April 17, 2024
OnePlus 11 in hand with Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro in the background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Tendencies

After I assessment telephones, I contemplate the design, show, efficiency, cameras, software program, and battery life from my expertise with the system. A flagship telephone must be nice in no less than one parameter and above common in others. But when it’s under common in no less than one division (which many 2022 flagships had been), it’s a foul telephone.

However what? That didn’t actually occur in 2023.

2023 Android telephones had one factor in frequent

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

2023 was the 12 months when dangerous Android flagship telephones lastly died. That’s as a result of that they had highly effective and environment friendly processors. Even Google made enhancements with its Tensor G3 chip within the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Professional.

Final 12 months, I had one main problem with virtually all flagship telephones: poor battery life, which I can’t compromise on. I would like my main telephone to get me by means of the day. From the Galaxy S22 Extremely to the Xiaomi 12 Professional or the OnePlus 10 Professional, none of them lasted me a complete day of use. However that modified this 12 months.

Playing a game on the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

This 12 months’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 was environment friendly sufficient to make Android flagship telephones nice once more. For reference, my work day consists of lots of communication over WhatsApp, Slack, and Groups. I additionally juggle between X (previously Twitter) and Instagram, clicking a couple of pictures and searching on Chrome. I’m on the go for many of the week, so that is over 5G with Google Maps and Uber operating for no less than 20 minutes a day.

I didn’t have to fret about retaining an influence financial institution in my bag when utilizing the likes of Galaxy S23 Extremely, Oppo Discover X6 Professional, OnePlus 11, and different 2023 flagships as a result of I used to be assured sufficient to have no less than 20% battery life left by the point I’m residence. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 introduced a way of confidence that I didn’t have when utilizing 2022 flagship telephones. It was the one spec that stored issues along with the right combination of energy and effectivity for these telephones.

Cameras acquired even higher

OnePlus Open and Oppo Find X6 Pro.
OnePlus Open and Oppo Discover X6 Professional Prakhar Khanna / Digital Tendencies

2023 additionally noticed extra telephones with higher digital camera capabilities, together with sharper zoom and higher focus. As an illustration, the OnePlus Open now has one of the best digital camera setup on a foldable. The power to decide on one of the best digital camera whereas additionally choosing cutting-edge tech with a display screen that folds is an achievement in itself. It’s the spotlight of 2023, in my view.

One other telephone that stood out with its cameras was the Xiaomi 13 Professional, which made me take extra black and white pictures and put in an additional second in being aware of what I’m capturing – not as a result of it may possibly’t level and shoot, however as a result of I like the colour tuning and need to get good photographs with higher framing. The Xiaomi 13 Professional was the best telephone to click on nice portrait photographs with; all I needed to do was level and faucet on the shutter button, and I used to be positive I’d get a cool portrait shot.

The Galaxy S23 Extremely stays probably the most versatile digital camera setup of 2023. I acquired some glorious pictures with 10x zoom on my journey to Barcelona for the Cell World Congress earlier this 12 months. The Oppo Discover X6 Professional provided nice 6x zoom, making me discover extra use instances and views to shoot.

Using the camera app on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

The Tensor G3 chip won’t be probably the most highly effective or environment friendly chipset, however the Pixel 8 Professional comes with some unique options that you just wouldn’t discover on another telephone. Google’s AI prowess places Photoshop-level methods at your fingertips. If I needed to choose one telephone that didn’t final me a complete day in 2023, it will be the Pixel 8 Professional.

The OnePlus 11 introduced the value-for-money flagship Android again in 2023. Whereas the OnePlus 10 Professional introduced additional options like quick wi-fi charging, the OnePlus 11 stored issues easy however improved cameras and was an excellent telephone. It presents good efficiency, clear software program, higher cameras than earlier than, and a design that’s comfy to carry. The Vivo X90 Professional is one other good telephone that has a cushty in-hand really feel and superb cameras.

Apple stepped up, too

iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro on leaves.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Tendencies

The iPhone 13 Professional Max was my favourite telephone of 2022, and even after the 12 months it was launched. However Apple dropped the ball with the iPhone 14 Professional sequence, which was plagued with points. The iPhone 14 Professional Max was probably the most unergonomic telephone I’ve used up to now 12 months; the cameras had HDR points, and the battery life wasn’t good. I needed to cost it in the midst of the day to get it to my bedtime searching.

Whereas the iPhone 15 Professional Max isn’t but again to iPhone 13 Professional Max-level battery life, it’s acquired sufficient enhancements to make it one of the vital improved telephones of 2023. The portrait mode focus is best, it’s lighter and extra comfy to make use of, and the HDR problem has been fastened. Furthermore, the portrait photographs in 5x zoom are distinctive – they arrive out higher than anticipated.

Someone holding the Natural Titanium iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Joe Maring / Digital Tendencies

The lower-end iPhone 15 was an important enchancment over the iPhone 14. The bounce from iPhone 13 to 14 wasn’t huge, however Apple introduced loads of adjustments to its base iPhone this 12 months. It borrowed options from the Professional sequence, together with the Dynamic Island. I’ve had combined experiences with Apple’s method to multitasking, however the Dynamic Island has matured over time to make it extra interesting.

The iPhone 15 additionally acquired HDR enhancements within the digital camera and “next-gen portraits” (the iPhone 14 Professional doesn’t have this) – each of which had been launched this 12 months. I’ve been utilizing the latter characteristic on my iPhone 15 Professional rather a lot. It lets me click on portraits with out switching to portrait mode as a result of the 2023 iPhones routinely seize depth data, and you’ll flip any picture right into a portrait by way of the Pictures app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Android telephones shined in 2023

The back of the OnePlus 11 and Google Pixel 8.
OnePlus 11 (left) and Google Pixel 8 Andy Boxall / Digital Tendencies

I wrote earlier how 2023 was the 12 months of foldables. However wanting again, it’s additionally clear that there have been no “dangerous” flagship telephones this 12 months. We acquired higher digital camera capabilities, improved designs which might be extra ergonomic, and a extra environment friendly processor within the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that was the binding drive for Android flagships.

I’m at present utilizing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered iQOO 12, and it appears promising. I hope the brand new cell chipset is no less than as environment friendly because the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, if no more. With the likes of Vivo X100, Galaxy S24 sequence, and OnePlus 12 launching within the subsequent few weeks, 2024 already feels thrilling.

Coming off a 12 months that was already so implausible, we must be in for an additional unbelievable 12 months for Android smartphones. And I can’t wait.

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