5 phones that are a better value than the iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 14 Pro Max has been out since Sept. 16, 2022, and it’s beautiful and powerful. However, it’s pretty much a laterally improved iPhone 13 Pro Max that will run you $1,200, which is a massive hunk of cash to slap down for a marginally enhanced device. 

For your pound of flesh ($1,200), you will get the A16 Bionic chip, 256GB of storage, and only 6GB of RAM. I say only 6GB of RAM because most Android flagship phones offer between 8 and 16GB of RAM. Also, if you choose to go all out and get an iPhone 14 Pro Max with 1TB of storage, you’re looking at spending $1,600 before taxes.

Sure, the iPhone 14 Pro Max has amazing battery life, takes good photos and shoots excellent videos. However, it is not the king of performance it once was, with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra crushing it in recent benchmark comparisons. Sadly, the S23 Ultra will also cost you a foot — and it’s not the best value in the flagship phone segment by a long shot. 

Consumers today are more budget conscious during these uncertain economic times, so spending over $1,000 on a phone may not be the best idea. However, we’ve compiled a list of five phones that will meet your power-thirsty, content creation needs, which will cost you between $500 and $999. Thereby saving you hundreds of dollars you could put towards things like eating this week and paying for the separation therapy you might need after possibly switching to Android (no worries we have an Apple option). 

That all said, let’s have a look at five phones that will save you money while delivering a flagship experience. 

OnePlus 11

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OnePlus 11 specs

Price: $699

OS: Android

Screen size: 6.7-inch AMOLED

Screen resolution: 1440 x 3216

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 

RAM: 8GB & 16GB options

Storage: 128GB and 256GB option

Rear cameras: 50MP Ultra-Wide + 48MP Main camera + 8MP Telephoto Hasselblad Tuned

Front camera: 16MP

Size: 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches

Weight: 7.23 ounces

For under $700, you can snag a OnePlus 11 that lives up to its motto of “Never Settle.” Many people still need to learn more about OnePlus, and I hope this changes in 2023 because they’re producing some serious flagship-level phones at prices that will not break your budget. 

The OnePlus 11 offers performance on par with most other Android flagship phones, battery life that rivals the iPhone, a gorgeous AMOLED 6.7-inch display that Samsung only outdoes, and fast charging that still blows away any of the competition in the U.S.

The OnePlus 11 also comes with a set of cameras fine-tuned by Hasselblad, the ultra-high-end camera company that co-developed the 10 Pro’s camera array with OnePlus. The primary wide-angle camera remains the 48MP f/1.8 Sony IMX789 exclusive to OnePlus. There’s a 32-megapixel telephoto at f/2.4. The ultra-wide is a 48MP f/2.2 with a dramatic 115-degree field of view. We close with a 32MP front-facing selfie camera powered by a Sony IMX615 sensor. 

The setup performs well and there have been improvements to the cameras, but it falls short of the low-light performance and telephoto zoom lens of the Pixel 7 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro, or Galaxy S23 lineup, but not by much as OnePlus is closing the gap quickly.

However, for under $700, the OnePlus 11 Pro can keep pace with the Apple, Pixel, and Samsung phones while saving you a ton of money and providing an excellent user experience.

See our full OnePlus 11 review.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

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Google Pixel 7 Pro specs

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Price: $899

OS: Android

Screen size: 6.7-inch AMOLED

SpecsScreen resolution: 1440 x 3120

CPU: Google Tensor 

RAM: 8GB & 12GB options

Storage: 128GB upto 512GB

Rear camera: 50MP Main Camera + 48MP Telephoto + 12MP Ultra-Wide

Front camera: 10.8MP

Size: 6.41 x 3.02 x 0.35 inches

Weight: 7.48 ounces

Ounce for ounce, and dollar for dollar, the Google Pixel 7 Pro ($899) is one of the best Android phones available today. 

It comes with one of the best camera apps and editing tools available on any phone. Yes, it has standard settings like panorama, night mode, and portrait. It also comes with Photo Unblur and Magic Eraser, which work wonderfully. Let’s face it — most users’ smartphones are their go-to camera, and editing your photos and videos instantly is a massive plus. Few others do it as well as the Pixel 7 Pro at this price point. 

