small size smartphone

While the biggest smartphones can still fit in our back pockets, there are plenty of smaller smartphones that function as well, if not better, than their behemoth counterparts. Smaller cell phones are easier to carry and have easy to navigate screens. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice performance by getting a smaller phone. If you’re on the hunt for Small Size Smartphone models and the smallest smartphones that pack the biggest punch, then you’re in the right place.

The best small smartphone is the iPhone SE (2020). Apple has finally returned to its budget iPhone range, and has built on the iPhone 8‘s formula, throwing in flagship specs and upgraded software while still keeping the price at a respectable $400. While it’s not the smallest smartphone in the world, it’s definitely the best smaller smartphone for your money.

small size smartphone

iPhone SE (2020)

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

It was worth waiting for. The new iPhone SE crams all the flagship specs of the newest iPhones into the iPhone 8’s tiny body.$400 FROM AT&T MOBILITY

The original iPhone SE had been a mainstay of this list for a long time, precisely because it offered the best possible iOS experience on a small screen. While the new iPhone SE isn’t quite as small as the original SE, it’s still a small phone and combines the iPhone 8’s svelte frame with the iPhone 11’s flagship hardware. If you’re looking for the best possible experience on a small phone right now, this is the small phone to buy.

While most of the other options on this list have displays in excess of 5 inches, the iPhone SE is a tiny breath of fresh air. It’s packing a relatively minuscule 4.7-inch LCD display running a 1,334 x 750-pixel resolution. Thanks to the smaller size, it’s sharp, and while it’s not as beautiful as the iPhone 11 Pro‘s AMOLED display, it’s the equal of the $700 iPhone 11‘s display. On the minus side, the design is based on the iPhone 8, which makes it immediately dated. However, the glass body means it feels far more premium than its price tag, and the IP68 rating for water resistance means it can also withstand an accidental tumble into the pool.

As we’ve already mentioned, the iPhone SE has flagship specs, and that means you’ll find the same Bionic A13 chip you’ll find in the latest iPhone 11 range. There are rumors it’s been slowed down, but it’s still plenty fast in any case. A 1,821mAh may seem small, but it still manages to pump out a solid day of power, and there’s fast charging and wireless charging support as well.

Is the camera where the iPhone SE falls down then? Surprisingly, no. The single 12-megapixel lens on the back of the phone may not be up to the iPhone 11 Pro Max‘s standard, but it’s still a solid shooter, and one of the best in the price range. While the lack of a Night mode hurts, Apple has tuned up the iPhone 8’s camera, and the iPhone SE takes good shots in most circumstances. The lack of a second lens does mean it’s not as good at portrait mode shots, though.

The price is another major draw — the iPhone SE starts at just $400, and that bags you 64GB of storage. The 128GB or 256GB storage options will set you back $450 or $550 respectively, and considering there’s no MicroSD card slot, we’d recommend paying the extra $50 for 128GB of storage. But even at $450, the iPhone SE is an incredible small phone that’s hard to pass up. You can find more in our in-depth iPhone SE (2020) review.

$400 FROM AT&T MOBILITY

Google Pixel 4

pixel 4 xl hero shot
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Google Pixel 4 - 64GB Just Black

Google Pixel 4 – 64GB Just Black

You know the drill; The Pixel 4 offers the best Android experience, premium hardware, and an absolutely stunning camera. Just keep an eye on the small battery.$699 FROM AMAZON$800 FROM BEST BUY

Designed by the developer of Android, Google’s Pixel 4 is the best place to go if you’re looking for the quintessential Android experience. As such, buying the Pixel 4 will mean you’ll be among the first to receive new versions of Android and security patches.

While not a small phone in the traditional sense, the Pixel 4 is still on the smaller side compared to most modern phones. Though it’s slightly larger than the Pixel 3, that additional size has been used well, with smaller bezels and a larger 5.7-inch display.

It’s also packed with 2019’s top-flight flagship specs, including the Snapdragon 855, a silky-smooth 90Hz display, and Google’s new gesture controls and face unlock. The face unlock feature uses radar to detect your face in 3D space, and that same tech can also detect certain hand gestures with Motion Sense — so you can wave above your phone to skip Spotify tracks, snooze an alarm, or automatically drop your ringtone volume when it detects your hand approaching your phone. It’s some seriously impressive tech.

But as always, the camera is the Pixel’s strongest point. This time, Google has added another camera lens — a 16-megapixel telephoto lens with optical image stabilization. Google has also added to its roster of A.I.-powered camera features, adding an astrophotography mode to the already impressive Night Sight feature. While a Pixel phone may no longer inhabit the top spot in our best camera phones list, it’s still an absolutely stellar option if you love smartphone photography.

