Pixel Fold, Z Fold 5, S23 Ultra: Picking my next big phone is going to be tough in 2023!

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Pixel Fold, Z Fold 5, S23 Ultra: Picking my next big phone is going to be tough in 2023!
"Men are interested in things, women are interested in people," say philosophers, and while we all (more or less) vary in personality, and may not necessarily fit into the stereotypes, boy is this true about me.

Tech toys like smartphones, tablets, wearables, VR and AR headsets – I get very excited about all of them, and constantly try to keep things fresh by getting new ones and selling the old ones. Whether I'm getting a random Android smartwatch for a goof, or a niche Android gaming console, or a very popular 2022 iPad Pro model, with the keyboard and all the overpriced extras – I can't wait to see what I can do with them.

But let's focus on phones, because this is PhoneArena, after all. I'm always excited to try new ones, but long-term, I only stick with phones that let me do more than the basics. That means I expect them to have good split-screen multitasking, at the very least. But in addition to that, I sure would love to watch movies and YouTube videos on my phone without squinting, so the bigger screen – the better. For both that, and the aforementioned multitasking.

Basically, I'm a power user, and I like big phones. Once upon a time, those were everywhere, in the good old early years of Android. But now, with the prevalence of social media, "big phones" basically became "tall and narrow phones," and I'm not all for it. So folding phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 have been some of the most exciting for me.

Well, I'm happy to report that looking at the near future, it seems like we have a lot of fantastic 2023 phones to be excited about. From highly polished, familiar ones, to brand new models we've been hearing rumors about for years now. Let's check what those are, and see just how difficult it'll be to choose one of those phones as my main one next year…

If you're also a tech enthusiast, you'll likely see something you'll love too, so be sure to join me by sharing what you're most excited about, in the comments section below.

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Google Pixel Fold – the myth, the legend, the less confident kid in the corner who's finally ready to take a step forward and face the class

Google Pixel Fold renders, courtesy of Front Page Tech

Samsung sure didn't show weakness or doubt in its product, when it released its first Galaxy Fold, even though boy was it kind of a mess. But after annual improvements paired with that confidence – the Korean giant now sells what I would valiantly argue is the greatest foldable phone ever – the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Google, on the other hand, has been rumored to be working on its own Z Fold competitor for years now. We also heard rumors that Google ended up canceling it, or at least clearly delaying it several times, supposedly in fear of not being able to compete with big boy Samsung and its foldable.

But lo and behold, a recent tip from reliable leaker Jon Prosser gave us not only a look at what Google's first folding phone may be like, but it also gave me a glimpse of hope that Google may be on its way to finally unveil the Pixel Fold to the world. Possibly in May of 2023, at its annual Google I/O developer conference. It's been a long wait, here's hoping it doesn't get even longer.

And hey, I'm not going to poke fun at Google for being a bit indecisive and slow – better to release a polished product from the get-go, instead of launching a fragile, and arguably unfinished one like Samsung did with the first Galaxy Fold…

But looking at Google's Pixel Watch… well, polished it ain't. So while I'm more optimistic about the Pixel Fold, what if it's also a fairly unpolished first-gen product?

Considering the amount of years Google has seemingly been working on the Pixel Fold, plus the fact that Samsung itself is likely going to be the supplier for its folding display, again – I'm actually optimistic that this will be a fantastic foldable, and a solid alternative to the Galaxy Z Fold.

However, its rumored price of $1,799 is kind of a red flag; bad news. I'm sure you won't be shocked if I tell you that the base Galaxy Z Fold 4 also costs $1,799. What a weird "coincidence." However, Samsung's foldable is, again, the result of several generations of improvements, and has a ton of amazing power user features – not just the best multitasking on any phone, but also the Samsung DeX desktop mode too.

So it's pretty bold of Google to slap the same price on its first-gen Pixel Fold, without offering such features. Or, who knows? Surely there's a good reason for that price, and perhaps Google will surprise us with some amazing folding phone features that will surpass, or at least respectably rival what Samsung offers! As always – I remain optimistic.

And I'm really, really eager to finally try out Google's first folding phone once it finally comes out, which might be very soon now.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 – the experienced overachiever who will undoubtedly steal the spotlight in 2023

When I did our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review, I said that this foldable offers Android at its best (or in short – "peak Android"). And I stand by that.

Google may own Android, but Samsung arguably made the best of it, and called the result One UI. And you can enjoy One UI's fantastic power user features on pretty much any modern, flagship Samsung phone or tablet.

