Compact and Powerful: Your Guide to the Best Small Phones of 2024


The 1.94 m tall author of this article has huge hands. But even with those, it’s not easy for me to operate a 6.8-inch device using just one hand. Therefore, it is absolutely understandable that many smartphone users long for more compact models. The nextpit editorial team put their heads together and came up with this list of the eight best compact smartphones for 2024.

The best small smartphones in 2024

Armed with the technical specifications, you’re all set to make a swift comparison. You are welcome to dive straight into the details of your preferred device, as we’ve taken the time to elaborate on each one. However, don’t miss our comprehensive buying guide. It’s packed with crucial insights to help you make an informed purchase. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Buying advice: What you have to consider when buying small smartphones

The difference between large and small phones is subjective, much like our selection process. We didn’t just pick the smallest; we sought a balance of quality and compact design. Remember, small doesn’t mean settling for less in 2024! While smaller phones are practical, consider potential drawbacks before purchasing.

  • Display and form factor: Naturally, the primary draw of a small phone is its size. It’s handy, pocket-friendly, and ideal for one-handed use. However, it does have downsides. Multimedia content and gaming can be less enjoyable on a smaller screen due to limited viewing area and potential screen coverage during gameplay.
  • Performance: Don’t be swayed solely by the flashy marketing of big flagship phones, only to end up disappointed by a less powerful System on a Chip (SoC). Our list features devices that promise robust performance, but remember: a powerful processor can generate heat when under heavy use. Larger phones disperse heat more effectively, which is a point to consider, especially for gamers. For them, a larger device may be a better choice solely due to this factor.
  • Cameras: Similar to the SoC, smaller smartphones often suffer from the fact that the cameras are slimmed-down versions of their larger siblings. However, you should not suffer any disadvantages when using a smaller phone for taking pictures.
  • Battery: Less space in the smartphone = smaller battery. That is just logical, of course, and battery size alone does not determine how long your smartphone will last. The efficiency of the components and the software also plays a role. But take into account that you will often be disappointed with less than 4,000 mAh in compact phones.

Best compact smartphones

As we approach 2024, the number of truly compact phones is getting continuously smaller, especially with the discontinuation of the iPhone 13 mini. If you stretch the “compact” definition a little, however, you will find pocket-sized powerhouses that blend sleek design, cutting-edge features, and a compact form factor that fits your lifestyle. Whether you’re an Android enthusiast or an iOS devotee, these small yet mighty options refuse to compromise on performance.

Editor’s choice: Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 back cover highlighted
The Google Pixel 8 is a handsome (and compact) smartphone. / © nextpit

Read the Google Pixel 8 review

As crazy as it may sound, the 6.2-inch Pixel 8 replaces the 6.1” Pixel 7a but there is a good reason for that. Although the OLED diagonal is bigger on the premium model, the bezels are considerably smaller than on the mid-range Pixel, making the Pixel 8 noticeably smaller than the 7a. Additionally, the Pixel 8 is also lighter, especially important as the Pixel 7a was the heaviest phone in the previous edition of this best list.

Bad things first: The Pixel 8 is also more expensive than the Pixel 7a, which is already seeing strong discounts in online retailers, as it is approaching the mid point of its lifecycle. But if previous Pixel generations taught us something, is that all Pixel phones will eventually be sold at heavy discounts down the line.

Google Pixel 8 camera module up close
The Pixel 8 packs the best camera image quality you can find on a compact smartphone. / © nextpit

On the other hand, Google promises seven years of software updates for the Pixel 8, potentially extending its lifespan and usefulness. The phone packs a powerful Tensor G3 chip, with lots of onboard AI features, especially photography, the bread-and-butter of the Pixel line. The Pixel 8 main camera uses a 50-megapixel sensor with all the smart features that made the Pixel 8 Pro win our last camera blind test.

If you are looking for a premium, compact, and accessible phone, consider buying the Pixel 7a, especially if it is priced below the $499 MSRP. Or the Pixel 6a, which goes a bit further on the cost-cutting measures, removing features like wireless charging and fast display refresh rate.

The best small smartphone from Apple: Apple iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 Mini
Apple’s best compact smartphone. / © nextpit

Read the Apple iPhone 13 mini Review

Apple continued the compact formula in 2021 with the introduction of the iPhone 13 mini. It has roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor. Measuring 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm and tipping the scales at 141 grams, it is slightly heavier than the previous model, but still rather small compared to other iPhone models.

Just like the 2020 model, the iPhone 13 mini has the same specifications as its larger siblings, starting with the powerful A15 Bionic processor, which Apple claims is around 50% faster than the next best Android competitor.

However, the main advantage of this small iPhone lies in an entirely different area: Apple’s iOS and the aforementioned SoC combine well to deliver pretty good power management, which Apple says is “up to an hour and a half more” on the iPhone 13 mini compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 12 mini.

Apple also places the compact iPhone below the regular model and Pro variants in terms of price. The recommended retail price is $699, making it significantly cheaper than the normal model.

The best compact smartphone alternatives

Having highlighted the current best Android and iOS smartphones, we’d also like to present you with additional options that, in our view, perfectly balance quality and a compact design. So without further ado, here are our other recommendations:

Sony Xperia 5 V: Small phone with microSD and headphone jack

Sony Xperia 5 V
The only retro feature missing for the Xperia 5 V is probably Memory Stick support. / © nextpit

Read the Sony Xperia 5 mark V review

After five generations, we are still unsure if Sony keeps old-school features like the memory card support and headphone jack to cater to its audience or by sheer inertia. Regardless, there is still a vocal group of people who not only defend the company’s choices but are also helping them keep the smartphone division alive with a steady sales volume.

