Published on September 27th, 2023
In the ever-evolving world of smartphones, finding small-sized Android devices that pack a punch can be a bit of a treasure hunt in 2023. As the trend toward larger screens continues, compact phones have become somewhat of a rarity.
However, if you’re on the quest for a diminutive yet powerful Android companion, there are still a handful of options worth exploring.
When embarking on your search for the ideal small Android phone, several crucial factors come into play.
First and foremost, your budget will dictate the scope of your options, so it’s essential to determine how much you’re willing to invest.
Additionally, camera performance has become a significant consideration for many, as smartphone photography continues to advance.
Folding devices, with their unique form factors, also offer an intriguing alternative to traditional compact smartphones.
The Android version running on your chosen device can impact your overall experience, so considering whether you need the latest Android iteration is vital.
While the selection of small Android phones has dwindled over the years, we’ve sifted through the market, conducting rigorous testing and reviews, to compile a curated list of the very best options still available.
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It’s worth noting that some of these devices might not be the latest releases, as manufacturers have shifted their focus toward larger models.
Nevertheless, these small Android gems offer a blend of performance, features, and compact design that can still satisfy the demand for a more pocket-friendly smartphone experience in 2023.
ASUS Zenfone 10
The ASUS Zenfone 10 stands out in today’s smartphone landscape with its compact 5.9-inch Super AMOLED display, making it one of the smallest modern Android phones available.
This design is refreshing for those who prefer one-handed use and pocket-friendly devices. Its sturdy build and color options cater to various tastes, although its somewhat sporty design might not appeal to everyone.
Under the hood, it boasts the power of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and up to 16GB of RAM, providing smooth performance for most tasks. However, its smaller size can lead to heat dissipation issues during intensive gaming.
Surprisingly, the phone’s 4,300mAh battery delivers a full day of use, a rarity in small Android phones. It also supports fast charging, ensuring quick top-ups.
ASUS’ Zen UI offers a lightweight, near-stock Android experience with some useful customization options, including a versatile fingerprint scanner integrated into the power button.
While not a camera powerhouse, the Zenfone 10’s dual-lens setup performs well, though lacking a telephoto lens for long-range zoom.
The device’s white balance and color reproduction are solid, and it features a built-in gimbal for smoother video recording.
One potential drawback is ASUS’ update policy, offering two years of version updates and four years of security updates, which falls short of industry leaders like Samsung.
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However, for those seeking a compact Android phone that doesn’t compromise on performance, the Zenfone 10 presents an appealing option reminiscent of smaller smartphones from earlier years.
Google Pixel 5
The Google Pixel 5, released in 2020, marked the last truly compact Android phone from Google, featuring a 6-inch AMOLED display.
It stood out for its quality FHD+ screen and sturdy build, despite the use of aluminum and bio-resin materials.
Rather than prioritizing raw power, the Pixel 5 employed a Snapdragon 765G processor, which, while capable for everyday tasks, fell short of flagship performance at the time and lags behind newer Pixel models with Tensor processors.
Where the Pixel 5 excels is in photography, thanks to Google’s image processing software. Its 12MP main and 16MP wide-angle cameras produce warm and pleasing colors, although the camera hardware itself was somewhat dated in 2020.
Finding a Pixel 5 can be a challenge, as it’s no longer available directly from Google. Interested buyers may need to explore third-party retailers or consider purchasing second-hand.
If you’re open to a slightly larger screen, the Pixel 7 offers a compelling upgrade with improved value, building on the strengths of the Pixel 5, albeit with a larger form factor.
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Samsung Galaxy S23
The Samsung Galaxy S23, with its 6.1-inch AMOLED screen, offers a compelling option in the small Android phone category. Samsung’s display quality shines, with a full HD+ resolution and vibrant colors.
The 120Hz variable refresh rate enhances scrolling, and the battery life has improved, thanks to the 3,900mAh cell and the efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Charging is reasonably fast at 25W, but a charger is not included in the box.
The Galaxy S23 series exclusively features Snapdragon processors, delivering impressive performance and thermal management. However, it lacks storage options beyond 256GB and doesn’t have a microSD card slot.
