PhoneArena 2023 "Flagship Killer" Awards: the most under-rated phones out there

PhoneArena 2023 "Flagship Killer" Awards: the most under-rated phones out there
As the year draws to a close, it's time for us to summarize and see which were the phones that impressed us the most.

And while we have already given awards to the best 2023 phones around, this time around, we have decided to create this separate article to recognize the innovation and progress from challenger brands that are either not so well recognized or underrated for one reason or another.

We have several categories here, so let's get right into it and see which phones win our 2023 "flagship killer" awards. And one important disclaimer: we use the term "flagship killer awards" very vaguely and it is in no way related to one particular brand, but we do think it is a great description of these challenger devices that are not your familiar, mainstream smartphones.

PhoneArena "Flagship Killer" Awards 2023 — Best Innovation

Next-gen foldable phones with almost no crease

While mainstream brands like Samsung stuck with what works in foldables, challenger brands introduced a lot of innovation: slimmer designs, lighter weight and - most excitingly - foldable phones that all but eliminate the dreaded crease.

In our review of the Huawei Mate X3, for example, we said: "The Mate X3 is a spectacularly designed phone that puts the competition in the upper foldable segment in check with its extremely thin and lightweight body and creaseless display".

Similarly, other phones also adopted this new technology and we saw the crease all but eliminated on the OnePlus Open and a few other devices out of China.

Read more in our: Huawei Mate X3 Review

PhoneArena "Flagship Killer" Awards 2023 — Best Camera

Xiaomi 13 Ultra

A few companies went the extra mile when it comes to cameras, but the phone that impressed the most with its camera quality was the Xiaomi 13 Ultra.

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Xiaomi bet on a 1-inch type main camera sensor, larger than what you get on mainstream phones, and it also used a high quality ultra-wide camera and two zoom cameras. In addition to that, Xiaomi introduced ultra clear glass lens, but the real secret was in the image processing which got rid of the traditional "smartphone" look in favor of a more true to life, less processed image with no oversharpening and an almost filmic quality to the image.

Read more in our: Xiaomi 13 Ultra Review

PhoneArena "Flagship Killer" Awards 2023 — Best Foldable

OnePlus Open

Foldable phones had a great year especially when it comes to these challenger brands.

Here are just a few of the impressive new foldable phones that might have gone under your radar:

However, the one phone that eclipsed them all was the OnePlus Open.

This device is not only very well put together, it also has a true flagship-grade camera which most foldable phones skip on, and most excitingly it using a brand new OnePlus-designed Canvas multitasking system that is truly ingenious and allows switching between apps incredibly easily.

Read more in our: OnePlus Open Review

PhoneArena "Flagship Killer" Awards 2023 — Best Overall

OnePlus 11

As in foldable phones, competition was fierce in the traditional flagship phone space too.

A number of companies did their best by upping the game in camera quality, design, battery life, innovative charging solutions, and of course performance optimizations with new cooling technologies for gamers.

Here are just a few of the names that come to mind:
  • Oppo Find X6 Pro
  • Xiaomi 13 series
  • Vivo X90 Pro Plus

But ultimately, the big award goes to the OnePlus 11.

This phone has a flagship processor, a beautiful screen, an incredibly refined design, fast charging, a solid camera system, but best of all it comes at an incredibly reasonable price point. All of this combined catapulted it to the top of this ranking, and for the first time in a few years we feel that OnePlus has indeed lived up to that "flagship killer" name of years past.

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