Here are the top picks for the Best phones in UAE and Saudi Arabia. This list was updated on 1st December 2023 to include new phones released in the second half of 2023.
Buying a new smartphone can be very complicated, even in 2023. The sheer number of devices available from all sorts of brands, such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei, can overwhelm anyone and make the decision very hard. That’s where we set some guidelines to help you choose the best phones in UAE and Saudi Arabia for 2023.
The most important factor in deciding on a new smartphone is the price range, and if you are looking for the best phone, be prepared to spend some Dirhams and Riyals. If you’re more budget-conscious, you should check out the best phones under AED 2000 or even those under AED 1000.
Once you have a budget, the next decision is easier: iPhone or Android. If you want an iPhone, pick the latest model you can afford. If you’re in the Android camp- we have a guide for the best Android phones.
But if you don’t care about that and want to buy the best phone in UAE and Saudi Arabia, this list is for you. We have picked the smartphones we believe are the best and tested them in various features such as display, performance, battery life and cameras.
Best Phones in UAE and Saudi Arabia for 2023
1. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
The iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s highest-end phone and our choice of the best phone in the UAE. It has everything a power user would want- a large and beautiful screen with high refresh rates, a processor that’s faster than any other mobile processor and a camera that can take stunning photos during day or night time. Yes, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is expensive, but it’s worth it.
Weight: 221 g | Thickness: 8.25 mm | Screen: 6.7” Retina, AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Hexa-core Apple A17 Pro | RAM: 8GB | Storage: up to 1TB | Cellular: 5G, Nano-SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 48MP Triple Camera | Front camera: 12MP | Battery: N/A, 50% in 30 mins wired charging, 15W wireless charging
- Great feel in hand
- Fast processor and GPU
- Excellent camera with 5x Zoom
- Can run a little hot
- No improvement in charging speeds
Key Features of Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
- The new design with Titanium makes the phones lighter but stronger
- New Action Button that replaces the Alert slider.
- USB-C replaces the Lightning connector and offers fast USB 3 speeds.
- The A17 Pro processor is the world’s first built-on 3nm technology and has the fastest GPU on any mobile supporting Ray Tracing.
- The Telephoto camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max supports 5x zoom.
Screen: The screen on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is almost identical to last year’s models. It is the same brilliant 6.7-inch OLED screen with a 1290 x 2796 resolution with a 120Hz variable refresh rate but a much higher peak brightness of 2,000 nits. Apple has shaved off the bezels slightly on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, which takes the screen closer to the edges of the phone.
Performance: The iPhone 15 Pro Max comes equipped with Apple’s latest A17 Pro processor, which is based on the 3nm technology- a first for any phone. Apple has specifically focused on the GPU cores this time around to bring console level of gaming to the iPhone 15 Pro.
Camera: The camera system has always been great on the iPhone, but with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you get a new telephoto camera that’s capable of 5X zoom levels, giving the iPhone an incredibly versatile zoom range. Apple has also changed the default photo resolution to 24 MP, giving you better detail in every shot. As always, nothing beats an iPhone when it comes to videos.
Battery Life: There’s no huge upgrade in terms of battery life when it comes to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It offers battery life similar to last year’s model, so you’ll easily get a day and then some. Unfortunately, charging speeds haven’t improved and remain on the lower side- both wired and wirelessly.
2. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
While it doesn’t look like a huge upgrade from last year’s Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has made all the right changes with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, starting with the new 200-megapixel camera that takes highly detailed and beautiful shots during the day or night.
Weight: 234g | Thickness: 8.9mm | Screen: 6.8” 1440 x 3088 pixels,, AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Octa-core Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 1TB | Cellular: 5G, Dual SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 200MP Quad Camera | Front camera: 12MP | Battery: 5000mAh, 45W Wired charging
- Excellent performance
- Great cameras
- Superb battery life
- Doesn't charge as fast as other Android phones
- Not too big of an upgrade over the S22 Ultra
Key Features of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
- A new 200-megapixel camera that takes highly detailed and beautiful shots during the day or night.
- Less curved display makes the phone fit better in your hand
- Faster processor with more RAM and Storage
- Bigger battery and faster charging
Screen: The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch OLED display with 1440 x 3088 pixel resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. If that sounds familiar, it is the same as last year’s model. However, the S22 Ultra still has the best screen of all smartphones we’ve looked at, so you’re not losing out on anything. Having said that, I think Samsung could have pushed the refresh rate on the S23 Ultra to 144Hz to continue its dominance.
Performance: The Samsung S23 Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which makes it the fastest Android phone currently available. But it doesn’t stop there, as these processors are custom-made “for Galaxy” with faster clock speeds on the GPU and performance core. That means the entire Galaxy S23 range will still be faster than other phones equipped with this chipset.
