It’s been an interesting year for smartphones. Although it may seem like phones have stagnated, we still got some real surprises in 2023 with names you might not have expected. These phones stood out from the rest in some way or the other, proving that you can still do some fun and exciting things with smartphones.
So, sit back, take a sip of that delicious cider or hot cocoa, and take a look at the most innovative smartphones of 2023.
Want to see the rest? Check out our full list of the hottest innovative tech products of 2023!
Winner: OnePlus Open
Although Samsung has dominated the foldable market in the US for a few years, 2023 sees a rise in foldables from competitors like Google and OnePlus. But OnePlus has become open The foldable phone is the one to beat, even though it is the first foldable phone from OnePlus.
In terms of specifications, the OnePlus Open certainly impresses. You have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, along with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. With this kind of power, the OnePlus Open can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. It also has a 4,805mAh battery that will last a whole day and then some, and has support for 67W fast charging.
It has a 6.31-inch AMOLED cover display and when opened to reveal a 7.82-inch AMOLED inner display. Both screens have refresh rates of up to 120Hz and can reach a peak brightness of 2,800 nits, making it one of the brightest displays available on any phone. The internal display also has an anti-reflective coating, making it more usable outside in bright sunlight than competitors. Plus, OnePlus’ flexion hinge results in a barely noticeable crease, which isn’t a given with folding phones today
You have a powerful triple-lens Hasselblad camera array with a 48MP primary camera, a 48MP ultrawide camera and a massive 64MP telephoto camera that can do 3x optical, 6x in-sensor and up to 120x Ultra Res zoom. The selfie cameras are also 32MP on the cover display, while the internal selfie camera is 20MP, although you can also use the rear camera for selfies.
But the real magic of OnePlus Open is its power of multitasking with the Open Canvas feature in OxygenOS 13.2. This new way to multitask was specifically designed to increase productivity with multi-window efficiency.
What does this mean? Essentially, OnePlus can support up to three apps in open split screens and floating windows, and a permanent desktop-like taskbar at the bottom. But it’s not limited to just using physical screen space. You can stretch and resize all windows as you wish, because the open canvas is like a virtual screen space. To bring up a second or third window, simply slide it in or out of view.
So not only is the OnePlus Open impressive in terms of specifications (and it has a cool design to boot), but its new approach to multitasking allows you to be more productive than ever. All this makes the OnePlus Open one of the most innovative phones this year, especially for a foldable phone.
Runner-up: Fairphone 5
When it comes to smartphones, you don’t think of them as highly repairable or very durable for the planet. But that’s exactly what you get with the Fairphone 5. This is a phone that’s all about commitment to the planet and sustainability, as it’s designed to last for years.
The Fairphone 5’s features aren’t very impressive compared to the competition. It has Qualcomm QCM6460 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, although you can expand the storage with a microSD card. You have a dual-lens camera system with 50MP primary and ultrawide cameras on the back, as well as a front-facing 50MP selfie camera – although there are some drawbacks to taking photos with it. But you’re not buying the Fairphone 5 for the hardware specifications – you’re buying it if you want a phone to last you for years.
With the Fairphone 5, the main selling points are stability and repairability. This is a phone that has parts you can repair yourself if it breaks (including the screen, USB port, camera and battery) and those parts are reasonably priced. Repairing the parts is also relatively simple and not complicated, as all you need is a 00 Phillips screwdriver and a good work area.
Fairphone is also dedicated to updating the Fairphone 5 with five major Android plus other usual software support by 2031. The Fairphone 5 deals with long-term ownership in a way that no other phone does, and it deserves recognition.
Honorable Mention: Motorola Razr (2023)
Finally, we’re giving an honorable mention to the Motorola Razr (2023). The folding flip phone is nothing new in terms of specifications; Instead, it’s innovative for the price. This is the first foldable phone that you can buy for just $700.
When you get a foldable phone, the first thing you’ll probably think about is the price. Most foldable phones start at $1,000, and flagship phones can reach nearly $2,000 – and even higher, depending on your storage options.
This is what makes the Motorola Razr so attractive. This is the only foldable phone you can get for under $1,000. And you get a lot of great features at that price! The design is simple but elegant with vegan leather, which also comes in fun colors. There’s no difference when turned off, the cover display makes it easy to see the time and notifications at a glance, the screen is bright and crisp, and the performance is good for the cost. And the cameras are also pretty solid, all things considered.
The Motorola Razr (2023) is the first folding phone that feels attainable for a wide group of people, and even with fairly mid-range specs, it’s pretty impressive.