Mar 24, 2024

The best 4G phones in 2023

Daz Skubich

Published: Jul 31, 2023

With so many makes and models of smartphones on the market right now, it can be hard to find the best 4G phones among them. We’re here to help you sort through the options from major manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and Google, as well as lesser-known devices from Tecno and gaming brand Asus. We’ll see what else they have to offer alongside 4G capability, including screen size, camera quality, and gaming prowess.

Why buy a 4G phone? 4G stands for the fourth generation of broadband cellular network technology. It’s faster than 3G, but not as powerful as the latest 5G coverage from the best cell phone providers. Generally, 5G plans are more expensive, so you can get better value if you stick with 4G. 5G still isn’t universally available yet either, so it’s not worth paying more for data you won’t be able to use. While the best 5G phones are more common than a few years ago, 4G networks will be around for a long time yet.

If you’ve got a specific brand in mind when you think of the best 4G smartphone, check out our buying guides for the best Motorola phones, the best Xiaomi phones, and the best Google Pixel phones to help you settle on the perfect handset for you.

Here are the best 4G phones out there right now:

The best 4G smartphone overall.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra specs:



Seeing as it took the top spot of our best 5G phones list, it’s unsurprising that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is also the best overall 4G phone out there. Samsung’s latest flagship phone includes the whole package – a gorgeous display, the best camera of any flagship, 4G and 5G coverage, and slick performance.

The S23 Ultra isn’t the only 4G Android phone that uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, but the version present in Samsung’s Galaxy series is slightly different to those in Xiaomi’s phones for example. This unique chip makes gaming on the S23 Ultra a dream and it can even handle raytracing, something which many gaming PCs can’t even do.

However, just because we think the S23 Ultra is the best model out there, doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. This phone is extremely pricey, even compared to other flagship models like the iPhone 14 series and the Google Pixel 7 Pro. If you’re not prepared to drop over $1k on a new phone just yet, keep reading.

The best 4G iPhone.

iPhone 14 Pro Max specs:



The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best of Apple’s most recent line of flagship phones and it builds on the stellar reputation of previous models. This model really has it all, with excellent cameras, a high refresh rate screen, decent battery life, and a beautiful design.

We know that Apple users tend to like sticking with the iPhone when you upgrade (there are a few of us on the Pocket Tactics team) so knowing which of Apple’s recent releases is the best option is always useful. We care a lot about gaming on the site, so we’re particularly impressed with the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s dynamic refresh rate and battery life, especially when you pair it with an Apple Arcade subscription. It even made the top of our best gaming iPhones list.

Like the S23 Ultra, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is a bit pricey, but with the iPhone 15 rumored to be on the horizon, the prices are likely to drop. Plus, if you already own AirPods, Apple TV, or an iPad, it makes sense to add to your Apple ecosystem rather than saving money on an Android phone that isn’t compatible with your other devices. If you can’t wait for the iPhone 15 release date, make sure you check out our guide on it!

The best mid-range 4G phone.

Google Pixel 6 Pro specs:



The best way to get a good deal on a top-quality 4G phone is to look at the last generation’s releases, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro is still a great pick for a more reasonable price. Plus, some of the Pixel 6 Pro’s features rival those of the newest flagship phones. Its 6.71-inch screen matches that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max and keeps the high refresh rate, and its front-facing camera is actually higher quality than the one on the standard Google Pixel 7.

Its triple rear cameras are also top-notch, making the Pixel 6 Pro a great, more affordable option for photography enthusiasts. The screen makes it great for streaming and gaming too, although the limited storage means you’ll have to decide which apps and games you value the most.

The other main downsides are the lack of a headphone jack meaning you need to rely on Bluetooth audio devices and the fact that the handset itself is quite slippery. If you’re prone to dropping your devices, maybe consider a case and screen protector for this model, or check out our list of the best rugged smartphones.

The best budget 4G phone.

Tecno Pova 5 specs:



If you’re looking for a budget option, increasingly, Tecno is the company to check out. Its focus is on providing high-quality smartphones for areas with developing economies where owning a Samsung S23 Ultra or the latest iPhone isn’t feasible for most people. So based purely on price, coming in at around $150 depending on your region, the Tecno Pova 5 is the best budget 4G phone on the market currently.

Despite not having an OLED screen, the Pova 5’s FHD+ display is crisp and bright, and the large screen size makes it great for gaming and streaming. Plus, to compensate for the additional power that the screen uses, there’s a range of battery modes depending on what you want out of your phone.

There are certainly downsides to this phone, like the slightly out-of-date chipset and limited storage space, but given the price, you’re getting a whole lot for your money.

Read our Tecno Pova 5 Free Fire Special Edition review.

The best 4G phone for gaming.

Asus ROG 7 Ultimate specs:



Most, if not all, 4G phones can run mobile games these days, but the Asus ROG 7 Ultimate is the best of the best when it comes to gaming phones. Asus’ ROG range is full of great gaming phones and consistently raises the bar in the industry, but the ROG 7 Ultimate is at the top of that list.

It’s equipped with the best screen available on a gaming phone currently, with a whopping 165Hz refresh rate, the Li-Po battery allows for extended gaming sessions between charges, and its unique air triggers make playing FPS games a breeze. But, with all these incredible features, the price tag is rather large.

Plus, if you’re looking for a phone that can do it all, the ROG 7 Ultimate is probably not your best option. Its cameras are pretty poor compared to last-gen flagships like the iPhone 13 and it’s a little bulky too. If you’ve got the cash to spend on a dedicated gaming phone then go for it, but maybe consider your options before picking this as your go-to mobile device.

Read our Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate review.

There’s so much to consider when picking out the best 4G phones on the market, so we wanted to focus on the features that matter the most in your day-to-day usage. These include things like battery life and fast-charging capability, chipset, and memory and storage. We also make sure to compare our choices to their competitors in the same price bracket.

Of course, as a gaming site, we want to know how these phones perform in that area, so we also look at the display. We tend to favor AMOLED displays over OLED as the flexibility allows for dynamic display changes and battery-saving options. Then we consider the cameras, because who needs a separate camera when your phone can do just as well!

There are plenty of other features to consider and what we think makes the best 4G phone might not align with your specific needs, so be sure to consider what you value in a phone when looking at our suggestions.

That’s it for our list of the best 4G phones. We’ve got a bunch of great buying guides for other kinds of phones including the best rugged smartphones, the best gaming iPhone, and the best gaming phone overall.

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