In this article:
- Samsung Galaxy phones compared
- How to pick the right Samsung phone for you
- Best Samsung phones in 2023
- Samsung phone FAQs
- How we test Samsung phones
Samsung has a growing collection of Galaxy phones to choose from. If you have a big budget and want a giant screen with Samsung's best camera, the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra is your best choice. But there's also the budget-friendly Galaxy A12, which costs less than $200. On top of that, there are plenty of choices in between.
Samsung just launched the Galaxy S23 lineup in February, meaning you shouldn't have to worry about those models feeling outdated anytime soon. We'll update this list periodically as we test more Samsung devices.
Samsung Galaxy phones compared
|Model||US starting price (at launch)||Screen size|
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||$1,200||6.8 inches|
|Galaxy S23 Plus||$1,000||6.6 inches|
|Galaxy S23||$800||6.1 inches|
|Galaxy S21 FE||$700||6.4 inches|
|Galaxy A53 5G||$450||6.5 inches|
|Galaxy Z Fold 4||$1,800||6.2 inches (cover); 7.6 inches (main)|
|Galaxy Z Flip 4||$1,000||1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)|
|Galaxy Z Flip 3||$900 (new lower price as of 8/22)||1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)|
|Galaxy A12||$180||6.5 inches|
How to pick the right Samsung phone for you
Like many purchasing decisions, deciding which Samsung phone is right for you comes down to what you want in a phone and how much you're willing to spend. If you want the largest screen available on a standard Samsung phone, enjoy notetaking with a stylus and need a camera with a significantly closer zoom, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the right choice. But you'll also have to be willing to spend more than $1,000 unless you score a trade-in deal.
Those who don't need the stylus, prefer more compact devices and still want a top-notch camera should consider the Galaxy S23 or Galaxy S23 Plus. And if you really just want the basics, like a spacious screen, 5G and a decent camera, consider the Galaxy A53 5G. Those looking for the flashiest tech around -- who also have deep pockets -- should consider the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or Galaxy Z Flip 4. Samsung typically releases new versions of its foldable phones in August, so consider whether you'd rather wait to see what the next model has in store.
It's also important to consider whether now is the right time to upgrade. If you have a relatively new phone that's two to three years old and still functions properly, you can probably wait. Samsung has also committed to supporting four generations of Android operating system updates for devices like the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy A53 5G, which improves their longevity.
Finding the best Samsung phone will ultimately come down to preference. Choosing among so many options can get complicated, so here's how to decide which Samsung phone is best for you. Check out our phone buying guide for more tips on how to choose the right device. Not sure whether it's worth upgrading to the Galaxy S23? We have a guide for that too.
Best Samsung phones in 2023
The Galaxy S23 is a lot, but in a good way. It's more than most people need in a phone, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. Samsung made improvements to the camera's resolution (200 megapixels compared with 108 megapixels), color tones and dynamic range, while retaining the same edgy design and massive 6.8-inch screen as its predecessor. There's also a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor that's been optimized specifically for Samsung's phones, which brings faster performance compared with the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Starting at $1,200, it may be an understatement to call this phone expensive. But those willing to pay more for a giant screen and a high-quality, versatile camera won't be disappointed. Read our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review.
The Galaxy S23 Plus is the Goldilocks of smartphones. It's not too big, but it's not too small either. The S23 Plus' 6.6-inch screen is large enough to satisfy those who prefer larger phones, but it doesn't feel as gargantuan as the 6.8-inch Galaxy S23 Ultra. Compared with the Galaxy S22 Plus, the S23 Plus has a new processor, a bigger battery and more storage in the base model, although the camera is more or less the same. If you want a phone with a big screen that doesn't feel gigantic, a high-quality camera and an attractive design, the Galaxy S23 Plus is the way to go. Read our Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review.
Android fans looking for a petite phone don't have much to choose from. But the 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 provides a compelling option for those who want a phone that feels compact but still provides enough screen space. The Galaxy S23 comes with routine upgrades like a fresh processor (a version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that's been optimized for Samsung's phones), a slightly new design and a higher-resolution selfie camera. But it's the Galaxy S23's larger battery that makes it worth recommending. Read our full review of the Galaxy S23.
