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Best Phones of 2023

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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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