The past decade has been an interesting period for the Smartphone industry. In these exciting times, we’ve witnessed tons of experimental ideas, bold pricing choices, and even an exploding nightmare. However, these last few years seem to have slowed things down quite a bit. Most companies have reached an acceptable status quo, and new updates only seem to be incremental numbers for spec sheets. This boring oasis makes it a lot more difficult to know what phones are actually worth their stuff. Most mid-rangers and budget phones seem alright in terms of specs, but how these fancy parts come together is what’s important. On this list, we’ve included our top – albeit bottom – choices of smartphones we think you shouldn’t buy in 2023.
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5. OnePlus Nord N20
Once upon a time, OnePlus was the go-to company for flagship performance in a budget smartphone. Unfortunately, the company has only strayed further from that claim to fame with its recent releases.
The Nord N20 followed the marketing tactic of 5G phones in 2022 for its release, but it failed to actually deliver on the premium smartphone experience that users turn to the brand for. Instead, it’s a device that is plagued with poor performance issues that have made it difficult to recommend.
For one, it comes with a lot of bloatware that is installed in a tedious way. If you’re using the carrier-specific version of this device, there’s a chance that your screen will be filled with ad-supported video content that is hard to get rid of.
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A front-facing fingerprint reader might be something that seems like a good feature, but with its execution on this device, you’re going to have a very, very rough time. The haptic motor is unreliable, and the actual scanner is positioned in an awkwardly low spot. The reading is often inaccurate and makes you feel like in-screen fingerprints are a gimmick, instead of a current industry standard.
4. Sony Xperia 1 IV
The Sony Xperia Smartphone series is making some serious waves for fans of high-performance devices. The design signature is great, and it has some amazing speakers. However, that’s pretty much where the praises end for us. Unfortunately, this smartphone can’t really justify its price point. The performance it provides is quite decent but it’s far too expensive for some of the unmistakable drawbacks it provides.
Gaming is one thing it fails to perform excellently well with. For intense and competitive games like Call of Duty Mobile, the Xperia 1 IV is unable to maintain high framerates for long periods of time. Instead, it becomes noticeably laggy after two or three matches. Additionally, the lack of a variable refresh rate is something that makes its battery difficult to deal with.
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This phone runs hot. If you’re buying a smartphone for long binge sessions, no amount of specs should entice you enough to endure the level of discomfort that comes with prolonged use. Instead, you’re better off with a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S23 or the Pixel 7a.
3. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The flip phone resurgence is one of the many headscratchers of recent smartphone innovations, but we can’t help but cheer for companies that want to make these devices. Samsung is one of the leading providers in the renewed flip phone movement, but the Z Flip 4 simply fails to deliver on one fundamental aspect of the modern smartphone experience: battery life. This device feels nice to use, but with its extremely slow charging performance, there’s no telling when you’re going to be in need of some juice, and you’ll have to log around a power bank next to the phone you bought for comfort.
If you’re adamant about using a flip phone, the newer Z Flip 5 will definitely be worth purchasing in comparison. The Z Flip 4 also has a questionable lack of a telephoto camera. A staple of most flagships today.
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2. Samsung Galaxy A03s
Budget smartphones are a necessity in the market, but some of them you just shouldn’t buy. They make it easy for a larger portion of society to keep up with new updates to the Android suite. However, the A03s are simply unreliable for anything similar to a comfortable experience. This device is riddled with laggy performance issues and a poor build. It feels flimsy and lacks any promise of lasting very long. If you live in a warmer climate, the A03s are likely to be hot every time.
Content creation is likely a big no with this smartphone tanks to the weak main camera. Its secondary cameras are also awful due to the poor 2MP lens. It uses a depth sensor and macro lens, but these features fail to reach their potential due to poor photo processing under the hood.
Charging speed is a major drawback of this smartphone. You’re not likely to find yourself with a full charge in under two hours. In fact, with a 15W charger, it will only get up to 20% in half an hour.
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You’re better off buying an older midrange phone like the Samsung Galaxy A32 instead of this.
1. Apple iPhone 14
A bit odd to see an iPhone that isn’t worth a purchase, but the iPhone 14 is a device we find hard to recommend in 2023. First of all, the iPhone 14 was released with minimal updates compared to its predecessor. With iPhones costing a fortune regardless of generation, it’s best to get the incoming iPhone 15 and enjoy the more substantial updates that are expected.
The Pro models tend to get a lot more love from Apple, but the iPhone 15 seems to be Apple’s biggest update for the base iPhone in the last 3 years. According to rumours from reliable sources, it will come with a USB-C port, eliminating the struggle for lightning chargers once and for all. It also has a new periscope telephoto lens for content creators to enhance their visuals.
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The Dynamic Island is also set to make its way into the iPhone 15 base device, giving all iPhone users the quality of life benefits.
What smartphone do you think consumers shouldn’t buy in 2023?