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The best small smartphones you can buy in 2022

While the largest smartphones can still fit in a back pocket (barely), there are plenty of smaller smartphones that function as well, if not better, than their humongous counterparts. Smaller phones are easier to carry with screens that only need one hand. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice performance with a smaller phone.

The best small smartphone available today is the iPhone 13 Mini. Apple’s smaller-sized iPhone is a triumph, and it’s absolutely the phone to start with if small is your top priority. But, while it’s far from the most expensive phone around, we also include a number of other great smartphones on the smaller side, so you can find the perfect one at your ideal price.

Extremely large phones are popular, but they have always been controversial. Despite the call to provide a smaller phone like the original Apple iPhone of 2007, for many people, it's hard to scale back down. Should you opt for a smaller phone with your next purchase? We’ve tested hundreds of smartphones at Digital Trends and all the diminutive devices that made our list have been thoroughly put through their paces. Here are some of the best small smartphones we have found.

iPhone 13 Mini
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
The best overall small phone
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Asus Zenfone 9 5G 128GB 8GB RAM Factory Unlocked (GSM Only | No CDMA - not Compatible with Verizon/Sprint) - Blue
Asus Zenfone 9
The best small Android phone
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The best small folding phone
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Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
The best midrange small phone
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Moto G7 Play
Moto G7 Play
The best budget small phone
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Unihertz Atom
Unihertz Atom
The best small rugged phone
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best iphone to buy 13 mini
John Appleseed/Unsplash

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

The best overall small phone

Pros
  • Small, compact design
  • Just as powerful as the larger iPhones
  • Excellent camera
  • Strong battery life
Cons
  • No telephoto lens
  • No higher refresh rate

Why we picked the iPhone 13 Mini: Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini rocked our world, so it makes sense to put its successor — the iPhone 13 Mini — at the top of this list. The iPhone Mini is crammed with the same power as the bigger iPhones but in a compact form. The iPhone 13 Mini shares many of the key specs with its bigger siblings, including the powerful A15 Bionic processor, which pits it against the heavyweights in the smartphone industry. It is our pick for the best small phone.

The iPhone 13 Mini continues to use pretty much the same design as the iPhone 12 Mini, although with a tweaked camera module. There are, however, several upgrades in the package other than just the A15 Bionic chip. The 5.4-inch display remains the same, but the notch on the iPhone 13 Mini is narrower than its predecessor. The Super Retina XDR OLED display is also much brighter, with 800 nits of claimed maximum brightness measured using the High Brightness Mode (HBM) method.

The latest generation of the iPhone Mini removes the 64GB storage option, so the minimum storage is now 128GB. In addition, the highest storage option has also been increased from 256GB to 512GB. Like the iPhone 13, the Mini also features a larger primary camera sensor than the previous generation, along with sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) in which the sensor moves to compensate for any changes in the phone’s orientation, to avoid shakes and blurs while taking photos or videos.

The iPhone 12 Mini had a weaker battery than most of its larger siblings, which put it to a disadvantage against other flagship phones. The iPhone 13 Mini slightly improved this rand now features a 2,438mAh battery, which is about 10% bigger than the previous generation. For most casual users, this battery should be enough to last about a day if not more. The small battery, however, does allow for faster charging with claims of 50% charge in just 30 minutes of being plugged into a Lightning connector using an 18W (or higher) power brick. The smartphone also supports fast wireless charging at 15W using MagSafe and at 7.5W using other regular wireless chargers.

iPhone 13 Mini
Apple iPhone 13 Mini
The best overall small phone
asus zenfone 9 review back hand
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Asus Zenfone 9

The best small Android phone

Pros
  • Compact and easy to handle
  • Powerful processor
  • Neat, lightweight design
  • Strong audio features
  • Main cameras take good photos
Cons
  • Gimbal disappoints
  • Screen doesn’t get bright enough
  • No wireless charging

Why we picked the Asus Zenfone 9: The Zenfone 9 truly delivers flagship smartphone performance, visuals, and audio — in a compact package. The Asus Zenfone 9’s size adheres to Asus’s rule of making a smartphone that’s less than 70mm wide and under 150mm tall, making it perfect for one-handed use. This phone's squared-off shape and right-angled corners ensure it can pack as much inside the phone as possible, and the aluminum frame and a polymer material rather than glass on the rear panel reduce weight. The screen is smaller than the iPhone 13 and S22 at 5.9-inches, so it’s convenient, pretty, durable, and suitable for everyone, regardless of hand size.

The 5.9-inch AMOLED screen has a 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, a 240Hz touch sampling rate, plus Gorilla Glass Victus over it. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor and either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. The basic version comes with 128GB of storage space, but a 256GB model is also available. With its flat sides, the polymer rear panel curves at the edge, so the phone never digs into your hand. The material has a textile-like texture and does not show fingerprints or smudges.

