Best flagship killers 2023 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 13 March 2023.

Last updated: March 21, 2023 (Changelog)

High-end hardware at half the price of the big names, what's not to like? A category started by OnePlus in 2014, the top-specced 'flagship killer' is a crowd favorite. OnePlus itself now fights in the upper echelon with its top offerings, but with its diversifying portfolio there's one for this level as well. Brands that usually top bang-for-buck charts are here too - both Realme and Xiaomi have options for those who aren't willing to shell top dollar, but still appreciate top-tier performance.

Editors' choice

Xiaomi Poco F4 GT

Xiaomi Poco F4 GT

  • Excellent AMOLED screen, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR10+
  • Dual Glass, aluminum frame, IP53-rated design
  • The flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 5G chip
  • Stereo speakers
  • Fast to charge
  • Dependable triple camera
  • Uninspiring battery life
  • Not waterproofed

The Poco F3 has been finally replaced by a worthy successor - the Poco F4 GT. It is among the cheapest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-packing smartphone on the market, but that’s not the only thing that’s great about the Poco F4 GT.

Just like the Poco phones before this one, the F4 GT also comes with one incredibly good AMOLED screen with 1B colors and 120Hz refresh rate. There are four stereo speakers, fast charging, and a reliable triple-camera system, too.

The all-round package also includes physical magnetic pop-up gaming triggers, unbelievably fast 120W charging, and the familiar MIUI 13 on top of Android 12.

The best part of the Poco F4 GT is its pricing, of course. The phone costs about €550, which makes it the cheapest flagship you can buy in 2022, a flagship killer, if you will.

Read full review
Realme GT2 Pro

Realme GT2 Pro

  • Superb 120Hz LTPO2 AMOLED display with granular HRR control
  • We really liked the Paper-like texture of the back
  • Good sustained performance, low surface temperatures
  • Excellent camera performance all-around (especially the ultrawide)
  • Extra long battery life, fast charging
  • Customizable and feature-rich Realme UI 3.0, Android 12
  • Neat features such as 360-degree NFC, crisp vibration motor, microscopic lens
  • The Paper designs might not feel as premium for some
  • Selfies are not up to par
  • Lacks telephoto camera

The Realme GT2 Pro has a great display, long battery life, fast charging, excellent camera performance across all scenarios (especially the ultrawide with its added-value features), and utilizes the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1's full potential. These, and its €650 price, are what make it a true flagship killer.

We are quite keen on the Paper White and Paper Green design options as they eliminate smudges and provide superior grip to glass-made devices. Oh, and the bio-based polymer seems to keep the surface temperatures low even after long periods of gaming.

The all-round package also includes stereo speakers, 65W fast charging, excellent battery life, and unique microscope camera.

The best parts of the Realme GT2 Pro also include widespread availability and attractive pricing of €650.

Read full review

OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro

  • Distinctive design with premium finish
  • Superb 120Hz LTPO2 AMOLED display with granular HRR control and great color-accuracy
  • Competitive battery life, 80W SuperVOOC charging speeds are excellent
  • Excellent sustained performance and thermals
  • Reliably good performance from the primary camera
  • No formal IP rating outside US
  • OxygenOS 12 no longer has that OnePlus fan-favorite look and feel
  • Ultra wide is not at the level of last year's model and also lacks AF or Macro
  • Most games limited to 60Hz refresh rate
  • Front camera and telephoto camera only offer 1080p video recording

The OnePlus 10 Pro price has already dropped down to less than €700 and being a full-fledged 2022 flagship in 2923 with rising prices is what makes it perfect for this flagship killer category. It's not only fairly affordable for a premium smartphone, but it also has everything – an attractive premium design, an outstanding OLED screen with high resolution and refresh rate, flagship performance and plenty fast charging.

This OnePlus 10 Pro also comes with a versatile triple camera setup on the back with high-res primary and ultrawide cameras, plus an 8MP 3.3x telephoto. The quality, while not class-leading, is still more than enough for the premium segment.

Overall, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a solid offer with all-round flagship specs. The only real caveat is the USA exclusive IP68 certification, something OnePlus has been known to do for a while.

Read full review
Motorola Edge 30 Pro

Motorola Edge 30 Pro

  • Extra fluid 144Hz display, straightforward HRR handling
  • Top-tier performance, excellent stability under sustained CPU load
  • Fast charging with standard USB Power Delivery peripherals
  • Wireless charging
  • Stereo speakers, NFC, UD fingerprint scanner
  • Reliable camera system, excellent selfies
  • Android 12 interface akin to that on a Pixel, additional Moto custom bits, 'ready for' PC-like capability
  • Not waterproof (just splash resistant), plastic frame lacks premium feel
  • Display not as bright as the competition
  • Battery life is uninspiring
  • No telephoto camera, no 4K60, no 4K on the ultrawide at all

The Motorola Edge 30 Pro is somewhat of an odd proposition - a flagship that isn't quite, with unique selling points but also some notable shortcomings. On the first list is the 144Hz display - we can appreciate the smoothness, but can't quite see it as a substantial advantage over the 120Hz of the competition. We do appreciate the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 hardware, of course.

