MKBHD, also known as Marques Brownlee, is a popular tech YouTuber well-known for his in-depth smartphone reviews. Every year, he hosts an award show called the “Smartphone Awards” where he recognizes the best phones of the year in various categories.

The 2023 Smartphone Awards are out, and like last year, a Google Pixel phone — the vanilla Pixel 8 — has emerged as the winner of the MVP Award. But there are some surprises too, including honorable mentions for the Pixel 7a and Pixel Fold, Google’s first attempt at the foldable market.

Key takeaways from MKBHD Smartphone Awards 2023

A lot of smartphones were released this year in all forms, sizes and shapes. But you can’t have them all, which is why MKBHD has just published the Smartphone Awards 2023 to help you pick the ultimate phone. There are awards across 10 categories namely Best Big Smartphone, Best Compact Phone, Best Camera, The Value Award, Best Battery, The Design Award, Best Foldable Phone, Most Improved, Bust of the Year, and MVP.


So, without further ado, here are the key takeaways from this year’s awards.

The iPhone is still the best camera phone

This year, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max won the best camera award. While Google Pixels have always been praised for their great photography, this was only true for MKBHD until the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. Ever since, this category has been dominated by the iPhone Pro models. Not even the Pixel 8 Pro and all of its AI glory could convince him otherwise. He describes the iPhone 15 Pro as the camera king when it comes to the “totality of performance across the biggest variety of situations and ease of use,” be it with stills or videos. Of course, you may not agree with this take, something MKBHD is also quick to acknowledge, so don’t get too worked up.

Pixel 8’s $699 price tag may have cost Google the Value Award

Last year, the Google Pixel 7 topped the Value Award and MVP categories. But this year, only the Pixel 7a managed an honorable mention in The Value Award, which was eventually won by Samsung Galaxy A54. At under $400, MKBHD describes it as “everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” While the A54 has no standout features, there’s also nothing wrong with it.

Marques Brownlee-holding-pixel-7a

On the other hand, the Pixel 7a’s price jump to $499 and Pixel 8’s $699 starting price, up from $599 for the Pixel 7 could likely be the reason neither didn’t retain a crown recently dominated by Pixel phones.

The Pixel Fold series has a great future ahead

The Google Pixel Fold is a solid first attempt from Google in the foldable market. It offers great cameras, performance, and software, but is held back by average battery life, a noticeable display crease, and a high price tag. MKBHD ranked it second in the Best Foldable Phone category because it’s his favorite foldable to use when folded, which is a bit ironic given the phone is mainly supposed to be used when unfolded. But to perhaps stand a chance next time, Google may have to improve battery life, display quality, and most importantly, bring down the price of the Pixel Fold 2. Either way, coming second in a category that has the likes of Samsung Galaxy Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 shows the future is indeed bright for Google’s foldable smartphones.

Marques Brownlee-holding-pixel-fold-in-his-hand

The Pixel 8 is the MVP of 2023

The Pixel 8 has been causing major waves with the many AI camera features it packs, more so the Best Take feature. But according to MKBHD, there’s more to this phone than just the AI stuff. Sure, it now costs $100 more than last year’s Pixel 7, but it also delivers in terms of display and camera quality (especially with stills), top-notch performance thanks to the Tensor G3, and a ridiculous amount of software features to go with, much like its Pro sibling. In fact, for these reasons, MKBHD thinks it’s harder to justify buying the Pro model especially given the huge price difference. But again, you may not agree with this take, which is okay.

Winners of other categories include Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as the Best Big Phone, Asus ZenFone 10 for the Best Compact Phone, iPhone 15 Plus for the Best Battery life, the Honor Magic V2 for the Best Design, OnePlus Open for the Best Foldable Phone, Nothing Phone 2 for the Most Improved Award and Saga Solana Phone for the Bust of the Year.

It’s important to note that these are just MKBHD’s personal opinions, and there are many other great smartphones on the market. It’s always a good idea to do your own research and consider your own needs and preferences before buying a new phone. You can watch MKBHD’s Smartphone Awards 2023 video below.

Hillary Keverenge
2090 Posts

Tech has been my playground for over a decade. While the Android journey began early, it truly took flight with the revolutionary Lollipop update. Since then, it's been a parade of Android devices (with a sprinkle of iOS), culminating in a mostly happy marriage with Google's smart home ecosystem. Expect insightful articles and explorations of the ever-evolving world of Android and Google products coupled with occasional rants on the Nest smart home ecosystem.

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