There are two cameras on the phone, set inside metal rings. The main 50MP Sony IMX766, with the gimbal attached, and a 12MP Sony IMX363 113-degree wide-angle camera, have autofocus. There’s 8K video recording, a macro mode built into the wide-angle camera, and a 12MP selfie camera with autofocus inside a hole-punch cutout in the screen. The Zenfone 9 camera typically sharpens scenes with extra contrast and saturation.

Asus’s ZenUI is based on Android 12, and most of Google’s main design elements remain, so it’s suitably customizable. A 4,300mAh capacity battery may not sound like much, so be prepared to charge the phone each day. A 30W charger is included in the box, and the phone supports Power Delivery 3.0 and Quick Charge 4.0, but it does not have wireless charging. You’ll need more than an hour to fully charge the battery using the Asus charger.

Asus Zenfone 9 5G 128GB 8GB RAM Factory Unlocked (GSM Only | No CDMA - not Compatible with Verizon/Sprint) - Blue
Asus Zenfone 9
The best small Android phone
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

The best small folding phone

Pros
  • Flatter design looks and feels fantastic
  • Bespoke customization is unmatched
  • Excellent main display
  • Blazing fast performance
  • Good, fun cameras
Cons
  • Battery still only lasts a day
  • Limited cover screen functionality

**Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is one of the best folding smartphones available in 2022. Is the Galaxy Z Flip 4 a substantial improvement over the Z Flip 3? No, but it is one of the best foldable phones you can buy today.

When it’s open, the Flip 4 looks like any other smartphone, with a large display, centered hole-punch camera cutout, and slim bezels. But snap the phone shut, and its hinge transforms it into a compact square you can slide into small spaces. The rear glass panels have a frosty matte finish, the frame is flatter, and the hinge is smaller. Samsung says the Z Flip 4 should survive over 200,000 folds during its lifetime.

The glass panels and cover screen are covered with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, the frame is Samsung’s Armor Aluminum, and the device holds an IPX8 water-resistance rating (enough to submerge it in up to 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes). There’s no dust resistance.

The Z Flip 4 features a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with a 2640 x 1080 resolution, HDR10+ support, 1,200 nits of peak brightness, and a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. Colors are vibrant with wide viewing angles. The Flip 4’s cover screen is the same 1.9-inch Super AMOLED 512 x 260 resolution screen that's on the Flip 3. It also serves as a handy viewfinder, allowing you to take photos/videos of yourself with the main and ultrawide cameras and see what’s in your shot. The crease is still there. You can clearly see it in certain lighting conditions, and you’ll feel it when swiping your finger across it.

Like its predecessors, the Z Flip 4 ships with top-of-the-line Qualcomm chips, in this case, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The only potential irritant is the Z Flip 4’s available RAM — 8GB for all storage models, enough to juggle a handful of apps at a time, but not a multitasking champ.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 has a basic camera setup that includes a 12MP primary camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and a 10MP selfie camera. Those are all the same megapixel counts as the Flip 3, but Samsung says the primary camera on the Flip 4 is 65% brighter. The solid camera should serve most people just fine, but it's nothing to write home about. Thanks to the 65% brighter sensor, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 handles night-time photos quite well. With the ultrawide camera, you lose some of the finer detail you’d otherwise get with the 12MP primary sensor, but the 123-degree field of view is convenient, and color reproduction is saturated and vibrant.

Battery life is markedly better than its predecessor, but it's still only enough for one full day. Also improved on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is wired charging, now cranked up to 25W. Galaxy Z Flip 4 also supports 10W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 ships with Android 12 and Samsung’s One UI 4.1.1 interface. It’s also backed by Samsung’s update promise of four major Android updates and five years of security patches.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
The best small folding phone
Hand holding an iPhone SE 2022 taking a picture of a long path in the woods
iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best midrange small phone

Pros
  • Compact profile for one-handed use
  • Powerful A15 Bionic chip
  • Up to 256GB of non-expandable storage
Cons
  • Dated design isn't for everyone

Why we picked the iPhone SE (2022) The iPhone SE (2022) is a powerful, pocket-friendly handset that's excellent value for money.

There's no denying the iPhone SE (2022) has a small screen. Coming in at just 4.7 inches, the Liquid Retina display has a 1334 x 750 resolution (326 ppi) with a 60Hz refresh rate. The phone looks good, though its traditional style, reminiscent of the iPhone 8, might not be to all tastes. That diminutive screen makes it easy to operate the phone one-handed though, and you get Touch ID integrated into the Home button rather than the now-more-common Face ID — great news for mask wearers.

