Best Phone to Buy for 2023

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 it against new phones from competitors such as Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus.

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

Emergency SOS debuted on the iPhone 14 series and we got to test the feature out to see how it works.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

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, as a simple, replicable measure of pure battery life, which isn’t always included in the initial review but sometimes added later in an update.

Performance measuring

We use benchmarking apps to measure each phone’s performance, alongside our own anecdotal experiences using the phone for our review. Of 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.

alpine-green-iphone-13-pro alpine-green-iphone-13-pro

We also test every phone we review for the basics like making a phone call.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

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

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