Small and compact smartphones: here are the best ones you can get right now


For the past few years, the trend for large smartphone displays has basically become an industry standard. Nowadays, we consider a 5.2-inch display to be "normal", and a smartphone screen is considered "large" well after it breaks the 5.5-inch barrier. Being able to fit more, or just bigger, content on the phone's display seems to be a much more desirable feat than just having a small device that's a breeze to handle and fits in just about any pocket.

But users that prefer the latter have not been forgotten. It appears that they are considered a niche, one that doesn't demand performance, seeing how many small smartphones are actually entry-level class, but there are also a few compact gems out there that can deliver as snappy of an experience as their bigger brethren. So, if you are one who cares much more about portability than media consuming, and wants a handset that can be stealthily tucked away when not in use, check out the models below – one of them might be the right choice for you!

The obvious pick: Apple's iPhones




Apple has long been vocal about wanting its phones to be usable with one hand. The company stubbornly stuck with the 4-inch diagonal all the way up to the iPhone 5s, while its competition was breaking the 5-inch threshold. By today's standards, the iPhone 6s' 4.7-inch diagonal is still considered pretty much compact, especially since it's assisted by the phone's rounded corners and thin profile. If that's not small enough for you, you can always go for the recently launched iPhone SE, which resurrected the iPhone 5s' small, 4-inch display and square-ish form factor.

Whichever one you pick, rest assured that the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE offer the most powerful hardware and camera on a compact smartphone that money can buy right now. The SE does have some corners cut, however — its selfie camera is a 1.2 MP blast from the past, and the phone's TouchID sensor is a bit slower, as it's the first gen one that was featured on the iPhone 5s. If Apple's offerings sound alluring for you, check out the below articles to get more insight on which phone is the better choice for you. If iOS and Apple's ecosystem are not your cup of tea – worry not, we've got plenty of suggestions to follow!




The compact Android powerhouse: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact




Sony certainly won a few admirers by launching a Compact branch for its Xperia Z flagship line. While competing Android manufacturers were launching underpowered and neglected "Mini" variants of their top-tier smartphones, Sony's Compact models offer the same processor, camera, and software options as the "regular" Xperia Z devices. The results are obvious – it has been a long while since we've seen a "Mini" model of any other flagship (save for LG, who insists on launching Beat, C, S, Stylo, and other variations of its G line), while the Z Compact series is still alive and well.

So, if you are after a small Android smartphone, but don't want to compromise in hardware – the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is certainly a good model to look at. If you wish to save up on some cash, the Xperia Z3 Compact is still a good device to pick up as an upper midrange class handset. It has also been updated to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, so rest assured that it's still up on software standards.

That said, we did have some issues with the Z5 Compact when we reviewed the phone, and we'd suggest you check out our full reviews to get a better idea if that's the handset for you.



On a budget


Of course, not everyone wants to throw a pile of money on a smartphone. Thankfully, there are plenty of budget-oriented options out there right now, many of them being small phones. We've got three of our favorites listed below, two being Android handsets, and one Windows Phone offering!

Alcatel's IDOL 3 was certainly a pleasant surprise when we got to review it. It's a bargain-priced handset with not very powerful hardware, but its sleek design and surprisingly light interface more than made up for that. The handset also features a gimmick, which allows you to turn it in any way you desire – its body is entirely symmetrical, its interface will turn upside down, and both its grilles on the front can act as microphones and earpieces. We can't say we care much for that — it's the performance, design, and pleasant display of the $180 handset that we liked. Still, this is a low end handset with a Snapdragon 410 SoC, so don't expect it to do miracles when under pressure.

Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016) is certainly a good-looking low-ender. It doesn't pack a lot of power under its hood and rest assured that TouchWiz will not be at its best behavior with the limited hardware of the device, but it's pretty, it's compact, has Samsung's signature Super AMOLED display, and a 13 MP camera. For about $300, this phone offers a taste of premium looks and feel. Just make sure you grab the 2016 model, as the 2015 Galaxy A3 is noticeably worse.

Microsoft's Lumia 550 is the company's entry-level offering. Unfortunately, Lumias are notorious for having pretty thick bezels, so if you wish to get at least a Lumia 650, which has a 5-inch display, you will easily pass the threshold of what is considered "compact". In any case, Microsoft's mobile Windows 10 operating system is known for being able to do well with minimal hardware specs. While this handset won't do great with heavy tasks, just like the other two in this section, expect it to be generally responsive with simple, daily phone tasks and web-browsing.


Middle of the way: OnePlus X




OnePlus is better-known for its OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 smartphones — flagship-grade handsets that offer powerful hardware at aggresive pricing. The company did a little sidestep with the OnePlus X, which got a last generation processor, but a more compact form factor and shiny looks. For $250, the OnePlus X is a pretty good upper-midranger, with an almost stock Android experience on board. 

