Phones are getting bigger, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. The first iPhone had a 3.5in screen, now the iPhone XS Max has a 6.5in display. Not everyone wants those three extra inches.
When the 4.7in iPhone 6 was released, many were outraged at the increase. Now that size is the norm, and is considered small.
Why get a small phone?
Simply, large phones can be too large. Bezels on phones have shrunk significantly in the last two years, but we’re certain not everyone wants to tote the 6.3in screen on the Galaxy Note 8. Not only is that phone huge, but it is also very expensive.
People with smaller hands are going to find a permanently two-handed phone an inconvenience when in use and when poking out the top of their jeans pockets. Handsets of a smaller size can be used one handed, fit in a pocket far easier, and download every single app you could get on a phone with a larger screen.
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to smartphones, and this list best represents the top picks for the small phones on the market in 2019.
Best small phone 2019
- Reviewed on: 24 October 2019
The Pixel 3 has great performance, the best camera on a smartphone and a premium design.
Google has paid special attention to the display, which is much better than the previous two generations of Pixels (though doesn't feature the 90Hz refresh rate of the Pixel 4), and Android software is best with this hardware. The all-glass back allows for wireless charging, and Google bundles USB-C headphones in the box.
The Pixel 3 XL is exactly the same experience save for the larger notched display and larger battery.
The Pixel 4 is now here, but thanks to a price drop, the Pixel 3 still makes an excellent case for itself if the new telephoto camera, upgraded internals and new gesture controls of its successor don't appeal - especially since the more recent phone disappoints in battery life.
Read our Google Pixel 3 review.
- Reviewed on: 27 March 2019
The Galaxy S10e is nearly as good as the more expensive S10s, but poor battery life lets it down. All three aren't great on this front but it's most noticeable here.
Aside from this, you only lose a rear camera and the curved screen from the S10. There's no under screen fingerprint sensor but otherwise you get an excellent display and the same outstanding performance with the same processor.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S10e review.
- Reviewed on: 16 November 2018
The Xperia XZ2 Compact fits almost every major feature from the XZ2 into a smaller frame, offering the best specs you'll find in a 5in phone right now - at the cost of a slightly chunky rear end. If you don't mind the bezel-ly design and the lack of wireless charging, you won't find better performance anywhere near this price point.
Read our Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review.
- Reviewed on: 21 November 2019
The Pixel 3a might not be the all-singing, all-dancing mid-range option and, in some ways, there are better phones at the same price.
However, you probably have different reasons for wanting this phone. The Pixel 3a will appeal to those wanting a cheaper option to get Google's design and pure Android across areas such as the camera and the OS at a whole.
Then there's the promise of updates for years to come which is something not many rivals can deliver.
Read our Google Pixel 3a review.
- Reviewed on: 15 July 2019
There are some great things about the iPhone 8 including the addition of wireless charging, 64GB storage as standard and a fast A11 Bionic processor. However, this all comes at a higher price and everything else is largely the same so we can't imagine or recommend iPhone 7 users upgrading. Those on an older device like an iPhone 6 or older will experience a much bigger change.
Comparing the iPhone to Android rivals is difficult as many users will be on one side of the fence already. Forgetting about software, the iPhone 8 simply doesn't excite like flagship rivals including the Galaxy S8 and LG G6.
Read our Apple iPhone 8 review.
- Reviewed on: 2 April 2019
The Pixel 2 is a boring phone until you turn it on. The uninspiring hardware melts away to present you with a bleeding edge vision of the Android future, with machine learning fully integrated. It’s not quite there yet, but this is where we are heading.
The camera, one lens down on some competitors, is better than all of them in most situations thanks to the superior software onboard. You only get that benefit when you buy Google hardware, and the company is finally realising the end to end product that Apple has been making for a decade.
If you want a smartphone to fawn over and make your friends jealous with, you won’t want the Pixel 2. But it’s faster than the Galaxy S8 and takes better photos. It delivers the best overall camera and software experience on any Android smartphone to date.
Read our Google Pixel 2 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 July 2019
The iPhone 7 is an evolution of the 6S, so if you were expecting a revolution you’ll probably be slightly disappointed. However, aside from the underwhelming battery life, it is an excellent phone. It’s waterproof, has fantastic cameras and performance, and the new stereo speakers sound great. There’s now 32GB of storage as a minimum, which helps to mitigate the higher prices.
Read our Apple iPhone 7 review.
- Reviewed on: 22 September 2017
We love the Xperia XZ1 Compact - mouthful name and all - as it has the top of the line Snapdragon 835 processor found in the XZ1 and XZ Premium, but in a smaller, cheaper package.
Aside from the screen resolution and battery size, this smaller Compact model does not compromise. At the time of writing, it can be found for £399, which is an incredibly good price for a high-end phone.
If the smaller size isn't for you, there are other options.
Read our Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact review.
9. Moto G7 Play
- Reviewed on: 12 March 2019
The G7 Play is a solid smartphone that despite not having high-end internals can provide a smooth, lag-free mobile experience – even when playing demanding games like PUBG Mobile, and that’s impressive. The build quality is great despite the use of plastic on the rear, with fine detailing giving the G7 Play a more premium look.
Of course, there have to be concessions made in a sub-£150 smartphone, and in the case of the G7 Play, that’s the cameras. While images are generally well-lit, the lack of a decent autofocus system means that most of your pictures will come out looking a little bit soft.
Still, if you're not a photographer in-the-making, the Moto G7 Play is an impressive bit of kit and you’ll struggle to find something better at this price point.
Read our Moto G7 Play review.
10. iPhone SE
- Reviewed on: 21 March 2017
The SE is what many iPhone fans have been asking for, and it's a great upgrade if you're still using an iPhone 5. For 5S owners, things aren't quite as clear cut. If you're not happy with the 5S's performance, the SE should solve that problem. However, unless you really want to shoot 4K videos, you're not going to notice a massive improvement in photo quality. There's a much bigger jump in quality if you're coming from an iPhone 5 (or earlier), however. In 2017 the SE might be more expensive but Apple has doubled the storage making it a more attractive buy.
Read our iPhone SE review.