2023 is the year of the foldable phone — but the iPhone 15 Pro Max will still be the best phone

iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: Ice Universe / Twitter)

Even with all the exciting updates in the foldable phones world, I still can't see a way that any of them are going to beat the iPhone 15 Pro Max as an overall phone. Yes, we've still got a couple of months until we expect to see the new iPhone 15 series, but unless something very unexpected happens, Apple's still probably got this in the bag.

2023 is already looking like one of the best years for foldable phones since they were introduced to phone buyers. We've already had the Google Pixel Fold and Motorola Razr+ impress us, plus the Honor Magic Vs, Oppo Find N2 Flip, or the full-size Oppo Find N2 are excellent too, even if they're a bit harder to get a hold of.

That's not an end to it either. Samsung's hinted heavily at new foldables coming in July, which should end up being the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. While these are familiar figures in the foldables world, they're still set for some worthwhile upgrades that could let Samsung retain its top spot among foldable phone makers, even with this sudden burst of competitors.

 Not enough to overthrow the iPhone 

All these movement in the foldables space is exciting, but they remain a costly, niche product. It's why I don't think it's weird to believe Apple's flagship iPhone will still dominate any foldable later this year.

Google Pixel Fold

The Google Pixel Fold (Image credit: Future)

Obviously the iPhone line has a dedicated user base, which will probably ensure the iPhone 15 as a whole sells incredibly well. But even for people happy to swap between iOS and Android for their next purchase, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is looking like a much more complete package. 

The current iPhone 14 Pro Max already offers a great blend of computing power, battery efficiency, photo quality and more, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is lined up for upgrades like a new, more powerful chipset, a USB-C charging port and a better telephoto camera. None are quite as big a deal as being able to fold a phone in half, but they're features I imagine the majority of users prioritize.

Even setting the feature difference aside, the price is probably enough of a motivation to go iPhone rather than foldable. Flagship foldables like the Pixel Fold or Galaxy Z Fold cost around $1,600, which is the same as the highest-spec iPhone 14 Pro Max with a whole terabyte of storage on board.

Motorola Razr+ flex video mode shows off clock with the external display.

The Motorola Razer Plus (Image credit: Future)

Even if the iPhone 15 Pro Max's rumored price hike goes through, and adds another couple of hundred dollars to the price, it'll still be cheaper than these foldable rivals.

You can find foldables closer in price or even cheaper than the iPhone, generally clamshell-style foldables like the Razr+ and the Galaxy Z Flip line. But these have to sacrifice battery capacity and cameras in order to fit in a second outer display and the all-important hinge, which hurt their chances at being all-round performance stars.

Even if the iPhone 15 Pro Max doesn't convince you in particular, there are plenty of other alternatives to look at before considering a foldable. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, OnePlus 11 and Google Pixel 7 Pro are all worth looking at, even if Apple's ultimate iPhone for 2023 is still shaping up to defeat them all.

There's still time for team foldable to improve its chances. For instance, the mysterious OnePlus V Fold could turn things around, or the Galaxy Z Fold 5 could make a whole bunch of changes that the rumormongers have not told us about yet. Maybe the iPhone Flip will astonish everyone by arriving earlier than expected and with a whole bunch of well-designed features.

But as things stand, foldables still have a way to go before they're a genuine competitor for standard flagship phones like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and not an expensive alternative for a particular type of tech-savvy user.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.