2023 has been a pretty chill year for smartphones in Canada; we’ve gotten more foldables than ever, but candy bar-shaped handsets still dominate. I last put together my ‘best smartphones in Canada‘ article back in 2021 (in 2022, I only focused on three flagships). That year, LG gave up on smartphones, Motorola didn’t make a splash, and companies like Asus were nowhere to be seen.
However, in 2023, the state of the industry has improved slightly. OnePlus has pushed out the OnePlus Open and OnePlus 11 Pro, and Google, of course, has its Pixel flagships and a new foldable — although I, unfortunately, can’t include the Pixel Fold this year because it’s not officially available in Canada (hopefully, it’s successor comes here next year). Motorola has the Razr+, Razr and even the Edge Pro 2023, alongside the Nothing Phone (2), Apple’s iPhone 15 series, three flagship-quality Samsung S series devices and more.
Below are the best smartphones available in Canada. There aren’t foldable devices like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 or Razr+ in this list because, technically, those smartphones aren’t the best at anything other than fitting in your pocket. If you’re interested in learning more about the foldables, head to my reviews of the Z Flip 5 and Razr+. I’d also suggest the Z Flip 5 over the Razr+ because while both devices are awesome, the Z Flip 5 is more polished than Motorola’s offering.
With that out of the way, let’s get into it:
iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is stellar. I’ve been using Apple’s flagship for the past couple of months, and as always, it delivers. There’s no arguing that it’s one of the best handsets in the Canadian market. It offers a 6.7-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a titanium body and a trio of cameras.
The shots I’ve taken are well-exposed and showcase great high dynamic range. Pictures I shot of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean were awe-inspiring and realistically captured the moment. I really like that the iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t oversaturate photography like Samsung’s flagships. I also specifically included the iPhone 15 Pro Max variant on this list as it offers 5x optical zoom, which, by Android standards, isn’t that impressive. Still, it’s great Apple has finally given us the much-requested feature.
The iPhone 15 Pro isn’t a massive jump from the iPhone 14 Pro, but it’s a cut above nearly every device out there.
You can buy the iPhone 15 Pro here starting at $1,449.
While the iPhone 15 Pro Max is for the people who want the best of what Apple has to offer, the iPhone 15 is the best smartphone for most people — offering last year’s iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 Bionic, giving it flagship-like speeds. It also features a great-looking 6.1-inch display with an HDR10-capable panel.
With the iPhone 15, the primary shooter gets an upgraded 48-megapixel sensor with an f/1.6 26mm lens, similar to the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera array. This camera setup allows it to crop 2x for portrait pictures. It also means you can expect high-quality pictures similar to what the iPhone 14 Pro can shoot. Photos shot with the iPhone 15 offer a great sense of depth, details, high dynamic range and colour. Check out the photos I shot with the iPhone 15 below:
You can buy the iPhone 15 here starting at $1,129.
Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is an absolute monster and one of the best smartphones available in Canada — if you’re considering buying this bad boy, grab it. It features a 120Hz refresh rate 6.8-inch panel with a 1,440 x 3,088-pixel resolution, surpassing every other handset on this list spec-wise, alongside up to 12GB of RAM and a massive 200-megapixel primary shooter.
The S23 Ultra takes vibrant pictures that are, arguably slightly oversaturated but still pleasing to the eye (some people prefer this image style, too). Pictures are full of detail, and the high dynamic range is incredible. Low-light camera performance is still superb and better than last year in certain situations. Plus, its 10x shooter is still a beast and is unmatched in the Canadian market.
While I’m not a big fan of the handset’s rectangular design, it doesn’t feel horrible in my hand, and it’s the best option for someone who wants a really large handset that isn’t a foldable (it also features stylus support).
You can buy the S23 Ultra here starting at $1,429.
Pixel 8 Pro
Of course, Google’s Pixel 8 Pro is on my list because it offers a temperature sensor no one will use and a funky Magic Editor that doesn’t always work. Just kidding — the Pixel 8 Pro is a stellar device, despite its shortcomings. It features a 6.7-inch 1,344 x 2,992 resolution QHD+ display alongside 12GB of RAM, the Tensor G3 chip, a 5,050mAh battery and a new camera array.
Further, the Pixel 8 Pro, unlike the S23 Ultra, feels great in my hand thanks to its polished aluminum frame and porcelain-like back.
