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The best compact smartphones: How many inches do you really need?

Update: January/2023
Compact Smartphones
© primopiano / Shutterstock.com

Are small smartphones still be around in 2023? So what? Even though many manufacturers are moving towards display sizes that are way beyond the 6-inch mark, there are exceptions like the Galaxy S22, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, or the iPhone 13 Mini. For this reason, we have compiled the best compact phones for tiny hands below.

The 1.94 m tall author of this article has huge hands. But even with those, it's not easy for me to operate a 6.8-inch device using just one hand. Therefore, it is absolutely understandable that many smartphone users long for more compact models. The NextPit editorial team put their heads together and came up with this list of the eight best compact smartphones for 2023.

The best compact smartphones in 2023

  Best Android option Best Apple option Best compact alternatives
Product
Picture
Sony Xperia 5 IV
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Asus Zenfone 9
Google Pixel 6a
Samsung Galaxy S22
Specifications 6.1-inch, OLED
1080 x 2520 pixels (449 PPI)
60 Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
128 /256 GB ROM
8 GB RAM
Triple camera
Main camera: 12 MP
Ultra-wide-angle:12 MP
Telephoto: 12 MP
5,000 mAh, 30 W

153 × 67 × 8.3 m
161 grams












5.4-inch OLED
1080 x 2340 pixels (476 PPI)
60 Hz
Apple A15 Bionic
128 / 256 / 512 GB ROM
4 GB RAM
Dual camera
Main camera: 12 MP
Ultra wide-angle: 12 MP
2,438 mAh

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm
141 grams











6.7-inch, OLED
1080 x 2640 pixels (426 PPI)
120 Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
128 / 256 / 512 GB ROM
8 GB RAM
Dual camera
Main camera: 12 MP
Ultra wide: 12 MP
3,700 mAh, 25W

84.9 x 71.9 x 17.1 mm (folded)
165.2 x 71.9 x 6.9 mm (opened)
187 grams












4.7-inch LCD, 60 Hz
750 x 1334 (326 PPI)
60 Hz
Apple A15 Bionic
64 / 128 / 256 GB ROM
4 GB RAM
Single camera
12 MP
2018 mAh

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
144 grams










5.9-inch, OLED
1080 x 2400 pixels (446 PPI)
120 Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
128 / 256 GB ROM
6 / 8 / 16 GB RAM
Dual camera
Main camera: 50 MP
Ultra-wide-angle: 12 MP
4,300 mAh, 30 W

146.5 × 68.1 × 9.1 mm
169 grams











6.1-inch, AMOLED
1080 x 2400 pixels (434 ppi)
60 Hz
Google Tensor
128 GB ROM
6 GB RAM
Dual camera
Main camera: 12.2 MP
Ultra wide-angle: 12 MP
4,410 mAh, 18 W

152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm 178 grams










6.1-inch, OLED
1080 x 2340 pixels (425 PPI)
120 Hz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
128 / 256 GB ROM
8 GB RAM
Triple camera
Main camera: 50 MP
Ultra-wide-angle: 12 MP
Telephoto: 10 MP
4,300 mAh, 25 W

