The best Android phones money can buy in South Africa

Entrepreneur Hub SA takes a closer look at the top Android phones of 2023 so far.

In 2023, the Android smartphone market continues to be dominated by leading manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi.

With each new release, these companies push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of camera technology, processing power and battery life.

In this article, TechCentral takes a closer look at some of the top Android phones of 2023, highlighting their key features and what sets them apart from the competition. Only phones available officially in South Africa have been included in the list, which means we have excluded devices such as Google’s new Pixel 7 Pro.

Whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a gamer, or simply looking for a phone that can keep up with your busy lifestyle, there is sure to be an Android phone on this list that meets your needs.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: best of the best

And if you’re in the market for a high-end Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra should be at the top of your list. With its impressive 200-megapixel camera, powerful tweaked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 system on a chip and long-lasting battery life, this phone is a true powerhouse.

The camera on the S23 Ultra is stunning. Samsung has really upped its game when it comes to low-light performance, making it a serious contender against the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In some cases, the S23 Ultra delivers even better-looking photos than the iPhone. Plus, the zoom power on the S23 Ultra beats the Apple device, making it a great choice for photography enthusiasts.

The phone’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, tweaked by Samsung for performance, is also a game-changer, making it the best phone for gaming on the market. The phone runs seriously fast and smoothly, making it perfect for demanding tasks like gaming or video editing.

But that’s not all: the S23 Ultra also boasts over 13 hours of battery life, a serious improvement over its predecessor, the S22 Ultra. You can use this phone all day long without worrying about running out of juice. In our testing, it easily lasted for more than two days of moderate use.

If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable option, the Galaxy S23 Plus is also a great choice. It has the same powerful Snapdragon chip, a slightly smaller 6.6-inch display and the same 256GB of storage. Plus, it’s about R3 600 less than the Ultra.

But if you want a phone that can do it all and are willing to splurge, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is worth it. With its stunning camera, powerful chip and long battery life, this phone is truly the best Android phone you can buy.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs

Price: From R30 999
Display: 6.8-inch QHD Amoled
Refresh rate: 1-120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras: 200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto, 10MP 10x telephoto
Front camera: 12MP selfie
Chipset: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Battery: 5 000mAh
Charging: Up to 45W wired/10W wireless
Water/dust resistance: IP68
Dimensions: 163.4×78.1×8.9mm
Weight: 233g
Colours: Black, off-white, green, lilac

Huawei Mate50 Pro: best phone for Huawei fans

Huawei has always been one of our favourites due to its impressive hardware specifications that were ahead of its time, giving us a glimpse into the future of Android devices.

However, despite the well-crafted hardware, Huawei’s devices may not be suitable for everyone. The absence of Google services due to US sanctions have made it challenging to recommend Huawei devices. But with the expansion of the AppGallery (Huawei’s alternative to the Google Play store), the enhancement of Petal Search (Google and Bing rival), using Huawei phones as daily drivers is no longer as problematic as it once was.

Nevertheless, the absence of Google Mobile Services is still a significant setback for Huawei’s phone sales. If you’re not comfortable relying on workarounds and alternative app stores like Aurora Store to access your essential apps consistently, the Huawei Mate50 Pro may not interest you.

However, if you don’t mind these workarounds, you might want to consider the Mate50 Pro, especially if you can get it for a reasonable price. The bottom line is this: the Mate50 Pro is a great phone, it’s just a shame about the lack of Google Mobile Services (and 5G, for matter). It’s a double shame, because without GMS and 5G, the Mate50 Pro would rival the best on offer from the likes of Samsung, Apple, Google and Xiaomi.

Some users, particularly keen photographers, may be willing to overlook these drawbacks and pay the five-figure asking price, but we suspect many won’t.

Huawei Mate50 Pro specs

Price: From R24 999
Display: 6.74-inch OLED
Refresh rate: 1-300Hz adaptive
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 13MP ultrawide, 64MP telephoto
Front cameras: 13MP ultrawide, 3D depth-sensing camera
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 4G
Storage: 256GB, 512GB
Battery: 4 700mAh
Charging: Up to 66W wired/50W wireless
Water/dust resistance: IP68
Dimensions: 75.5×162.1×8.5mm
Weight: 209g (glass back), 205g (vegan leather back)
Colours: Silver, black (glass back), orange (vegan leather back)

Xiaomi 12T Pro: best flagship smartphone at a non-flagship price

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is one of the newest smartphones but has already gained plenty of attention, especially from mobile gamers and photography enthusiasts. This high-end device boasts a powerful chipset, a 200MP camera and an incredibly fast charging time, making it an attractive option for many users. However, like any smartphone, it has its pros and cons, and before making a purchase, it’s essential to weigh them carefully.

For mobile gamers, the Xiaomi 12T Pro is an excellent choice. Its powerful chipset ensures a smooth gaming experience without any lag or delay. Additionally, the phone’s 120Hz Amoled screen provides stunning visuals, making it an ideal device for those who love to immerse themselves in gaming worlds. However, if gaming isn’t your primary focus, other smartphones on the market may be better suited to your needs.

