The holidays are just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about gifts for the people on your list. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the tech-lover in your life, a new smartphone is a great option.
There are so many great smartphones on the market right now, so it can be tough to decide which one is the right one. That’s why we’ve put together this gift guide of the best smartphones to buy this holiday season. Whether you’re looking for a phone with a great camera, a long-lasting battery, or a powerful processor, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let us help you find the perfect smartphone for your loved one.
Best flip phone: Motorola Razr (2023)
The Motorola Razr offers the iconic flip-phone factor at a cheaper price point
The Motorola Razr (2023) is the cheapest foldable to land in the US, with a MSRP of $699. It comes in a slew of colors including Summer Lilac, Cherry Blossom, Sage Green, and Vanilla Cream. Motorola has outfitted the Razr (2023) with a vegan leather back, which feels really good in the hand, and provides plenty of grip. Meaning, you won’t need to worry about dropping this one.
Motorola has included a 6.9-inch 22:9 aspect ratio display here, which is powered by the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It runs pretty well, as we detailed in our Motorola Razr (2023) review back in October. In fact, it’s very impressive at this price point. We’ve tested many smartphones at this price and many of them are pretty lacking in performance.
On the camera-front, Motorola has included a 64-megapixel main sensor and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera. These aren’t the best cameras in the world, but they do get the job done. They are to the right of the front display, which is more of a ticker display. This small display will show you the time, date, battery percentage and even your notifications. There are a few other apps that work here too, including Spotify controls, and a timer.
Motorola has included both face unlock and a fingerprint sensor here. The fingerprint sensor is inside the power button, making it super easy to unlock the phone, since you can do it all in one motion. Face Unlock is not as secure as a fingerprint, so you can’t use it for authenticating apps, but you can use it for unlocking the phone.
If you have someone on your holiday shopping list this year that really likes foldables, but can’t afford the more expensive book-style foldable, then the Motorola Razr (2023) is a really good option.
Motorola Razr (2023) – Amazon
Honorable Mention: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
If you’re not sold on the Motorola Razr (2023), another good option is the Galaxy Z Flip 5 from Samsung. It’s a bit more expensive at $999 (often discounted to $899 or even $799), but it is a much better phone – hence the higher price. It sports a 6.7-inch FHD+ 120Hz display, along with a 3.6-inch front display, which can run full Android apps. Making it easier to use as a flip phone, instead of having to open it all the time.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 – Samsung
Best Compact phone: ASUS Zenfone 10
A compact phone that’s just as powerful as the big boys
The ASUS Zenfone 10 is such a great phone in so many aspects. It’s perfect for those on your holiday shopping list that want a smaller phone, but don’t necessarily want a lower-end phone. ASUS has made a small phone that performs well, has great battery life and good cameras. And it’s just $699.
Zenfone 10 sports a 5.9-inch 144Hz AMOLED display. This is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Somehow, ASUS was able to put a 4,300mAh capacity battery into this small frame. Which is rather impressive.
When we reviewed the Zenfone 10 earlier this year, we were impressed by the battery life, the quality of the display. The cameras on the Zenfone 10 are just good, not great. ASUS has included a 50-megapixel main sensor, and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide sensor here. They provide good photos, but this phone won’t be the camera of the year.
ASUS has chosen to take a more stock Android approach to the Zenfone 10. Giving us what is basically AOSP, with a few additions included. This includes making the Quick Settings better, than what Google has done with them. Instead of having huge buttons, limiting the number of Quick Settings on each page, you can opt for ASUS’ option, which makes them smaller rounded buttons once again. Giving you more Quick Settings faster. After all these are supposed to be “quick”.
Starting at $699, the Zenfone 10 is in a pretty packed price point, but this might be the best $700 you can spend on a smartphone this year. It’s just such a good all around phone.
ASUS Zenfone 10 – Amazon
Honorable mention: Apple iPhone 15
While the ASUS Zenfone 10 is a really great smartphone to pick up this holiday season, another good, small phone is the iPhone 15. This year, Apple made quite a few changes to the iPhone 15 this year that makes it such a good device. It is a bit larger, with a 6.1-inch display, which is still 60Hz. But it does also sport the A16 Bionic chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also got a brand new camera in the 48-megapixel main camera. Which is really incredible, and does give iPhone 15 users the ability to have zoom without telephoto. Battery life is also quite good here, not quite as good as the ASUS Zenfone 10, but it’ll get you through the day with ease.
Apple iPhone 15 – Best Buy
Best Camera smartphone: Google Pixel 8 Pro
Google has brought together the best camera, best software and the most advanced AI into a single phone
The new Pixel 8 Pro from Google has a lot going for it. On the spec sheet, things haven’t changed a whole lot over the last two-generations. But one thing has become a major upgrade for the Pixel 8 Pro this year. That is the display. On the Pixel 8 Pro, Google has added its Super Actua Display, which allows it to hit a peak brightness of 2,400 nits. That’s one of the brightest displays on a phone yet.
Google Pixel 8 Pro did get a price increase this year, however, all of the upgrades make it worth the $999 price tag. Not only did the display get a major upgrade, so did the cameras. While the wide and telephoto sensors were upgraded in recent years, the ultrawide finally got a nice upgrade. It’s now a 48-megapixel sensor, which makes those macro shots look a whole lot better.
But that’s not the whole story for the Pixel 8 Pro camera. Google has also added in lots of AI features, as it tends to do. Like Magic Editor. With Magic Editor, you’re able to really change up how your photo looks. Not only by removing people and objects, but you can also change how the sky looks, create a really cool and artistic portrait from a selfie, and so much more. All thanks to AI. Including AI Wallpapers. If you’re always looking for a good wallpaper for your phone, then this is a great feature for you. Users are able to generate wallpapers by giving the AI a few prompts. It’s a tad limited right now, but Google is continuing to add more options all the time.