Unfortunately, the device does not come without its issues. It's not a great performer, its camera struggles a lot when the light is less than favorable, and its earpiece was surprisingly bad. Still, we think that for the price, it's a good phone — do check out our full review to get a better picture of what the phone offered us during review.




Get exotic: Xiaomi and OPPO


These are a couple of brands that are less-known in the West, but they certainly have their fair share of fans — especially Xiaomi, who tends to offer bargain-priced phones with good specs and its own unique user interface. Just be careful when ordering one – these companies still don't have established retailer channels to the US, so buying one of their smartphones usually works through 3rd party retailers, and these will sometimes tamper with the phone's software, adding a nice package of malware or just unwanted apps.

Xiaomi's Redmi 3 is considered a lower tier device, but still has a Snapdragon 616 under its hood — a pretty good SoC, considering the $170 price-tag — and packs a very impressive 4,100 mAh battery. In our experience, the MIUI interface tends to save power by killing background processes zealously, so this phone should provide some pretty good longevity on a single charge.

The Xiaomi Mi 4s is an updated version of the Mi 4c. While its insides remain largely the same (Snapdragon 808), it is now dressed in metal and has a fingerprint scanner on its back. We liked the camera of the Mi 4c when we reviewed it and if the one on the Mi 4s is the same, we'd say it's gonna be a great performer, unless in a low light environment. We did have an issue with our notifications not coming through on time due to MIUI's aforementioned tendency to scrape background processes, but, if still present, that's an issue some might be willing to learn to live with for the $360 price-tag.

The OPPO R1x offers an elegant design, with its metal frame and reflective back, and midrange hardware for a price-tag somewhere south of $400. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to track down, but that only makes it more exotic, right? The phone offers a decent camera, good battery life, and a unique user interface, all in a relatively compact package.


Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.99 oz (113 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7")

Dimensions

5.3 x 2.59 x 0.3 inches

134.6 x 65.9 x 7.55 mm

Weight

3.88 oz (110 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Dimensions

5.3 x 2.57 x 0.29 inches

134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

Microsoft Lumia 550

Microsoft Lumia 550

Dimensions

5.36 x 2.67 x 0.39 inches

136.1 x 67.8 x 9.9 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

OnePlus X

OnePlus X

Dimensions

5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches

140 x 69 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Xiaomi Redmi 3

Xiaomi Redmi 3

Dimensions

5.48 x 2.74 x 0.33 inches

139.3 x 69.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

5.08 oz (144 g)

Xiaomi Mi 4s

Xiaomi Mi 4s

Dimensions

5.48 x 2.79 x 0.31 inches

139.26 x 70.76 x 7.8 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

OPPO R1x

OPPO R1x

Dimensions

5.54 x 2.76 x 0.27 inches

140.6 x 70.1 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.99 oz (113 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (4.7")

Dimensions

5.3 x 2.59 x 0.3 inches

134.6 x 65.9 x 7.55 mm

Weight

3.88 oz (110 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Dimensions

5.3 x 2.57 x 0.29 inches

134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

Microsoft Lumia 550

Microsoft Lumia 550

Dimensions

5.36 x 2.67 x 0.39 inches

136.1 x 67.8 x 9.9 mm

Weight

5.01 oz (142 g)

OnePlus X

OnePlus X

Dimensions

5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches

140 x 69 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Xiaomi Redmi 3

Xiaomi Redmi 3

Dimensions

5.48 x 2.74 x 0.33 inches

139.3 x 69.6 x 8.5 mm

Weight

5.08 oz (144 g)

Xiaomi Mi 4s

Xiaomi Mi 4s

Dimensions

5.48 x 2.79 x 0.31 inches

139.26 x 70.76 x 7.8 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

OPPO R1x

OPPO R1x

Dimensions

5.54 x 2.76 x 0.27 inches

140.6 x 70.1 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



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41 Comments

1. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

Still lack any good 4.5 android phones

17. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Z1 compact and Z3 Compact, although Z3 Compact is 4.6, it's more or less the same. Troll harder!

29. Vrils

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

there are NO NEW DEVICES from 2016 with TOP SPECS & under 5 inch basically the Android phone makers are trying to push everybody to buy these huge phones. if Snapdragon 810 could fit into Sony Xperia Z5 Compact then everybody else could do it but they do not want to, WHY ?

32. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

He didn't mention anything about what's new and what's not! SO, i'm doing myself a favor and chose to explain with the old device. Cause i just feel like it! You mind??

34. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

Why? Because they would never make back the R&D cost of selling to the 100,000 people in the world who want a flagship tiny phone. Most people want a phone that's large enough for them to enjoy using. Not everyone is a small phone nut. In fact most people enjoy using phones in the 5.0-5.5" range. Only reason any smaller phones still exist is because manufacturing cost goes down and they can sell the product for cheaper. Why do you think Apple sells the iPhone SE for cheaper than their flagship phones? Because there's margin there, they used the same old design that they already have machinery ready to produce, same screen, same everything except the internals. Very little R&D cost. Explain to me a valid reason a company should risk their investment dollars to create a newly designed tiny smartphone just cater to you? If you want a 4.0" Galaxy phone you'll have to reach all the way back to the original Galaxy S, SEVEN generations ago; would you buy a seven year old designed 4.0" Galaxy S with a Snapdragon 820 for $400? No that would be stupid. Same reason the iPhone SE is stupid.

36. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

There are no android 4.5 or lower smartphones with TOP specs and GREAT camera. Sorry I was too broad.

38. ruleta

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 01, 2017

We are in this together

2. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Z3C and Z5c still dominates the compact flagship lineup. Exotics are best for those tight budgets. Just leave the Galaxy A6, it's just another "just-to-have-a-Samsung-in-the-list phone.

12. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

*Galaxy A3

30. Vrils

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

they have OLD hardware, we are already talking about the next years Snapdragon processor: 830 while you say 810 from 2014 is flagship?

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

"the obvious pick : Apple's iPhone" No it's not. The z5 compact is a lot better.

7. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

best compact phone you can get right now (april 2016) : Iphone SE best compact phone you can get right now (may 2016) : Iphone SE best compact phone you can get right now (june 2016) : Iphone SE best compact phone you can get right now (july 2016) : Iphone SE best compact phone you can get right now (august 2016) : Iphone SE ...

22. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Ibend the iPhone SE is the best compact phone you can get right now with the smallest 4" tiny screen with the lowest resolution on the market. The SE beats every other compact device with the most bezel on the market. The Z5 has cat 6 LTE and the iPhone SE doesn't. The SE has the lowest resolution front facing camera on the market.

11. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Actually Z3 Compact is better than Z5C

24. TypicalGeek

Posts: 213; Member since: Feb 19, 2015

That depends. Z3 has better battery life, but Z5 has better CPU/GPU, Camera and open USB port.

39. ruleta

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 01, 2017

iPhone SE is better than any other small phone, with an amazing camera and really nice specs It's just Apple policies that suck and stop you from enjoying the content

8. rp32002

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

I think we are ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room: Samsung Galaxy S7. If small and compact include the Oppo R1x and Redmi 3, then it should include the Galaxy S7 (and/or S6 edge) as those phones are have similiar widths/heights. They

13. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Its way past the 5inch mark so it's not compact anymore. Be back here in 5 years when the definition of compact smartphone changes.

15. WPX00

Posts: 511; Member since: Aug 15, 2015

The S7 is barely taller than the Oppo R1x and actually narrower than it, so I dont see why it doesnt deserve to be here. Bezels are really thin.

21. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

It just doesn't make sense if all list would comprise S7.

25. Unordinary unregistered

Bezels don't mean s**t when comparing compactness. It's bigger than the 5inch waypoint, therefore, it's not compact anymore.

9. aznhachi

Posts: 212; Member since: Apr 12, 2016

dat obvious pick thou SE all the way , PA

35. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Ofcourse, they wrote this article to highlight the SE.

10. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

I haven't used much of the phones from the list except galaxy a3 and the phone lagged even scrolling through home screen.

14. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Same thing put me off the Galaxy A5 when I was looking to change after iPhone 5 and not being that impressed by the 6... After 5 seconds with the A5 I realised what all this Touchwiz lag was about and jumped straight onto the iPhone 6...

19. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

In my experience with Samsung , only there flagships didn't lag,I still have note 1 with no app installed(I use it sometimes) and contrary to many people say,it doesn't lag.on the other hand all there less costly phones which I have used like tab 3,grand,a3 all have lag even in scrolling through home screen except galaxy j7.

20. TheUnbiasedGuy

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 21, 2016

In my experience with Samsung , only there flagships didn't lag,I still have note 1 with no app installed(I use it sometimes) and contrary to many people say,it doesn't lag.on the other hand all there less costly phones which I have used like tab 3,grand,a3 all have lag even in scrolling through home screen except galaxy j7.

16. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

any non-flagship samsung phone that equiped with TW is badly optimized, and it have slim chance to receive android version update.. better get xiaomi, meizu, BLU, etc, or just get last year samsung's flagship (refurbished)

18. sissy246

Posts: 7112; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Any of them but the 2012 5s ( se ) lol

23. jauling

Posts: 82; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

I wonder why no one has reported this yet. Xperia X1 Compac? http://mo.techweb.com.cn/phone/2016-04-08/2311600.shtml

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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