Best Small Smartphone in 2023 – No More Phone Cases
Updated: September 12,2023
In the world of smartphones, size does matter. As these portable mini computers and their screens grow ever larger, fewer users have room in their pockets for tablets and phablets. But a good smartphone doesn’t have to be massive. Small is back in style. A smaller phone doesn’t mean a weaker one, either. Many manufacturers have flagship models with screens under 6 inches. Today, the best small smartphone comes with plenty of horsepower, and a growing number of consumers are turning to compact phones.
iPhone 11 Pro
- 120 Hz screen with HDR
- Lots of storage
- Dust- and water-resistant
One of the most popular 6-inches cell phones comes to us from Apple, the company that has dominated the global smartphone market for at least a decade. We’ve chosen to review the newest iPhone Pro model for its compact size and powerful core - the fastest one Apple has produced so far. For the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple chose a combo of dual-core Lightning and quad-core Thunder processors. In addition, the device has 4 GB of RAM and a storage capacity of up to 512 GB.
This is the smallest iPhone available at present, as both the base iPhone 11 and Max models have screens larger than 6”. The screen size guarantees higher pixel density.
The device has a Retina display based on OLED technology, which supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. This means it provides vivid colors and amazing picture clarity. The iPad Pro uses the same screen technology, which makes it a perfect drawing tablet.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll be happy to hear the screen runs at 120 Hz, ensuring a smooth gaming experience. For protection, Apple fitted this phone with stainless steel frames and Gorilla Glass on both the front and back. After all, it’s the best small iPhone to date, so it would be a shame if it were fragile.
Since many people buy iPhones for their cameras, this model needed something special. The phone has a triple-combo of 12 megapixel cameras on the back, along with dual-tone flash for that natural look on your vacation photos. For selfie lovers, those same lenses are doubled on the front side, providing equally good snaps. The only real downside is the high cost. Apple knows it’s the best in the business, so be prepared to pay a handsome sum to have one of the best 6-inch phones on the market.
Samsung Galaxy S10E
- Fast CPU and lots of RAM
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Hole-punch selfie camera
- Fewer cameras than iPhone models
Smartphone users who choose to leave Apple’s ecosystem will find everything they need with Samsung. These two phone manufacturers have been on top for years, both offering a similar set of features with their flagship devices. Of course, Samsung’s phones run on Android, so if you’re looking to change things up from iOS, the Galaxy S10E is the smartest choice.
This tiny smartphone comes with plenty of speed, a metallic frame, and a crystal-clear 120 Hz display with HDR support. Many gamers and movie fans consider it the best small phone. Instead of having a notch at the top of the screen, the phone has a hole punch for one of its front-facing cameras, leaving a lot more screen real estate for apps. This creates a more natural feel for the bezel-less screen, but limits Samsung to only one front snapper on this phone. On the flipside, you get expandable storage, much more RAM for multitasking, and a headphone jack. Finally, it’s more affordable than the iPhone, which is why we consider the Galaxy S10E the best small Samsung phone we’ve tested.
Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
- Big AMOLED screen with HDR
- Fingerprint sensor built into screen
- AI-enhanced high-resolution photography
- Storage not expandable
If you’re looking for the best value small phone, then the Mi 9 SE may be the right model for you. Xiaomi is one of the biggest new smartphone brands in the world, and it performs particularly well in the small cell phone segment. This stylish phone has a big screen but still fits in your pocket. It’s powered by the new generation Snapdragon chipset, offering 10% better performance across the board. This is especially beneficial for gamers because Xiaomi has introduced several enhancements, including optimized resource distribution, which improves the gaming experience.
If you’re into photography, you’ll find everything you need with the Chinese manufacturer’s most compact flagship phone. An impressive Sony 48 MP camera is accompanied by an ultrawide lense, making it ideal for macro and landscape snaps. To make your photos even sharper, you can turn on the optional AI enhancer, which works even when you zoom in on photos you’ve already taken. On the front side, you also get AI enhancements and a beautifier for that perfect selfie.
Samsung’s AMOLED technology and the phone’s screen dimensions are blended to cover more than 90% of the front surface. The screen also has an advanced fingerprint sensor for fast unlocking. All of these features come at an affordable price.
But the Mi 9 SE hasn’t claimed the crown of best compact smartphone because of its storage options, which don’t go over 128 GB. Without expandable storage, you’ll quickly run out of space.
