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Best compact phones to buy in 2018

Best compact phones to buy in 2018
Once domineering the market, the phones that we now consider "compact" are slowly but steadily getting replaced by >5.5" handsets that don't fit the bill of just anyone that easily. Apart from the occasional smaller-sized phone announced once in a blue moon, the majority of devices being released nowadays are larger than life and definitely don't cater to folks with smaller hands or just those who prefer more pocketable devices.

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 re going the way of the dodo - albeit scarce, they exist, and we've actually rounded up the best ones you can buy in 2018. As we usually do, we've separated these in three essential categories that will help you find the best compact device for your budget, no matter if it's two hundred bucks or way, way more.

Without any more ado, let us unleash our compact phones recommendations to you:

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

Price $499

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Uncomfortable to use power/lock button
  • No fingerprint scanner on US model
  • Bezels!

A phone that has "compact" in its name is a no-brainer for our pick. Truly said, Sony's XZ1 Compact is possibly the perfect embodiment of a compact phone and our first association with the now-endangered term. With dimensions of 5.08 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches (129 x 65 x 9.3 mm), this Android juggernaut packs a lot of phone in a super-small body that really feels out of place in this day and age, but thankfully, the overwhelming abundance of large phones has not forced the XZ1 Compact out of its game. Boasting a Snapdragon 835, the XZ1 Compact is rather capable and ensures for smooth operation, but wait till you hear about the battery life this thing pulls - the 2,700mAh battery might sound humble, but it could easily last for more than 10 hours of screen-on time on a single charge. Fascinating!

Xperia XZ1 Compact

Apple iPhone SE

Price: $399 (32GB), $499 (64GB)

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Not really flagship-grade performance anymore

With a design that brings a blast from the past, the iPhone SE is truly one of the most viable options for folks that just can't live with today's well-endowed devices. Sporting a merely 4-inch display up front and the rather compact dimensions of 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm), the iPhone SE is indubitably among the smallest contemporary devices right now. Even this one is getting a little old in the tooth though, but until Apple unveils a follow-up, the SE will remain undethroned.

iPhone SE

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Price: $289

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • A bit more expensive than other phones in its class
  • Only 16GB of on-board storage
  • Lack of video stabilization results in very shaky videos

Samsung's excellent entry-level Galaxy A3 from last year is still a great option for people looking for a compact Android device. Aside from its compact stature, it also brings a slew of features not seen on devices of the same class, namely water-resistance, a USB Type-C cable slot, as well as that premium-feeling glass and metal design that has trickled down from Samsung's higher-end devices. Overall, big things come in small packages, and you will get a lot of phone out of the Galaxy A3 (2017).

Galaxy A3 (2017)

Apple iPhone 8

Price: $699

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Extra glass causes durability concerns
  • Fewer color options
  • Presence of more and more higher-end iPhone models makes this one feel like a compromise

The iPhone 8 might be just 5 mm shorter than the iPhone X, 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 X. What's more, the iPhone 8 is also slightly narrower which plays an even larger role in its single-handedness. The iPhone X 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 wtaerproof 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 high-end phone, the iPhone 8 should be at the top of your list.

iPhone 8

Apple iPhone X

Price: $999

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • The notch design is controversial
  • First-gen product that feels like work in progress
  • Very high price

The iPhone X, despite it's large 5.8-inch display, is a super-compact device. With dimensions of 5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches (143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm), it's merely 5mm taller than the iPhone 8, yet offers way more screen estate. Of course, this is all courtesy of the all-new bezel-less form factor that Apple is using, and it does wonders for the usability of the phone. Although it's not as compact as other devices, the iPhone X makes single-handed usage a rather easy and pleasant task - thanks to its gesture-based interface, navigating throughout the UI is super comfortable with one hand. 

iPhone X

Essential Phone

Price: $499

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Average camera performance
  • Battery life is just "okay"

With a a titanium body whose overall dimensions are only millimeters bigger than an iPhone 7, but pack a display that is a full inch larger, the Essential Phone is a compact device no matter how you look at it. Still, it's a substantial smartphone in the hand, weighing in nearly two full ounces heavier than the iPhone 8, and about an ounce-and-a-half more than a Samsung Galaxy S8. Those do not look like big numbers, but to put it in context, the Essential phone weighs just 0.3 ounces (10 grams) less than a Samsung Galaxy Note8, a device that is physically about 20-percent bigger. The point being, the feel of the Essential in the hand is immediately evident. That is not a bad thing, Essential crammed a ton of hardware in a svelte form factor, and the sensation exudes premium build quality.


Samsung Galaxy S8

Price: $749

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Graphics performance could be better
  • Display colors aren't too natural

Although it's a bit tall for our liking, the Galaxy S8 is one of those Android flagships that are a joy to use with a single hand. Granted, you will have to use your pinky to support the whole shebang propped up, but otherwise, you will rarely ever struggle to use this one thanks to its dimensions of 5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches (148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm). Again, we realize we are pushing things a bit with the S8 here, but in this day and age it can really be considered a compact phone. If anything, the design of Samsung's soon-to-be-retired powerhouse definitely helps it to appear more compact than it really is.

Galaxy S8

Google Pixel 2

Price: $639

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Subpar screen-to-body ratio
  • Uninspiring design

Google's smaller-sized Pixel 2 lacks the oomph of its larger peer, the Pixel 2 XL, but it's the most compact stock Android phone you can get. Actually, we prefer it to the Pixel 2 XL as it's much easier to use, especially with a single hand. With global dimensions of 5.74 x 2.74 x 0.31 inches (145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm), the small Pixel packs a lot of punch in its low-profile body, including but not limited to powerful hardware, superb camera that takes excellent pics, and stereo speakers that really rock the house. Granted, the front design of the phone is not it's most inspiring aspect, but similar to the iPhone 8, the large bezels make it easy to use the phone with one hand since you won't need to overstretch your thumb in order to reach the extremities of the display.

Pixel 2

LG G6 

Price: $419

Best compact phones to buy in 2018


  • Average battery life

Last year's LG flagship device, the G6, can now 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.


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