xiaomi 12s ultra
Which phone should you get? We've simplified the research and decoded seven of the latest and best smartphones in the market. Image Credit: Thai Nguyen/Unsplash

For most of us, our smartphones are the centre of our world – they let us see and talk to our loved ones, take pictures, find our way around the city, learn new things, and lots more.

So far, between 2022 and 2023, we saw popular flagship releases – Samsung Galaxy upgraded its long-awaited foldable phone series along with the S23 range, and Apple followed suit with the brand-new iPhone 15.

What's new in the world of iPhone?

iphone 15 pro max
The iPhone 15 series charges with a USB-C cable. Image Credit: Thai Nguyen/Unsplash

According to Sumesh AK, a technician for iPhone at the mobile phone repair store iFixing.ae, Dubai, the crowd is in for software and a slight hardware makeover in the iPhone 15 series. "This time, there's a major upgrade for camera lovers and in graphics (A17 Pro processor). Customers will also find data transfer to PC and USB devices easier. If you currently own an iPhone 12 or older model, then buying the iPhone 15 is definitely worth it. Users of iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max will only find an improvement of 20 per cent or so," said AK.

Last year, we saw the Dynamic Island as Apple's most-anticipated feature. In 2023, iPhone users looked forward to a hardware overhaul - the all-new USB-C port, which replaced the Lightning connector once and for all. The premium models, iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, support USB 3.2 Gen 2, meaning you get "transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, which is around 20 times faster than USB 2.0." Not to mention a stress-free connection to external displays, mics and battery packs.

As for the camera, AK tells us that the 48MP main sensor has now transferred over to the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. "The iPhone 15 Pro Max offers a new telephoto camera with 5x zoom - this will make for good photography with high resolution. There's an anti-reflective coating on the camera lenses that will make the picture less blurry," added AK.

Apple's flagship handsets are also lighter this time around. 

What's new in Android phones?

nothing phone
Browse some of the coolest smartphones we saw this year. Image Credit: Unsplash/Aditya Chinchure

Fans of Android models are in search of the blazing fast Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, one that enables 5G connectivity. No doubt, with frequent Android releases throughout the year, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the many options available to you.

Compared to last year's releases, 2023 smartphones stand out from their predecessors in more ways than one. Saroj Shrestha, a mobile technician head at repair store Minutes in Dubai, says there are always feature updates to be expected in the camera, processor and design.

"Manufacturers usually upgrade these three things, but their main goal is to make the phone faster than previous models. The latest powerful processor in Android phones is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 right now. You'll notice that the battery lasts longer, videos can be filmed in 240 frames per second and fast chargers have gone from 60-watt and up," said Shrestha, who has over 16 years of experience in the industry.

Let's not forget nighttime photography that continuously sees improvement every year. Besides the iPhone, Shrestha finds the camera system in the Google Pixel 7 series arguably better. (The latest Google Pixel 8 phones are still fresh off the line, having been released in October 2023.)

In terms of design, he also highlights Samsung Z Flip's unique second display on the cover, which lets you take rear camera selfies. If you're looking for a solid telephoto lens, you'll get not one but two on the Galaxy S23 Ultra that can zoom up to 100x digitally and 10x optically.

Editor's pick
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To help you navigate through the slew of latest releases and find one that suits you and your budget, we created a list of our best smartphone picks, with the help of experts and user reviews. Get these with free one-day delivery through Amazon Prime, and enjoy up to 20 per cent off on some.

1. Best Apple Release: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max


  • USB-C port supports speedy 10Gbps data transfers
  • 5x telephoto camera
  • A17 Pro chip with excellent performance for gaming
  • Lighter than the iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • 4K video recording


