of the iPhone’s cameras. Lightning isn’t fast enough to record high quality ProRes video. Only USB-C could deliver the speeds creators were craving for from their iPhones.

The full suite of features from Apple was hard to ignore

This change alone, is extremely significant to me and may colour my judgement in Apple’s favour. But it’s something I can’t ignore in the judging process. USB-C also helps with fast charging and connections to other devices.

Add Apple’s SOS via Satellite service and you have a pretty compelling device.

The Pixel 8 Pro gets better every month

The Pixel 8 Pro had a staged rollout, with some of its killer features coming last month. Google’s ‘Best Take’ is a game changer. No longer will punters need to make do with a group photo that captures people with their eyes closed or looking goofy. Best Take removes all that by selecting the best parts of the a series of similar shots. The Pixel 8 Pro is an AI beast and it also came close to being my phone of the year.

OPPO’s Find N3 set the standard for Foldables in 2023

OPPO made a bunch of great phones in 2023 but the standout was the Find N3. It’s my foldable of the year. The main reason for that decision is OPPO’s inclusion of a flagship camera array in a flagship foldable. The cameras are often compromised in this format so it was satisfying too see OPPO go all in.

Samsung’s Flip 5 was the best out of the flip phones

When it comes to Flip foldables, Samsung gets the win here. There was tough competition from Motorola and OPPO but I think the execution by Samsung was better so that’s why I gave it to the Flip 5.

Special mention goes to Nokia for it’s sustainable approach to mobile production. The repairable models were a breath of fresh air in these days of disposable tech. By teaming up with iFixit, Nokia was able allow consumers replace batteries and displays on their own.

Nokia’s repairable phones were a much needed change in production philosophy

This not only saves on landfill waste but it helps demystify technology. So Nokia/HMD Global win my innovators award for smartphone production sustainability.

What will 2024 bring? Check out this video below.

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Blackmagic Camera App Now on Android Devices



Big news for serious phone videographers on Android. The Blackmagic Camera App from Blackmagic Design is now available from the Google Play Store for free.

Since the app made its debut on the iPhone back in September 2023, pro shooters like myself have been using it regularly for pick up shots, even some A-camera content. It is by far the best app on the iPhone in my opinion. And now it’s on Android.


Blackmagic Camera for Android is compatible with Samsung Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, S23 Ultra or S24, S24 Plus, S24 Ultra and Google Pixel 7, 7a, 7 Pro, 8 and 8 Pro phones.

Although you won’t get ProRes you can shoot 8K on the Samsung phones.


It gives users the same controls (other than iris) as they would get on a real camera. You can adjust frame rate, shutter angle, white balance and ISO all in a single tap.

I’ll be shooting a lot of test video this week so I can compare it with the iPhone.

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New iPad Pro Just Jumped the Queue with M4 Chip



We knew the iPad Pro was going to get a processor bump, but this is ridiculous. Apple has given the new iPad Pro the M4 chip, making it the most advanced device in the company’s lineup. Sounds crazy but it’s true.

The second-generation 3-nanometer M4 features a new display engine to drive a radical new OLED display. More on that in a moment. The new CPU has up to 10 cores, while the new 10-core GPU builds on the M3 by bringing Dynamic Caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and hardware-accelerated mesh shading to iPad for the first time.

The M4 has Apple’s fastest Neural Engine ever, capable of up to 38 trillion operations per second. Apple says that’s faster than the neural processing unit of any AI PC today.

“The new iPad Pro with M4 is a great example of how building best-in-class custom silicon enables breakthrough products,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Technologies.

“The power-efficient performance of M4, along with its new display engine, makes the thin design and game-changing display of iPad Pro possible, while fundamental improvements to the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and memory system make M4 extremely well suited for the latest applications leveraging AI. Altogether, this new chip makes iPad Pro the most powerful device of its kind.”