One of the most talked-about features of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is its 200MP camera. While it’s impressive to have such a high-resolution camera, it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily translate into better image quality. In fact, some users have reported that images can appear over-processed and lack detail. Nevertheless, for those who enjoy experimenting with photography and want a camera with a high pixel count, the Xiaomi 12T Pro is worth considering.

Another advantage of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is its fast charging time. The device can be charged up to 100% in just 20 minutes, which is incredibly convenient for those who hate having to spend hours tethered to a charging cable. However, it’s worth noting that this fast charging can lead to faster battery degradation over time, so it’s essential to be aware of this when using the phone.

On the downside, the Xiaomi 12T Pro lacks a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, which was present in the previous T-series phones. For those who prefer this type of scanner, it may be a deal-breaker. Additionally, while the phone is undoubtedly a high-end device, its price tag may be too steep for some. The cancellation of the more affordable 128GB option also makes it hard to recommend for budget-conscious buyers.

Xiaomi 12T Pro specs

Price: R16 399
Display: 6.67-inch Amoled
Refresh rate: 1-120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras: 200MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
Front cameras: 20MP ultrawide
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Battery: 5 000mAh
Charging: 120W wired
Water/dust resistance: IP53
Dimensions: 75.9×163.1×8.6mm
Weight: 205g
Colours: Black, silver, blue

Oppo Reno 8 Pro: best midrange smartphone for gamers

The Oppo Reno 8 Pro is a powerful Android phone that comes with a MediaTek chipset, making it an excellent choice for mobile gamers who want to enjoy high-quality games on the go. The phone has a shiny unibody build that makes it stand out from other smartphones on the market. Its 80W fast-charging feature ensures that you can fully charge your phone in 30 minutes or less, and the battery health engine ensures that the fast charging won’t damage your device.

However, some users have reported that the device feels slippery in the hand, making it difficult to grip. If you have sensitive hands, you might want to consider a different phone. Additionally, while the Oppo Reno 8 Pro’s camera is decent, it’s not the best on the market. If you prioritise camera quality, you might want to consider investing in one of the phones in Samsung’s Galaxy S23 line-up.

Overall, the Oppo Reno 8 Pro is a solid Android phone that offers powerful performance and a stylish design. If you value appearance and fast charging, or if you’re a mobile gamer, this device is worth considering.

Oppo Reno 8 Pro specs

Price: From R13 999
Display: 6.81-inch OLED
Refresh rate: 1-120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro
Front cameras: 32MP wide
Chipset: MediaTek Dimensity 8100-Max
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4 500mAh
Charging: 80W wired
Water/dust resistance: IP54
Dimensions: 74.2×161.2×7.3mm
Weight: 183g
Colours: Black, silver, blue

Best folding phone

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4 is an impressive piece of technology that offers numerous improvements over its predecessor, the Z Fold3. While on paper it may not seem like a massive upgrade, the small changes in the phone’s design and specifications make it a far more realistic and practical device for everyday use.

One of the most notable changes in the Z Fold4 is the shape and weight of the phone. It feels more ergonomic and comfortable to hold, making it easier to use for extended periods. Additionally, the design tweaks have addressed many of the durability concerns that plagued earlier folding phones. Samsung has worked hard to make the phone’s design more compliant and usable, and it shows.

The Z Fold4 also contains cutting-edge technology, making it the most powerful phone Samsung has ever made. The software has matured nicely, with most apps and services working cohesively across both screens. The ongoing partnership between Samsung and Google ensures that the Z Fold4 will keep feeling fresh for years to come with long-term support updates.

However, there are a few compromises that may make it difficult for some people to exploit the phone’s capabilities. The battery and charging are not as advanced as some other current phones. The Z Fold4 charges slowly and there’s a real likelihood of the battery running out before the end of the day if you use the phone as it demands to be used.

Despite the shorter-than-desired battery life, the Z Fold4 is still the most complete mobile device on the market today. The small changes in the phone’s design and specifications make it a far more realistic and practical device for everyday use. And while the price may be high, there’s actually good value here when you consider the longevity offered by the hardware and software.

With ongoing support updates from Samsung and Google, the Z Fold4 will remain fresh for years to come. If you’re looking for a device that does everything and will last for years – and assuming you like foldable phones – the Z Fold4 is the mobile device for you.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 specs

Price: R33 999
Display: 7.6-inch Amoled; 6.2-inch (front cover)
Refresh rate: 1-120Hz adaptive
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto
Front cameras: 10MP/4MP
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4 400mAh
Charging: 25W wired/15W wireless
Water/dust resistance: IPX8
Dimensions: 67.1×155.1×15.8mm (folded); 130.1x155x115.8mm (unfolded)
Weight: 263g
Colours: Grey/green, phantom black, beige

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