When the first iPhone came out, the 3.5-inch screen was kind of mind-blowing. Unless you had been using a BlackBerry or a Palm device, there's a good chance the screen dwarfed whatever you were using at the time.

Fast-forward less than 20 years and it's not uncommon to see the newest top-end phones featuring screens that are nearly (if not actually) 6-inches or more.

If the ads you see from carriers and electronic stores leave you wondering what happened to small smartphones, there's good news!

They're still available if you know where to look.

In this round-up, we're going to look at the best small phones available today.

In A Hurry?

If you're an Apple fan, Apple's iPhone SE (2020) is currently the sweet spot between price, size, and performance for most. However, if you're looking for something tiny yet capable on the Android side of the fence the Palm Phone PVG100 is a good mix of design, specs, and price in a tiny package.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020


Our Picks

The definition of "small phone" probably varies a bit from person to person. As such, our picks span from "truly tiny" to "smaller than average" to ensure there is something for every preference.

Don't let their size fool you though.

Even the tiniest phone in this round-up is no joke or novelty item. They're fully functional phones. You can use them to check email, play games, run the latest apps, and watch videos -- although the smaller screen might make it tricky sometimes. 

The only things they won't do is take up your entire pocket, weigh down your handbag, or require two hands to hold.

Here are  our picks, starting with the smallest and getting bigger as you scroll.

1. Unihertz Jelly Pro

Best Ultra-Small Smartphone

Unihertz has made a splash in recent years for successful funding a range of innovative phone models using Kickstarter.

While they're not exactly a Samsung or Google in terms of size or reputation, they've managed to deliver a solid line-up of phones which reviewers have loved.

The Jelly Pro is a full-featured smartphone in a pint-sized package. With its 2.45-inch IPS display, it might not be ideal for hammering out tons of texts or reading lengthy blog posts. But it has all the features you'd expect of a modern smartphone otherwise.

There's even dual SIM support if you'd like to use an alternate data plan or add a second number to your phone.

The only potential drawback is slightly older software. At the time of writing, the phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo. That's a few versions off from the latest version and there's little chance of an update to Android 10 or 11.

Learn More: Our Unihertz Jelly Pro Review
Price: $124.99 (At time of publishing)
Get it From: Amazon, AliExpress, eBayUnihertz

NOTE: If you're not in a hurry, the Unihertz Jelly 2 is heading toward production at a rapid pace. With nearly $1-million raised on Kickstarter, funding isn't a problem but there is always the risk of production issues. Still, Unihertz has launched many phones using the same method in the past. They expect the Jelly 2 to release in December 2020. You can find out more on their Kickstarter page


2. Palm Phone

Best Luxury Small Smartphone, Best Spare Small Smartphone

This small-yet-capable option comes from Palm. If you're old enough to recognize the name, yes, we're talking about that Palm.

They've shifted focus a bit since their mainstream days in the late '90s. 

Now instead of trying to inject technology into everyone's life, they want to help make technology more of a tool and less addictive or distracting.

That's definitely a cause we can get behind.

The phone itself weighs just 62.5 grams and the 3.3-inch display means it's ultra pocket-friendly. In that tiny package, they've managed to cram an octa-core processor, Google Play support, 32GB of storage, a 12MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing shooter and wrap it all in an IP68-rated water-resistant package.

There's also a built-in Life Mode to manage notifications and distractions and promote mindfulness.

It's even pretty sleek looking. If you're looking for a fashionable-yet-functional small alternative to today's typical smartphone, the Palm PVG100 is a great pick.

Learn More: Our Palm PVG100 Review
Price: $349.99 (At time of publishing)
Get it From: AmazonPalm, Verizon


3. Light Phone II

Best Feature-Limited Small Smartphone, Best Distraction-Free Small Smartphone, Best Small Smartphone for Mindful Use

We weren't sure whether to include the Light Phone II. It kind of straddles that line between smartphones and basic phones. It's very much a niche item. But what it does, reviews indicate it does well.