Nokia 9 PureView
- Impressive 5x Zeiss lense setup
- 4K screen
- Battery capacity
- Non-expandable storage
The best small Android smartphone with great optics comes from a well-known Finnish manufacturer. It took Nokia a few years to get back into the cell phone game, during which time the manufacturer experimented with Windows before finally turning to Android. This proved to be a wise decision, especially considering how Windows-powered phones have subsequently fared in the smartphone market. Now Nokia has partnered with Carl Zeiss and added world-class optics to its phones, making it an attractive option for many users. So, if you need a small smartphone with the best camera, look no further than the Nokia 9 PureView.
With this phone, Nokia has included a 4K display with true HDR10 support and a phone screen size that’s just under 6”. With such a top-quality screen, you’ll have no issues admiring the beautiful images you create using this phone. Thankfully, the average phone screen size isn’t accompanied by an unnecessary notch. Instead, the manufacturer chose to keep the top bezel where the 20 MP selfie camera is located.
This might not be the best small smartphone on the market, but its high-end specs and price make it a true flagship. It has an optical fingerprint scanner underneath the screen, supports wireless charging technology, and the battery capacity is one of the best among small Android phones.
Nokia has also kept it simple here. There is only one variant of this phone, so no market is undermined by a weaker version. Unfortunately, that also means you can’t expand its storage beyond 128GB. That’s a real downside for a specialized camera phone, as there are many 6-inch Android phones with similar or better performance with more memory.
Google Pixel 4
- Pure Android experience
- Set of photography tools
- Motion Sense system
- Poor battery capacity
Tiny phones are still very popular among smartphone users, and when properly designed they can find a dedicated following. That’s why it’s no wonder that Google has made its own model with a compact design.
At a time when every phone manufacturer has its own UI and overburdens smartphones with custom apps, you can count on Google to release a smartphone that offers a pure Android experience.
The fourth generation of Google’s Pixel brand is also tailored to those who enjoy photography. The Night Sight mode helps you take pictures in low light and is great for capturing clear shots of the night sky. Google’s smallest phone also includes HDR+ and dual exposure for more vivid summertime pictures.
The phone doesn’t have an SD slot, but you get unlimited storage on Google Photos. With your photos nestled safely in the cloud, you can free up space for apps or more music.
The device comes with the Motion Sense gesture system, which allows you to control the phone by waving your hand over the display. You can control the music player, check notifications, and snooze the alarm using this technology.
So, is this the best phone to buy right now? It might be slightly more expensive than some of the alternatives, but if security is your priority, then it’s a great choice. Google’s Titan M chip guarantees the best cybersecurity in the world, while several sensors and integrated tools are designed to help you in emergency situations. For example, the phone calls emergency services for you if you get into a car accident. That’s a feature that we can all agree is useful coming from the best new smartphone on the market.
Sony Xperia L3
- Alluring design
- Long battery life
- Basic video recording features
As we begin our journey through the market in search of the most affordable small smartphone, our first stop is Sony. The Xperia L3 was the manufacturer’s cheapest smartphone of 2019, but still offers an array of neat features that compete well two years later.
The three-piece design includes a plastic frame, which is available in classy colors like black, gold, and silver. This Android 8.0 smartphone also has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and a 13 MP cam.
It’s not the smallest smartphone around because Sony didn’t go with a fullscreen design, opting instead for bezels on the top and bottom. The bezels are designed to look like they fade into the screen while taking up little space on the sides.
When it comes to features, this phone is a blend of old and new. There is a 3.5 mm audio jack, fast charging through USB-C, the newest Gorilla Glass, and even an FM radio. The device also has one of the best battery capacities among small smartphones.
When compared to the best smartphones with a small screen, the Xperia L3 fails to impress. Then again, there is a significant reduction in price, which is always worth considering. Overall, this is a cheap phone with a good camera, stylish design, and strong battery.
Motorola Moto E6 Play
- Good battery capacity
- Very basic features
Are you in the market for the best 5-inch Android phone? Motorola, the former king of cell phones, is now more focused on the lower end of the market, where competition is fierce and consumers are pickier. In 2019, Motorola released a very cheap and small smartphone: the Moto E6 Play, which is the lightest phone on our list. It weighs a mere five ounces and is a good choice if you’re looking to buy your children their first phone. It costs just over $100, making it one of the most affordable products on the small smartphone market.
It has a 5.5” IPS screen and is powered by a quad-core Mediatek CPU that runs Android 9.0. This is a dual-SIM model, making it ideal as a backup phone, especially for people who travel a lot and need a device for roaming. You also get a headphone jack, which is becoming somewhat of a rarity these days.
The Moto E6 Play can’t compete with the best small Android phones in terms of sheer power, but it has its perks. With a 3,000 mAh battery, it easily lasts a whole day on a single charge. The battery is replacable, so it’s easy to upgrade to an even bigger one.
