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The Google Pixel 8 Pro is Android Authority's pick for best phone of 2023

The Big G takes the grand prize, but it narrowly won by just a single point to a surprise runner-up.

Published onDecember 17, 2023

The age of the consistent upgrade cycle is over. As more and more smartphone users wait upwards of three or more years to upgrade their daily drivers, the fight to stand out and grab a slice of the dwindling global market share is getting tougher by the day.

With the margins between success and failure slimmer than ever, some of the more established companies have stuck stringently to their tried and true blueprints, while others have attempted to separate from the pack by offering a fresh spin on the smartphone formula. In 2023, the latter camp was mostly occupied by phones that leaned into new technologies or offered still recent innovations at a more affordable price point. And while some of the big names and iconic designs that continue to lead the popularity charts have started to become more than a little long in the tooth, that hasn’t stopped the very best phones from getting even better, nor the chasing crowd becoming even hungrier.

But only one phone can stand at the top and claim the mantle of the best phone of 2023. You’ve already crowned your champion in our Reader’s Choice award (scroll down to the bottom to see your pick!), but now it’s our turn. Join us as we run down the handsets that hit our top five and name the device that snatched the ultimate title of Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice award for the best smartphone of 2023.

How we chose our winner

Google Pixel 8 USB C charging test
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

First off, a bit of necessary housekeeping.

Every year, we have to reconsider what the “best” actually means at the time. At Android Authority, when judging a phone’s quality we consider everything from objective measurements like raw testing data, base specs, and update policy guarantees, to more intangible subjective facets like photography, UI design, and unique software features. Our expert product testers spend countless hours trying to unpick everything there is to know about each new device, and while everyone inevitably will have their own favorites and preferences — we’re only human, after all — we are always determined to set a baseline for standards that defines what it means to be the best.

With all the votes counted, we have a winner, but boy was it a close one...

Our annual Editor’s Choice award for the smartphone of the year is only reserved for those devices that truly excel. To ensure that’s the case, our product reviews team pores over a shortlist of the highest-reviewed phones of the calendar year. The class of 2023 was made up of 20 phones from 11 different global brands. From there, each member of the jury assigns votes to their top five picks, ranked from fifth to first. Fifth place nets the chosen device a single point, fourth snags two points, and so on, up to a maximum of five points for the top choice. The phone that receives the most points takes home the grand prize.

And with all the votes counted, we have a winner, but boy was it a close one…

Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice phone of the year: Google Pixel 8 Pro

google pixel 8 pro hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
best of 2023 editors

For the third year running, it’s a Pixel that takes the top prize. And just like in 2022, the Pro model was the obvious standout in Google’s smartphone series.

In our review, we anointed the Pixel 8 Pro as Google’s most complete smartphone to date, praising the on-device AI smarts, continued excellence in photography (now with boosted video, to boot), and its industry-smashing software policy that puts even Apple on notice.

Google may be charging an extra $100 over its predecessor, but the Pixel 8 Pro earned its flagship-tier price tag with refinements to the Pixel aesthetic, and our extensive testing showed clear improvements to its custom Tensor chipset. And what’s more, it’ll only get better throughout the full seven years of its guaranteed support period, during which time it’ll receive software updates, security patches, and Google’s patented Feature Drops.

The truest realization of Google’s smartphone dreams we’ve seen to date, the Pixel 8 Pro is a worthy winner of our Editor’s Choice phone of the year award. However, unlike in 2022 where the Pixel 7 Pro was the runaway success story with a lion’s share of the vote, the Pixel 8 Pro won by just one vote. One! So, which phone narrowly missed out?

Google Pixel 8 ProGoogle Pixel 8 Pro
AA Editor's Choice
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Excellent cameras • Fun, exclusive Android 14 customizations • Industry-leading update promise
MSRP: $999.99
Powerful Google phone with powerful camera features
The Google Pixel 8 Pro is packed with unique camera features and AI-assisted software that puts the smart into smartphone.

Runner-up: OnePlus Open

oneplus open selfie with rear cameras
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

To say the OnePlus-OPPO merger has been divisive would be an understatement, and for a little while, it seemed like it might spell doom for a brand starting to settle for mediocrity. But as the lines between the two have continued to blur, we’ve finally begun seeing devices that embody the spirit of the once “flagship killer,” combined with the polish of its parent company. Case in point, our runner-up for 2023, the brilliant OnePlus Open.

The OnePlus Open isn’t just like an OPPO phone, it is an OPPO phone — the OPPO Find N3 rebranded and with a software reskin. But releasing it under the OnePlus banner meant we finally got our hands on one of OPPO’s phenomenal book-style foldables in regions outside of China. That wider release plan included the US market, where it debuted for a competitive $1,699 price tag, but with a constant trade-in offer that drops the cost to $1,499.