Camera: While the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has an identical camera layout to its predecessor, you now get a new 200MP sensor with excellent performance. Photos taken at full 200MP resolution can crop quite clearly into distant objects. Nighttime photography has also improved with beautiful low-light shots, and so has the performance of the video camera. You still have the highly versatile zoom lenses at 3x and 10x and ultrawide. The selfie camera has dropped from 40MP to 12MP but brings dual pixel technology for better selfies.
Battery Life: The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has the same 5000mAh battery capacity as last year’s S22 Ultra; however, with a more efficient chipset, you are getting a lot more out of it. It lasted almost two days on a full charge with moderate usage, which involved a fair bit of camera and 5G usage. Charging speeds of 45W on wired at 15W on wireless are good but far from industry-leading numbers from other phones in this roundup.
3. Motorola Razr 40 Ultra
Motorola is going after the high-end segment of the foldable flip market by competing against companies like Samsung and Oppo. The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is a sexy flip phone with a massive 3.6-inch cover display that almost covers the entire front display and is the largest on any foldable flip phone.
Weight: 184 g | Thickness: 7 mm | Screen: 6.9” Retina, AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Octa-core Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 512TB | Cellular: 5G, Nano-SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 12MP Dual Camera | Front camera: 32MP | Battery: 3800 mAh, 30W wired charging, 15W wireless charging
- Massive Cover screen
- Fast Performance
- Beautiful Design
- Camera could be better
- Last year's chipset
Key Features of Motorola Razr 40 Ultra
- Massive front screen is almost a phone by itself
- Fast 165Hz screen with 1080 x 2640 resolution
- Good low-light 12MP f/1.5 camera along with a 13MP camera Ultrawide
- Large 4,200 mAh battery with fast 30W charging
Screen: Foldable phones have two screens- the main internal one and a smaller external one. Until the Razr 40 Ultra’s release, the external screens were tiny and meant more for showing notifications. However, Motorola shattered this concept and made entire front of the flip phone a screen- a change that was as glorious as when we first see screens stretching to bezels.
Performance: The Razr 40 Ultra does not have the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, however, the phone feels plenty fast with the Gen 1 model powering it. The super fast 144Hz refresh rate on the screen makes it butter smooth and unless you’re playing the latest high-end games, the phone is fast enough.
Camera: The Razr 40 Ultra has the best camera that Motorola has put on its flip phones. But that’s not saying a whole lot as this is one area where the Razr is still behind competing devices from Samsung and Oppo. It takes good shots during the daytime but struggles in lower lit conditions. Besides the primary sensor, there’s also an Ultrawide camera that can also take macro shots.
Battery Life: The Razr 40 Ultra comes with a sizeable 4,300mAh battery that is plenty for a flip phone. As with most flip phones, you’re mostly powering the external display so battery consumption isn’t as high. You’ll easily get a full day’s worth of use out if it. The phone does support fast 30W charging as well as wireless charging to top it up.
4. Apple iPhone 15 Plus
While the iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s highest-end phone this year, the iPhone 15 Plus is the one I think will sell the most. It’s a fantastic update from last year’s iPhone 14 Plus and brings many of the Pro model’s features from last year to the more affordable handset that Apple offers.
Weight: 201 g | Thickness: 7.8 mm | Screen: 6.7” Retina, AMOLED, 60Hz | Processor: Hexa-core Apple A16 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage: up to 1TB | Cellular: 5G, Nano-SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 48MP Dual Camera | Front camera: 12MP | Battery: N/A, 50% in 30 mins wired charging, 15W wireless charging
- Dynaic Island is delightful
- Updated 48MP camera
- USB-C comes to iPhone
- 60Hz screen refresh rate
- Slow charging
Key Features of Apple iPhone 15 Plus
- Dynamic Island offers an awesome way to multi-task
- USB-C comes to the iPhone
- Updated 48MP camera for better shots
- A16 Bionic processor is fast
Screen: The iPhone 15 Plus features a 6.7-inch OLED screen with a 1290 x 2796 pixel resolution and a peak brightness of 2,000 nits making it usable anywhere in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Apple is sticking to the lower 60Hz refresh rate on its non-Pro phones which is a shame but at least you get the Dynamic Island which lets you see multiple apps.
Performance: The iPhone 15 Plus comes with last year’s A16 Bionic processor from Apple which is still faster than almost all Android phones. You’ll be able to multi-task easily and play new games without any slow-downs.
Camera: The regular iPhone gets a new camera sensor this year with a 48MP resolution that defaults to 24MP photos. Your photos will have more detail and night time photos will be sharper. There’s an Ultrawide camera as well while the main sensor can do 2x Telephoto. The iPhone continues to be the champ when it comes to taking videos, with no other phone coming close.