The Galaxy A53 provides the basics for roughly half the price of the Galaxy S23. It has a much larger screen and more versatile camera than Apple's budget-friendly phone, the $429 iPhone SE, though Apple delivers snappier performance.
Still, Samsung fans will appreciate what they're getting here considering the affordable price. The Galaxy A53 5G has an ultrawide lens for taking photos with a broader field of view and also supports night-mode photography. Image quality isn't as good as what you'd get on a more expensive Samsung phone like the Galaxy S21 FE or Galaxy S22, but it's certainly clear and colorful enough for basic shots. Other highlights include a long-lasting battery, four guaranteed generations of Android operating system updates and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.
Overall, the Galaxy A53 5G is a suitable choice for those who prioritize having a large screen and long battery life for less than $500. Just keep in mind you might have to deal with some occasional lag, and the camera isn't as advanced as those found on pricier phones. Also bear in mind that Samsung just announced the Galaxy A54, which goes on sale in April. Read our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.
Usually priced at $1,800 (yikes!), the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still costs substantially more than your average smartphone. But the latest version of Samsung's book-style foldable is filled with small improvements that add up to a much more pleasant overall experience. The hinge is thinner, the device is slightly lighter and the cover screen is a bit wider, making it feel more natural to use as a phone when closed. That's on top of other routine smartphone upgrades like a better camera that's similar to the Galaxy S22's and a new processor. Our reviewer Patrick Holland called it his "favorite Android tablet."
If you already have a Z Fold 3, it's not worth upgrading. But if you're willing to spend big (or can find a good trade-in deal) and are interested in a phone that can double as a tablet, the Z Fold 4 is the way to go.
If the Galaxy Fold is a tablet that folds in half to become a phone, the Z Flip is a phone that folds in half to become a smaller phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a generation older than the newly released Galaxy Z Flip 4. But we recommend it over the Z Flip 4, since it's cheaper while still offering many of the same benefits. The Z Flip 4 has a new processor, larger battery, a new main sensor for taking better low-light photos and a slightly tweaked design. That might sound like a lot, but these changes come together to make only a slightly improved experience over last year's Flip 3.
With the Z Flip 3, you're still getting a 6.7-inch display that folds in half and can easily slide into a jeans or jacket pocket. The cover screen is also the same size on both phones, and the Z Flip 3 and 4 each have similar cameras and 5G connectivity. At around $1,000, it's now the most affordable foldable phone Samsung sells. Unless you can find the Z Flip 4 at a discount that makes it the same price as the Z Flip 3, we recommend going for last year's phone.
The Galaxy A12 is one of the cheapest phones Samsung sells and it's the one to consider for those of you who simply want a phone for all of life's essentials. If you don't care for extravagant cameras or supercomputer-levels of processing power, you won't have to pay for them with this model. It doesn't have 5G, but it does have four rear cameras, a 6.5-inch display and a capacious 5,000-mAh battery. Given the generally low demands of the specs, that battery should easily last a full day.
The camera is one of the biggest factors that distinguishes the Galaxy A12 from Samsung's other less expensive phones. During CNET's testing, the Galaxy A12 took noticeably better photos than the cheaper Galaxy A03S and Galaxy A02S, especially in low light. Just remember you'll likely have to buy a microSD card since the A12 only comes with 32GB of built-in storage.
Just remember, there are newer versions of this phone, including 2022's Galaxy A13 and the recently launched Galaxy A14, both of which support 5G and offer other improvements. We'll update this story once we've tested these devices. Since the Galaxy A12 is an older device, it's also getting difficult to find. However, you can still find a refurbished version on Amazon or a new model from AT&T.
The first S20 "Fan Edition" seriously impressed us with its balance of performance and price, and the Galaxy S21 FE took that further in 2022 with a solid triple camera, a vibrant display and the same powerful processor found in the Galaxy S21 from 2021. It has a 6.5-inch screen, making it an ideal choice for those who want a phone that's larger than the regular Galaxy S22 or S23 at a more reasonable price. Although it's missing some of the Galaxy S22 and S23's bells and whistles -- like improved night photography and a newer processor -- this phone has a sharper front-facing camera for selfies and video calls.