There are downsides. The 64GB of storage really isn’t enough, and that’s compounded with the lack of a MicroSD card. There’s also no headphone jack. The bezels are chunkier than most modern flagships, and despite the “Pixel Square” housing the camera module, the design is definitely a little safe. The battery life is probably the worst aspect though, and on a busy day, the Pixel 4 will struggle to make it to bedtime. Google’s fast charging will refill the cell quickly, but it’s not much of a

While it’s not “modern $1,000 flagship” expensive, it’s still a pricey phone. Prices start at $500 for 64GB of internal storage, and it costs an extra $100 to upgrade that internal storage to 128GB. If the allure of having one of the best cameras around and the latest version of Android (Android 10) is too much to pass up, the Pixel 4 is the smaller screen for you. You can find more in our full Pixel 4 review.

$699 FROM AMAZON $800 FROM BEST BUY $779 FROM ABT ELECTRONICS

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Samsung Galaxy s10e hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Samsung Galaxy S10e

Samsung Galaxy S10e

The Galaxy S10e may not be a member of the latest Galaxy S20 range, but it’s still the best smaller Galaxy phone you can buy, with top hardware and great software.$700 FROM AMAZON

Alright, so we’re pushing the acceptable boundaries for “small”, but hear us out. The Samsung Galaxy S10e is one of the larger phones on this list, and while it’s significantly larger than traditionally small phones like the iPhone SE and the XZ2 Compact, the cheapest member of the S10 range is still one of the smallest modern flagships you’ll find.

The 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display is the most obvious feature of the Galaxy S10e. It’s one of the best around, sporting a sharp Full HD+ resolution, and breaking records in DisplayMate’s screen tests. Like the rest of the S10 range, there’s a hole-punch for the selfie camera, and this addition has allowed Samsung to shrink the device’s bezels even further. It’s not exactly the same as its more expensive siblings though — there’s no curve on the screen edges, and there’s no ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. However, neither is a huge loss.

It’s an even smaller concession when the power inside remains unchanged. The S10e packs 2019’s top flagship power with the Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. If you need more power, then there’s a version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The headphone jack is still there, and it features reverse wireless charging and a 3,100mAh battery that should last a full day, even if it’s nothing special.

The S10e isn’t using the same triple-lens set-up as the S10 and S10 Plus, but the dual-lens rear module is still excellent. You’ll find a variable aperture 12-megapixel lens and an ultrawide 16-megapixel lens on the back of the phone and a 10-megapixel selfie lens around the front. There’s A.I.-optimization here too, and the phone will suggest simple fixes to common problems and can recognize even more scenes through the Scene Optimizer.

However, while the S10e is the cheapest of the Galaxy S10 range, it’s still not an affordable smartphone. Prices for the Galaxy S10e start from $600, though there is a range of deals you can keep an eye on to try and save some extra money. Check out our Galaxy S10e review for our in-depth analysis of the phone.

$700 FROM AMAZON

Moto G7 Play

Moto G7 Play Review
Moto G7 PlaySimon Hill/Digital Trends
Moto G7 Play

Moto G7 Play

Motorola’s cheapest G7 phone is also a real bargain, with a curved glass body and compact 5.7-inch display.$168 FROM VERIZON

With the top flagships having exceeded $1,400, you might assume there’s no point in even looking at a phone priced at $200. Well you’d be wrong, and the Moto G7 Play is the perfect phone to pick up if you’re looking for a pint-sized phone on the cheap. The 5.7-inch LCD display runs a 1,512 x 720-pixel resolution, and you’ll find a Snapdragon 632 paired with 2GB of RAM on the inside. While that’s a far cry from the more expensive phones above, the Moto G7 Play showcases smooth and snappy performance on this budget hardware and keeps up well with its more expensive brethren in the Moto G7 range.

That power-sipping hardware means the decent 3,000mAh lasts even longer than you’d expect, and when it runs out, the included 10W USB-C charger shouldn’t take too long to recharge. There’s only a single camera lens on the back, a 13-megapixel shooter, which performs well enough as long as lighting is good. You’ll find compromises though: There’s only 32GB of internal storage (though a MicroSD card slot helps), there are a big notch and chunky bezels, and it has a cheap-feeling plastic back.

Still, those issues are fairly small when you consider the price is so low. The $200 price is a lot easier on the wallet than most phones out there, and this packs good performance, a big battery, and an easy one-hand-friendly design. It’s a great choice for a smaller phone if your budget won’t stretch very far. Read more about it in our Moto G7 Play review.