146.5 × 68.1 × 9.1 mm
169 grams












Good
  • Very good "Bravia" 21:9 OLED display with 120 Hz refresh rate
  • Easy to grip with high-quality design
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • Analog audio jack
  • Decent photo quality
  • Professional camera app
  • Excellent battery life
  • IP68 certification
  • microSD support
  • Fantastic size for everyday use
  • Good photo quality
  • Very good video quality
  • High-performance level
  • Amazing form factor
  • Incredibly small and handy
  • Improved durability and IPX8 rating
  • 120Hz AMOLED screen is shiny
  • Great improvement in battery life
  • Insane performance level
  • High-quality workmanship
  • Surprisingly good photo and video performance
  • Solid battery life that lasts up till late at night
  • Very powerful
  • Brilliant, crisp display
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Great picture quality during the day
  • Clean, functional UI
  • Premium smartphone performance
  • Balanced image post-processing
  • Optimum size
  • Clean software
  • Up to five years of updates
  • IP67 certification
  • Really nice to look at
  • Great display
  • Adequate performance
  • Excellent cameras
  • The selfies are just right
  • Four years of OS updates and five years of security patches
Bad
  • "Bloatware" at an MSRP of $999
  • Average software update policy
  • Missing face unlock
  • No power adapter included
  • Processor overheats easily
  • Slow battery charging
  • Battery life could be better
  • Display stuck at 60 Hertz
  • No memory expansion options
  • Lightning connector is annoying (to me)
  • A dragon on a leash (limited performance)
  • No telephoto camera
  • Slow charging solutions
  • Display is simply outdated
  • Too few camera functions
  • Low storage space in the base model without expandable memory
  • More expensive than predecessor at market launch
  • Inadequate Android updates
  • Glaring overheating problems
  • No memory expansion slot
  • No wireless charging support
  • Screen refresh rate of only 60 Hz
  • Only one internal storage option
  • No wireless charging support
  • Dysfunctional shape
  • Heats up easily
  • 3700 mAh is not enough
  • Very slow charging
  • Few changes from the S21
Rating
Read the Sony Xperia 5 IV review
Read the Apple iPhone 13 Mini review
Read the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
Read the Apple iPhone SE (2022) review
Read the Asus Zenfone 9 review
Read the Google Pixel 6a review
Read the Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Offers*

You already have the technical specifications at hand and can make a quick comparison. If you want, you can jump directly to your favorite device, because we present each device in a bit more detail. However, I recommend you also read the buying guide, where we provide you with relevant information that you should consider before buying. Let's go!

Buying guide: What you have to consider when buying small smartphones

Where is the border between a large and a small phone? The answer is subjective, and it is similar to our selection here. We did not select the smallest smartphones available for our best-of list. Instead, we made sure that both quality and compact design are well balanced. In 2023, no one should accept that a smaller phone is at best, a slimmed-down version of a flagship!

It's possible that when you buy a small smartphone, you are mainly looking at how practical and handy it is. But despite all of its advantages, there are also disadvantages that you should be aware of before you go to your trusted phone dealer. Here are a few points to consider before you buy a new phone.

  • Performance: Make sure that you are not blinded by the big flagship marketing fluff and then feel ripped off with a less powerful SoC. In this list, however, you have devices that guarantee a very strong performance, but you also have to bear in mind: A powerful processor in the phone often results in heat build-up when it is under a heavy load. The larger the smartphone, the better the heat can be dissipated. For gamers, it might be better to choose a larger alternative for this reason alone.
  • Cameras: Similar to the SoC, smaller smartphones often suffer from the fact that the cameras are slimmed-down versions of their larger siblings. However, you should not suffer any disadvantages when using a smaller phone for taking pictures.
  • Battery: Less space in the smartphone = smaller battery. That is just logical of course, and battery size alone does not determine how long your smartphone will last. The efficiency of the components and the software also plays a role. But take into account that you will often be disappointed with less than 4,000 mAh in compact phones.
  • Display and form factor: The most important thing when deciding on a small phone is the size, of course! It is handy, fits better in trouser pockets, shirt pockets, or handbags, and is easier to use with one hand. So there are many advantages. But there are also disadvantages: If you like multimedia content, it is naturally more fun viewing those on large devices. If you are a gamer, you should consider that your thumbs cover a certain part of the display when gaming. The smaller the display, the more difficult it is to play without a controller accessor.

The best small Android phone: Sony Xperia 5 IV

A rather divisive pick, we admit, but the Xperia 5 IV offers an impressive package with a slim body, as highlighted in Matt's review of the device. Sony wasn't scared to not follow smartphone trends in the market, keeping a 3.5 mm audio jack and a microSD slot, while adopting a fingerprint reader on the side, bucking the trend of under-display readers.

The Xperia 5 IV keeps the flagship-level specs from the bigger (and more expensive) Xperia 1 IV—which didn't fare as well in Antoine's review—including the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, stereo speakers, IP68 water-resistance, and the trademark 21:9 OLED display.