The Galaxy S21 FE faces some tough competition from Google's Pixel 6A, but if you're after a great overall Samsung phone and don't want to pay top dollar for the flagships, then the S21 FE is well worth considering.
Samsung phone FAQs
Why buy a Samsung phone instead of other Android phones?
The right phone for you depends on a variety of factors, such as your budget, your current phone and whether you own other mobile accessories from the same company (like earbuds or smartwatches). Many people prefer to stick with phones from the same company because the experience is more consistent and there's less of a learning curve when switching to a new device.
The same holds true for Samsung; the company's One UI software (its customized version of Android) can be found across its phone lineup. Samsung's One UI 5 introduced a more customizable lock screen and the ability to answer a phone call through a text message instead of speaking.
Consistency aside, there are some benefits to choosing a Samsung phone over devices from other Android phone makers. Samsung usually excels when it comes to display quality and brightness, and it typically offers a lot of choice in terms of size and pricing. Samsung phones usually offer decent battery life -- especially the middle-sized to large phones -- and the cameras are usually among the best, especially on the Galaxy S23 lineup. Samsung also offers four years of Android version updates for most of its new smartphones, which is longer support than even Google provides for its Pixel phones.
However, Google's Pixel devices also have stellar cameras along with specific software features you can't get elsewhere. The OnePlus 11 is also cheaper than the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra at regular price without a trade-in and offers faster charging speeds. It could be a better choice for those who want to pay a little less but still want a giant 6.7-inch screen and triple rear camera.
Which Samsung phone series is best, Galaxy A or Galaxy S?
Samsung's Galaxy A and S families serve different purposes, so which one is right for you will depend on your needs and budget. The Galaxy A lineup is Samsung's midtier and budget line, and it's the best choice if you're looking for a phone under $500 without a trade-in deal. These phones typically offer core features like a big screen, large battery and multiple cameras at a cheaper price.
But you also get what you pay for. Samsung's cheapest phones have very limited storage space, poorer cameras compared to the pricier models and sometimes struggle with juggling multiple tasks. However, more expensive phones like the Galaxy A53 5G provide almost everything most people want in a basic phone, although you'll still have to compromise a bit on camera quality and general performance.
The Galaxy S series, on the other hand, is Samsung's flagship smartphone line. Galaxy S phones usually include the best tech that Samsung has to offer at the time and include features you'd expect on any high-end phone, such as a premium design, 5G support, screens with high refresh rates and multiple high-end cameras. The biggest updates that launched with the Galaxy S23 lineup, for example, included the bump to a 200-megapixel main camera on the Ultra and bigger batteries for the smaller models. However, you'll have to be willing to pay hundreds of dollars more than you would for a Galaxy A series phone in most cases.
How we test Samsung phones
We test Samsung phones similar to the way we test most smartphones: by evaluating core characteristics like camera quality, battery life, software, performance, design and overall value compared to competing devices.
To assess the camera quality, we take photos in various lighting conditions to see how the camera performs in different scenarios. Then, we compare those results to the same photos taken on competing devices or previous models (in many cases both.) We also test various shooting modes using different lenses, specifically focusing on new or unique features (like the Galaxy S23's Ultra's zoom).
We generally test battery life by assessing how long the battery lasts during a typical day, and by seeing how quickly the battery drains after streaming a YouTube video for three hours at full brightness. This test isn't always included in our initial review because it can take a full day to complete since we usually run it three times to make sure results are consistent. Older reviews prior to 2023 used a different battery drain test that assessed how long the battery lasts during continuous local video playback.
Performance is measured anecdotally by using the phone and through benchmarking apps. Design is subjective, but we look for things like build quality, how comfortable the phone feels to hold and how much screen space it provides for the size. For software, we look for unique features that may not be available on other phones, ease of use and update longevity.