In the year I like compact, premium devices and I’m definitely not a power user, a seasoned photographer or a serious mobile gamer. The thing is, compact phones are hard to come by these days, but Apple, Samsung, and Google each offer one. And while the flips aren’t as compact on the inside, Oppo and Samsung offer two great options that deserve a spot in my top 5.
iPhone 15 Pro
The iPhone 15 Pro series represents a major turning point in Apple’s history. It’s not just because of the USB-C port on the bottom, though that’s a welcome change for Apple users. My biggest gripe with the last two iPhone Pro models is the heavy stainless steel frame. That said, the 15 Pro generation is 20 grams lighter than its predecessors and features new titanium frames that won’t tarnish and scratch as easily as the shiny stainless steel seen on its predecessors.
My preference is the smaller 15 Pro compared to the 15 Pro Max due to its size and smaller products. It has a class leading promotional display with excellent brightness and color reproduction. Thanks to the 3nm Apple A17 Pro chip, there’s years of performance left and iOS is still a “just works” experience.
Battery life leaves something to be desired but is adequate for daily use. Add unique iOS services like AirDrop, FaceTime and iMessage alongside excellent software support and you have a phone with no major flaws.
Google Pixel 8
The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro have been Google’s most competitive flagships over the years, and while the 8 Pro offers more capable cameras, it’s the vanilla model that caught my attention. It has an ergonomic back design that makes it a pleasure to hold the phone without digging into your palm, and the visor is the most unique looking camera design choice on any smartphone and part of the Pixel look.
The bright 120Hz OLED screen is a fantastic addition to the Pixel 7 and the small 6.2-inch footprint combined with the slim bezels make it one of the best compact phone screens on the market. The Pixel camera experience is still top notch and the AI features make it one of the most fun to test. Factor in regular discounts and the Pixel 8 represents one of the best values in the world of Android flagships.
Samsung Galaxy S23
The Galaxy S23 may not excel on any particular score, but it’s a well-rounded compact premium phone that gets my vote. Battery life has been greatly improved on the S22 and with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 performance finally making its way to all markets. OneUI is arguably the most feature-rich Android UI around, and Samsung’s focus on providing timely software updates has made the S-series easy for those who want to keep their phones for at least three years.
Samsung DeX is another high-end feature that’s still exclusive to flagship Galaxy phones, and while the three cameras on the back cover are good in all shooting situations, it might be time for Samsung to update those aging sensors. If you want a compact flagship with premium design, great software and high-end hardware, the S23 is an easy recommendation.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
If flat phones don’t appeal to you, flips are worth considering, and the Z Flip5 is one of the best compact devices in its class. Samsung has improved the design of the Z Flip5 with an improved hinge mechanism, which is flatter, offering a little more peace of mind. The biggest improvement this year is the 3.4-inch cover screen, which adds a completely new interaction with the device, so you don’t need to open it for basic functions.
And that’s the key with flip-flops, they don’t take up that much space in your pocket yet you can quickly access the big screen. The Z Fold 5’s 6.7-inch AMOLED is great for media consumption and its tall aspect ratio fits more vertical information in social media apps. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 at the helm holds its own with the best chips out there and brings improved battery endurance compared to the Flip4.
The dual 12MP cameras get the job done and offer more versatility when introducing the phone as a tripod, but the sensors could definitely use an update that comes with the Flip6.
Oppo Find N3/OnePlus Unlocked
The Oppo Find N3 or OnePlus Open as it’s known in some parts of the world is my favorite book-type folding device from 2023. Hasselblad offers the best in power, polished software, and high-end cameras with a touch of customization.
The aspect ratio on both the cover and main screens makes the Oppo and OnePlus foldables more fun to use than some of their direct competitors. Both devices share excellent build quality and clean, minimal designs. A three-position mute switch, camera tripod mode, reliable battery life, and a feature-rich software experience make the Find N3/OnePlus a top contender in the foldable space.