2023 is just getting started, but we’ve already seen several new smartphones released and coming soon from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Samsung. While it’s difficult to predict exactly what’s going to happen in the smartphone industry in 2023, some guesses can be made, as the likes of Apple, Google, and Samsung have roughly the same annual launch routine. For example, Apple iPhone 15 series is expected to launch in September, possibly with USB-C charging for the first time. Considering the tech giant will hold its unboxing event on February 1, the Galaxy S23 will likely be one of the first new phones we’ll see in 2023.
Such launches will follow a subtle but important step in the smartphone world in 2022. For example, the iPhone gained satellite connectivity for emergency and car crash detection, while Google found more ways to use its custom Tensor chip in the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Meanwhile, Samsung has given its flagship Galaxy S series a new look and upgraded cameras. Here are 8 exciting new phones we might see in 2023, based on previous release cycles, news, and reports.
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Apple iPhone 15 series
Apple’s new iPhone series is usually released in September, and it is foreseeable that the iPhone 15 will not have a revolutionary upgrade. The adoption of USB-C charging is one of the biggest changes we can expect to see in Apple’s next-generation iPhones. Because the European Union recently mandated that all new phones sold in the region must support USB-C charging by 2024. Apple said it would comply with the regulations, but didn’t specify whether that means we’ll see a move to USB-C starting in 2024 and 2023. It’s also uncertain if the USB-C iPhone will be released globally, or if it will only be available as a European model. Otherwise, we might see routine changes such as some camera upgrades and new processors.
It’s already taken a step in that direction with the iPhone 14 series by retaining features like the Pro-only Dynamic Island and the new A16 Bionic processor. More interestingly, however, Apple could further differentiate between the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max and the smaller iPhone 15 Pro. The main difference between the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max is the screen size. It is reported that Apple may change the name of iPhone Pro Max to iPhone Ultra in the future to better align with other products, such as iPhone watch Ultra.
The iPhone’s long-awaited transition to USB-C is arguably the biggest reason to be excited about Apple’s next smartphone. The shift means iPhone users will finally be able to use the same type of charging cable to charge their iPhone, iPad, and Mac, reducing friction and making the iPhone more convenient. I’m also looking forward to seeing whether Apple will further differentiate the iPhone 15 Pro Max from the iPhone 15 Pro. I think Apple needs to offer more features to its super-sized iPhone to take advantage of its larger screen, similar to the iPad.
OnePlus 11 5G
The OnePlus 11 5G is already available in China, but the new phone will launch globally on February 7. The phone is equipped with a 6.7-inch OLED screen with a refresh rate of 120Hz, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, and 100W fast charging. This is a step up from the 80W fast charging that OnePlus offered on last year’s devices. The OnePlus 11 5G will also feature a 50-megapixel main camera, 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and 32-megapixel telephoto camera.
For a company known as a “flagship killer,” OnePlus’ prices have come close to those of rivals it aims to undercut in recent years. That said, OnePlus is still known for selling affordable phones that pack a lot of high-end features, and the OnePlus 10 Pro comes very close to being a great iPhone competitor. But a bit disappointing camera etc. limit its performance. Here’s hoping OnePlus addresses these issues in its next phone.
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series
According to rumors, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 could bring some noteworthy upgrades to the camera and design. It is reported that the Galaxy S23 Ultra may include a 200-megapixel main camera. That sounds like a huge leap on paper from the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 108-megapixel primary sensor. But it’s important to remember that factors like sensor size and speed also play a very important role in image quality. The new 200-megapixel camera sensor is said to be only larger than the iPhone 14 Pro and slightly smaller than other Android flagships.
Samsung may also offer tweaked designs for the regular Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus, bringing them closer to the design of the Ultra models. Also, Samsung will eliminate the camera bump on the S23 and S23 Plus and replace it with a protruding lens on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While we don’t know what to expect in terms of performance, Samsung typically uses Qualcomm’s latest mobile chips in newer versions of its phones. That means we’re likely to see the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in Samsung’s next Galaxy phones. The new chip offers better power efficiency, ray tracing to improve the aesthetics of mobile games, and an upgraded AI that can better distinguish you from the Zoom background, among other enhancements. Sources suggest that Samsung could ditch its own Exynos processor and rely entirely on Qualcomm for the Galaxy S23.