- Very affordable
- Modern, bold design
- Good camera
- Minimal storage space in basic version
If you’re looking for the best small premium phone, you really should pay attention to one of the top-performing companies of the past decade.
Talking about modern smartphones without mentioning Huawei is impossible, as the company has left a significant mark on the market. While it’s now mostly known for its high-end phones like the P30 and Honor series, it still produces highly affordable small phones. The latest of these is the Y5, which comes with Huawei’s EMUI 9.1.
Its bold design includes faux leather. That’s impressive for the cheapest small smartphone on our list, as these materials are normally reserved for more expensive phones.
Huawei has also upgraded its camera to 13 MP, and despite the fact that it has only one lens on the back, the quality of photos is better than with previous models. The screen is not a fully bezel-less design, but offers enough real estate thanks to the notch for the selfie camera on top. In many respects, this is one of the best compact phones for less demanding users, so don’t expect to be playing any graphically demanding games on it. One area where the Huawei Y5 is truly lacking is storage. You get just 16 GB if you don’t purchase the more expensive version. Luckily, storage is expandable, but that still leaves a bad mark on an otherwise surprisingly good device, especially considering that competitors aren’t as hesitant to add more internal memory by default. However, if you’re looking a user-friendly phone for a senior, we’d recommend another model.
This is an essential feature for any device. Whether we’re talking about Full HD or displays that go beyond 1080p, HDR is definitely a plus. But first, the screen has to be under 6” in order to be considered a small screen. Once we identify the phones that fit into this category, we analyze the current market to find the best small screen smartphone. Naturally, a smaller screen means a smaller phone because modern smartphones are full-screen phones.
First we look at the resolution, then we take into account the refresh rate and whether or not the screen supports HDR or any other picture-enhancing technology. Manufacturers that employ corning glass or any other physical scratch protection are ranked higher.
Imagine thinking you’ve bought the best small smartphone and then running out of storage after taking just a few snaps. We look beyond phone dimensions and identify the biggest storage options available. Some manufacturers offer a multitude of variants of the same phone model, so we include whatever options are currently available.
Nobody carries a camera anymore. Ever since smartphones appeared on the market, we’ve collectively ditched bulky cameras and started snapping pictures with our tiny cell phones. With cell phone cameras now matching the quality of even the best point-and-shoot cameras, that’s no surprise.
The best small phones on our list come with figures describing megapixels, lenses, and plenty of numbers many consumers won’t understand without reading a comprehensive guide on professional photography. That’s why we keep it simple. We look at the resolution quality and options for taking pictures with different lenses. We also explore what resolutions and frame rates are supported when recording videos.
The last thing you want is to have blurry selfies or overexposed vacation photos. Unfortunately, a pop-up camera is reserved for bigger models, so all these phones have either a notch or bezel.
Another important consideration when ranking the best small screen smartphones is battery life. Smaller smartphones don’t come with huge batteries, so there are no models with 4,000+ mAh monster batteries. Because of that, we can understand some users opting for smartphones with removable batteries, as having a spare one can make your life easier.
However, the phones on our list typically range from 3,000 to 3,300 mAh, so they can still offer a full day or two with a single charge. The good news is that USB-C has been fully adopted as the default connector for small phones, as has the fast charge feature that manufacturers used to reserve for their flagship devices.
The last piece of the puzzle in our search for the best smartphone with a small screen is price. An expensive phone can still represent amazing value if it includes an impeccable screen, fast hardware, and a list of features that put the competition to shame. And remember, just because we’re looking at a mini smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean the price is minimal. Devices that score points in this category surpass expectations in terms of features.
Best Small Smartphone Choices in 2023 - Top Five Picks:
- iPhone 11 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy S10E
- Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
- Google Pixel 4
- Nokia 9 PureView
Frequently Asked Questions
The iPhone 11 Pro is the best choice if you’re looking for a compact phone with lots of horsepower. However, if you’re after a compact phone for your child, you’d do better with an iPhone SE.
The standard iPhone 11 is actually bigger than the iPhone 11 Pro. It has a bigger screen and a slightly bigger case. But it’s still considered small compared to other smartphones on the market.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 SE and the Samsung Galaxy S10E are the top choices if you’re looking for an Android device. Both of these phones have impressive hardware, snap amazing photos, and offer plenty of storage space for all of your apps and files. The Mi 9 SE is a bit cheaper, but the Galaxy S10E comes with more storage.
Samsung is one of the current market leaders when it comes to cell phones, including ones with screens under 6 inches. The Samsung Galaxy S10E is one of the company’s flagship models and also the best small smartphone for both gamers and amateur photographers.
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