That’s still no small chunk of change, but it’s a much more affordable option compared to rival phone-tablet foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold or Pixel Fold. It didn’t sacrifice quality to get to that price point either, and it even managed to iron out a few creases common to foldables, including, well… the screen crease — you can barely see it!

While it couldn’t quite dethrone the champion, the Shenzhen brand deserves every bit of credit for coming so, so close. OnePlus is dead. Long live OnePlus.

OnePlus OpenOnePlus Open
AA Recommended
OnePlus Open
Solid cameras • Refined hardware • Alert slider
MSRP: $1,699.99
A debut foldable phone with great hardware
The OnePlus Open brings what might be the best hardware on a foldable phone and enough clever software tricks to turn heads. It pairs top-end internals with some of OPPO's careful trial-and-error to create a debut foldable phone that hardly feels like a first attempt. Add in a competitive asking price, and the OnePlus Open just might give other foldables a run for their money.

Third place: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

The perennial ultra-flagship, the mighty Galaxy S23 Ultra has become the standard bearer for quality in the Android space. An extra year of experience added a layer of polish to Samsung’s Galaxy Note-inspired vision for its Ultra-phone, and we accordingly awarded it a full five out of five stars in our review. It’s as near flawless as we’ve seen from a premium slab phone, with stellar cameras, incredible performance, a timeless design, and comprehensive software support.

To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Galaxy S23 Ultra may not have topped our list (spoiler: it did top yours), but it retains its status as the kingmaker.

Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
AA Editor's Choice
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
New 200MP main camera • Beautiful display • S Pen functionality
MSRP: $1,199.00
The Ultra release of Samsung's 2023 flagship line
Powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 as the smaller models in the series, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra offers larger storage capacities and a whopping 200MP camera. S Pen support and a 6.8-inch display make the Ultra ideal for note-takers on the go.

Fourth place: Google Pixel 7a

google pixel 7a hero with box
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Well, here’s a surprise. Where we’ve previously seen the vanilla Pixel grab a spot in the top five alongside the expected Pro placement, this year the Big G’s flagship is instead joined by the true budget Pixel. Maybe the Pixel 8‘s price hike is to blame (it’s still an amazing phone!), or maybe the upgrades we saw to the A series — notably the additions of wireless charging and a 90Hz refresh rate — earned it a spot in the top five. Whatever the reason, the Pixel 7a becomes the de facto best pick for budget buyers unwilling to spend over $500.

Google Pixel 7aGoogle Pixel 7a
AA Editor's Choice
Google Pixel 7a
The best sub-$500 camera phone • Solid performance and plenty of RAM • Improved 90Hz display
MSRP: $499.00
The essential Pixel experience
The Pixel 7a delivers more premium features than ever for under $500, such as wireless charging support, a 90Hz refresh rate display, and a 64MP camera.

Fifth place: Motorola Razr Plus

The nostalgia-baiting series that kickstarted the foldable clamshell trend has always been overshadowed by the Galaxy Z Flip. But not this year!

The Nothing Phone 2 and Galaxy S23 each narrowly missed out on fifth place by a single solitary point (better luck next year!), but the Motorola Razr Plus wowed us just a little bit more with that huge cover screen and its stylish, dust-resistant design. In what was generally a great year for Motorola flagships with the equally excellent Razr (2023), Edge Plus (2023), and even the Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola, the Razr Plus had the cutting edge.

Motorola Razr Plus (2023)Motorola Razr Plus (2023)
AA Recommended
Motorola Razr Plus (2023)
Huge cover screen • Quick 30W wired charging • Dust resistance
MSRP: $999.99
The sharpest Razr to date.
Lightweight, ultra-sleek, and infinitely flexible, the Motorola Razr Plus (2023) flips open to reveal a gorgeous display that looks seamless, feels smooth, and shines bright. Also featuring the largest cover screen on a foldable phone of this form factor, the Razr Plus is offering serious competition to its foldable rivals.

Reader’s Choice award: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

samsung galaxy s23 ultra hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
best of 2023 readers

A whopping 32 phones entered, but the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra emerged victorious. Check out our Reader’s Choice award feature to see how Samsung’s behemoth took down the competition.

Another year, and another phone of the year in the bag, but we’re far from done for 2023 here at Android Authority. For the remainder of the holiday season, we’ll be releasing more best of the year lists (including crowning our Editor’s Choice award for wearable of the year), 2023 retrospective features, and even a few articles looking ahead at the exciting devices that could well be winning awards in 2024.

For all that and all our usual analysis, opinions, and reporting, be sure to keep it locked to Android Authority. And from our families to yours, have a happy holidays!

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