$168 FROM VERIZON

Unihertz Atom

Unihertz Atom Review
Mark Jansen/Digital Trends
Unihertz Atom

Unihertz Atom

It might not look like an everyday phone, but the Unihertz Atom is the tiny phone that can survive a rugged lifestyle.$390 FROM AMAZON

“Small” doesn’t have to mean “weak,” and the Unihertz Atom is proof of that. It’s small enough to fit comfortably in one hand, yet it’s tough enough to bounce down a set of stairs without damage. We know, because we tested. The Unihertz Atom is the small phone if you need something a little more solid than your average phone.

As a rugged phone, it’s wrapped in protective materials. Rubber covers the tough polycarbonate body, and it’s reinforced in key areas like the corners. The 2.4-inch LCD display is a little disappointing, with washed-out colors and faded blacks. It’s surrounded by chunky bezels, and you’ll find a fingerprint scanner beneath the screen, flanked by a pair of capacitive buttons. It’s certainly not fashionable, but it’s not trying to be. It’s functional, and because of its size, a little cute.

Performance is smooth thanks to an octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The single 16-megapixel camera around the back isn’t as good though, and while we got some good shots, image quality went down alongside the lights. There’s only a 2,000mAh battery, but due to the energy-sipping hardware and tiny display, this is enough to power the Atom through two days of battery life.

There are a few downsides to picking this phone though. It runs Android 8.1 Oreo and hasn’t had a security update since April 2018, and it’s unlikely it’ll ever see any updates. So it’s definitely not the phone for you if you want to be on the latest version of Android. Its size is also a detriment to regular use, and while it does a good job at knowing where your fingers are on the touchscreen, fiddly tasks and readers will struggle to get by on the tiny 2.4-inch display.

But those downsides are relatively minor when weighed next to what it does well. The Unihertz Atom starts from just $260 and would be the perfect phone for an active person who prefers a smaller phone. You can read more about the Unihertz Atom in our review.

$390 FROM AMAZON

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A SMARTPHONE?

SMARTPHONE PERFORMANCE: PROCESSOR AND RAM

Your smartphone processor, also known as the chipset or the SoC, is the component that is responsible for just about everything functioning on your smartphone. It is essentially the brain of the system, and most of these processors also come equipped with AI capabilities that essentially make your smartphone as ‘smart’ it is today.

A capable processor not only allows your device to function seamlessly but is also capable of enhancing other factors. One example is image processing. Samsung phones, as an example, comes in two variants – one hosting the Snapdragon chipset (the latest one being Snapdragon 865+). In contrast, the other one employs Samsung’s in house Exynos processor (the latest being Exynos 990). Some reviewers have explicitly stated that there is a tangible difference in not just the processing power of the two variants, the Snapdragon being much snappier, but also the image-processing abilities.

So, when you choose your smartphone, it is integral to know what processor you’re getting along with it since the performance directly correlates with it. Popular ones include Snapdragon, Apple A13 Bionic, Exynos 990, and Kirin 990. Apple processors are known for their raw computing power, and Snapdragon processors are the closest equivalent in the Android realm. You also have lower-powered processors for mid-range and budget devices such as the Snapdragon 730 and 730G, Snapdragon 675, MediaTek Helio G90T and G85, and more, that are commonly found in lower-priced 2020 smartphones. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind sacrificing some power to save money, consider buying phones with one of these processors since they drive down costs quite a bit.

Coming to RAM, this refers to system memory that smartphones use to hold data that active applications are using. A portion of your smart- phone’s RAM is always used up by the operating system, to keep it run- ning. We’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty of RAM usage in a phone since it involves explaining terms such as kernel-space which will end up taking a lot of room in this article. Having sufficient RAM can allow you to have a larger number of apps running in the background, which significantly affects your multitasking experience. However, some smartphones are breaking all barriers and installing a whopping 12-16 GB of RAM in their smartphones. That’s definitely overkill for smartphones, especially if you don’t plan on switching between 10-20 apps at the same time. If you’re a light smartphone user, someone who only uses their phone for calls, texts, What- sApp and light browsing, you can easily get away with 3-4 GB RAM. For power users, something around the ballpark of 6-8 GB is perfectly fine.

CHOICE OF OPERATING SYSTEM

It boils down to two options – Android or iOS. The choice is actually more complicated than you imagine since both operating systems have a sizable list of pros and cons. If you’re someone who enjoys tinkering around with your device and customising it to your heart’s content, you’re Team Android. If you like a simple, powerful OS which gets constant software updates and is supported for a more extended period, you’re Team iOS. Nevertheless, Android is also almost as powerful but not quite as simple, although the current Android version has become much simpler to use than the days of Gingerbread. Just know that iOS, as an OS, is quite limiting, in some cases. For instance, you cannot sideload apps from the internet if they are not available on the App Store, the split-screen mode still isn’t a thing on iPhones (just iPads), you cannot customise your home screen (although iOS 14 may include widgets), and you definitely cannot use launchers to completely change the look of your phone. However, iOS comes with a plethora of advantages as well, such as iMessage, FaceTime, regular software updates, and the biggest of all, minimal bloatware, and no adware! We’re looking at you, Xiaomi!