And while all the smartphones in this list snap great photos, the Pixel 8 Pro is no slouch. Its trio of cameras offers a wide range of colours; darks are dark, and whites are bright. I love the pictures I’ve taken with the Pixel 8 Pro — they look stellar. And thanks to ‘Real Tone,’ the handset realistically captures my darker skin tone.
The Pixel 8 Pro isn’t the best at anything, but it’s a true jack of all trades. It’s worth noting that some users have experienced issues with their devices, including problems like screen tinting, bumps on the inside of the display, and more, but these haven’t happened to anyone on the MobileSyrup team (at least not yet).
You can buy the Pixel 8 Pro here starting at $1,099 (regularly $1,349).
The Moto Edge Pro is the sleeper hit of 2023. It offers up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, alongside a triple camera setup with a 50-megapixel primary shooter that snaps decent pictures.
Unfortunately, it lacks a dedicated 5x zoom camera. Photo colours are accurate, and the pictures are detailed; I just wish the Moto Edge Pro could go further than 2x zoom.
I’m a big fan of the handset’s design with its curved display and slender body, making it feel great in my hand. The matte back is also smooth to the touch, and besides the Pixel 8 Pro, the Moto Edge Pro is the best to hold out of all the other devices on this list.
And with a 165Hz refresh panel, the handset’s display offers a smoother screen experience compared to other devices on this list.
You can buy the Moto Edge+ here.
Nothing Phone (2)
Special mention goes to the Nothing Phone (2), one of my highlight devices this year. The Nothing Phone (2) isn’t the best at anything but still delivers an awesome smartphone experience.
Though it lacks waterproofing, the device boasts up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, a 120Hz refresh rate, a 240Hz touch sampling rate and a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip. I liked Nothing OS 2.0’s minimalistic design, the fun Glyph interface that lights up when you receive a notification, increase/decrease the volume, when your Uber is on its way, and more.
I’m also pleasantly surprised by the photo quality the Nothing Phone (2) offers. The handset features 50-megapixel primary and ultrawide shooters but lacks a telephoto camera. Pictures are detailed, colours are accurate, and a nice sense of contrast alongside a good range of shadows and brightness.
You can buy the Nothing Phone (2) here.
Galaxy Z Fold 5
Like every year, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 makes the list with its beautiful 7.8-inch main display. However, with other foldable competition finally in the mix in Canada, if Samsung doesn’t improve its front display, it might not make next year’s list. While the Z Fold 5 is stellar, offering top-level specs, its ‘Cover Screen’ remains a huge gripe for me, featuring an especially tall 23.5:9 aspect ratio that’s not that useable for long periods.
If you’re using the Z Fold 5, expect to open up that larger display more often.
The Z Fold 5 features several upgrades over the Z Fold 4, including weighing 10g than last year at 253g and a slightly smaller overall design. Camera-wise, the Z Fold 5 touts the same shooters as last year, offering sharp, bright and vivid pictures, but like the S23 Ultra, they’re slightly oversaturated.
You can buy the Galaxy Z Fold 5 here starting at $2,209 (regularly $2,559).
The OnePlus Open is a solid device. Despite Brad Bennett’s complaints regarding the foldable, I value the role it plays in the Canadian market, as it’s another handset challenging the Z Fold series in Canada.
And thanks to its great specs, the Open gives the Z Fold 5 a run for its money. While the OnePlus Open falters in some respects, it makes up for these shortcomings regarding usability. The Cover Screen of the OnePlus Open offers a typical aspect ratio of 20:9, making it feel more like a regular candy bar smartphone when closed. A 20:9 aspect ratio is similar to the Pixel 8 Pro, OnePlus 11 Pro and many other smartphones on the market that people are used to. This is great, and I hope it’s something Samsung applies to its Fold series next year.
The OnePlus Open features a 7.82-inch main display with a 2268 x 2440 pixel resolution, a 6.31-inch cover and a Super Fluid OLED display, alongside 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM. The foldable’s 48-megapixel primary shooter uses OnePlus’ new Pixel Stacking tech to provide more light and colour saturation than a traditional camera. In Brad Bennett’s review of the Open, he said he was impressed with the colour depth and that the handset had an extremely versatile camera.
Expect more of my own opinion about the OnePlus Open in the coming weeks, but until then, it deserves a spot on our list of the best smartphones available in Canada.
You can buy the OnePlus Open here for $1,999.99 (regularly $2,299).
Photography by Bradley Bennett.
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