Google even has its silicon, the Tensor chip, which is an excellent performer. The Pixel 7 Pro offers consumers 8GB of RAM or 12GB and either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. The Pixel 7 Pro features a 50MP wide lens, a 12MP ultrawide lens, and a 48MP telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom and 30x SuperRes Zoom. So it’s got the specs to go head to head with the iPhone 14 Pro or Galaxy 23 Ultra. 

iPhone 13 Pro Max (Best Buy)

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iPhone 13 Pro Max specs

Price: $999.99

OS: iOS 16 

Screen size: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display

SpecsScreen resolution: 2778 x 1284

CPU: Apple A15 Bionic 

RAM: 6GB

Storage: 128GB upto 1TB 

Rear camera: 12MP Ultra-Wide+ 12MP Main camera + 12MP Telephoto

Front camera: 12MP

Size: 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.30 inches

Weight: 8.47 ounces

So you want an iPhone 14 Pro Max, but you don’t have over $1,100 right now. Just buy the 13 Pro Max. It’s darn-near same phone — run them through Ancestry.com and 90% of their DNA would be the same. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is still a powerful flagship phone. No, it doesn’t have the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 48-megapixel wide camera, crash detection, nor satellite connectivity to make calls if you’re lost in the wilderness, but come on, how often has that happened to you?

The iPhone13 Pro Max comes with a Pro camera system with 12MP telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide cameras; a LiDAR Scanner; a 3x optical zoom range; macro photography; Photographic Styles; ProRes; Smart video, Smart HDR 4; night mode; Apple ProRAW; 4K Dolby Vision HDR recording 12MP TrueDepth front camera with Night mode, 4K Dolby Vision HDR recording. 

Frankly, even though the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a new primary camera sensor, it still isn’t the leap in performance that I was looking for. I am still holding onto my iPhone 11 because it has not been worth the money to upgrade. 

Again, snatching up a 13 Pro Max will save you a few hundred dollars, and you will still own a powerful flagship with software support that will last for years.

Samsung Galaxy S23 +

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Samsung Galaxy S23+ specs

Price: $999 (Amazon)

OS: Android

Screen size: 6.6-inch AMOLED

SpecsScreen resolution: 1080 x 2340

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

RAM: 8GB 

Storage: 256GB to 512GB

Quad rear camera: 50MP Main camera + 12MP Ultra-Wide + 10MP Telephoto

Front camera: 12MP

Size: 6.21 x 3.00 x 0.30 inches

Weight: 6.91 ounces

Telling the S23 lineup apart is a little tricky sometimes, and that’s fine as it’s a great design that works, feels great in the hand, and arrives with excellent performance. The S23+ also comes in lavender, green, black, and cream. 

We know Samsung’s design is gorgeous, but if you want to know if it’s powerful, the answer is yes. It arrives with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 you will find the S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11. It also features a gorgeous FHD+ (1080 x 2340) AMOLED display running at 120Hz that will render videos smoothly. It can also reach 1,750 nits of brightness, ensuring your screen is visible even in the brightest daylight. 

With a triple-rear camera system that remains the same as the previous generation, the main camera features a 50-megapixel sensor followed by a 10MP telephoto and a 12MP ultrawide. However, the S23+ has a new 12MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and an 80-degree field of view for the front-facing selfie camera. 

We’ve not received a review unit, so we do not have an actual battery test score to share, but it is rated for up to 27 hours of battery life. However, its sibling, the S23 Ultra, did last 12 hours and 22 minutes in our testing, and we expect similar results for the S23+. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Amazon)

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra specs

Price: $958

OS: Android

Screen size: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED

SpecsScreen resolution: 1440 x 3088

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

RAM: 8GB & 12GB options

Storage: 128 upto 1TB

Quad rear camera: 108MP Main camera + 12MP Ultra-Wide + 10MP periscope Telephoto 10MP Telephoto

Front camera: 40MP

Size: 6.4 3 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches

Weight: 8.04 ounces

Like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, this Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra remains, even after a year on the market, an excellent flagship phone.

The S23 and S22 Ultra are 6.8-inch AMOLED display beasts with excellent battery life, spirited performance, solid camera performance, Snapdragon chips, and up to 1TB of storage.  They also both come with Samsung’s excellent S Pen.

Why spend $1,200+ on a Galaxy S23 Ultra when you can get so many of the same features for under $1,000? Thanks to Samsung’s outstanding four generations of Android OS updates and five years of security updates, your S22 Ultra will be getting Android updates through 2025 and security updates through 2026. 

Save the money now, and in three years, you can upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S26 Ultra, which will probably be able to transform into a drone or a car. 

You can’t go wrong with the Samsung S22 Ultra; it looks almost exactly like the S23 Ultra. Your friends won’t know the difference.

Final Thoughts

You won’t go wrong with any of these five flagship-worthy phones; I would just make sure you understand and know what your true needs are. If you don’t care about photography nor need the best cameras, a mid-tier or even budget phone may be a better choice for you while saving a great deal of money. 

Going in, you should know your budget and your exact needs. The best advice I could give you is to buy a phone that meets them without worrying about the latest hyped-up phone.

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