Sony Xperia 5 IV
Matt tests one of the Xperia 5 IV highlight features: a headphone jack! / © NextPit

When dealing with Sony devices, the tradeoffs are basically expected. The main one is the price, the Xperia 5 IV is definitely not a cheap phone, with an MSRP matching bigger flagship models. Fast charging on the other hand is not up to the same level found in Chinese rivals, with only the USB-PD standard 30W charging.

One missed opportunity for the Japanese brand was using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, instead of the faster, more efficient 8+ Gen 1, especially because Sony usually delays its launches close to Q3. Let's hope Sony uses its quirky strategy to come up with the inevitable Xperia 5 V in 2023.

The best small smartphone from Apple: Apple iPhone 13 mini

After introducing the iPhone 12 mini in 2020, Apple insisted on continuing the compact formula in 2021 with the introduction of the iPhone 13 mini. It has roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor. Measuring 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm and tipping the scales at 141 grams, it is slightly heavier than the previous model, but still rather small compared to other iPhone 13 models.

iPhone 13 Mini
Apple's best compact smartphone. / © NextPit

Just like the 2020 model, the iPhone 13 mini has the same specifications as its larger siblings, starting with the powerful A15 Bionic processor, which Apple claims is around 50% faster than the next best Android competitor.

However, the main advantage of this small iPhone lies in a completely different area: Apple's iOS operating system and the aforementioned SoC combine well to deliver pretty good power management, which Apple says is "up to an hour and a half more" on the iPhone 13 mini compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 12 mini.

Apple also places the compact iPhone below the regular model and Pro variants in terms of price. The recommended retail price is $699, making it significantly cheaper than the normal model.

Compact smartphones alternatives

With this, we have picked out the best Android and iOS smartphones for you at the moment. However, we want to give you some more alternatives that perfectly combine both quality and a compact form factor in our opinion. So here are our other recommendations:

Pocket-friendly with a big screen: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Not everyone is looking for a compact smartphone because their fingers are too short. The big flagships from Samsung, Motorola, and the like also take up a lot of space in the pocket. So much so, many people prefer to hang their smartphone around their neck with a lanyard rather than put it in their pocket.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a full-fledged flagship smartphone with really small dimensions. As the name suggests, it is a foldable smartphone, i.e. with a foldable display. Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (review), however, you do not fold the smartphone vertically. It is more reminiscent of a retro clamshell phone from the 2000s.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 fits in any pocket when folded / © NextPit

When folded, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 measures only 84.9 x 71.9 x 17.1 millimeters at its thickest point. When unfolded, the device "grows" considerably, but the lush 6.7-inch display is also a real eye-catcher. But why didn't the Galaxy Z Flip 4 make it to number 1 in our "Best of" list?

Although it has improved a lot in terms of durability and is even waterproof according to the IPX8 rating, the battery is still too small with a capacity of 3,700 mAh. And it is still more expensive than the other smartphones on this list.

Apple alternative for a smaller budget: The iPhone SE (2022)

We have included the iPhone SE (2022) here because it is a very affordable way to obtain a very high-performance iPhone thanks to the new processor.

What are the top arguments for the iPhone SE that comes in 2022's flavor? The fast A15 Bionic in a smartphone for just $429! Sure, with the iPhone, you always 'buy' a few other highlights automatically: Great cameras, high-quality workmanship, optimized and long software support, for example.

Apple iPhone SE 2022
The design of the iPhone SE 2022 almost makes it a retro phone. / © NextPit

This is also true for the iPhone SE to a large extent. The design, which was already old-fashioned in the iPhone SE 2020, has been adopted 1:1 and does not look any more modern. You get a 4.7-inch display with very fat bezels, which is simply outdated. Throw in HD resolution and 60-hertz refresh on an LCD display, and every $400 mid-range smartphone can actually fare better.