Smartphone cameras have become so sophisticated that I’m curious if Samsung’s 200-megapixel sensor actually makes a meaningful difference. Either way, it will be interesting to see how Samsung pushes the camera experience forward in the S23 series, given the increased competition from Google’s Pixel line in recent years. I’m also in favor of the rumored Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus design changes to more closely resemble the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Google Pixel 7A
If Google keeps up with its tradition, we could see a cheaper version of the Pixel 7, called the Pixel 7A, launching in the spring or summer. There is very little information about the Pixel 7A at the moment. But word has it that Google has found details in the Android codebase that may be related to the Pixel 7A, suggesting some pretty significant upgrades are in the works. The Pixel 7A’s screen could feature a higher 90Hz refresh rate and wireless charging – two features notably absent from the Pixel 6A. Leaked renders from Hemmerstoffer, published again at Smartprix, also suggest that the Pixel 7A will have a very similar design to its predecessor.
The Pixel 7A could also include the same Tensor G2 processor that powers the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, as well as a camera setup that includes wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle sensors. That’s assuming, of course, that the Pixel 7A follows in the Pixel 6A’s footsteps. From a value standpoint, Google’s A-series of Pixel phones are impressive. If Google manages to address the few shortcomings of the Pixel 6A while keeping the same price, it will become a stronger challenger to Samsung in the affordable phone space.
Google Pixel 8 series
Google’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have only been out for a few months, but word about the Pixel 8 series is already starting to trickle in. The phones, code-named “Shiba” and “Husky,” are powered by a new processor code-named “Zuma.” The code also allegedly indicates that the devices will run on Android 14 and include 12GB of RAM. There isn’t much news about the expected Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, which means there’s not much to get excited about just yet. But I’m most interested in what new features Google’s next-generation chip will bring to its future phones. Google’s current Tensor chip already enables some features that seem practical and useful in everyday life, such as Magic Eraser and Face Unblur for improving photo quality. This gets me excited about where Google is headed next.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Samsung may be best known for its Galaxy S phones, but if you’re on a tighter budget, its Galaxy A-series phones deserve your attention. Following the launch of the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G last spring, the next smartphone in this series is expected to be called the Galaxy A54 5G. Based on the little information that has emerged so far, the Galaxy A54 5G will be a modest improvement over the A53 5G. It is expected to feature a 6.4-inch screen, slightly smaller than the A53’s 6.5-inch screen, and a triple rear camera setup. The Samsung A54 5G may have a slightly larger battery than its competitor.
Testing the Galaxy A53 5G before and after its launch revealed that it’s actually significantly more expensive. It’s not perfect, but Samsung offers a well-rounded package for the price of the Galaxy A53 5G. I hope the success of Google’s Pixel A series inspires Samsung to step up its budget phone game even further.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
While foldable phones are still new to most people, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold is due in its fifth generation in 2023. There could be a slot for Samsung’s S Pen stylus, and the design is reportedly lighter with a less pronounced crease. While it didn’t explicitly say that the Z Fold 5 will have these improvements, it did say that Samsung has listed them as hurdles that must be overcome to make foldable phones more popular. We’re likely to see the general camera and processor improvements in the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Samsung also added some new multitasking features to the Z Fold 4 this year, like the ability to use the bottom of the screen as a mini trackpad when the display is folded in half. So it’s possible we’ll see other software enhancements in the future as well.
Samsung typically announces its new folding phones in August, which means we might see the next Z Fold by that time next year. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 needs more than the included S Pen, however, making the S Pen a bigger part of the experience could go a long way toward further defining what the Z Fold is for. Samsung advertises the Z Fold 5 as a productivity-oriented phone, so having an embedded S Pen seems like a natural move. Both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Fold 3 are compatible with the S Pen but must be purchased separately.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
It is said that Samsung’s next flip phone may have a larger screen cover and a less pronounced crease. The Z Flip 5 will have a roughly three-inch housing screen and a new hinge design that allows for a more subtle crease. That would be a sizeable increase over the current Z Flip 4’s 1.9-inch screen. Like the Z Fold 5, we’re also likely to see improvements across the board in camera quality and software, as well as a new processor.
A slightly larger screen cover would address one of the Z Flip’s shortcomings, and protecting the screen is the biggest area where Samsung could do more. We’d also like to see better battery life on the Z Flip 5, as that’s another area where Samsung’s current flip phones could improve. Some of the biggest improvements we expect we’ll see in 2023 seem to be related to things like improving the battery and charging experience and making camera and design upgrades.