It is no mystery to anyone that cell phones with large screens have set the trend for manufacturers in recent years: the Pixel 4 XL, Galaxy Note 10 Plus or iPhone 11 Pro Max are proof of this. However, many prefer smaller versions, because they are more aesthetic, durable and easy to handle. If you don’t believe in the premise that the bigger the better, this guide with the best small phones will prove you right.
Maybe you are also interested:
- The best ever: Apple iPhone SE (2020)
- The best Android: Google Pixel 4
- The best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S10e
- The most economical: Moto G7 Play
- The most resistant: Unihertz Atom
Apple iPhone SE 2020
The original iPhone SE was a mainstay on this list for a long time, because it offered the best possible iOS experience on a small screen. While the iPhone SE 2020 is not as small as the original, it is still a small phone and combines the slim frame of the iPhone 8 with the flagship hardware of the iPhone 11. If you are looking for the best possible small phone experience, this is the what you should buy.
While most other options have screens larger than 5 inches, the iPhone SE is a small breath of fresh air. It features a relatively tiny 4.7-inch LCD screen with a 1,334 x 750 pixel resolution and, thanks to its smaller size, is sharp. Although it is not as beautiful as the AMOLED screen of the iPhone 11 Pro, it is equal to that of the $ 11 iPhone 11. On the downside, the design is based on the iPhone 8, which aesthetically makes it look dated. However, the glass body means it makes you feel more premium than its price. The IP68 waterproof rating means it can also withstand accidental fall in a pool.
As we’ve already mentioned, the iPhone SE has iconic specs, and that means you’ll find the same Bionic A13 chip available in the latest iPhone 11 range. There are rumors that it tends to slow down, but still pretty fast. A 1,821 mAh battery may seem small, but it can hold up perfectly for a day, along with fast charging and wireless charging support.
Is the camera the weak point? Surprisingly, no. The only 12-megapixel lens on the back of the phone may not meet the iPhone 11 Pro Max standard, but it’s still solid and one of the best in the price range. While the lack of a night mode hurts, Apple has upgraded the iPhone 8’s camera and the iPhone SE takes good photos in most circumstances. However, the lack of a second lens means that it is not as good at portrait mode shots.
Pricing is another big draw: iPhone SE starts at just $ 400 and offers 64GB of storage. The 128GB or 256GB storage options will cost you $ 450 or $ 550, respectively. Considering there is no MicroSD card slot, we recommend paying the additional $ 50 for 128GB of storage. But even at $ 450, the iPhone SE is an amazing little phone that’s hard to pass up.
Google Pixel 4
Designed by the Android developer, the Google Pixel 4 is the best device if you are looking for the experience of this operating system. Buying the Pixel 4 will mean you will be among the first to receive new Android versions and security patches.
While not a small phone in the strict sense, the Pixel 4 is still smaller compared to most modern cell phones. Although slightly larger than the Pixel 3, that extra size has been used well, with smaller bezels and a larger 5.7-inch screen.
It’s also packed with top 2019 specs like the Snapdragon 855 processor, a smooth 90Hz display, and Google’s new gesture controls and face unlock. The latter uses radar to detect your face in 3D space, and that same technology can also detect certain hand gestures with Motion Sense, so you can move your hands to skip Spotify tracks, postpone an alarm, or automatically download the ringtone volume if you put your hands close to the phone. It is an impressive technology.
But as always, the camera is the Pixel’s strongest point. This time, Google has added another camera lens: a 16-megapixel telephoto lens with optical image stabilization. Google has also added artificial intelligence-powered camera features to its list, adding an astrophotography mode to the already impressive feature. Night sight. While the Pixel doesn’t rank first on our list of best camera phones, it’s still a great option if you love photography.
There are drawbacks. 64GB of storage really isn’t enough, and that’s compounded by the lack of a MicroSD card. There is also no headphone jack. The bezels are thicker than most modern flagships, and despite the “Pixel Square” that houses the camera module, the design is definitely a bit safe. However, battery life is probably the worst aspect, and on a busy day, the Pixel 4 will have a hard time getting to bedtime. Google fast load will populate the cell quickly, but it’s not much
While it is not a modern $ 1,000 flagship, it is still an expensive phone. Pricing starts at $ 800 for 64GB of internal storage, and it costs an additional $ 100 to upgrade to 128GB. If the appeal of having one of the best cameras and the latest version of Android is too much to pass up, the Pixel 4 is for you.
iPhone SE (First generation)
If you are an Apple fanatic and you like smaller screens, this phone is ideal for you. The first-generation iPhone SE is the phone with the smallest screen on this list, measuring approximately 4 inches, less than the 4.7-inch iPhone SE of the second generation.
