Entertainment Best small phone 2022: top compact smartphone choices
Best small phone 2022: top compact smartphone choices
The best small phones may be more petite than the competition, but they still offer some great hardware and excellent features.
While the options may be fewer, the best small phones still pack a punch. We’ve defined any phone with a screen size of 6-inches or below to be smaller.
Below, you’ll see where the iPhone SE (2022) ranks as well as the larger but still fairly small Google Pixel 5 at the 6-inch end. All the best small phones are easier to use with one hand which is sure to appeal to many people with slight hands.
Best small phone 2022
The iPhone 13 mini is a rare small phone that’s still high-end when it comes to hardware. Its 5.4-inch display is a Super Retina XDR OLED display so it looks great, thanks to some strong brightness levels. It’s the same tech as you’d see on the iPhone 13, only smaller.
Similarly, its camera is fairly potent. It has a 12MP f/1.6 wide camera with 1.7µm pixels for low-light performance, while the 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide camera offers 120-degree field of view. Taking photos in low light situations works well too, easily being some of the best we’ve seen.
Speed wise, the iPhone 13 mini uses Apple’s A15 Bionic chipset so it’s fast and easily capable of multitasking. iOS 15 works super smoothly here. Just count on paying for the privilege as it’s pricier than the iPhone 12 mini that came before it.
Read our full iPhone 13 mini review
The iPhone SE (2022) is the cheapest way to enjoy a new 5G iPhone. It looks a lot like its predecessor with no change to its body, and the same Liquid Retina display as before, but why fix a design that works so well?
Instead, it adds on the A15 Bionic chip for speedy performance that can even beat Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU plus it’s now capable of timelapse night photography if you add on a tripod.
A reliable battery life of 12 hours should last you the day, and while it’s not always exciting, the iPhone SE (2022) gets the job done well.
Read our full iPhone SE (2022) review.
The iPhone 12 mini is that rare thing – a phone that’s not only genuinely small, but also genuinely high-end. As the name suggests, it’s basically the iPhone 12 in a smaller size, with a 5.4-inch 1080 x 2340 OLED screen.
That’s a high-quality display, and while it’s bigger than the screen on the iPhone SE (2020), the relative lack of bezels means the iPhone 12 mini is actually a smaller phone overall.
Beyond the screen and the size, highlights of the iPhone 12 mini include its 5G support, its MagSafe tech which lets you magnetically attach accessories, and its top-tier power, provided by an A14 Bionic chipset (the same one as you’ll find in the rest of the iPhone 12 range).
The camera is highly capable too, albeit only packing two rear lenses – you get a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide shooter, so it lacks for telephoto skills.
We’d like to have seen slightly better battery life, and the 64GB starting size is entirely too low, especially for the price, but those niggles aside the iPhone 12 mini is a superb small phone.
Read our full iPhone 12 mini review
The iPhone SE (2020) is Apple’s budget iPhone, but it’s also one of the company’s smallest available models. In fact, at 4.7 inches its screen is the smallest (as well as being smaller than almost any other widely available smartphone), but as noted above the actual dimensions are slightly larger than the iPhone 12 mini’s.
Still, the iPhone SE (2020) is undeniably a small phone, and it’s a very good one at that. While it can’t quite match the iPhone 12 range for power, it’s not far off, packing the A13 Bionic chipset that’s also found in the iPhone 11 range.
The handset has a decent – albeit single-lens – 12MP camera too, and a premium (read: metal and glass) if slightly old-fashioned design.
Some of this might sound like faint praise, but this is one of the most affordable and arguably best value iPhones we’ve seen in years, and it just so happens to be compact too.
Read our full iPhone SE (2020) review
With its 6.0-inch screen the Google Pixel 5 only just squeezes onto this list, but its tiny bezels means there’s no wasted space, and the screen itself impresses. It’s a 1080 x 2340 OLED one with a 90Hz refresh rate, which leaves it feeling smoother than a typical 60Hz phone.
The Pixel 5 also has a high-end and slightly unusual design, as it has a metal rear where most phones use glass or plastic. This helps it stand out, and that’s a good thing in our view.
The camera experience really shines here too, as is usual with Google phones. There’s just a dual-lens snapper on the back, with a 12.2MP main and 16MP ultra-wide included, but the pictures taken mostly come out well, other than a bit of noise in low light, and the phone is also packed full of easy-to-use image editing tools.
There’s perhaps less power here than you might expect from the top 2020 Pixel, as it has just an upper mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset, but the Pixel 5 is priced accordingly, and still has 8GB of RAM and 5G.
Read our full Google Pixel 5 review
The Google Pixel 4a is Google’s rival to the iPhone 12 mini, though at 5.81 inches the Pixel’s screen is quite a bit bigger.
It’s still small though, and there’s a lot to like here – including that display, which uses OLED tech and at 1080 x 2340 is fairly sharp.
For the money we were also very impressed with the camera, as while there’s just a 12.2MP single-lens one on the back (and an 8MP one on the front) it performs well, with good image processing and decent results even in low light.
The Google Pixel 4a also has a headphone jack, which is an increasingly rare feature in phones, and its software is a definite strength, as it runs stock Android, which is more intuitive than many manufacturer overlays. As this is a Google phone you can also expect a day one update to the next software version.
Its power, battery life, and build are all middling, but then this comes in at a middling price, so that’s forgivable. Note also that we’re just talking about the standard Pixel 4a here, not the Pixel 4a 5G, which is slightly too big to make this list.
Read our full Google Pixel 4a review
The Sony Xperia 10 III isn’t a great phone but if size is everything, its mature design makes up for some flaws. Dodging past its poor camera, slow charging, and mediocre processor, its 6-inch display squeezes into a design that’s just 68mm wide, only slightly wider than the iPhone SE (2020).
With a classic Sony style, it looks good, with decent build quality including Gorilla Glass 6 and IP 68/65 water resistance. A sharp full HD OLED panel looks great too. It offers a 21:9 aspect ratio that’s perfectly suited for landscape content and watching movies.
Just don’t expect great performance from this one. The camera in particular is pretty weak.
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is getting on a bit now, but if you want a compact Galaxy S phone this remains your best option.
As a member of the S range it’s reasonably high-end, with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and an Exynos 9820 or Snapdragon 855 chipset. Which chipset you get depends on where you are in the world, but both rank among the best of this phone’s release year (2019).
The Samsung Galaxy S10e also has a 5.8-inch 1080 x 2280 AMOLED screen, which we found to offer bright colors and crisp detail. And there’s an excellent dual-lens camera, including 12MP main and 16MP ultra-wide snappers, plus all-day battery life.
The Galaxy S10e even has a decent build, with a glass back, a metal frame, and water resistance. Sure, it lacks a few of the bells and whistles of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, and it’s no longer the newest phone on the block, but that just means it’s cheaper.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10e review