Using an e-Ink touch display and the typical rectangular plastic design, it offers most of the feel of a modern smartphone in a much smaller and feature limited package. The entire phone is only 3.7-by-2.2-inches so it'll slip in just about any pocket or bag.

You get a full contact list, texting, and calling, alarms, music players, Wi-Fi hotspot mode, and podcast support. No endless list of apps or distractions, but enough to help you stay in touch with those important and get through the day.

As such, it might be more of a second phone option than an everyday carry for some people.

Still, it's a cool concept and perfect for someone looking for a compact semi-smart phone option.

Learn More: Our Light Phone II Review
Price: $350.00 (At time of publishing)
Get it From: Light Phone


4. Unihertz Atom XL

Best Rugged Small Smartphone, Best Small Smartphone for Outdoor Use, Best Small Smartphone for the Worksite

Unihertz has made a splash in recent years for successful funding a range of innovative phone models using Kickstarter.

While they're not exactly a Samsung or Google in terms of size or reputation, they've managed to deliver a solid line-up of phones which reviewers have loved.

The Atom XL is a fully ruggedized mini smartphone. Its 4-inch display is smaller than just about any mainstream model you'll find without going to the truly tiny size range. It also includes DMR Walkie-Talkie functionality, making it ideal for outdoor adventures with friends and family.

Apart from its size, you'll find it's essentially your everyday smartphone. It runs Android 10, offers 128GB of storage, features a snappy (though far from top-end) octa-core processor, and even has a 48MP rear camera.

Everything you could want in a phone for the worksite or campsite with none of the heft!

Learn More: Our Unihertz Atom XL Review
Price: $329.99 (At time of publishing)
Get it From: Unihertz

NOTE: If you don't need the walkie-talkie feature, you can save a little money by going for the Unihertz Atom L instead. It's identical to the XL otherwise and only costs $279.99 (At time of publishing.) The phone is currently available direct from Unihertz.


5. iPhone SE (2020)

Best Full-Featured Small Smartphone, Best Overall Small Smartphone

Apple's iPhone SE (2020) is a killer example of how smaller size doesn't mean sacrificing performance. It will out benchmark most top-tier Android flagship phones. 

While the iPhone SE (2020) is not the smallest phone in the list, if you aren't deeply embedded in the Android ecosystem already, this phone is nearly impossible to beat in terms of value.

There are very few small smartphones like the iPhone SE (2020) that combine the level of polish, power, and reliability you'll find here.

You get a compact 4.7-inch display that is easy to use with one hand, a pocket-friendly but premium design compliments of Apple, and the power to play games, check emails, post on social media, and anything else you might want to do with your smartphone.

There's also the camera. Hands down, this phone will produce the best pictures of any phone in this line-up. 

In many cases, going smaller means sacrificing something. In the case of the iPhone SE (2020), the only thing you're really giving up is size.

Learn More: Our Apple iPhone SE (2020) Review
Price: $399.99 (At time of publishing)
Get it From: AmazonApple,  Best Buy


How We Picked

The picks in this roundup are what we think are the best small smartphones for most people.

We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like Amazon, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.

When answering the question, “What are the best small smartphones?”, we considered the following primary criteria:

 

Size
We felt that a 5-inch display was a solid cut-off for our definition of small. Anything larger and you're so close to the average 5.7- to 6.2-inch displays of this year's biggest releases that we felt the difference wasn't a major impact on the user experience.

We picked models that are small enough to offer a benefit due to their size.

 

Connectivity

With the rise of 5G, many companies are beginning to talk about discontinuing their 3G networks. As such, we wanted to be sure that all of our picks would offer support for common network types well into the future and continue providing value for years to come. As such, each pick in our roundup supports 4G connectivity.

 

Reliability
Just because a phone is small doesn't mean that tech troubles wouldn't be a gigantic pain. All of our picks receive stellar reviews from industry professionals and users alike. We also chose phones by companies with a solid reputation for customer service and a dependable track record of standing behind their products and services.