We also enjoyed the 'stock' Android 12 build, sweetened by Moto enhancements and we can even come up with use cases for the 'ready for' platform. It's in those cases that the latest-gen Snapdragon comes in handy and it doesn't hurt that the Edge 30 Pro shows one of its more stable implementations that we've seen.

The lack of a telephoto camera stands out and it's compounded by all too simple video recording capabilities. Slight missteps in the display and battery departments, while hardly dealbreakers, place the Edge 30 Pro in a somewhat trailing position. Add to that the missing waterproofing in a sea of properly sealed competitors and some odd choices in the BoM and the phone isn't looking very premium either.

With all that said, the Motorola Edge 30 Pro isn't a bad package. On the contrary, it's a balanced offering that's easy to recommend for its €660 or so price.

Read full review

India special

vivo iQOO 11

vivo iQOO 11

  • Recognizable design
  • Excellent display throughout
  • Top-class battery life and charging speed
  • Nice-sounding stereo speakers, IR emitter
  • Superb performance
  • Overall great photo quality for the class, notably good low-light results
  • No proper ingress protection
  • Underwhelming nighttime video quality, some oddities with the zoomed-in video implementation

Going from the 9T to the 11, iQOO's non-Pro high-end model has stepped its game up a notch. For starters, it gets a great display with a spec sheet and performance not typically found in the class. The latest Snapdragon inside it is proving its worth too and delivers heaps of power, while the whole package is remarkably efficient and also super-fast to charge. Stereo speakers are a given at this point, but these are better than average, the IR emitter is a welcome sight, and the design stands out - particularly if you go for the BMW Motorsport livery.

Some may say it's unreasonable to expect an IP rating at this level, but if you can find it on a midrange Samsung, perhaps the top-tier iQOO should have it too. Video recording on the 11 does not inspire confidence either, though that's more of an outlier in an otherwise convincing camera setup, which still leaves room for the Pro to breathe freely.

In the end, the iQOO 11 is a performance-focused offering with a superb display, excellent battery results, and a camera that's good enough. It may be priced a touch too high, but you're getting some state-of-the-art hardware.

Read full review

Most recent updates

March 21, 2023: Replaced iQOO 9T with iQOO 11.

March 13, 2023: Replaced OnePlus 10T with OnePlus 10 Pro.

October 21, 2022:Added the Realme GT2 Pro, OnePlus 10T, Motorola Edge 30 Pro, and the iQOO 9T. Removed the Poco F4, Realme GT Neo 3T, Realme GT Neo 3, OnePlus Nord 2T, Xiaomi 11T, Xiaomi 11T Pro, Motorola Edge 30, and the iQOO Neo 6.

June 29, 2022: Replaced the Poco F3 with Poco F4 GT as new Top. Replaced the OnePlus Nord 2 5G with the OnePlus Nord 2T. Replaced the Moto Edge 20 Pro with the Moto Edge 30. Added Poco F4, Realme GT Neo 3T, Realme GT Neo 3, iQOO Neo 6. Removed OnePlus 8T, Zenfone 8 Flip, Red Magic 6R, Google Pixel 6, Realme GT Neo 2.

December 7, 2021: Added the Motorola Edge 20 Pro, Xiaomi 11T Pro, Pixel 6, Asus Zenfone 8 Flip and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3.

November 18, 2021: Added the Realme GT Neo2 and the Xiaomi 11T. Removed the nubia Red Magic 6R.

October 20, 2021: Added the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. Removed the Galaxy S21 5G, Xiaomi Mi 11, Zenfone 8 and the OnePlus 9R.

June 30, 2021: Added the Realme GT 5G and the nubia Red Magic 6R.

May 17, 2021: Replaced the Galaxy S20 FE with the Poco F3 as our Editor's choice. Replaced the Mi 10T Pro 5G with the Mi 11. Added the Galaxy S21 5G, the Zenfone 8 and the OnePlus 9R, and removed the Realme X50 Pro, the Redmi K30 Pro Zoom and the iQOO 3.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

I am kind of surprised the Poco F4 GT was added here after its great performance only exists in benchmarks. When running CPU or GPU intensive tasks it will just throttle like hell and run considerably slower than the regular F4.

  • Dan
  • 27 Nov 2022
  • Qy}

It's in the Premium All Rounder classification. It does not fit on the Flagship-killer price range nor in the Flagship so it's there in-between which they labeled as the Premium All Rounder.

  • Sin
  • 25 Nov 2022
  • pYQ

ZTE Axon 30S is a real flagship killer Wipes the floor with there's phones Only catch is am not sure if there is global release or where too buy