Upgrading your smartphone every year is no longer something that many deem essential. These compact devices have become so capable and durable that, more often than not, buying models released in past years is a great decision, especially when looking at them with a lens of value over your eyes.
Here we look at devices poised to offer great value in 2023, although they made their way to market in 2022 or earlier.
Google Pixel 6a
Starting off our list is the budget-oriented Google Pixel 6a. It launched in July 2022 — for $449 — with a change that dealt directly with the A-series’ main weakness. Yes, we’re talking about the processor. This model now ships with the first-generation Tensor processor, an option that is far better in terms of performance, especially compared to the mid-range Snapdragon ones seen in previous Pixel A-series phones. The change will ensure the phone remains snappy and responsive over 2023 and the coming years.
As for the rest of its hardware, the device is a compact smartphone, housing a 6.1-inch display within a shell that uses two materials — plastic for the back panel and aluminum for the mid-frame.
The display uses an FHD+ OLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate and Gorilla Glass protection. Regarding the cameras, you will find a dual-sensor setup in the back that uses a 12-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultrawide. While the hardware used here isn’t the latest, combined with the Google imaging algorithms, the results will leave you satisfied more often than not. And for endurance, the device falls back upon a 4410 mAh battery with support for 18W fast charging, ensuring all-day use.
Overall, the Google Pixel 6a is a great value device, with a combination of hardware that will leave you happy with your purchase. Also, if you feel its retail price is a little pricey, keep an eye out for deals, as the device is frequently on sale.
If you don’t care about high refresh rate, wireless charging, a glass back and a few other tidbits, this should be your phone. It’s a Pixel, but less expensive. Check out all the deals on the device using the links given below.
Google Pixel 7
Next on our list is another device from Google, the $600 Pixel 7. This balance that Google has been able to strike in 2022 makes all of its smartphones worth buying or recommending to interested parties.
The Google Pixel 7 has a 6.1-inch FHD+ OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s also compact, like our previous recommendation. There is an improvement in fit-and-finish, which is apparent when you look at how Google chose to wrap the metal from its frame around the camera lenses instead of using a multi-part design as it did with the Pixel 6.
The cameras here share specifications with the more expensive Pixel 7 Pro; hence, headlining the setup is a 50-megapixel wide shooter. A 12-megapixel ultrawide is available for an additional perspective. For processing, Google has packaged the Tensor G2, an upgrade that brings improved performance across the board, be it imaging or day-to-day usage. And endurance is guaranteed by a 4355 mAh cell, with 21W fast charging. Google also touts a new 72-hour long battery saver mode, allowing extended use in crunch situations.
So, while the Pixel 6a offers good value, if you’re looking for a more premium experience, the Pixel 7 is a worthy step up. This latest generation fixes much of what was amiss compared to the Google Pixel 6 and comes with meaningful upgrades in terms of fit, finish, and performance.
The new Google Pixel 7 is powered by the all-new Google Tensor G2 chipset. The device is coupled with 8GB of memory, and it has 128/256GB storage tiers. The phone comes with a significantly improved camera system, and it’s more portable than the last generation. The Pixel 7 is available in Obsidian, Lemongrass, and Snow colors.
Nothing Phone 1
The Nothing Phone 1 — a device born out of Carl Pei’s London-based start-up — comes with hardware that’s better than par for the course, striking a balance that we haven’t seen many others offer, especially in their first attempt. Certain design elements are also unique to Phone 1, and it’s one of the select few Android devices in the market that offers uniform bezels around the display.
Delving into the details, Nothing Phone 1 has a 6.5-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED display. The panel quality is good, plus the glass covering uses Gorilla Glass 5, promising improved resilience. For processing prowess, Nothing chose to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus, which despite being a mid-range chip, provides a pleasant user experience, as we detailed in our Nothing Phone 1 review.
The dual-camera system on this device uses a proven 50-megapixel wide sensor and a 50-megapixel ultrawide camera. Here the primary lens captures some stellar images irrespective of the scenario present, though the ultrawide was a little hit-and-miss in our experience. But overall, front camera included, the device has a passable setup.
Battery endurance on this device revolves around its 4500 mAh cell with support for 33W fast charging, and here, the device performs decently. You can get about 6 hours of use — which for most users is a full day of use — before needing a charger.
Regarding pricing, you can buy the Nothing Phone 1 for €469 (~$500), which puts it right between the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7. Now, it’s better than the Pixel 6a in more ways than one, and it should be a clear pick over it, but if you’re looking at the Pixel 7, think about what you value more.
The Pixel 7 is the one to choose for a better camera and faster software updates, but if you want a larger device, the Nothing Phone 1 won’t disappoint.
