As is true every year for phones, some things change and other things remain the same. Changes for 2023 include foldable screens, increased durability, and new safety and security features. Camera quality and features are even more impressive this year. All carriers advertise 5G phones and service in 2023; in the past, the 5G infrastructure was still young, and buying a phone with 5G capabilities cost extra. For 2023, 5G is the default.
Flip, fold, or grow are three ways manufacturers offer larger screens. As smartphones increasingly are used for tasks previously only done on a laptop, tablet, or PC, such as gaming, streaming movies, and working from home, manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to increase the screen size to accommodate ubiquitous usage.
Apple has chosen to increase the phone’s overall size, reaching the current common maximum screen size of 6.7 inches.
Meanwhile, Samsung offers both flip and foldable screens. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and the Samsung Galaxy Fold offer larger screens when open. The Galaxy Z Flip is a flip-phone style with a 6.7-inch display, while the Samsung Galaxy Fold has a 7.6-inch foldable display when opened fully flat. If you’re interested in screen size, then the products from Samsung are worth considering.
If you’re looking for a compact yet still usable smartphone, the OnePlus 10 models have a 6.7-inch screen, and the Motorola Razr has a 6.2-inch foldable screen. The Motorola Razr more closely resembles an old flip phone if that’s your preference.
Camera functionality and quality have been a significant part of the manufacturer’s marketing efforts for the past few years. There seems to be a competition among manufacturers as to which can include the highest-quality photo and video capabilities. Apple goes so far as to advertise that its cameras are near professional quality.
The front-facing or “selfie” cameras also continue to improve, but the overall quality of images taken from the front camera has increased significantly. Improvements include handling lighting, telephoto, and up to 4K videos with motion stabilization.
Durability is a new category in the review this year. All the major manufacturers mention durability as a key feature, usually on their higher-end models. Google’s Pixel 7 models have Gorilla glass and aluminum frames and are water resistant, and Apple’s iPhone 14 is splash, water, and dust resistant.
All carriers advertise 5G phones and service in 2023; in the past, the 5G infrastructure was still young, and buying a phone with 5G capabilities cost extra.
Safety and Security
Smartphones have come a long way since the first iPhone was released in 2007. They are now essential tools for many people, used for communicating with others, working on the go, and many other tasks. As such, it’s important that they be as safe and secure as possible. This year’s lineup of smartphones includes several safety and security improvements.
Like desktop computers that are now shipping with TPM (trusted platform module) chips whose sole purpose is to assist with security such as encryption, phone manufacturers are including both hardware and software security features this year. For example, the Pixel Pro touts its Titan chip’s built-in VPN and hardware security.
On the other hand, Apple’s crash detection feature uses sudden speed shifts, directional changes, sounds, and cabin pressure changes to measure a crash. The iPhone 14 can detect severe car crashes and then automatically call 911 and notify the phone owner’s emergency contacts.
Google has a feature similar to Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite and crash detection, but also uses ambient sound to help determine whether or not a crash happened. Google’s personal safety app for crash detection also can call for help automatically. The service is included on all new phones for the first two years.
Apple’s crash detection feature hit a few road bumps when emergency call centers began receiving automated calls from people riding roller coasters.1 Apple released iOS 16.1.2 in December to specifically address this issue.2
The battery lives of this year’s phone models vary considerably. The iPhone 14 can play videos for 20 hours straight, while the Google Pixel 7 needs to be charged only once every 31 hours. Motorola’s Edge 30 Pro is also impressive; it can last 24 hours and has rapid-charge capabilities.
All carriers advertise 5G phones and service this year; in the past, the 5G infrastructure was still young, and buying a phone with 5G capabilities cost extra. For 2023, 5G is the default.There are still non-5G phones available, especially if you’re willing to consider an older model or lower-end phone.
Free or Discounted Phones
When I sold cell phones many years ago, it was common practice for phone service providers to include a free or discounted-cost phone with a service contract. But this option has nearly disappeared, even with extended contracts. Further, most service providers now offer monthly payments, with no interest, on phones, allowing customers to pay for the phone over time with no real disadvantage.
Pick Your Winning Smartphone Model ...
Click on the image to view larger table.
The Top Picks
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max ($1,099) – Still “Hollywood in your pocket.”
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 ($1,150) – Unfolds to have a 7.6-inch screen.
Apple’s iPhone 14 series – Crash detection and SOS features.
Google Pixel 6 Pro ($899) – Includes the Titan M security chip and is a great camera for the price.
Google Pixel 6a ($449) – An affordable phone that doesn’t sacrifice speed or security.
Where to Get Product Specs
Go to the web pages listed below for product specifications. All web pages were last visited on Dec. 13, 2022.
Which Pixel Phone Is Right for You?, https://store.google.com/magazine/compare_pixel?hl=en-US
The All-Pro Google Phone, https://store.google.com/product/pixel_7_pro?hl=en-US
Apple iPhone 14 Specs
iPhone 14 Pro, www.apple.com/iphone-14-pro/specs
Apple iPhone 13 Specs
Buy iPhone 13, www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone-13
Galaxy Z Fold4, www.samsung.com/us/smartphones/galaxy-z-fold4/
Galaxy Z Flip4, www.samsung.com/us/smartphones/galaxy-z-flip4/
1 Use Crash Detection in iPhone or Apple Watch to Call for Help in an Accident (Nov. 15, 2022), https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT213225.
2 HT Tech, New Apple iOS 16 Update Optimizes Car Crash Detection Feature (Dec. 2, 2022), https://tech.hindustantimes.com/tech/news/new-ios-16-update-from-apple-brings-optimizes-car-crash-detection-feature-71669899949977.html.
» Cite this article: 96 Wis. Law. 29-32 (January 2023).