Almost every significant smartphone introduced in the last year, including foldable Android smartphones and the newest models of the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, has been examined by ZDNET. These are the phones that we think are the greatest.
The best phones to buy in 2024, including foldables and budget picks
As we begin the year 2024, the majority of the major manufacturers will likely release new phones in the beginning of the next year. Samsung began the year by introducing the new Galaxy S24 line, which contains generative AI capabilities such as real-time call translation.
After over a year of in-depth testing, I’ve put together the ultimate list of the best phones available right now below. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is my choice for the greatest phone overall because of its brilliant and engaging display, dependable battery life, and abundance of unique capabilities, such as generative AI.
The best phones of 2024
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
With its recently released Galaxy S24 series, Samsung is the first to completely adopt AI. The S24 Ultra is the most costly phone currently on the market. The new Galaxy AI model that is integrated within the smartphone offers a multitude of creative possibilities. These consist of AI-assisted transcription and photo editing, real-time phone call translations, the capacity to do image-based Google searches by circling an object on the screen, and a Chat Assist tool that can ascertain the suitable tone for a message.
The S24 Ultra, like its predecessor the S23 Ultra, comes equipped with a sturdy 5,000mAh battery and a big 6.8-inch AMOLED display. Despite costing $100 more than the S23 Ultra, the phone’s improvements make the $1,299 price increase worthwhile: The Unlike last year’s aluminum frame, the S24 Ultra is composed of a lightweight yet sturdy titanium frame and is equipped with Corning’s new Gorilla Armor. It is notably more durable, feels lighter in the hand, and has increased grip.
Its internal components include a 12GB RAM bump from last year’s 8GB, an enhanced Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset for better graphics and AI features, and 2,600 nits of brightness, which is a significant gain over 1,750 nits last year. The 50MP telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom added to the four-camera setup improved the clarity of photographs of far-off objects and made images crisper and easier to see in low light.
iPhone 15 Pro Max
Features of the iPhone 15 Pro Max specifications: A17 Pro processor, 6.7-inch display, 12MP ultrawide, 12MP telephoto (2x), and 12MP telephoto (5x) rear cameras; up to 1TB of storage; 12MP front camera
Everything a high-end flagship smartphone should have is included in the new iPhone 15 Pro Max, including a sharp 6.7-inch AMOLED display for all your media consumption needs and, of course, mobile work.
In addition to being considerably lighter in the hand due to its titanium construction rather than stainless steel, this year’s model differs from all previous Pro Max models in both appearance and feel. As ZDNET Editor-in-Chief Jason Hiner pointed out in his review, this makes using the iPhone 15 Pro Max substantially more pleasant.
The USB-C connector on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is another important feature; in particular, one that allows you to charge other devices—like the Apple Watch—from your iPhone, transfer data more quickly, and connect to an external 4K monitor. These benefits are revolutionary for people in the content creation industry.
A new 5x zoom camera lens, which is comparable to a 120mm focal length on a mirrorless or DSLR camera, is another feature of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. You can now more easily configure shortcuts and activate the apps you need with ease thanks to the new Action button, which also allows you to press and hold to launch the camera. The A17 Pro chip, which provides better graphical performance, completes the year’s advancements.
Apple has increased the beginning price of the iPhone 15 Pro Max for this year, so you will be paying extra for it to $1,199. Conversely, the gadget has 256GB of basic storage.
Google Pixel 8 Pro
Features of the Google Pixel 8 Pro: Google Tensor G3 processor; 6.7-inch display; 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage options; 50 MP primary, 48 MP ultrawide, and 48 MP telephoto cameras in the rear; 10.8 MP in the front
You really can’t go wrong with any of the flagship devices from the big three (Apple, Samsung, and Google) when it comes to photography performance. You might favor one brand over another based on your taste in color temperature and feature set. However, the majority of consumers are generally satisfied with Google’s Pixel camera system, with the most recent Pixel 8 Pro continuing to be a champion for both quick capture and post-processing.
With a 50MP primary lens and a 48MP ultrawide lens that is noticeably better at taking macro shots, this year’s model has a dependable triple lens system. and up close, as well as a 48MP telephoto lens for long-range photography. There are now a number of Pro settings on the Pixel 8 Pro that let you adjust exposure and shutter speed, among other parameters, if you’d prefer even more precise control over the camera quality.
However, real-time capture is just half the story when it comes to mobile photography; the other half is post-processing and the devices’ versatility in terms of editing and subject manipulation. With AI capabilities like Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, and Best Take that can transform any mediocre photo into a great one, the Pixel 8 Pro may offer the most adaptable and imaginative photo toolset available.
