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Best Premium Smartphone: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series

By Liu Hongzuo - 6 Mar 2023

Best Premium Smartphone: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series

Best Premium Smartphone

It's almost impossible to catch anyone walking around without a phone in this day and age. With handsets getting more potent through AI advancements, insane performance gains, better imaging prowess, and all-day-long battery lives, the smartphone market has evolved to a point where your average user is clear on what they expect their favourite brands to do.

Such clarity and demands are further compounded by the competitiveness of the smartphone market, with insane promotions and hyper-aggressive campaigns trying to convince users that their phone is the better buy. It's even harder to assess who has the best handset at the highest tiers of mobiles, given that most (if not all) of them exceed your average user's needs and have features they might not even use.

To make the cut for HWZ's Tech Awards, the Best Premium Smartphone has to be announced and/or released in 2022 (after our previous Awards assessment) to Jan 2023. There are no compromises: not only must it be flagship-class and the best phone the brand offers, but it also has to embody components, features, and qualities beyond just top phone specs, and still appeal to most consumers. It can also include non-traditional form factors (like foldable phones) that can still deliver on conventional usage like its traditional counterparts.

These days the 'flagship' categorisation is no longer exclusive to the most expensive handsets money can fetch, and as such, we've reserved the qualification for Best Premium Smartphone priced at S$1,500 or higher that goes beyond just specs and help deliver premium experiences.  If you're looking for the essentials at a lower price point that doesn't sacrifice core performance, do check out our Best High-end Smartphone recommendation for that. 


  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G
  • Vivo X80 Pro

While the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra fits the premium categorisation much like its Galaxy Z Fold4 5G, the Korean brand's aggressive launch windows would see the 2023 successor (Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra) already available in Singapore. Furthermore, the S-series is designed to deliver the best traditional form-factor experience while the Z series focus on more unique experiences brought about by its form-factor. It's not a bad thing for consumers to get more choices, since the Galaxy Z Fold4 5G has similar or identical components to the Galaxy S22 Ultra while being unique; as such, the foldable model shall compete in our premium phone segment.

We're also mindful of alternatives like the Huawei Mate 50 Pro and many other 2022 flagship phones. If it's not on this list, it's likely for one of the following reasons: it fits this year's Best High-end categorisation better or lacks key features to compete with other contenders (you are paying top dollar, after all). Also, there's little point in assessing a phone that's not officially available in Singapore, especially if this also means a troublesome buying experience for most users who want phones to work for them out of the box -- not the other way around.


And the winner is...

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G.

To qualify for a nomination in the Best Premium Smartphone category, these nominees must meet all the hygiene factors of a flagship-class handset. Things like waterproofing, NFC, fast storage and RAM, camera quality, display sharpness, chipset performance, a clean ad-free UI etc. are all non-negotiable, must-have features for users who are paying to get the best. These are just the bare minimum.

Then there are X-factor experiences that you get out of these flagship phones, leaving us with very few alternatives and also why the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G became the chosen winner. While you'll find better camera and imaging on the other three nominees on this list, a smartphone doesn't start nor end at its camera lenses. 

All phones, by design, are meant to tackle our daily multitasking needs and to accomplish various personal goals. But the Galaxy Z Fold4 5G takes this further and is a multitasker's dream machine. It offers a combination of alternative displays for different needs, an impressive battery uptime despite its size, and truly high-quality raw performance to power most Android apps. It also included sensible software optimisations to use with its expansive inner display. 

We don't think it's the perfect 2022 phone, and it certainly has some ways to improve (with its display crease still being a concern for some) and a price tag that is well above most phones. However, that's what paying a pretty penny money means: you buy convenience, ease of use, peace, and undisputed top-grade quality with no compromises. If the brand has to justify to you why something is missing while everyone else has it, that is not yet premium. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G is definitely premium.

Scoring Breakdown

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G

Oppo Find X5 Pro

Vivo X80 Pro

Design 8.5


8.0 7.5
Performance 10.0 9.0 9.0 9.0
Features 9.0 10.0
(revised up from 9.0)
8.5 8.0
User-friendliness 9.0 8.5
(revised up from 8.0)
9.0 8.0
Value 7.5
(revised down from 8.0)


7.5 7.5
Overall 8.5


8.5 8.0
Price From S$1,799 From S$2,398 From S$1,699 From S$1,699

*Note: Prices and ratings listed are accurate at the time of individual product evaluation. In our standalone reviews, we mostly pit these phones amongst their own ecosystem (Apple and Android, respectively) to determine their ratings, but for the absolute best among all phones, some adjustments had to be made to compare the phones across the board better. This is yet another reason why the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 5G is our chosen winner.

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 a great High-End Smartphone without the hefty price tag, head over here, and if you need an Android phone with the best set of cameras, this is our pick.



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