Best compact phones to buy in 2018
But what should we consider to pass as a "compact" phone? As this is quite open to interpretation, we've tried to limit ourselves to devices that are generally shorter than 150mm but aren't too wide either, making it easy to use and handle the device.
Yet, don't think that such phones are going the way of the dodo – albeit scarce, they exist, and we've actually rounded up the best ones you can buy in 2018. We'll take a quick look at each of our picks, but if you're interested only in their size, you can jump straight to the size comparison at the end of the article.
Without further ado, let us unleash our compact phones recommendations to you:
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
The Xperia XZ2 Compact is this year’s small flagship device from Sony. It’s a bit bigger than its compact predecessor, but that’s somewhat expected with 2018’s smartphone size inflation across the board. What’s surprising is how thick this smartphone is, but at least there’s no camera bump to worry about when you’re using it without a case. Getting rid of the thick bezels Sony phones used to be known for, the Xperia XZ2 Compact offers plenty of screen real estate for its small stature. The bulky body doesn’t contain a huge battery, but the phone has a surprisingly good battery life nonetheless. It is, however, packing a punch thanks to the Snapdragon 845, making it one of the few truly compact phones with top-of-the-line chips.
Apple iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 might be just 5 mm shorter than the iPhone XS, but it's much easier to use with a single hand. Why? Ironically, it's the old-school bezels and chin that make it easier to use with a single hand since you are not required to reach down to the bottom of the display in order to interact with the gesture-based interface like you'd do on the iPhone XS. What's more, the iPhone 8 is also slightly narrower which plays an even larger role in its single-handedness. The iPhone XS might have a rather similar stature, but the iPhone 8 is easier to use with one hand. When it comes to performance and features, we all know what the smallest iPhone has in tow – superb performance thanks to the A11 Bionic chip, a waterproof body with a glass back that allows for wireless charging, and so on, and so on... Bottom-line is, if you're looking for a really compact phone from Apple, the iPhone 8 should be at the top of your list.
Google Pixel 3
The Pixel 3 is probably the best compact Android phone you can get right now. Essentially the same size as the Pixel 2 but with slimmer bezels and a Snapdragon 845 inside, there’s little more to be desired. Google is making sure its devices get a special treatment when it comes to software, making it the preferred choice by Android enthusiasts. Besides the unlimited full-quality photo and video storage on Google Photos, Pixel owners will get Google’s latest developments – the screen calling feature that lets you see who’s calling and why, before picking up, and Duplex, the feature that allows your phone to make calls for you and reserve a restaurant table or make an appointment. While Duplex is still in its infancy, you can expect many improvements over the lifetime of your device, which will keep receiving the latest and greatest Android has to offer in the next 3-4 years.
Other standout features of the Pixel 3 are its cameras. Both the main one and the front facing duo will let you take amazing photos without hassle. If you don’t mind the slightly thicker bezels and the price, this device will serve you well.
Apple iPhone XS
Apple’s refresh of the iPhone X was this year’s most unexciting phone from its 2018 lineup, but with the cheaper iPhone XR sporting a 6.1-inch display, the iPhone XS is the smallest model released this year. The dimensions are exactly the same as those of the iPhone X, but internally the iPhone XS is beefed up enough to surpass most competitors when it comes to performance. With its A12 Bionic chip, OLED display and improved cameras, you won’t be making a mistake if you choose the iPhone XS as your new daily driver. That is, of course, if you don’t mind spending $1000 for the lowest storage option.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Galaxy S9 is not exactly what springs to mind when you think “compact phone”, but it’s curved edges and slim body make it comfortable to hold even if your hands are smaller. Size- and design-wise, the S9 is pretty much identical with the S8, but the fingerprint sensor is now moved below the camera, making it slightly more convenient. With its slim and narrow body, paired with high-end specs appropriate for 2018, the Galaxy S9 offers one of the best size-to-performance ratios. Deals frequently bring its price down to almost mid-range levels, making it a better option than some of the other flagships on this list.
The Essential Phone is just a few millimeters bigger than the iPhone 8, but its display is a full inch larger, albeit with a small notch in the middle. Its compact body is built like a tank with titanium and ceramic elements, and it weighs like one too. The Essential Phone is two full ounces heavier than the iPhone 8 and about an ounce heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S9. The point being, the feel of the Essential in the hand is immediately evident. Besides the premium materials adding heft to the device, the Essential Phone comes with the software to match its internals. This lonely phone from a small company has probably the best software support aside from that of Google's Pixel phones.
We realize that adding the Nokia 7.1 to this list is stretching even its broadened limits, due to the phone's height of almost 6 inches, but sadly, such is the reality in 2018. We also wanted to have a cheaper option in this category that still provides a good user experience. And the Nokia 7.1 is just that. Coming in at $350, you get a lot of bang for your buck. First, the extra size comes mostly in terms of height, so the device is still comfortable to hold. The 5.8-inch display is bright, looks really good and even has HDR support, a rare feature on cheaper phones. The Snapdragon 636 won’t wow you with its speed, but combined with Android One, it offers more than adequate performance for the humble price. Same goes for the cameras on the Nokia 7.1. In low light you’ll see some noise, but overall it should suit your everyday needs just fine.
Sadly, LG's successor to the G6, the LG G7, succumbed to the size inflation and isn't suitable for this compilation. However, last year's LG flagship device, the G6, can still be easily considered аn upper mid-range device, and due to its friendly 18:9 design, it's easy to hold and operate with a single hand. Aside from that, it's also very light and wouldn't weigh you down at all. The G6 is showing its flagship pedigree with support for wireless charging and an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, things that the similarly priced Nokia 7.1 can't boast with.
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