Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
The best Samsung phones: High-end, mid-range, and entry-level models
Samsung has been the king of the Android world for years now, and the South Korean giant’s lineup of phones has something for everyone. When deciding the best Samsung phone for you, there are a few things to consider:
- How far can you stretch your budget?
- How important is camera performance?
- Will you use your Samsung phone for gaming or demanding apps?
- What form factor do you want? Small? Large? Folding?
Once you’ve decided what’s important to you, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve tested and reviewed literally every Samsung phone on the market, boiling down the options to just six phones. If you want some more insight, check out our detailed buyer’s guide to learn more.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus is the best Samsung phone for most people
If you just want a great Samsung phone, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the one to get. Yes, it’s only just been announced, but we expect it to slot in right where the Galaxy S22 Plus left off. In fact, it’s probably going to land among the best Android phones to buy, period. The Galaxy S23 Plus doesn’t reinvent what made its predecessor great, instead refining what we look for in a phone: flagship performance, great cameras, and the best software support in the industry.
Like all of Samsung’s premium smartphones, the S23 Plus is built for speed. Most years, Samsung adopts a two-processor approach, packing certain models with the latest from Qualcomm, while others get an in-house Exynos chipset. Not this year. Now, all Galaxy S23 models — no matter the size — come with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 onboard. Whether it’s high-intensity gaming or just scrolling through social media feeds, the S23 Plus should take everything in stride.
Sometimes flagship performance means weaker battery life, which we saw last year. This year, the Galaxy S23 Plus gets most of its capacity back, rising from 4,500mAh to 4,700mAh. We haven’t put the battery through its paces, but we’re expecting Qualcomm’s flagship chipset to be more efficient this year — always a good thing. Charging is speedy, too, packing 45W wired and 15W wireless speeds. Granted, you will need to buy a USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible charger, which is not included in the box. Wireless charging is a bit slower, taking 90 minutes.
Although the premium Galaxy S23 Ultra will likely maintain its edge among the best camera phones, the S23 Plus is still a great shooter. It holds on to the same hardware from previous generations, but that’s not a bad thing. We expect the 50MP main sensor, 12MP ultrawide sensor, and 10MP telephoto sensor to continue producing excellent photos in our testing. Samsung even gave the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus a selfie camera boost — jumping from 10MP to 12MP.
Other plusses are the streamlined design, bright 120Hz display, and excellent software features in One UI. While we were a bit put off by the amount of pre-installed apps the phone comes with, most (but not all) of them can be uninstalled. That’s a small price to pay for the plethora of customization options Samsung packs in its OS. The company also offers the best software support in the Android world, with four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. Of course, that’s a selling point for all Samsung phones, and not just the S23 Plus specifically.
At the end of the day, the S23 Plus is our pick for the best Samsung phone you can get for under $1000. Unless you really want an S Pen or next-level camera zoom, you won’t miss anything from the S23 Ultra. The S23 Plus truly represents the best of Samsung, and we think it’s the ideal phone for just about anyone.
What makes it stand out
- Slimmed-down design: The Contour Cut camera is gone, but the slim design still feels great.
- Versatile cameras: The triple-camera setup is great for just about any situation.
- Great performance: All Snapdragon, all the time, means that the Galaxy S23 Plus is a strong performer no matter what.
- Gorgeous display: The bright, crisp 120Hz display is easily visible outside, even on sunny days.
- Upgraded battery: We didn’t love Samsung shrinking the Galaxy S22 series batteries, so it’s nice to see larger cells come back.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G offers unbeatable value
If you’re looking for a more affordable Samsung phone, the Galaxy A54 5G is fixing to be one of our favorites. Coming in at just over half the price of the pick above, the Galaxy A54 offers incredible value. It’s not flagship-level, but with improved performance and a nearly Galaxy S23 style, you might not mind.
Starting with the cameras, it features a three-camera setup that’s reminiscent of its flagship cousins. We were really impressed with the color accuracy, offering a much less aggressive level of color saturation when compared to older Samsung phones. However, it’s sightly disappointing to see Samsung hang onto the macro camera and ditch the telephoto from the previous Galaxy A54.
On the front side, the A54 5G sports a bright, crisp, and speedy 120hz AMOLED display. It once again imitates the premium Galaxy S23 series, offering rounded corners, even bezels, and great color accuracy. Of course, the lower price point means the bezels are a bit thicker, but you won’t notice them after a while.
This thing is also a battery beast. It packs a beefy 5,000mAh battery, which has held up nicely in our early testing. Charging is also speedy, with 25W wired power topping off in a little under an hour and a half. There’s no charger in the box though, so you’ll need to buy a compatible charger if you don’t already have one at home.
If we had to nitpick, our only complaint is performance. The Exynos 1380 has no problems with browsing social media and streaming video, but it doesn’t scratch its mid-range rivals. For example, Apple’s modest iPhone SE (2022) packs its flagship Galaxy A15 chipset, and the close Android foe, the Pixel 6a, packs the Tensor chip under the hood. Still, unless you’re a big mobile gamer or want to edit video on your phone, this is a fine tradeoff to make for great battery life and a lower price tag.