Google has outfitted the Pixel 8 Pro with a 6.7-inch QHD+ display, the Tensor G3 processor, with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Now there are options to get 256GB, 512GB and even 1TB of storage here, as well. And it comes in three stunning colors. That’s Obsidian, Porcelain and Bay.
Google Pixel 8 Pro – Best Buy
Honorable Mention: Google Pixel 8
Google’s Pixel 8 is a great alternative to the Pixel 8 Pro. It’s a smaller phone, but does lack the telephoto camera. Other than that, it’s pretty much identical, but at a cheaper price of $699. The Pixel 8 does have a 6.2-inch FHD+ 120Hz display, powered by Google’s Tensor G3 processor, which is what helps with all of the fancy AI tricks that the Pixel 8 series have. And just like with the Pixel 8 Pro, Pixel 8 also gets seven years of updates. Meaning it’ll get Android 21, which is pretty insane to think about.
Google Pixel 8 – Best Buy
Best battery life smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
The Galaxy S23 Ultra is a two-day phone for most people
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is arguably one of the best smartphones released in 2023, and anyone that opens one up on Christmas Day will be forever grateful. As we said in our review of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’s almost a perfect phone. And it’s not crazy overpriced either, with a MSRP of $1,199.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch QHD+ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED display, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage on-board. It’s also powered by a massive 5,000mAh capacity battery. Which helps it have such epic battery life. It’s among the best smartphones we’ve reviewed this year, in terms of the battery life.
But that’s not the only place that the Galaxy S23 Ultra excels. The camera setup on this phone is truly goated. Samsung has equipped it with a 200-megapixel main camera. Which is able to pixel-bin down to a 12.5-megapixel image. That means that you will get a ton of details in every photo, but you can also take photos at 50-megapixels, 100-megapixels and even 200-megapixels, for some truly large files. Samsung has also included a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 10-megapixel 3x optical zoom and a 10-megapixel 10x optical zoom lens here. All of which provide some truly incredible pictures.
Samsung did launch the Galaxy S23 Ultra with Android 13, but it is expected to get Android 14 and One UI 6, basically any day now. Samsung has already pushed out a number of beta Android 14 updates to it. So the final release should be any day now. And it will still get three more OS updates, and four more years of security updates.
Finally, Samsung does offer the Galaxy S23 Ultra in a slew of colors. This includes phantom black, green, cream, lavender and graphite. Over at Samsung’s website, you can get the Galaxy S23 Ultra in three exclusive colors, which are lime, sky blue and red.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – Samsung
Honorable mention: Motorola Edge+ (2023)
If you’re looking to spend less money, but still get fantastic battery life, we have to mention the Motorola Edge+ (2023). This phone is $799 and has a massive 5,100mAh capacity battery inside. It is also powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, so you know it’s going to be a power-sipping smartphone. Motorola has also outfitted it with a 6.67-inch FHD+ 165Hz display here, as well as some pretty impressive cameras. That’s a 50-megapixel main camera, 50-megapixel ultrawide and a 12-megapixel telephoto.
Motorola Edge+ – Best Buy
Best foldable smartphone: OnePlus Open
OnePlus’ first foldable hit the market and quickly became the best
2023 really seemed to be the year of the foldable. This year, we saw a good number of foldables hitting the market, including some competition for Samsung in the space, in the US. The OnePlus Open is the first foldable under the OnePlus name, but not the first for its parent-company BBK. And OnePlus seemed to have learned from all the mistakes of its competitors, before releasing the Open. When we reviewed it in October, we awarded it an “Editor’s Choice” award.
The OnePlus Open is a tad cheaper than the competition, coming in at $1,699 MSRP. OnePlus does offer some good trade-in offers too for this OnePlus Open, which are valid throughout its lifetime. So you can definitely get it for $1,499 or less.
With the OnePlus Open, many reviewers were ecstatic about it for a couple of reasons. First up is the displays. On the front, it sports a 6.31-inch 2K display, and the inside has a 7.6-inch 2K display. Both of which get very bright, up to 2,800 nits peak brightness. Which is the brightest of any smartphone on the market today.
The other big reason why reviewers loved the Open is the cameras. Many foldables don’t have the same flagship cameras as their non-foldable brothers. Not the OnePlus Open. In fact, these aren’t just flagship-level cameras, but perhaps the best cameras on a phone so far. OnePlus has included a 48-megapixel wide sensor, which is also a physically larger sensor than what most phones have. There’s also a 48-megapixel ultra-wide here, along with a 64-megapixel 3x optical zoom sensor. Not that zoom sensor is so large, that OnePlus is able to do 6x lossless zoom. And up to 125x digital zoom.
This is all powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. That’s more RAM and double the storage of competitors that are $100 more expensive. And finally, inside there is a 4,805mAh capacity battery that does a good job of keeping it going all day long.
If there’s someone on your shopping list this holiday season that is dying for a foldable, this is the one to get.
OnePlus Open – Amazon
Honorable mention: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
If you want a foldable from a company with a bit more experience, then the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the best bet. It is the company’s fifth book-style foldable at this point, so they’ve been around the block a few times. Samsung has equipped this phone with a 6.2-inch front display and a 7.6-inch main display, both of which are 120Hz. The front display is pretty narrow, making you want to use the bigger main display most of the time. It also has a 4400mAh capacity battery which keeps it running all day and then some. And it’s priced at just $1,799.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 – Amazon