Despite all this horsepower, the new iPad Pro is the thinnest product Apple has ever made with the 13-inch model just 5.1mm thin while the 11-inch model is just 5.3mm thin.

Now to the display. Apple calls it the Ultra Retina XDR display.

It features tandem OLED technology that uses two OLED panels, combining the light from both to provide extra brightness. The new iPad Pro supports 1000 nits of full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content, and 1600 nits peak for HDR. Tandem OLED technology enables sub-millisecond control over the colour and luminance of each pixel.

Apple says highlights appear brighter and there’s more detail in shadows. A new nano-texture glass option is now available to cut down on glare.

The tandem OLED technology is very interesting. It’s also available on both pro models.

Apple’s also updated the cameras on the new iPad Pro. The 12MP back camera has improved colour capture, improved textures, and detail in low light. It also now features a new adaptive True Tone flash that improves document scanning.

The front TrueDepth camera system moves to the landscape location. The Ultra Wide 12MP camera with Center Stage improves video conferencing in landscape orientation.

iPad Pro supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4, giving up to 40Gb/s connectivity. Thunderbolt supports external displays like the Pro Display XDR at 6K and external storage.

iPad Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E connection and there’s a new Apple Pencil Pro.

But one of the really interesting accouncements was about software. Final Cut Pro for iPad 2, will be released soon and it promises a lot. Live Multicam is a new feature that allows your iPad to view and control up to four connected iPhone and iPad devices wirelessly.

Backing up Live Multicam is a new capture app for iPad and iPhone. Final Cut Camera gives users control over options like white balance, ISO, and shutter speed, along with monitoring tools like overexposure indicators and focus peaking. Final Cut Camera works as a standalone capture app or with Live Multicam. Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 also allows users to create or open projects from external storage.

I’ve become a regular user of Blackmagic Camera App, but it’s great Apple is bringing us a native app with ‘professional’ controls but please note, it’s not free.

In fact if you watch the keynote, in the end credits you’ll notice that Apple again shot the whole event on iPhone and edited it on iPad. Another big production statement from Apple.

Logic Pro for iPad 2 is available on 14 May.

We’ll have more coverage from today’s keynote shortly on Image Matrix Tech and Sky News Australia Weekend Edition this Sunday.

Pricing and Availability

  • Customers can order the new iPad Pro with M4 starting today, 8 May, at, and in the Apple Store app in 29 countries and regions, including Australia, with availability in stores beginning Wednesday 15 May.
  • The new 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver and space black finishes in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB configurations.
  • The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at RRP A$1,699 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model, and RRP A$2,049 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 13-inch iPad Pro starts at RRP A$2,199 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi model, and RRP A$2,549 inc. GST for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Additional technical specifications, including nano-texture glass options, are available at
  • For education, the new 11-inch iPad Pro is available for RRP A$1,529 inc. GST  and the 13-inch iPad Pro is RRP A$2,029 inc. GST. Education pricing is available to current and newly accepted university students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and home-school teachers of all levels. For more information, visit
  • The new Apple Pencil Pro is compatible with the new iPad Pro. It is available for RRP A$219 inc. GST. For education, Apple Pencil Pro is available for RRP A$199 inc. GST.
  • Apple Pencil (USB-C) is compatible with the new iPad Pro. It is available for RRP A$139 inc. GST and RRP A$119 inc. GST for education.
  • The new Magic Keyboard is compatible with the new iPad Pro. It is available in black and white finishes. The new 11-inch Magic Keyboard is available for RRP A$499 inc. GST and the new 13-inch Magic Keyboard is available for RRP A$579 inc. GST, with layouts for over 30 languages. For education, the 11-inch Magic Keyboard is available for RRP A$469 inc. GST and the 13-inch Magic Keyboard is available for RRP A$549 inc. GST.
  • The new Smart Folio is available for RRP A$129 inc. GST in black, white, and denim finishes for the new 11-inch iPad Pro and RRP A$159 inc. GST for the new 13-inch iPad Pro.
  • Logic Pro for iPad 2 is available on 14 May as a free update for existing users, and for new users, it is available on the App Store for RRP A$7.99 inc. GST per month, or RRP A$59 inc. GST per year, with a one-month free trial. Logic Pro for iPad 2 requires iPadOS 17.4 or later. For more information, visit
  • Final Cut Pro for iPad 2 is coming soon to the App Store for RRP A$7.99 inc. GST per month, or RRP A$59 inc. GST per year, with a one-month free trial.
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Back to School Phone Options: Advice for Parents



