Which is the best small phone?
Once all smartphones were small. Remember the iPhone 4? A beautiful, manageable 3.5-inch display for one-hand texting and easy to fit in your pocket – those were the days. Thankfully, there’s a lot to like about the small smartphone market in 2020 and we’ve put together our picks of the best options available now.
With the rise of phablets, phone dimensions have changed to bring taller screens to phones, but for many people these large mobiles are simply unruly two-handed struggles.
Below we’ve listed our six favourite small phones based on our exhaustive tests. It’s tough to decide what counts as ‘small’ in a smartphone world of generally huge displays, so we’ve considered screen size, the aspect ratio of the screens, pocket-friendliness and the dimensions of the phones themselves to bring you the best palm-friendly phones available at several price points.
- Best overall small iPhone: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best small Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S10e
- Smallest dimensions: Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
- Best camera: Google Pixel 4
- Best value: Moto G7 Play
- Most versatile cameras: Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
No phone here is taller than 150mm and the screens range in size (measured diagonally corner to corner) from 4.7-inch to 5.97-inch. That might sound big but most pack these displays into handsets with tiny bezels, meaning they are still small phones overall.
While there may be smaller options out there, most of these are too old to recommend today. For example, we haven’t included the 2016 iPhone SE despite its very pocketable 4-inch screen, as this outdated model has been discontinued by Apple.
Related: Best iPhone Deals
Small doesn’t always equal cheap in the phone world, so if you want to save some dough check out our pick of the best budget smartphones. Equally if you want the cream of the crop, our best smartphone round-up has you covered.
How to buy the right small phone
Is it best to buy phones on contract or outright?
If you can afford it, we’d recommend buying a phone outright as it’ll cost you less overall over two years, the standard length of a phone contract. However, contracts exist to help you spread the cost and might enable you to get a higher-end phone. Either way, make sure not to bankrupt yourself.
Read on to discover the best options for small phone at a variety of price points.
How we picked the best small smartphones
We have fully tested and reviewed each of the small phones in this list. You can read about our phone testing methods here and click through at the end of each entry to read the phone’s full review.
Let’s take a look at our best small smartphone choices.
1. iPhone 11 Pro
The best small iPhone
- A fantastic triple camera array
- Lovely 5.8-inch OLED display
- Much better battery life than the XS
- There’s still a notch
Apple has consistently created excellent small phones and the iPhone 11 Pro is no exception. This is the first iPhone with three rear cameras (wide, ultra-wide and tele) and each options will give you fantastic pictures full of colour, detail and dynamic range.
While there is a larger version of this phone, with a 6.5-inch screen, you’re not really losing anything by plumping for the smaller one as it has the same A13 chipset, RAM, storage options and screen tech. Yes, the Max version has better battery life, but the iPhone 11 Pro still has excellent endurance.
- Read our full iPhone 11 Pro review
2. Samsung Galaxy S10e
The best small Android phone
- Top display
- Great cameras
- Physical fingerprint sensor
- Headphone jack
- Middling battery life
- Fingerprint sensor location
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the best all-round Android small phone you can buy right now. It incorporates most of the high-end features of the S10 and S10 Plus in a smaller body at a lower price.
Dual cameras, a physical fingerprint sensor, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a great 5.8-inch display are the best things about a phone that is just as premium as the other S10 models.
The circular cut-out for the front camera might not be to your liking but it contributes to the phone’s compact size, with a glass back allowing wireless and wireless reverse charging of other smartphones and accessories.
Battery life is a tad underwhelming but, aside from that, this is a great small phone and doesn’t compromise on features in comparison to similar larger models – a frustrating trait of other diminutive mobiles.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10e review
3. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
Phone with the smallest dimensions on this list
- Very pocketable
- Remains powerful
- Water resistant
- Camera not great
- Thicker than competitors
Even though the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is thick, thanks to its curved design, it is actually the smallest phone on our list with its 18:9 5-inch display.
We love the curved back design that houses the 19-megapixel camera and fingerprint sensor, while the top of the line Snapdragon 845 processor matches that found in the much larger regular XZ2.
The dimensions of the phone make texting with one hand and thumb easy and the display is a sharp 1080p.
With micro-SD support and a cool camera feature to record super slow-mo video at 960 frames per second, the XZ2 Compact is Sony’s best – and last – truly small phone.
- Read our full Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review
4. Google Pixel 4
The best cameras on a small phone
- Astounding cameras
- Wireless charging
- Excellent software and security updates
- 90Hz display
- Poor battery life
Google Pixel 4 is one of the few premium small phones released last year. It comes without a notch and runs the most up-to-date version of Android.
It packs in the best cameras you’ll find on a smartphone this small and is capable of stunning landscapes and portraits that put other phones to shame – in short, it’s hard to take a bad photo on this thing.
The underwhelming battery life is one of the few negatives in an outstanding small smartphone, which offers guaranteed security updates from Google until 2022.
- Read our full Google Pixel 4 review
5. Moto G7 Play
The best value small phone
- Amazing value
- Headphone jack
- Clean Android skin
- A tad underpowered
- Slow to charge
The Moto G7 Play is the best-value small phone you can currently buy and there are tons of features to like, from the headphone jack and the USB-C port to the solid-for-the-price 720p display.
The amount of phone that £149 gets you here is astonishing, with a plastic back housing a single camera and the Motorola logo doubling as a fingerprint sensor.
You’ll sacrifice camera quality and performance given the low-end processor and 2GB RAM but you gain a small, manageable phone with great battery life.
If you can afford to pay a little more then you’ll be able to get a phone with better specs and performance, but for the price the G7 Play is a tough small phone to overlook.
- Read our full Moto G7 Play review
6. Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
A small phone with triple cameras
- Premium design
- Great cameras
- Top AMOLED display
- No headphone jack
- MIUI isn’t for everyone
With a 5.97-inch screen the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE is toying with the definition of a small phone, but we’ve included it thanks to its near bezel-free design (hence its smaller dimensions) and great AMOLED display – not bad for £349.
The Snapdragon 712 processor is no slouch and means the phone copes well with everything, including most high-end games, while the design echoes the larger more expensive Mi 9.
The killer feature here is the rear triple cameras with a 48-megapixel main, 8-megapixel telephoto and 13-megsapixel ultra-wide lens set-up allowing for amazingly detailed shots and a versatility simply not found on phones with one or even two cameras on the back.
It’s missing a headphone jack but it’s far from the only phone to omit this feature.
- Read our full Xiaomi Mi 9 SE review
Still not sure what to buy?
Check out our comprehensive list of buying advice and ranked lists:
- Best mobile phone deals – our guide to the best savings and prices across a range of phones and contract types
- Best Android phone – our guide to the latest and best Android-specific phones
- Best camera phone – phone snappers ranked for you
- Best Apple iPhone – our guide to the right iPhone for you
- Best smartphone – where to start