Battery Life: You’ll get excellent battery life out of iPhone 15 Plus due its large battery capacity. Apple claims 20 hours of video playback which easily translates into a full day of normal usage. The phone supports 20w wired charging which isn’t the fastest, but you do get the innovative MagSafe technology which lets you easily charge the phone wirelessly by magnetically attaching to the charger.
5. Nothing Phone (2)
Nothing made quite an impression with its first phone that stood out in a sea of generic phones with its glyph lighting and a good UX. While the first phone focused on mainstream specs and pricing, the company decided to turn the heat up with Nothing Phone (2) by equipping it with a high-end processor and increasing the price with it.
Weight: 201 g | Thickness: 8.6 mm | Screen: 6.7” Retina, AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Octa-core Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 512GB | Cellular: 5G, Nano-SIM, Dual ISM | Rear camera: 50MP Dual Camera | Front camera: 32MP | Battery: 4700 mAh, 45W wired charging, 15W wireless charging
- Upgraded camera and performance
- Glyph lighting is still cool
- Good User Interface
- Chipset from last year
- Camera can be further improved
Key Features of Nothing Phone (2)
- Moves from mainstream to high-end
- Glyph lighting is still innovative and cool
- Upgraded camera for better photos
Screen: The display on Nothing Phone (2) is flagship level with a 6.7-inch size with 1080 x 2412 resolution and 1600 nits brightness. It’s LTPO tech that allows you to adjust refresh rates between 1-120Hz. There’s also 10-bit colour support along with Always-on capabilities- it’s almost everything you need from a flagship display.
Performance: Nothing Phone (2) is based on the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor which was an interesting choice. It’s not the fastest processor but other than gaming, you won’t really feel it being slow either. You can buy the phone with 8GB or 12GB RAM and if you like having multiple apps open, we suggest 12GB.
Camera: The overall camera experience on the Nothing Phone (2) is good and its down to the combination of hardware and software. The 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor is excellent for taking photos in most lighting conditions and Nothing adds all the camera modes you’d expect such as Motion Photo, Portrait, Macro and Panorama modes. The front camera is 32MP and lets you take good selfies and videos.
Battery Life: Nothing has packed a 4,700 mAh battery on Phone (2) which should last you all day under normal usage. You get fast 45W charging along with 15W wireless charging that will get you juiced up quickly. The phone also supports wireless reverse charging for providing power to your earbuds or other accessories.
6. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Samsung is taking a slow and steady approach to the Galaxy Z Fold series where there are iterative updates every year to refine the foldable phone. This time around, the hinge is getting attention and you finally have the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 folding flat. There are also some good changes to the user interface but those trickle down to the older models as well.
Weight: 253g | Thickness: Unfolded 6.1mm, Folded 13.4mm | OS: Android 14 (OneUI 6) | Screen: 7.6”, AMOLED, 120Hz, Cover 6.2" AMOLED 120Hz | Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 1TB | Cellular: 5G, Dual SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 50MP Triple Camera | Front camera: 10MP + 4MP under display | Battery: 4400mAh, 25W Wired charging, 15W Wireless Charging
- Better hinge with flat folding
- Latest processor
- Tweaked interface
- Not a big upgrade from Galaxy Z Fold 4
- External screen seems dated
- No battery improvements
Key Features of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
- Better hinge with flat-folding
- Faster performance with the latest processor
- Tweaked user interface
Screen: The screen hasn’t really received much of an upgrade on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and remains pretty much the same as the Z Fold 4. We’re still fans of the inside screen but the external screen is starting to look a bit dated with the tall and narrow aspect ratio. The larger internal screen supports the S-Pen stylus, but it’s not included and needs to be purchased separately.
Performance: Samsung updates Galaxy Z Fold 5 to the newest one available at launch which in this case is the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2. You get the same memory and storage options as last year, which are 12GB RAM and 256GB to 1TB storage, though Samsung is using the newer and faster UFS 4.0 storage. You also get 5G and dual SIM support, Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E.
Camera: The cameras on last year’s fold were strictly ok, and Samsung has rightly improved upon that. The main camera is now 50 MP f/1.8, a big improvement over last year’s 12 MP model, especially in nighttime photography. You also get the ultrawide camera and an improved zoom lens to shoot at 3X. The selfie camera is still under the display and not the best.
Battery Life: There’s not much change in battery tech on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 from last year’s model or the year before it. You still have a 4400 mAh battery with 25w wired charging and 15w wireless charging.
7. Xiaomi 13 Pro
Xiaomi has become a regular on best phones lists across all price segments and the Xiaomi 13 Pro is the Chinese company’s flagship product that can stand its own against any phone on this list. New to this year’s model is an updated camera, bigger battery and processor updates.