Despite its size, Apple has definitely used magic to tuck the qualities of the iPhone 6S into the SE’s small shell, and it works wonderfully. Also, the design physically reminds us of the iPhone 5S.
However, not everything is perfect. Although the camera on the back is 12 megapixels, the front camera is somewhat disappointing as it is only 1.2 megapixels. Also, in this device 3D Touch is absent and the total battery life often does not last the whole day.
As if that were not enough, as usual with Apple devices, storage is limited, with 32 GB and 128 GB options available.
Currently the iPhone SE also runs the latest version of iOS, with regular and fast updates that continue to be Apple’s strength over the Android masses, and since it’s Apple, the SE is likely to continue to be supported for a few more years.
Samsung Galaxy S10e
Yes: we are “stretching” the acceptable limits for the notion of “small” with this model, but believe us: the Samsung Galaxy S10e is the largest phone on this list, and although it is significantly larger than traditional small phones like the iPhone SE and the XZ2 Compact, the cheapest member of the S10 range is still one of the smallest and most modern “flagships” you can find.
The 5.8-inch AMOLED display is the most obvious feature of the Galaxy S10e. It’s beautiful: it breaks records in DisplayMate’s screen tests and shows crystal-clear resolution in Full HD +. Like the rest of the S10 range, there is a hole for the camera selfie, an addition that has allowed Samsung to further reduce the bezels of its device. However, it is not exactly the same as its more expensive siblings: it does not have curved screen edges, nor is there an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner.
But this is only a small concession when the internal power remains unchanged. The S10e has all the power of a flagship, with Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can also get an 8GB version of RAM and 256GB of storage. The headphone jack is still there, and you’ll find the same wireless power supply and a 3,100 mAh battery.
Unfortunately, the S10e doesn’t use the same triple-lens setup as the S10 and S10 Plus, though its dual-lens system is still excellent. You’ll find a 12-megapixel variable-aperture lens and an ultra-low 16-megapixel lens on the back, plus a lens selfie 10 megapixel camera on the front.
The S10e is the cheapest in the Galaxy S10 range, but it’s not exactly “affordable” either. It starts at $ 650, though there are a number of deals you can consider trying to save some extra cash.
“Small” does not have to be synonymous with “weak”, and the Unihertz Atom is proof of this. It is small enough to fit in one hand, but sturdy enough to fall a few steps without damage. We know this because we tested it. The Unihertz Atom is the small phone if you are looking for something a more solid than an average phone.
As a rugged phone, it is wrapped in protective materials. Rubber covers the strong polycarbonate body and is reinforced in key areas like corners. The 2.4-inch LCD screen is a little disappointing, with faded colors. It is surrounded by thick bezels and an under-screen fingerprint scanner, flanked by a pair of capacitive buttons. It’s certainly not in vogue, but it’s not trying either. It is functional and, due to its size, it is a bit cute.
Performance is smooth thanks to an eight-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. However, the only 16-megapixel camera on the back isn’t quite as good, and while we did get some good shots, the image quality was reduced by the lights. It only has a 2,000 mAh battery, but due to the power consuming hardware and small screen, this is enough to power the Atom for two days.
However, there are some downsides to choosing this phone. It runs Android 8.1 Oreo and has not had a security update since April 2018, and is unlikely to ever receive it. So it is definitely not the phone for you if you want to have the latest version of Android. Its size is detrimental to regular use, too, and while it does a good job of knowing where your fingers are on the touchscreen, complicated tasks and readers will have a hard time surviving on the small 2.4-inch screen.
But those drawbacks are relatively minor when weighed alongside what it does well. The Unihertz Atom starts from just $ 260, and would be the perfect phone for an active person who prefers a smaller phone.
* Updated by Rodrigo Orellana on July 1, 2020.