And the fifth generation Xperia 5—or Xperia 5 mark V, in true camera fashion—is still a worthy flagship phone, with the high-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, fast RAM and storage standards, and a nice and tall OLED screen. Sony even manages to offer a surprisingly long battery life out of the 5000 mAh component installed.

The camera section is clearly designed for the camera-crowd sensitivities, with lots of manual settings, a dual-stage shutter button, and a new-generation main sensor that offers good details in both daylight and night shots.

 As an almost boutique Android manufacturer, Sony has two weak points to consider, however. The first is the steep MSRP, around $999/€999. And the second is the mediocre software update policy, which is less than half what Samsung and OnePlus promise, with two major Android upgrades and usually three years of security updates.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: The foldable alternative

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review
The new outer display on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is almost full-featured. / © nextpit

Read the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Review

Some internal debates on the nextpit editorial room almost gave this spot to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra Matt reviewed a couple of months ago. But despite some disadvantages, the incumbent king of the flip phones is still the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

When closed, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 measures only 71,9 x 85,1 x 15.1 mm, and with the big external display new to the fifth generation, you can use almost any app on the cover display, leaving the internet 6.67-inch internal OLED screen for media consumption, reading long articles, and playing games.

Despite the lack of relevant upgrades in terms of battery capacity and camera hardware, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 keeps some considerable advantages next to the rival Razr 40 Ultra/Razr+ 2023: Longer software update policy and IPx8 water resistance. Additionally, a (crazy) long-term folding durability test indicated that the Samsung foldable has a more resistant display, but with a sample size of one, there could be a dose of luck/bad luck involved.

The Motorola Razr (2023): The first affordable flip phone

Motorola Razr 40
Motorola made the right component choices to lower the barrier of entry for foldable smartphones. / © nextpit

Read the Motorola Razr 2023 review

After all the talk about the Moto Razr 40 Ultra (Razr+ 2023 in the US), we are suggesting its cheaper brother, the Razr 2023/Razr 40 as a foldable alternative. Lenovo took some bold steps to lower the MSRP of its “entry-level” foldable, resulting in a $699 suggested price—as of updating this article the street price is just under $500.

For the 2023 model, gone is the retro design that forced some sacrifices in screen area. On the other hand, Motorola equipped the Razr with a very small external display, not unlike previous generations Galaxy Flips, which can still be used to check notifications and control some apps.

The internal display and battery capacity are among the best we can find on a flip phone, with a big 6.9-inch OLED panel refreshing at up to 144 Hz. Memory and storage options are also very competitive for the price range, with the main sacrifice in hardware being the mid-range Snapdragon 7 gen 1 processor, which still offers capable performance for the mid-range segment.

The lower price also makes it easier to forgive the lack of water resistance found on the Galaxy flagship, and also the smaller support lifecycle promised by Motorola: Three years of Android upgrades and four years of security updates.

Apple iPhone SE (2022): Cheaper alternative within Apple’s iPhone range

Apple iPhone SE 2022
The design of the iPhone SE 2022 almost makes it a retro phone. / © nextpit

Read the Apple iPhone SE 2022 Review

We have included the iPhone SE (2022) here because it is a very affordable way to obtain a very high-performance iPhone thanks to the new processor. What are the top arguments for the iPhone SE that comes in 2022’s flavor?

The fast A15 Bionic in a smartphone for just $429! Sure, with the iPhone, you always ‘buy’ a few other highlights automatically: Great cameras, high-quality workmanship, optimized and long software support, for example.

This is also true for the iPhone SE to a large extent. The design, which was already old-fashioned in the iPhone SE 2020, has been adopted 1:1 and does not look any more modern. You get a 4.7-inch display with very fat bezels, which is simply outdated. Throw in HD resolution and 60 Hz refresh on an LCD display, and every $400 mid-range smartphone can actually fare better.

However, Apple has an enviable talent for optimizing both hardware and software in such a way that you hardly notice technical deficits. Sensational photos can be taken even with the simple camera of the iPhone SE, the display is convincing enough despite the low-resolution and sluggish refresh rate, and the performance of the A15 is beyond any doubt anyway. Therefore, we have included it in our list as a top alternative to the iPhone 13 Mini.

Asus Zenfone 10: Small and compact

The Asus Zenfone 10 is one of the most compact smartphones in this selection. It is a powerful and charming everyday Android smartphone.

The Asus flagship comes with a 5.9-inch OLED FHD+ display, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with 8 or 16 GB of RAM, and 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage. It also has a 50MP dual main camera and a 4,300mAh battery that can be tethered with up to 30W wired or charged wirelessly at 15W.

Asus Zenfone 10
Google has already proven it: Sometimes two main cameras are enough. / © nextpit

Read the full Zenfone 10 review

The Zenfone is small but strong, with good performance, a bright and sharp display, good camera quality, and a clean and functional user interface. The limited software update policy and overheating issues are annoying inconveniences. It also doesn’t have expandable storage via a microSD card—but who does that these days. There is also a 3.5 mm audio jack on the top.

This wraps up our recommended list of compact smartphones. It’s a subjective compilation, crafted after much deliberation within our editorial team, and at times, certain compromises. However, all eight suggested models share a common thread: they offer a balanced blend of compact design and robust performance.

Feel free to discuss in the comments section which compact phones you would have liked to see on this list.

Updated in January 2024 with current pricing. All previous comments have been preserved.


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