 

Modern Features
Choosing a smaller phone shouldn't mean sacrificing half of the features that make smartphones so great. Except for the Light Phone II, all models picked in this round-up offer a nearly identical mobile experience in terms of features and app support with this year's top-tier releases. 

We compared the things most people consider when choosing the best small phone.

In short, we did the research—so you don’t have to.


Why Choose Small Phones?

Small phones offer a range of benefits.

Portability is probably the most obvious. Some of our smallest picks on this list won't just fit in your pocket, but would likely fit in the change pocket of your favorite pair of blue jeans. 

From another angle, this means that the smaller size means you can operate most picks with one hand without having to stretch your fingers across a large display. For those with smaller hands, this is a huge deal.

That also means less weight. You won't notice the phone nearly as much in your bags or pocket and if you're reading or talking for hours, there's less chance of arm or hand fatigue.

Finally, they're simply less distracting because they're less immersive. It's a lot harder to lose track of time scrolling through social media on a 3-inch display. You're probably also not likely to binge hours of Netflix on a tiny screen.

This means you spend less time mindlessly using your mobile tech and more time meaningfully interacting with both the phone itself and the world around you. When your phone is smaller you typically have a bit more purpose or intention when you turn it on.

Of course, many of these benefits could also be seen as deterrents. If you're looking for a great phone for watching movies, these phones probably aren't it. They're also not ideal for heavy texting or gaming since smaller screens mean smaller virtual keyboards or controls.


Recap

Picks presented from smallest to largest:

  • Unihertz Jelly Pro: Best Ultra-Small Smartphone
  • Palm Phone PVG100: Best Luxury Small Smartphone, Best Spare Small Smartphone
  • Light Phone II: Best Feature-Limited Small Smartphone, Best Distraction-Free Small Smartphone, Best Small Smartphone for Mindful Use
  • Unihertz Atom XL: Best Rugged Small Smartphone, Best Small Smartphone for Outdoor Use, Best Small Smartphone for the Worksite
  • iPhone SE (2020): Best Full-Featured Small Smartphone, Best Overall Small Smartphone

Still Not Sure?

Choosing the perfect phone from so many options might feel intimidating. Size isn't everything when picking a phone. So if none of these picks look perfect for you, our phone comparison tool makes it easy to find additional options.

While you can't set filters based on the full phone size, we offer filters for screen size, price, manufacturer, features, and more to help you limit your initial options. From there, you can compare up to 5 phones side by side to avoid having to jump between different tabs or filter through a bunch of marketing jargon.

At the end of the day, the best phone for you is one that allows you to use it in the ways you prefer. From phones with spacious screens for watching movies to rugged phones ready to conquer the great outdoors, we do the research for you to help you buy with confidence.


P.S. If you're not looking for all of the smartphone features -- or cost -- but still want a smaller phone. A basic or feature phone is probably your best option. Our round-up of the best non-smartphones gives you plenty of options that are both pocket- and budget-friendly!


 
REFERENCES:
[1] HICONSUMPTION: Unihertz’s Jelly 2 Is The World’s Smallest 4G Android 10 Smartphone
[2] Gear Hungry: Jelly 2 - The World's Smallest Android 10 4G Smartphone 
[3] Android Authority: What is considered a small Android phone in 2020 and what are your options?
[4] Android Central: Best Small Android Phones in 2020
[5] Tom's Guide: Best small phones in 2020 
[6] GSM Arena: Best compact phones 2020 - buyer’s guide
[7] T3: Best small phones 2020: stylish and powerful compact phones
[8] Digital Trends: The best small Android and iOS smartphones worth buying
[9] Trusted Reviews: Best small phone 2020: The right small smartphone for you
[10] Phone Arena: Best small and compact phones to buy (2020)
[11] 3G UK: Best Compact Smartphone 2020