Weight: 229g | Thickness: 8.4mm | Screen: 6.73” 1400 x 3200 pixels, LTPO AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Octa-core Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | RAM: up to 12GB | Storage: up to 512GB | Cellular: 5G, Dual SIM | Rear camera: 50MP Triple Camera | Front camera: 32MP | Battery: 4820mAh, 120W Wired charging. 50W Wireless charging
- Leica-powered camera with 1-inch sensor
- Top-of-the-line specs for 2023 flagship
- Super fast charging battery
- Super slippery and fingerprint-friendly body
- 128GB base model is too low for a 2023 flagship
Key Features of Samsung Xiaomi 13 Pro
- 1-inch camera sensor with Leica lenses can produce amazing photos
- Top-of-the-line specs for Fast performance
- Incredibly fast 120w wired charging that can fully charge the phone in 19 minutes
Screen: Not much of an update on the Xiaomi 13 Pro when it comes to screen tech which is fine as you’re pretty much getting the best the tech has to offer. The Xiaomi 13 Pro has the same a 6.73-inch AMOLED screen with 1400 x 3200 pixel resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate and is rated for Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Xiaomi does increase the peak brightness to 1200 nits.
Performance: The Xiaomi 13 Pro comes with the usual processor update switching to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. The phone comes with 12GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of UFS 4.10 storage, all of which make it a powerful flagship phone that can handle any task you throw at it.
Camera: Although you get the same 50MP resolution on the Xiaomi 13 Pro as last year’s model, Xiaomi is now using a 1-inch sensor with Leica lenses which will account for stunning pictures, especially in lower-lit conditions. Xiaomi has also updated the telephoto lens which is now fixed at 3.2x zoom instead of 2x on last years model. The 12MP Ultrawide lens and the 32MP Selfie camera as the same as late year’s model.
Battery Life: Xiaomi has updated the battery on the 13 Pro to one with a larger 4820 mAh capacity. While that will last you plenty, the charging speed this phone offers is insane at 120W that Xiaomi claims can charge the phone in just 19 minutes. You also get support for 50w wireless charging. There’s no other phone in this roundup that can match the Xiaomi 13 Pro when it comes to charging speed.
8. Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone 14 Pro Max is last year’s model but when found at a great deal, can offer better value than the iPhone 15 Plus we chosen earlier on this list. It continues to have an incredibly fast processor, a large and beautiful screen, a fantastic camera and everything else you expect from an iPhone.
Weight: 240 g | Thickness: 7.9 mm | Screen: 6.7” Retina, AMOLED, 120Hz | Processor: Hexa-core Apple A16 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage: up to 1TB | Cellular: 5G, Nano-SIM, eSIM | Rear camera: 48MP Triple Camera | Front camera: 12MP | Battery: 4323mAh, 50% in 30 mins wired charging, 15W wireless charging
- Dynamic Island is delightful
- Faster than any other phone
- Excellent camera
- Big and heavy
- Slow charging
Screen: The iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch OLED screen with a 1290 x 2796 pixel resolution, a 120Hz variable refresh rate and a very high peak brightness of 2,000 nits. New this year is an always-on mode that can show notifications even when the phone is in sleep mode. Apple has also eliminated the notch on the top and added a dynamic island with really cool animations to act as notifications or minimized apps.
Performance: The iPhone 14 Pro Max comes equipped with Apple’s latest A16 processor, which smokes every other mobile processor. Combining that with the fast refresh rates of the screen and iOS optimisations gives you one of the fastest phones you can get.
Camera: The iPhone 14 Pro range takes a massive step forward with its 48 MP main camera. This allows the iPhone 14 Pro to take incredibly details shots, especially in ProRes mode. Apple has also improved the Ultrawide camera though the telephoto/optical camera remains the same as last year. The iPhone 14 Pro Max also ranks top of our best phone camera guide.
Battery Life: Apple spoilt us with battery life on last year’s iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the new iPhone 14 Pro Max is even better, offering a couple of hours of additional usage for easily getting a day and a half. Unfortunately, charging speeds haven’t improved and remain on the lower side- both wired and wirelessly.
Summing Up – What Will Be Your Phone Choice This Year?
So that’s our list of the best phones you can buy in the UAE. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is our favourite phone for now but this industry never stops. Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S24 series soon while Xiaomi has already announced the 14 Pro-line-up in China and the Oppo Find N3 is also looking excellent.
These upcoming phones have phenomenal cameras, so even if they don’t end up on this list, you’ll likely see one or more of them ending up on our best camera phones guide.
As always, it’s smart to not pay the full price for any phone and times like White Friday are great to pick up all kinds of devices, including smartphones.
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Abbas Jaffar Ali
Abbas has been covering tech for more than two decades- before phones became smart or clouds stored data. He brought publications like CNET, TechRadar and IGN to the Middle East.