Under the hood, you'll find Apple's A15 Bionic chip, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of non-expandable storage. The iPhone SE's battery lasts up to two hours longer than its predecessor, which gave us a solid eight hours of video streaming. You also get 18W fast charging to get you juiced up again pretty quickly, plus Qi wireless charging too — but there's no charger in the box.

Though the iPhone SE (2022) has just a single rear 12MP camera and 7MP front camera, Apple's software ensures this phone takes excellent, well-balanced photos in most lighting. Features like Smart HDR 4, Deep Fusion technology, and Photographic Styles make shooting with the new iPhone SE a lot of fun, though bear in mind there's no Night mode, something to consider if you take a lot of low-light or after-dark shots.

Throw in sub-6GHz 5G connectivity and Apple's usual five to six years of updates, and it's easy to see why the iPhone SE (2022) is so appealing.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
The best midrange small phone
moto g7 play review feat
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

Moto G7 Play

The best budget small phone

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Good performance
  • Solid camera
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • No NFC
  • Ugly notch

Why we picked the Moto G7 Play: It's an oldie but still a goody, especially in the small phone genre. 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 runs a 1512 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, 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 the lighting is good. You'll find compromises though: There are only 32GB of internal storage (though a microSD card slot helps), there's 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 sub-$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.

Moto G7 Play
Moto G7 Play
The best budget small phone
unihertz atom review dont underestimate its size 5
Mark Jansen/Digital Trends

Unihertz Atom

The best small rugged phone

Pros
  • Excellent battery
  • Solid performance
  • Simple software, useful tools
  • Compact and portable size
  • Rugged, durable, and water resistant
Cons
  • Subpar screen
  • Mediocre camera
  • Difficult to type on small screen

Why we picked the Unihertz Atom: This is an older phone, but rather unique and still on the market, so we include it here. The Unihertz Atom is small enough to fit comfortably in one hand, yet tough enough to bounce down a flight of stairs without damage. We know because we tested it. The Unihertz Atom is the small phone to get 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 at the corners. The 2.4-inch LCD is 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 not fashionable, but it is functional, and because of its size, somewhat cute.

Performance is smooth thanks to an octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The single 16MP camera around the back isn’t as good, and while we got some decent shots, the image quality went down with 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 in one charge. It also has IP68 Waterproof capability and is resistant to dust, vibration, extreme hot or cold temperatures, and shock.

For the Unihertz Atom, the downside is that it only runs Android 8.1 Oreo, which hasn’t had any updates — security or otherwise — since April of 2018. It’s not the phone for you if you care about having the latest and greatest OS.

Additionally, while this phone doubles down its small form factor, that same small size makes it harder to use. It has decent keyboard tracking, but it can still be a struggle to do specific tasks on the tiny 2.4-inch display. At that size, it’s no surprise that the colors and graphics aren’t crystal clear, so if you need an impressive display, you won’t find it here.

If you’re looking for a small phone to tote around, it’s worth looking past those negative factors to get a perfect size for an active individual who wants a small, compact smartphone on a budget and doesn’t use it for much during the day. For such a small device, it certainly packs a punch, too.

Unihertz Atom
Unihertz Atom
The best small rugged phone

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you consider getting a smaller smartphone?

Smartphones started growing larger when user preferences turned to all content all the time, especially in the form of reading, watching video, and playing games. These activities benefit from increased screen real estate. The problem is that larger phones are heavier, harder to carry and use with one hand, and more expensive. Large phones are inconvenient for people with small hands or with those who do not have 100% use of both hands. If you prefer to stash your phone in a shirt or pants pocket, want to or must use your phone with one hand, do not mind watching videos on a slightly smaller screen, and appreciate a more compact, lightweight unit, a small phone may be the optimal choice for you.

How do I choose the best small smartphone for me?

The immediate impact of a small smartphone is the size of the screen, but secondary attributes like smaller batteries, less powerful processors, inferior cameras, and less storage space will likely factor into how small you want to go. Notice we said nothing about the price. While large phones are more expensive, choosing a small phone may not save you significant money, and the price may even be on par with some of the larger models. That's because a high-quality small smartphone cleverly packs high-end features into a small package, and you are still paying for that high quality. Thus our favorite iPhone Mini or SE or the Google Pixel are great choices for a small size phone that do not skimp on features or materials.

Who should not consider getting a smaller smartphone?

Smartphone sizes are a matter of personal style and necessity. If you appreciate having a phablet that fits into your backpack or purse for cinematic video, conference calls, report reading, art creation, gaming, or any other work or entertainment-related activities that are better suited to a spacious canvas, then stick with a larger smartphone. If you are a traveler who is not toting around a full laptop array of tech gear, a large phone will serve many purposes exceptionally well. You'll benefit not only from a large bright screen, but likely a larger, long-lasting battery, and even extra RAM built in.

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