What makes it stand out
- Flagship design: The Galaxy A54 looks so much like an S23 you might not mind its plastic frame.
- Long battery life: Expect the Galaxy A54 5G to last well over a day and a half, even without battery-saving mode enabled.
- Great display: The 120hz AMOLED display is crisp and bright, even in daylight.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the power user’s dream phone
If you want the best, most powerful Samsung phone (without dipping into foldables), the Galaxy S23 Ultra is it. The top dog in the S23 lineup continues the traditions of the now-defunct Galaxy Note line to provide a power user’s dream phone, still offering an integrated S Pen.
The performance here is stellar, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. We expect no hiccups, studders, or slowdowns while testing the device on everything from social media to intense gaming. However, we’re still a bit disappointed by the lowest-specced model at 8GB of RAM. Samsung did raise its storage to 256GB for the base model, but this is the only Galaxy S23 with two RAM options. Anyway, if you’re going to spend the money on a Galaxy S23 Ultra, the 12GB/512GB model is the sweet spot.
Another huge selling point for this phone is the cameras. You won’t find better cameras on any other Samsung phone or perhaps any other phone on the market. We expect it to dominate in our camera testing, and we’re eager to experience the differences between the new 200MP Isocell HP2 and the previous 108MP sensor. We already know that the quad camera setup provides excellent versatility and amazing results, including in low-light situations. We ran it through the gauntlet of tests, but the takeaway is that every image was clean, sharp, and punchy. Unlike most smartphone cameras, zoom performance is also excellent, although results beyond 30x fall off rapidly.
Make no mistake about it, this is a large phone. The massive AMOLED screen clocks in at 6.8 inches, which is far too large to use with one hand. Samsung flattened the sides just slightly, which makes it feel even bigger in the hand. On the bright (literally) side, it’s one of the brightest and sharpest screens we’ve ever tested, but if you’re coming from a smaller phone, there will be a learning curve.
Now for the downside: this is a very expensive device. It starts at $1,200, and if you want to get the 12GB/512GB model we recommend, that’ll add extra cost on top. If you can afford it though, it’s worth it. This phone is an absolute powerhouse.
What makes it stand out
- Integrated S Pen: If you use it, this can be a game-changer for productivity. Or Candy Crush. Your call.
- Amazing cameras: This is the best camera phone on the market, especially if you want manual controls.
- Gorgeous screen: The S23 Ultra screen is excellent, setting a high bar for the competition.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best foldable for most people
Foldable phones are still a relatively young category, but the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has far more advantages than disadvantages. If you’ve been eyeing a foldable for your next phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the one we’d recommend for most people. It does everything a normal phone can do and then some, and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy it, either.
The biggest selling point here is obviously the form factor. The clamshell design will be immediately familiar to anyone who used a flip phone in the pre-smartphone era, but it opens up into a sizable and (relatively) seamless 6.7-inch AMOLED display. In our testing, it wasn’t quite as bright or crisp as a traditional display, but it was more than good enough. However, it’s not as wide as a normal smartphone, which makes it much easier to use with one hand. There’s also a small screen on the front (when closed) that displays the time and notifications without having to open the device.
Although it works like a standard smartphone when open, the Z Flip 4 has a few software tricks that other phones can’t match. When half open, the phone enters “Flex Mode,” which essentially splits the screen into two parts. This can be used to display two different apps or two parts of the same app, for example, a YouTube video at the top and YouTube comments at the bottom. Our favorite integration is with the camera, which places the viewfinder at the top and the shutter button on the bottom for easy group selfies.
Speaking of the camera, the Z Flip 4 is certainly a capable shooter, but not quite at the same level as flagship devices in Samsung’s S-series lineup. It does serve as a great selfie phone, though. Apart from group selfies using the Flex Mode mentioned above, the smaller screen on the front can also serve as a mini-viewfinder, which allows you to take selfies with larger, more capable external cameras.
Apart from that, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a great little phone. Performance is stellar, although it does heat up a bit with extended use. Battery life is also significantly better than its predecessor, which was our main complaint about the 2021 foldable. It’s still limited compared to traditional phones (four to five hours in our testing), but that’s enough for a typical day. It took a little over an hour to charge while plugged in, or an hour and a half wirelessly. Once again though, there’s no charger in the box.
Ultimately, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a very unique phone that’s a lot of fun to use. For anyone looking to buy a Samsung phone, this is a great option with a design that’s unmatched by any other company.
What makes it stand out
- It flips: The clamshell design is a unique throwback to the flip phone era, with advantages and disadvantages over traditional phones.
- Very pocketable: The small size fits easily in pockets and purses and is great for one-handed use.
- Relatively affordable: You won’t find a better-priced foldable anywhere on the market.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best tablet replacement
While the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a productivity powerhouse, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes things to the next level by unfolding into a bright, sharp, 120Hz 7.6-inch tablet. To sweeten the deal, the interior screen is compatible with an S Pen, although there isn’t one included in the box.
