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 6-inches plus.
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.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2022
The definition of "small phone" probably varies a bit from person to person. Not to mention that it's getting harder and harder to find a smartphone that is smaller these days.
As such, our picks range from "smaller than average" to "not super big" to ensure there is something for every preference.
Don't let their size fool you though. They're all 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!
Best Affordable Small Smartphone, Best Overall Small Smartphone
Apple's iPhone SE (2020) is a killer example of how a smaller size doesn't mean sacrificing performance. It will out benchmark many high-end Android phones releasing today.
While the iPhone SE (2020) isn't as small as picks from previous years, it's about as small as premium smartphones get these days. If you aren't deeply embedded in the Android ecosystem already, this phone is nearly impossible to beat in terms of value.
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. Short of our other Apple pick, this phone will run circles around any other camera in this collection.
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: Full Review
Most Advanced Small Phone, Best Premium Small Phone, Best Small Phone for Photography
This one is skirting the line of small. However, if you're looking at the top-tier releases available as of Q2 2022, it's the smallest one available.
It runs circles around most anything but a higher model in the iPhone 13 line-up. The screen isn't super small, but at 5.4 inches, it's smaller than most of its competition.
Still, that screen packs in a ton of pixels and has all the power needed to make the most of them. It's an OLED panel too. This means that Apple can finally keep up with the contrast and punchy visuals of Samsung's best offerings.
You'll also find some of the most capable cameras available at the time of writing, a screaming fast processor, 5G support, Bluetooth 5, fast charging, wireless charging, and an IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating.
The only thing really missing is a headphone jack. Which we're getting more used to these days.
Learn More: Full Review
Best QWERTY Small Phone, Best Small Phone for Texting, Smallest Phone in this Collection
At a glance, you might find yourself going "Whoa! Is that a Blackberry?" but it's not.
It's an interesting full Android phone from Unihertz—a company known for making offbeat but functional smartphones in super portable sizes.
The Titan Pocket has the smallest display in this collection, measuring just 3.1-inches. However, that also comes with a reduced resolution of 720p. So don't expect the visual experience you'd get from other phones in this line-up either.
It won't win any benchmark rankings, but reviews indicate it has more than enough power to cover the essentials and can even handle the occasional casual game. But the screen size and wider format make it less than ideal for media consumption anyhow.
The camera is pretty abysmal too.
Social media, email, and messaging are where this phone shines thanks to its full hardware QWERTY keyboard—a feature virtually unheard of since the official demise of Blackberry. Better still, reviewers raved about the keyboard.
But if tiny and texting are your main priorities, the Titan Pocket is a unique option in a sea of plastic rectangles these days.
Learn More: Full Review
Best Rugged Small Phone, Best Small Phone for Outdoor Enthusiasts
A 5.7-inch display is definitely pushing boundaries when it comes to small. That said, we felt the phone brought enough benefits to be included in this collection.
If you're looking for a phone you can toss into your camping bag without worry, carry around the construction site, or break out in a busy garage, the CAT S62 Pro has you covered.
It's ruggedized, offers IP68 water- and dust-resistance, and even charges via USB-C.
CAT's claim to fame is the phone's FLIR thermal imaging, but even if you don't need that, it works well enough as an everyday phone for the essentials of modern living. It'll even play the occasional game.
Just don't expect it to be super light and understand that its benchmarks are firmly geared towards the basics instead of power users.
Still, it's a cool concept and perfect for someone looking for a small rugged phone option.
Learn More: Full Review
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
We felt that anything smaller than 6-inches was a solid cut-off for our definition of small. Anything larger and you're flirting with two-handed use and bulging pockets (even with today's skinnier aspect ratios.)
We picked models that are small enough to offer a benefit due to their size.
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 with some offering 5G access as well.
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.
Choosing a smaller phone shouldn't mean sacrificing half of the features that make smartphones so great. 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.
But from another angle, 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 smaller display. You're probably also not likely to binge hours of Netflix or TikTok 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 (mostly) not ideal for heavy texting or gaming since smaller screens mean smaller virtual keyboards or controls.
- Apple iPhone SE (2020): Best Affordable Small Smartphone, Best Overall Small Smartphone
- Apple iPhone 13 mini: Most Advanced Small Phone, Best Premium Small Phone, Best Small Phone for Photography
- Unihertz Titan Pocket: Best QWERTY Small Phone, Best Small Phone for Texting, Smallest Phone in this Collection
- CAT S62 Pro: Best Rugged Small Smartphone, Best Small Smartphone for Outdoor Enthusiasts, Best Small Smartphone for the Worksite
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!