  • Minimal design changes, compared to iPhone 14 Pro Max

This year, the new iPhone 15 launched with the latest iOS 17, a USB-C port, all-day battery life, and, of course, exciting camera upgrades. The 15 series' in-demand Pro Max phone is consistently out of stock, and for good reason. At a glance, this smartphone feels a lot like the iPhone 14 Pro Max in your hand – it carries the same 6.7-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and triple rear cameras. So, what’s new? For starters, we have the incredibly powerful A17 Pro chip that powers graphic-intensive games, the 5x telephoto camera that allows clear distant shots, and the universal USB-C port that lets you share one cable with your Mac and iPad. Expect to capture more colours in low-light conditions, thanks to the new Smart HDR 5 that preserves true-to-life skin tones. It still features the Dynamic Island bubble that sits at the top of the screen, for checking updates at a glance. If you've always found the Pro phones cumbersome to hold, it's worth noting that the 15 series carries Apple's lightest Pro range ever, with the Pro Max weighing 221 grams only. Order now and have it delivered to you as soon as Amazon restocks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh341, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh569, and a two-year damage protection plus one-year extended warranty for Dh726.

2. Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5


  • Fantastic performance, with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • Large 3.4-inch cover screen
  • Take selfies using rear cameras
  • Fixed with a new, durable hinge


  • Crease is still visible
  • No significant camera upgrades

The Galaxy Z Flip has the coolest form factor among smartphones, hands down. Samsung’s August 2023 launch of its foldable range introduced the world to the all-improved Z Flip5. This version is tougher, more fold-friendly and faster than the Z Flip4. What you'll immediately notice, however, is Samsung's largest 3.4-inch cover screen yet (compared to 1.9-inch on the predecessor), which keeps users from unfolding the phone to send quick texts, take selfies and make calls. A phone that folds in the centre means endless hands-free photo opportunities. Click portraits and group selfies with the 12MP rear camera – just flip it close and strike a pose using the cover screen. But running everything even faster than before is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform, Qualcomm’s most powerful chip for smoother graphics and improved battery. Reviewers love that they were able to snap up the latest phone on an Amazon-exclusive deal. They comment on how unique and fast the Z Flip5 is, instantly making them stand out from the crowd. Find more foldables here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh200 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh142, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh238, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh303.

3. Best for Gaming: RedMagic 7S Pro


  • Excellent alternative to the Asus ROG Phone
  • Features two chipsets: Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and Red Core 1
  • Multi-dimensional cooling system with turbo fan, thermal gel and other layers
  • 18GB RAM and 512GB ROM
  • Comes with a 65W fast charger


  • Has a 5,000mAh battery capacity, compared to ROG's 6,000mAh

Mobile gamers dream of a smartphone robust enough to withstand long hours of peak performance. Often, the Asus ROG Phone comes to mind - a thermally cooled gaming mobile with a massive fan following online. However, Shrestha recommends a more cost-effective contender, the RedMagic smartphone that carries the same Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset as the ROG Phone 6. There's also a secondary chip, the Red Core 1, dedicated to gaming functions like audio and haptic feedback. The 7S Pro offers gamers a 6.8-inch full-HD AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. But, the best part is the under-display front camera, which is hidden from view to clear off any distractions from the screen. Enjoy a staggering 18GB RAM that loads heavy titles in an instant, and download large files on the 512GB ROM. In mobile gaming, the overarching concern is an overheated phone. RedMagic 7S Pro employs an actual 20,000 RPM turbo fan inside the hardware, along with multiple layers of cooling systems, to take the temperature down by 2 degrees Celsius. And, of course, the handset is 5G- and Wi-Fi 6E-enabled to bring you gigabit download speeds. Reviews attest to these specs and say the performance is comparable to playing on the PC.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh262 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh199, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh424.

4. Best Mid-Range Phone: Nothing Phone (2)


  • Interesting design with glyph interface
  • Excellent AMOLED display quality
  • Charges full in 55 minutes
  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor


  • Camera is still decent

If you’re in search of a smartphone that inspires a double-take, then consider the mysterious Nothing Phone (2). Arguably the hottest smartphone in the market right now, Phone (1) first debuted in July 2022 and went on to garner interest for its futuristic design. Shrestha notes its popularity on social media: "The Nothing Phone is quite similar to the iPhone 12 in terms of design. It's got LED alerts on the back, too, so I've seen it a lot on social media. Plus, the phone isn't very expensive, either". Indeed, the phone has a glyph interface under its see-through back, where LED lights beam with every call, notification and battery alert. These customisable light patterns help you differentiate between texts and calls, even without checking the screen. In the dark, the interface automatically transforms into a portable ring light for a softer flash. At this attractive price point, you’re getting a 6.7-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, dual 50MP cameras and 4K video recording. It keeps a 5G-enabled chipset by employing the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, making it faster and more battery-efficient than the Phone (1). Reviewers get approached by strangers, when they're out and about with their Nothing handset. Users of the older instalment highly recommend the upgrade.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh212.42 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh171, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh285, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh363.