Features of the OnePlus Open: The device is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, two display sizes (6.3 and 7.8), 512GB of storage, three rear cameras (48MP primary, 48MP ultrawide, and 64MP telephoto), and two front cameras (32MP outer and 20MP inner).
Thanks to the combined efforts of nearly every manufacturer, including Google with its Pixel Fold, Motorola with its Razr series, and OnePlus with the OnePlus Open, the number of foldable the number of phones available in 2022 has practically quadrupled compared to this year. Even though Samsung has long been the best foldable gadget, this year’s winner is the OnePlus Open. Unlike its competitors, the OnePlus Open attains the optimal weight-to-size ratio.
We’re in the early days of 2024, which means we’re at the start of another year of new phones expected from most of the big manufacturers. Samsung kicked off the year by unveiling its new Galaxy S24 line, the company’s first to build in generative AI features like real-time call translation.
Best Android phones you can buy right now
Below, I’ve compiled the definitive list of top phones you can buy right now, based on over a year’s worth of hands-on testing. My pick for the best phone overall goes to Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for its immersive and vibrant display, reliable battery life, and wealth of special features, including generative AI.
Motorola Razr Plus
Features of the Motorola Razr Plus: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor; 3.6- and 6.9-inch displays; 256GB of storage; 12MP primary and 13MP ultrawide cameras on the back; 32MP front camera
Flip phones have made a (slightly) comeback, even if youth and younger adults are selecting the less sophisticated form. With the Motorola Razr Plus, the traditional phone is back. In my comprehensive review, I called it “a return to form, modernizing a classic flip phone into one of today’s best foldables.”
Motorola has added a 3.6-inch display to the outside of the new Razr Plus phone. The external display functions as a smaller version of the phone and also doubles as a viewfinder for the rear camera. It is possible for you to Use the same applications and services as on the internal 6.9-inch panel, including as texting, calling, seeing TikToks, and gaming. With the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, you can accomplish the same thing, but you’ll need to find a few workarounds.
In the end, the Razr Plus’s folding design contributes to a better camera experience. Flexing the display to an upright posture makes it simpler to take selfies, take group photos, and take long-exposure pictures that would normally need a tripod or other mounting gear.
The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G’s features include: feature set: three cameras on the rear (50MP primary, 12MP ultrawide, and 5MP macro), 32MP front camera, 6.3-inch display, Exynos 1380 chipset, 128GB of storage
Surprisingly, Samsung’s best-selling smartphone last year wasn’t one of its S-series or foldable models; instead, it was the Galaxy A53 5G, a reasonably priced smartphone with a smooth-scrolling screen, a solid battery, and up to five years of software support. The device, which costs just $449, easily outperformed more expensive competitors as well as Apple’s own mid-range phone, the iPhone SE.
The A54 5G of this year checks all the boxes of its predecessor while adding a few small but helpful improvements. The display, for instance, is still a sizable 6.4-inch panel. It increases to a refresh rate of 120 Hz and shines at 1,000 nits instead of 800 nits. The Exynos 1380 CPU powers the device, which still has a healthy 5,000 mAh battery size. Although it’s not as much as the Exynos chip from the previous year, it’s still a jump.
The Galaxy A54 also has a new camera system that is highlighted by a 50-megapixel primary lens, as well as an external appearance that is more in keeping with Samsung’s S-series phones. According to our tests, the daylight and nighttime photo results were sharpened and evenly lighted, allowing you to confidently share them with others. Although 4K video recording is limited, the 128GB of built-in storage that can be increased with a MicroSD card should be enough.
Having a phone that charges slowly can be really annoying, particularly if you’re constantly on the go. As a result, the OnePlus 11 establishes a new category for charging speed by surpassing Apple, Google, and even Samsung. The most recent model has excellent 100W SuperVooc rapid charging, or 80W in the US.
In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra can charge at a maximum of 45W, while the priciest iPhone 15 Pro Max can only reach 30W. According to ZDNET’s testing and comparisons, the OnePlus 11 outperforms both of those devices in terms of battery life, taking at least an hour to go from 0% to 75%.
The OnePlus can go from empty to full in about 27 minutes. That billing it stands out from the competition thanks to its speed and the custom charger that OnePlus offers in the box.
The greatest part is that the phone’s other components are as impressive; you get a competitive triple-camera array that does its job, a 5,000mAh dual-cell battery, the newest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 engine, and a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The beginning price from OnePlus is $699, which is comparable in value to the greatest low-cost smartphone on our list.