Samsung’s Android customization is enjoyable, though it comes with some bloatware. The standout feature is its excellent software support, offering four years of OS updates and five years of security updates.
Overall, the Galaxy S23 is a solid choice for those seeking a compact Android phone, although it’s slightly larger than some alternatives. It competes favorably in terms of size and price, particularly against the iPhone 14, which offers a different ecosystem.
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Sony Xperia 5 IV
The Sony Xperia 5 IV is a premium small Android phone with exceptional camera capabilities. Its 6.1-inch display, while similar in size to the Galaxy S23, feels smaller due to its 21:9 aspect ratio.
One-handed use is comfortable, thanks to its taller form factor. The phone features a 120Hz FHD+ OLED display that’s bright enough for outdoor use, but it lacks variable refresh rates, requiring users to choose between 120Hz for smoother scrolling or 60Hz for better battery life.
Sony has improved the build quality, replacing the plastic of previous models with a sturdy aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus on both sides. However, it is prone to fingerprint smudges.
Notable features include front-facing stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a substantial 5,000mAh battery.
With the default 60Hz refresh rate, it easily lasts a day, while even at 120Hz, it provides respectable battery life, albeit with some heat dissipation issues due to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.
The Xperia 5 IV’s camera performance impresses with accurate colors, white balance, and natural details. It doesn’t rely on oversharpening or oversaturation, and advanced photographers can leverage the Photo Pro app for manual controls.
The device also excels in video recording, supporting 4K/120fps within the Photo Pro app. Despite its high price, the Xperia 5 IV stands out with its unique features.
However, its limited Android updates might be a concern for some users, though its build quality suggests it can endure for an extended period with proper care.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, our unconventional choice for the best small Android phone, stands out as a foldable device that manages to be compact. When folded, it’s incredibly compact, yet it opens up to reveal a 6.7-inch AMOLED display.
Its tall and thin design, similar to the Sony Xperia 5 IV, allows for comfortable one-handed use. Powered by the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, it’s a high-performing device, though it can heat up during extended use.
Battery life is expected to be around five hours, similar to its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Camera performance is expected to be good, although not on par with the mainline Galaxy S23 series.
It retains the same camera setup as the previous model. The Z Flip 5 offers unique software features that maximize its folding form factor.
“Flex Mode” allows for dual-tasking when the phone is half-open, and Samsung’s One UI provides a feature-rich Android experience.
Samsung also excels in update support, offering four years of version updates and five years of security updates.
While not a traditional small Android phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s foldable design adds a cool factor and makes it a compelling option, albeit at a higher price point.
If you’ve been considering a foldable phone, this is one we can confidently recommend.
Key Criteria for Selecting the Top Small Android Phones
When seeking the best small Android phones, size is undoubtedly a paramount concern. In this selection, we focused on devices with screen sizes of 6.1 inches or smaller.
While these dimensions may seem larger than the compact phones of the past, it reflect the current landscape, where smaller options are becoming increasingly scarce.
Keep in mind that screen size is measured diagonally, so the exact feel and form of each phone may vary. Price and value were also pivotal factors in our consideration.
It’s important to recognize that smaller Android phones are not always cheaper; in fact, many of the available options can be pricier than budget alternatives.
However, they still offer excellent value for the features and performance they provide. Speaking of performance, all the small phones on our list boast flagship-level power, though some may be from older generations.
This doesn’t necessarily translate to a compromise, as newer flagship processors often grapple with overheating issues, making the older ones a compelling choice.
These small Android phones are proficient at photography. While they may have fewer camera lenses, they are more than capable of capturing excellent shots, though you might miss out on a dedicated telephoto lens.
In terms of battery life, smaller Android phones typically come with smaller battery capacities. However, all the phones we’ve selected are designed to last through a full day’s use, ensuring you remain connected without frequent recharges.
Build quality is another crucial aspect. As phones continue to grow in size, the durability of your device becomes essential for longevity. Premium materials like aluminum frames and Gorilla Glass Victus are the hallmarks we look for.
Lastly, software plays a significant role. Although all these phones run on Android, each manufacturer’s version of the OS varies, along with the duration of updates and support.
It’s crucial to consider these factors when making your choice, ensuring your small Android phone continues to serve you well for years to come.