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Best High-end Smartphone: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series

By Liu Hongzuo - 7 Mar 2023

Best High-end Smartphone: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series


Best High-end Smartphone

Discerning phone users sometimes want a phone that packs high-end hardware equal to flagship offerings, but none of the 'excess' that pushes its sticker price past a certain point. Or, they don't see a reason for overpowered components, favouring instead a balanced, yet high-quality handset.

For this group of shoppers, this High-end phone category satisfies the best of both worlds: a more palatable price for the parts and features that matter. So, you're probably missing out on leading-edge technologies that no one else has, or a nice all-metal construction. However, you're still getting the best hardware, tangible features, and other perks that constitute a high-quality experience without paying out of your nose.

To make the cut, the phones nominated had to be announced and/or released after our last awards cycle until Jan 2023, and has to offer flagship-level performance and features around the S$1,000 mark. Taking our upper-tier Premium category into consideration, we also include devices below S$1,500 at launch.


  • Apple iPhone 14
  • Google Pixel 7
  • OnePlus 10 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 5G
  • Xiaomi 12T Pro

We listed the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 5G as it makes a better contender than its Galaxy S22 series, partly due to its more unique features while still being in a similar price bracket. Google Pixel 7 was also nominated because of its excellent value proposition, even if the Google Pixel 7 Pro sibling offered more at a higher price. You'll also find further reasons below.


And the winner is...

Google Pixel 7.

The Pixel handsets by Google have always been good value with a clean UI, but it was never quite a winner.

Now, enter the Google Pixel 7.

Google's efforts in providing an undeniably enjoyable, yet smooth phone experience are best captured in the smaller Pixel 7, which came in at S$999 (for 128GB, significantly friendlier pricing than many other competing ones).

Dig deeper, and you realise that they still check all the boxes. It uses the best phone processor Google offers that year. It still held itself reasonably well in performance against seasoned chipset veterans like Samsung and Qualcomm (and on a side note, Google's chip is made by Samsung). You get -- literally -- the cleanest Android UI possible and the fastest rollouts for security and OS updates. You also get core flagship perks like a speedy 90Hz refresh rate, an FHD+ AMOLED panel, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and fast memory for RAM and storage. It even has wireless charging and IP68 resistance -- crucial features that the powerful Xiaomi contender lack (and we mentioned the 12T Pro because it was good value while adhering to delivering flagship-level of performance).

Where the Pixel 7 edged out others was a combination of its truly practical and integrated AI features, along with imaging performance that far exceeded its peers and even challenged premium-tier brethren. It's so good that the Pixel 7 Pro's extra lens can be optional if you value the Pixel 7 savings over that extra zoom.

This is no doubt a challenging and highly contested segment, with Samsung and Xiaomi's alternatives coming in closely behind, but the Google Pixel 7's impressive feature set, good interface, cutthroat value, and strong cameras proved too much to beat. 

Plus, you can always get the Pro version (starts at S$1,299) if you want a larger display (1440p resolution with 120Hz refresh), bigger battery and optical zoom while retaining all of Pixel 7's strengths. We look forward to seeing Google take its handset business even more seriously from here. 

Scoring Breakdown
  Apple iPhone 14 Google Pixel 7 OnePlus 10 Pro Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 5G Xiaomi 12T Pro
Design 8.5 8.5 8.0 8.0 7.5
Performance 9.0 7.5 8.0 9.0 9.0
Features 8.0 9.0 8.0 8.5 8.5
User-friendliness 9.0 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.0
Value 7.0 9.0 8.0 8.5 8.0
Overall 8.0 8.5 8.0 8.5 8.0
Price From S$1,299 From S$999 From S$1,299 From S$1,398 From S$1,099

*Note: Prices and ratings listed are accurate at the time of individual product evaluation.

For more details on how we rated our nominees and to find out our usage experience of each device, check out the full reviews and articles listed in the References section below.

Meanwhile, check out our other Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice winners from the team behind HardwareZone and HWM. If you're looking for our pick on the Premium Smartphone, head over here, and if you need an Android phone with the best set of cameras, this is our pick.



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