But the Galaxy Z Fold 4 currently excites me the most, because it not only offers the best of Android, but it's both a phone and a tablet. And… even a PC, if you want it to be, courtesy of Samsung DeX.

Next year, likely in August, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is coming as a yet-another annual upgrade over an already excellent predecessor. Hopefully slightly cheaper, very possibly with an included S Pen stylus, and a slot for it too!

So let's consider this – the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will be a phone, a tablet, a PC, and a digital notepad with its own stylus.

Combining a fantastic folding phone design with the stylus and handwriting features of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, plus the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra's powerful multitasking features, all in one device – now that'll be hard to beat!

Your move, Google. And Apple, maybe…

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, or the would-be Note 40, if you're keeping count

Galaxy S23 Ultra render image, courtesy of OnLeaks

Props to Samsung for keeping the big, flagship stylus phone alive to this date, even if it now calls it an S Ultra, instead of a Note. The amount of people who use a stylus with their phone is not a huge one, and as someone who's a member of this group, I'm surprised that one of the top dogs in the smartphone world still cares about us.

What other brand besides Samsung has the courtesy of giving us a top tier flagship these days? Besides good old Samsung, thanks to which we currently have the Galaxy S22 Ultra as the best option out there. And in 2023 – you guessed it, we're getting an S23 Ultra, and the leaks we're already seeing about it are pretty exciting.

Yes, as a big phone fan, I'm more than happy about its expected 6.8-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen. Granted, I would've liked it to be larger, but so far the information we have suggests this size, which is the same as its predecessor. Samsung may have concluded that this is the optimal "big phone" size it can offer, without making it unwieldy.

The features that are already hyping up the Galaxy S23 Ultra are, unsurprisingly, in regards to the camera. And indeed, we expect a massive 200MP main camera with optical image stabilization, which, just for comparison, is almost 100MP more than the S22 Ultra, and over 150MP more than what the iPhone 14 Pro Max packs.

But again – the big screen, and the power user features are what attracts me to this phone, and why I'll consider rocking it long-term next year. Unlike folding phones like the upcoming Z Fold 5, the S23 Ultra won't be that inconveniently thick and heavy, and won't require you to unfold and fold it all the time, yet will still offer a pretty large display. It will also still offer the same multitasking features that we expect for the Z Fold 5, right down to the included stylus!

So, it makes perfect sense to choose between the Z Fold 5 and the S22 Ultra based on whether you want some glorious, folding tablet action, or you prefer a traditional phone design. And unless Google's Pixel Fold surprises me with some incredible features, or at the very least, a lower price – I'm going to have to look towards Samsung's 2023 options when choosing my next big phone. Yet again. Unless…

A folding iPhone? Don't hold your breath

Like many of your favorite brands, Apple has quietly been testing designs for folding smartphones. We've heard rumors of both foldable iPhones and even folding iPads, but nothing official has come out of it… yet.

And while the idea of a big iPhone that can unfold into an iPad mini sounds insanely exciting for me, this is Apple, unfortunately, and not Samsung…

Samsung's next Galaxy Z Flip 5 will indeed basically be an S22 Ultra that unfolds into a small Galaxy Tab, offering both devices' main features in a single package.

Honestly, if Apple were to do something like this, I would really find it hard to choose between the two camps. Because the iPad now does have some pretty amazing multitasking features with iPadOS 16, and has always offered more professional-grade apps than Android. I'd love to film videos on a foldable iPhone, then unfold it into an iPad and edit those same videos on a bigger screen.

But, again – this is Apple we're talking about, and the last thing Apple wants to do is sell a product that might dip into the sales of its other products; in this case – both the iPhone and the iPad mini.

So what Apple is most likely to do, if it ever releases an iPhone Fold (or iPhone Flip?), is to design it as an ultra-portable clamshell. Think the Galaxy Z Flip 4, but an iPhone. In which case, it won't be the phone for me, albeit it will probably sell amazingly well, seeing as how the Z Flip 4 itself is super trendy and beloved.

Foldable iPhone concept render by iOS Beta News

In any case, one of the latest news regarding this, is that Apple has no short-term iPhone Fold launch plans, but an iPad Fold might be coming in 2024. So, I might kind of get what I want, but nerfed – without the phone features. Not ideal. And not in 2023 either.

We have some exciting big phones from mainstream brands coming in 2023! How is one to choose? What will you pick?

Or alternatively, which phone from 2022 or earlier do you plan to stick with through 2023? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments section below!

As for me, a safe bet for my next phone would be the Z Fold 5 in August, but let's see if Google surprises us with something new and cool before that, at its I/O developer conference in May…

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