Asus Zenfone 10
Undoubtedly, throughout the last five years, cellphones have grown increasingly cumbersome. Google has a foldable that unfolds to 7.6 inches, Samsung has a “Ultra” beast, and Apple now sells Plus and Max-sized iPhones. The Asus Zenfone 10, which is at the other end of the range, is a worthwhile deviation from the standard in favor of ergonomics and comfort in the hand.
Similar to the Asus Zenfone 9 of last year, which I referred to as “the iPhone Mini alternative for Android enthusiasts,” this latest edition has two competent rear cameras, a small 5.9-inch AMOLED display, and all the power you could want from a modern phone thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU.
The lifespan of the battery on additionally, the Asus holds up quite well; my evaluation unit records almost two days of use before reaching zero percent. The physical fingerprint sensor on the side, the 3.5mm headphone jack on top, and the texturized back cover—which feels and looks fantastic in the hand—are a few little but important things to notice.
What is the best phone?
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the phone we believe to be the greatest overall. With a huge display, four cameras that can capture 200MP images and 8K video, up to 1TB of storage, an integrated S Pen for writing and drawing, and a 5,000mAh battery that powers the device, it has every feature you could desire in a smartphone. See how the S23 Ultra compares to the other products in our top selection.
|Best phone model
|Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
|Up to 1TB
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
|iPhone 15 Pro Max
|Up to 1TB
|Google Pixel 8 Pro
|Up to 1TB
|Google Tensor G3
|6.3 inches and 7.8 inches
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
|Motorola Razr Plus
|3.6 inches and 6.9 inches
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
|Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
|Up to 256GB
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
|Asus Zenfone 10
|Up to 512GB
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Which phone is right for you?
Selecting a phone can be a difficult undertaking. However, making a list of the things you absolutely must have will help you reduce the number of possibilities you have. You should choose a phone that can give you both LTE and Wi-Fi access and at least a full day of use on a full battery if you’re a mobile professional or travel frequently for work.
In order to avoid overuse and overspending, if this is your teen’s first smartphone, a less feature-rich and more affordable model could be preferable. Additionally, to take pictures and videos for your social media feed, if you work as a content producer or in another creative capacity, you should have a phone with a high-quality front and rear camera.
How did we choose these phones?
We test the phones in the real world, conduct weeks of study on them, confer with colleagues, industry experts, and analysts who have firsthand experience with the smartphones, and finally choose the best option out of all of the options.
Design: You can only go so far with a slab design, but there’s enough variation for customers to make a choice thanks to size variations, material selections, color possibilities.
We therefore have a suggestion for each form factor.
Performance: Since smartphones are often the focal point of our life, the top models are very capable of handling the majority of chores you throw at them.
The camera on a smartphone is arguably its most important function; the quality and dependability of this system may make or ruin the entire mobile experience. When we come to a final list, we test all of the devices in bright light and on the darkest nights.
Battery: With moderate use, all of the options in this tutorial should last you at least a day. We also analyze which gadgets are capable of wireless charging and/or fast charging.
Value: While price points are mentioned, getting a good deal on a phone is crucial when making a purchase. You can be confident that you’re getting the most value for your money when you choose these products.
Which phone has the best camera?
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Google Pixel 8 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max are up for debate. Samsung’s 200MP rear camera with 100x Space Zoom is capable of taking long-range photos that go as far as the moon. Google’s Pixel phones have always been the best for point-and-shoot photos and a relatively simple (but effective) camera experience. With its Cinematic and Action modes, the iPhone 15 Pro is a great tool for budding videographers who want to capture the moments that matter.
How long should a phone battery last?
A fully charged phone battery will last you roughly 22 hours, which is ideal for keeping you connected throughout business travels, evenings at home, and commutes. However, that is only an average; actual usage duration varies depending on the phone model and the purpose of the phone.
The most recent iPhone 15 Pro Max, for instance, has a 29-hour battery life. But if you often stream video and music or browse social media, you’ll most likely receive less than that. Furthermore, the nine-hour battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is further diminished by social media, streaming, and making calls.
How much storage should my phone have?
With a minimum storage capacity of 128GB, most smartphones offer plenty of room for the ordinary user to download music and apps, take pictures, and record movies. You will require additional space, though, if you work as a mobile or creative worker. You may always sync your phone to your preferred cloud storage service to free up local storage space. Many smartphones come with increased storage options up to 512GB or even 1TB.
Which phones are also worth considering?
There are many choices available if you’re in the market for a new smartphone. Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus all provide excellent smartphone options, whether you’re seeking to update or acquire your first one.