Nothing Phone 1 comes with a 6.55-inch 120Hz OLED display with slim bezels, a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor, 900 LEDs on the back, dual 50MP shooters, wireless charging, and more.
With the iPhone 14 lineup this year, it’s apparent that Apple didn’t change much. Yes, there’s a new wide camera at play, the processor inside also sees a tiny improvement, and the device is now more repairable, but when you look at it from an “upgrade” perspective, there isn’t much difference. Hence, the iPhone 13, which Apple still officially sells for $699, is a great purchase that will hold its weight in 2023.
Coming to its specification breakdown, the iPhone 13 has a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR panel with a peak brightness of 1200 nits. In typical use, you will experience 800 nits of brightness, with the higher level kicking in when watching HDR content. The A15 Bionic, with a 4-core GPU, handles all processing requirements, be it taking photos, filming videos, or scrolling through social media, with relative ease.
Its camera system comprises a dual-sensor setup with a primary 12-megapixel wide lens and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. And regarding battery endurance, the iPhone 13 has a 3,227 mAh cell that does more than all-day battery life. The entire iPhone 13 lineup didn’t disappoint when it came to time spent away from a charger.
Also, if you’re looking for a compact phone, consider the iPhone 13 mini. The device is cheaper and matches the standard iPhone 13 in every way, apart from screen size, battery capacity, and MagSafe charging speeds.
Apple iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 is the default smartphone from Apple for 2021. If you’re looking for an experience that remains fast and fluid over years to come and not lacking on any hardware front, this is the device to get.
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
The iPhone 13 mini is a smaller version of the standard iPhone 13. It comes with the same powerful chipset, excellent dual camera on the back, and it has a much improved battery life over the iPhone 12 mini.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus makes its way onto this list of smartphones because of its overall package. It comes with a large display, uniform bezels, and processing prowess that’s hard to beat for many devices.
It has a 6.6-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. The camera array consists of a versatile triple-lens setup due to its inclusion of wide, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses — 50-megapixel, 12-megapixel, and 10-megapixel, respectively. As we stated earlier, the processing power on offer is hard to beat for many devices, and that’s owed to the bundled Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 coupled with 8GB of RAM. Battery endurance isn’t a troubling point for this large phone as its 4500 mAh cell will get you through a day without much trouble.
While it’s reasonable to think that we’re only a couple of months away from the launch of new flagship devices from Samsung, the S22 lineup will continue to offer great value in the coming year. Plus, there are many reasons to buy a Samsung Galaxy S22 series device instead of the newer models, cost being one of them, especially if you’re heavily weighing it in your purchase decision.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus features a larger 6.6-inch display, and comes with the same 4nm flagship chipset as the standard Galaxy S22. It has three cameras to capture your best and most memorable moments, and it has advanced night photography features for better low-light performance. It’s the best flagship device from Samsung, including all of the essential features and some more for good measure.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
The Google Pixel 7 Pro won the title of Best Value among the options we considered for 2022’s Best Smartphone Awards. And a lot of the credit goes to the polished flagship user experience it offers for its retail price of $899.
Like last year, the Google Pixel 7 Pro ships with a 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED display, an in-house processor — the Tensor G2 — and a triple camera array that captures stellar images. Battery performance has also been above par with this device due to its 5,000 mAh cell. Each of these components offers a great experience and provides performance levels that you would expect.
With Pixel 7 Pro, Google has improved its quality control in terms of software and hardware, which makes us believe in the longevity of this device.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro, powered by the new Google Pixel Tensor sensor, provides great graphics performance and computing power to let you easily play all of your favorite games and multitask. The device also has a highly capable camera setup that’s backed by a unique post-processing algorithm that helps achieve great results.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
And last on this list is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, which, although an iterative upgrade, improves the foldable smartphone experience once again with enhancements that solidify its position in the market.
Its 6.2-inch external display has a new aspect ratio that makes it easier to hold and use when folded. And when you’re ready to use the inner screen, the 7.6-inch panel will feel more resilient. The packaged Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor will also handle any task you throw at it with relative ease and let you seamlessly multitask between the three applications that the Z Fold 4 can now have open on its screen. The cameras on this device also saw an upgrade, as the hardware now matches the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.
Throughout 2022, foldable options from Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, and Honor appeared in the market. While some may expect them to derail Samsung, these devices still lack feedback from real-world user experiences and the time spent in the market, which can lead to an improved software experience.
This advantage held by the Galaxy Z Fold 4, along with its interaction within the Samsung ecosystem — be it with accessories or customer support makes it another value-focused purchase.
The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, a wider display, a better hinge mechanism, and many significant upgrades over its predecessor.