However, Apple has an enviable talent for optimizing both hardware and software in such a way that you hardly notice technical deficits. Sensational photos can be taken even with the simple camera of the iPhone SE, the display is convincing enough despite the low resolution and sluggish refrest rate, and the performance of the A15 is beyond any doubt anyway. Therefore, we have included it in our list as a top alternative to the iPhone 13 Mini.

If you long for long updates: The Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung also follows the trend and reduced the size of its smartphones. The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch screen—and could have secured the compact crown, if not for this SoC...

Samsung unveiled its new flagship lineup in February 2022 and the base model Galaxy S22 made it into our compact best list. At 6.1-inches, it is smaller than the Xiaomi 12 and offers a superior camera. The South Koreans provide the S22 with actual telephoto cameras, making it one of the best compact camera phones.

Rückseite des Galaxy S22
The Galaxy S22 has also shrunk compared to its predecessor / © NextPit

Samsung also does not show any weaknesses in the display (Super AMOLED with a 120 Hz refresh rate) and delivers the usual outstanding performance. Perhaps one of the top arguments for Samsung and against one of the competitors could be the software, and it is not only because of the extremely popular OneUI that is based on Android 12. Samsung also scores with its long software support. We are looking at four major Android updates and up to five years of support for security updates!

Everything could be so nice if only Samsung did not have installed a rather small battery (3,700 mAh) which compromises its battery life when compared to the Asus ZenFone 8, for example.

Thus, the Galaxy S22 missed the chance to make it to the throne in our list, but it will undoubtedly remain one of the strongest smartphones of its size class that you can buy in 2023. Speaking of buying: The fun starts at $799, but the discounts are getting more frequent as the Galaxy S23 gets closer.

Asus Zenfone 9: Compact and powerful

The Zenfone 9 is one of the most compact smartphones in this selection. It is a powerful and charming Android smartphone on a daily basis.

The Asus flagship is equipped with a 5.9-inch OLED FHD+ screen, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ SoC with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM, and 128 or 256 GB of storage. It also has a triple camera module of 50 MP and a battery of 4300 mAh rechargeable up to 30W.

Asus Zenfone 9 display
The Zenfone 9 is really compact for today's standards / © NextPit

The Zenfone is small but beefy with good performance, a bright and sharp screen, photo quality, and a clean and functional interface. Its limited software update policy and overheating problems are annoying inconveniences. It also doesn't have expandable storage or wireless charging.

Pixel 6a: Google's compact smartphone

If you are looking for a compact Android and cheap smartphone, the Pixel 6 may have the model for you. It is a balanced and efficient mid-range smartphone on a daily basis.

It is equipped with a 6.1-inch 60 Hz OLED screen, a Google Tensor SoC supported by 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, a dual camera module of 12 MP, and a 4410 mAh rechargeable battery in 18 W.

Display des Google Pixel 6a!
The screen of the Google Pixel 6a offers great color quality and brightness. / © NextPit

Its big asset is undoubtedly its camera module worthy of the best flagships. It also stands out with its flagship-level performance, usability, clean interface, 5-year software updates, and IP67 certification. For its mid-range price, it will be necessary to make concessions which here are the refresh rate of only 60 Hz, a single internal storage option, and the absence of wireless charging.

That brings us to the conclusion of our recommended compact smartphones (as of the end of January 2023). Of course, this is a subjective list for which we discussed and pondered with the editorial team, and sometimes also turned a blind eye. All eight recommended models have these in common: you get a fairly compact form factor with plenty of performance.

NextPit's best phones lists

 
Best phones in the market Best phones under $400
Best phones under $300 Best phones under $200
 
Best smartphone cameras Best foldable phones
Best gaming phones Best compact phones
 
The best Apple phones The best Samsung phones
The best Xiaomi phones The best Motorola phones

Feel free to chat in the comments about which compact favorites you would have preferred to see in this list.


Guide updated in January 2023 with review links and different picks.

NextPit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
Carsten Drees

Carsten Drees

Started blogging in 2008 and somehow got stuck in the tech circus. Already wrote for Mobilegeeks, Stadt Bremerhaven, Basic Thinking and Dr. Windows. Loves Depeche Mode and suffers with Schalke 04.

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