As the school year begins across the country, many parents are deciding whether their children should have a mobile phone. The decision is further complicated by schools cracking down on phones nationwide.

So my advice?

Don’t hand down your old Android phone because security updates might be a problem. Unless it’s very new. Get the latest model possible but don’t spend too much. Let’s face it .. kids won’t be able to use them as much due to the school bans.

On the iPhone side – get a refurbished model that is supported by iOS 17. The iPhone 8 and X are getting too old.

Here are some affordable options I’ve compiled for you but you need to act fast as most are on special.

Nokia 2660 Flip

Nokia 2660 Flip is HMD’s retro design with modern insides. Its long battery life and basic operation, makes it ideal for the youngest school kids. It flips open to reveal a big display and big buttons. The 2660 Flip also comes with Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) and emergency button that works while closed. There are other features like games, web browsing and camera. Although the camera is made in the modern day, the shots it takes are definitely from the early 2000s. Good choice for mostly phone calls and text messages.


Nokia G22

The Nokia G22 is the first phone in the HMD Nokia range to enable Quickfix repairability. As I tell Tim in the video above, if your kid breaks it, he or she can fix it. Pretty handy skill to learn. Together with ifixit, Nokia has created a self-repairable phone where aspects like dead batteries, broken screens and bent charging cables can be fixed at home by the phone user, without voiding the warranty. The Nokia G22 prioritises a longevity-first design with the self-repairability being supported by 3 years of warranty and updates as well as a 3-day battery life.



The A79 5G is the most expensive in this group but it’s definitely good value. It has all the best feature you’d expect from OPPO. The large display is incredibly bright. You can see in the demo video above just how bright it gets. Brilliant for outside use by kids. A hefty 5,000mAh battery can be charged to 100% in approx. 74 minutes. A 5-minute charge is enough for up to 2.6 hours of phone calls. Dual AI rear cameras are outstanding at this price.

OPPO A79 5G FOR $367

Motorola G54 5G

The moto g54 5G comes packed with Motorola’s usual features which include twist-to-launch-camera and shake-for-torch. It has an excellent 6.5” display with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. The rear 50MP camera system with OIS can capture outstanding images. Of course, it’s also 5G. At less than $250, the Moto G54 is amazing value.


iPhone SE – refurb

iPhone has a long support timeline but it’s not endless. So I would recommends parents look for a 2020 SE device. These refurbished phones are great for families that want to be all-in with Apple team. This is handy for easy sharing and tracking. Although you’ll see many iPhone 8 and X models around, I would skip these as they are at, or nearing the end of their support life from Apple. This is important for security updates. It’s also a good idea to underscore the importance of phone security with you children as it will help set them up in later life. I’m pleased to say my kids are always doing the right thing when it comes to security .. and they are in their twenties now.



In this week’s segment we also covered smartwatches at school. I found that rules vary on the use of these devices in different jurisdictions. Some won’t allow them, others will, if they are in flight mode or with notifications turned off. Of course, there are exemptions for medical reasons.

Watches are often used to track where children are during the day so another option might be AirTag for Apple users or SmartTag2 for Samsung owners. Tile will work for all. Just pop one in your kid’s bag and you’re good to go. Although two-way communication isn’t possible you could just make them beep remotely. That could signify you need to make contact.

Or you could just ring the school .. old skool.

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