If you take a quick look at the smartphones that got announced this past week at IFA in Berlin, you'll notice that most of them are large-screened models with displays that usually revolve around the 5.5-inch mark. In other words, most high-end smartphones tend to be phablets. Granted, this is not a new trend in the smartphone industry, but this will do little to alleviate the pain of those of you who prefer their smartphones a bit more compact.
Traditionally, compact smartphones are handsets with displays that top out at about 4.6 or 4.7 inches across the diagonal. As with all things, however, at one point or the other, we'll have to redefine what we call compact. That's why we've also included a couple of 5-inch smartphones in this list, which is aimed at those of you that either have small hands or are more worried about the portability issues that phablets entail.
Let's get down to the good stuff, and talk about the 5 best smartphones with relatively compact form factors.
It would be fundamentally wrong to discuss the best smartphones with displays that measure 5 inches or less across the diagonal without mentioning the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. Announced this week at IFA 2015 in Berlin, the Xperia Z5 Compact is a tricked out compact smartphone.
The display measures 4.6 inches across the diagonal, being the most compact smartphone on this list, and runs a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels at a PPI of 323. Under the hood beats the heart of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset paired with 2GB of RAM, a combo that should definitely suffice even when running 3D-intensive games, especially given the relatively low number of pixels that the GPU has to push.
In the camera department, the Xperia Z5 Compact shares the new 23MP primary sensor and the 5.1MP secondary shooter that Sony has equipped the entire Xperia Z5 line-up with. Sony says that the new sensor is paired with new image processing software, and we can't wait to get our hands on an actual device and test out the camera on the Xperia Z5 series for ourselves.
The Xperia Z5 Compact comes with a 2700mAh battery. Based on Sony's proved ability to tweak the battery consumption of its handsets, we have a hunch that the Xperia Z5 Compact will turn into a real performer in our battery benchmarks. On the software side, the phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, but with a new version of Sony's proprietary Android UI.
This handset has yet to be launched, but for a sneak peek at the performance and capabilities of the smartphone, check out our Sony Xperia Z5 Compact hands-on piece.
If a relatively compact smartphone powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 seems attractive to you but don't want to go with the Xperia Z5 Compact for some reason or the other, you might want to check out the Gigaset ME.
Gigaset, a company which bought Siemens's formed mobile phone division back in 2005, announced the ME this week at IFA 2015, and at a first glance, the phone is shaping up to be a real contender to the Xperia Z5 Compact. However, before detailing the specs, it should be noted that the Gigaset ME is a bit larger than the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.
The specs include a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels at a PPI of 441, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset paired with 3GB of RAM, a 16MP primary camera, a high-res 8MP secondary sensor on the front, a 3000Mah battery, 32GB of integrated storage space, as well as a microSD card slot. The Gigaset ME runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with Gigaset's own UI on top.
The Apple iPhone 6 probably doesn't need any sort of introduction, but just in case you've been living in a very remote place this past year, here you go. With last year's iPhone series, Apple brought larger displays to the iPhone series, but the standard iPhone 6 still fits this list easily with its 4.7-inch display that runs a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels at a PPI of 326.
The heart of the Apple iPhone 6 is the Apple A8, a chipset that features a 1.4GHz dual-core Cyclone processor. Bear in mind that although the CPU doesn't have too many cores, and its resolution is quite low compared to other smartphones, benchmarks and real-life performance prove that the Apple A8 is a very potent chipset. Other specs include 1GB of RAM, an 8MP primary camera, a 1.2MP secondary shooter on the front, a fingerprint reader embedded the physical home button, as well as an 1810mAh battery. Check out our full Apple iPhone 6 review for much more information.
The Xiaomi Mi 4i, the international variant of the current-gen Xiaomi flagship, is yet another 5-inch smartphone to consider if you're not into the phablet form factor. The resolution of the display is 1080 by 1920 pixels, which translates into a PPI of 441.
The octa-core Snapdragon 615 that powers the Xiaomi Mi 4i is an upper mid-range solution that's definitely not as fast as the other chips on this list. Despite this, however, the chip provides sufficient processing power for most tasks. Other specs include either 16GB or 32GB of integrated storage (no microSD card slot), a 13MP primary camera, a 5MP selfie sensor, and a large 3120mAh battery. On the software side, the Xiaomi Mi 4i runs Android 5.0 Lollipop overlaid with Xiaomi's own MIUI 6.0.
In many ways, the Oppo R7 is highly similar to the Xiaomi Mi 4i, although the R7 offers improvements in many key aspects. The display measures 5 inches across the diagonal and runs at a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, and the handset draws its processing power from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, and those are the same display specs as those of the Mi 4i.
The Oppo R7 steps its game up with it comes to the RAM, offering 3GB, and it also comes with a microSD slot which can be used to expand the 16GB of integrated storage space. Furthermore, since we're making a list of the best compact smartphones, it should be mentioned that the Oppo R7 comes with a very slim profile, measuring just 6.3mm across the waist.
Other specs include a 13MP primary camera, an 8MP secondary sensor, as well as a 2320 mAh battery. While the battery is slightly smaller than that of the Xiaomi Mi 4i, the Oppo R7 has recently aced our battery benchmark tests, being able to charge up to 75 percent in just 30 minutes, which is in amazing feat. Check out our full Oppo R7 review to learn more about the handset.