The large interior screen is obviously the big selling point here, but the rest of the phone is top-notch, too. It features two of the same lenses as the S22 Plus, both of which are great everyday performers. The third ultrawide lens is also a nice addition, although we found it to have a slightly different color profile than the other lenses. The interior screen has an under-display camera to minimize its visual impact, but like others we’ve tested, the image quality is pretty bad. It’s fine for video calls, but that’s about it.
On the performance side, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is more than powerful enough for smooth and consistent performance, even on the larger screen. Battery life also clocked in at a respectable four to five hours in our testing, although battery-saving features can extend this a bit further. It took nearly an hour and a half to charge from dead to full, so don’t expect the fastest results.
The biggest downside here is that this bad boy starts at $1,800, and that’s without an S Pen. That will run you either $50 or $100, depending on which model you choose, and with no pen holder in the chassis, you’ll probably want to buy a case for it, too. This isn’t a phone for anyone on a budget, although you can save a bit of money by picking up the Galaxy Z Fold 3 instead. The cameras are a bit worse, but otherwise, it’s still a very capable device.
What makes it stand out
- It folds: The phone opens into a very nice 7.6-inch tablet.
- S Pen compatibility: Get even more out of your phone with an S Pen (sold separately).
- Great software: Android 12L has been optimized for larger devices, providing a much better experience.
The Samsung Galaxy A14 5G is great for people on a tight budget
Finally, we have the best Samsung phone for those on a budget, the Galaxy A14 5G. It seems unlikely that we’ll get a proper Galaxy A32 replacement at this point, so we’re stepping down a level. Don’t get us wrong, the Galaxy A14 is still a good phone for its price, it’s just not the home run that the Galaxy A32 offered.
Samsung’s lower end of the budget range can’t be compared to the likes of the Galaxy S23 lineup, but we still think that there are options that represent more than enough for most users. That said, Samsung’s entire budget range offers style to match its flagships, so you won’t feel left out. Despite its low-level position, the Galaxy A14 5G offers a 90Hz refresh rate and Full HD display to work with.
Most cheap Samsung phones have underwhelming cameras, but the Galaxy A14 has been good so far. The 50MP primary shooter is similar to that of the Galaxy A54, which is a solid shooter in its own right. However, Samsung paired it with 2MP depth and macro sensors, which are almost never useful.
Perhaps the best part of the Galaxy A14 is that it got a price cut this year. It now costs just $199, keeping your wallet nice and happy.
What makes it stand out
- Incredible value: The sub-$200 price tag is just right — and it’s free at many carriers.
- Great battery life: This phone always lasted for longer than a day in our testing, often reaching two days.
- Headphone jack: Yes, Samsung still has one or two models with a headphone jack in 2023.
What we look for in the best Samsung phones
We’ve reviewed hundreds of Android phones over the years here at Android Authority, so we’ve developed a keen eye for what you look for in a smartphone. If you’re thinking of picking up a Samsung phone specifically, here’s what to look for:
Look for value
It’s tempting to jump right for the most expensive Galaxy S23 Ultra or Z Fold 4, but these phones offer much more than most users will ever need. For that reason, we recommend the S23 Plus from the premium lineup, since it hits the best price-to-performance ratio. Likewise for budget devices like the A53 5G and A32 5G.
Samsung phones all use the company’s in-house One UI software, which is a slightly tweaked version of Android with extra features. They also all offer four years of version updates and five years of security updates, so even the cheapest phones will remain up to date for a long time. However, phones on the low end will show their age much sooner.
Nowadays, megapixel counts don’t mean nearly as much as software smarts, but Samsung phones are generally great performers. They all tend towards heavier saturation in photos, for better or worse. However, rather than looking for high MP counts, we recommend looking for phones with dedicated ultrawide and telephoto lenses where possible. The added versatility is a big plus in your mobile photography kit.
Build materials and design
Price is generally the deciding factor in how good a phone’s build quality is, but there are a few things to look out for. For example, Gorilla Glass Victus is much more resistant than Gorilla Glass 5, although you’ll still probably want to get a case if you want it to last. Camera housings are another contentious issue design-wise, but if you are going to get a case, you won’t even notice it.
Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S23 series will offer the most impressive specs for 2023. However, some people may prefer the cutting-edge design of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 or Z Fold 4, and the midrange Galaxy A series is impressive without the high cost.
The Galaxy A53 is perhaps the best value you can get in a Samsung phone right now. It offers four rear cameras, a large 5,000mAh battery, and a solid 6.5-inch Full HD Plus display for just $449.
It’s tough to find a better value than ordering from Samsung itself. Amazon may offer faster shipping, but the Samsung website usually offers the best trade-in values and additional perks. For example, the Galaxy S23 series offered up to $200 in free Samsung credit with your purchase.
Samsung’s new Galaxy A53 5G is among the best budget phones you can buy. It offers a large, crisp display, 5G speeds, and a powerful quad-camera setup for $449.