5. Best Camera: Google Pixel 7 Pro


  • Fast and smooth Android OS
  • Pro-grade camera system with 48MP telephoto lens
  • Cameras capture real skin tones and colours
  • Bright 6.7-inch display


  • Slow charging
  • Pixel's 5G is not supported in the UAE

For the pure Android experience, look no further - the new Google Pixel 7 Pro runs on a custom-built Google Tensor G2 processor and the Android 13 operating software. Reviews can't get enough of how bright and vibrant the 6.7-inch OLED display is, complete with 120Hz refresh rate support. But, most of the excitement stems from what the Pixel is known for: Google's pro-level camera system. You're getting a 12MP ultra-wide lens, a 50MP wide lens and a 48MP 5x telephoto lens (compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 12MP telephoto camera) - all sensors capture real-life skin tones, even in low-light conditions. Even with a moving subject, reviewers say the phone camera excels in clicking natural pictures. If you're a heavy user, however, you might face a drained battery more often than not, they note. Check out more camera phones here.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh216.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh171, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh285, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh363.

6. Best Eco-friendly Smartphone: Fairphone 4


  • Runs on Snapdragon 750G
  • Modular mobile that can be repaired by the user
  • Responsibly sourced aluminium and recycled plastic
  • 48MP main and ultra-wide cameras
  • Dual SIM with 5G


  • Only 3,905mAh battery capacity

Perhaps the world's most sustainable smartphone yet, the Fairphone is a must-buy for the eco-conscious user. The Dutch brand is on a mission to cut down electronics waste by creating a modular phone that can be easily repaired at home. From the display to the camera, you can replace the hardware on your own with a standard screwdriver, and you don't have to be an expert to do it. This encourages long-term use of a handset, resulting in a smaller environmental footprint. Its latest model, the Fairphone 4, comes with a 6.3-inch full HD+ display and 48MP dual rear cameras, powered by a Snapdragon 750G chipset. You're getting 5G network support, the same as other flagship phones, as well as e-SIM integration. The only drawback is its 3,905mAh battery capacity, compared to the current 5,000mAh models on the market. Reviews call it a durable smartphone, but recommend getting a screen protector to prevent scratches.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh204.25 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty upon registration Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh142, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh238, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh303.

7. Best Performance: Xiaomi 13 Pro


  • Latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
  • Professional Leica camera system with Sony one-inch sensor
  • Powered by Dolby Vision and Atmos
  • Charges to a 100 per cent in 19 minutes


  • Battery capacity is 4,820mAh only
  • Phone can get warm to touch

The Xiaomi 13 Pro is another Android handset that has a similar flat-edge design to the iPhone. Launched towards the end of 2022, this upgraded model features ultra-slim bezels on a 6.73-inch AMOLED display and a square-shaped rear camera system. It's also the only other Android smartphone on our list that runs on Qualcomm's fastest chipset yet, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Xiaomi 13 Pro's triple rear camera is co-engineered with German camera manufacturer Leica, peaking at 50MP and including a telephoto lens. It carries a one-inch ultra-large sensor by Sony, so images capture more light in dim settings. What you'll also get are true-to-life colours that match the classic Leica ambiance via special filters. Its HDR video recording is supported by 4K Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, offering an audio-visual experience like no other. With the 120-watt charger, your phone is ready for the day in just 19 minutes!

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh274.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh199, one-year accidental damage protection for Dh332, and two-year damage protection with one-year extended warranty for Dh424.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.