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, so we picked the best small phones on the market.
We’ve put together a list of phones with screen sizes ranging from 4in to 5in. The latter is the high end of what we consider ‘small’ in today’s market, and while you could technically go smaller than the former we wouldn’t recommend it.
This list best represents the top picks for the small phones on the market in 2018.
The best small phone in 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.
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.
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.
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.
5. Moto G5S
The G5s is a good-looking, well-built phone that suffers from below-average performance. Its cameras are good, though, and it has a decent screen.
The main problem is that you can get a faster phone with better specs for the same money, so it’s hard to recommend it unless you find it significantly cheaper.
Read our Moto G5S review.
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.
7. iPhone SE
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.