PREFERED USER INTERFACE

You also have to keep in mind that numerous smartphones come with their own skin or UI (user interface) smacked on top of Android. OnePlus has OxygenOS, a clean skin that is quite close to stock Android, Samsung comes with One UI 2, which has improved by leaps and bounds from its TouchWiz days, MIUI on Xiaomi phones, which is an ad-fest but is well-optimised, ColorOS on Oppo and Realme smartphones, that is heavily inspired by iOS.

Remember to try and experience the UI before buying the device to see if it works for you.

A GOOD DISPLAY

Smartphone display sizes seem to be ever-increasing and are continually pushing the boundary of what we’d expect a smartphone display size to be. They’ve reached the ‘phablet’ realm with displays even reaching up to 6.9-inches!

However, in the age where content is being consumed increasingly on our pocket devices (hard to call them that now), this may not be a bad thing. We suggest anything above 5.7 inches so you can really immerse yourself into games and media. As far as display types go, you have LCD and AMOLED displays. AMOLED displays have variants such as OLED or Super AMOLED (in the case of Sam- sung) and have better contrast and darker blacks. They also assist in saving battery since they turn off all the black pixels on the phone to display ‘true black’.

Next, you also have various resolutions such as Full HD, Full HD+ Quad HD. While QHD does provide crisper images, the difference between FHD and QHD is not too jarring, especially to the untrained eye. You should also check the screen protection on your device. Gorilla 5 and 6 are usually used in current-generation smartphones, and they provide reasonable protection for your glass sandwiches. However, we still recommend a case strongly.

THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF STORAGE

The current standard is 64GB on lower-end models and 128GB to 512GB on flagships. With swift sharing apps and technologies, almost all of us import every single GB of data from our previous phones to the new ones. So, adequate storage is essential. We recommend that you do not go under 128GB since it will give you enough breathing room to keep your data as well as download apps to your heart’s content. Also, keep an eye out for phones with expandable memory storage.

BATTERY LIFE THAT FITS YOUR DAILY REQUIREMENTS

The golden standard of battery life in flagship smartphones is 6+ hours of screen on time. Anything with higher capacities can mostly allow even heavy-users to power through. Flagship phones, as well as some mid-range phones, can also reach 8-10 hours of screen on time, which is brilliant. The goal is to get a phone that can at least pull through one whole day of intensive usage. So, ensure to check battery tests online before purchasing a device. Also, try and research if the phone you’re planning on buying has a decent power-saving mode.

CAMERA QUALITY THAT JUSTIFIES THE PRICE

In 2020, multi-cameras are the norm and phones with just one rear camera are extremely rare now. You usually get a primary lens which sports the highest MP count, a portrait lens, and a wide-angle shooter. And then, you also have a few extras that some manufacturers add such as the ToF (Time of Flight) sensor, macro lens, and colour filter lens. We, at the Digit Labs, are fans of the wide-angle lens because of the magnitude of images you can now take on phones. Capturing sprawling scenes is not a problem anymore! The portrait lens, when done well, can produce spectacular bokeh shots too. However, if this trend just isn’t for you and the growing camera bumps enrage you, it would be best to buy older phones with one primary lens or newer ones such as the iPhone SE 2020. Also, don’t go MP hunting, higher megapixel-count doesn’t always mean better images since the sensor size is much more integral to producing good photos.

Smartphones have also been employing pixel-binning, which essentially turns four or more pixel into one big pixel, that adds clarity and detail to the image. Also, for now, try to stray away from the 108MP sensors since they’re pretty rough around the edges at the moment plagued with image fringing and autofocus issues.

MISCELLANEOUS THINGS TO CONSIDER

  • Wireless charging
  • Gaming Mode
  • Fingerprint sensor vs Face Unlock
  • Bluetooth version
  • IP Rating
  • Dual sim
  • Reverse wireless charging
  • Stereo speakers
  • NFC
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi

WHAT NOT TO CONSIDER?

FOLDABLE DESIGNS

While the design evolution is innovative and smart, it is simply too early to be completely reliable. Our verdict? Hold off on buying foldable phones for a few years.

5G SMARTPHONES

In a country like the US which is slowly but surely seeing widespread 5G integration (low band or mmWave), sure, go for 5G phones to futureproof. However, 5G integration in India is still a ways away, and the proper rollout is years away. So, it makes no sense paying more to purchase a 5G phone.

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