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The best small Android phones you can still buy in 2023

Keep your pockets free of bulk!
By
January 23, 2023
Asus Zenfone 9
By Asus
8
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Positives
Pocket-sized design
Lightweight yet customizable software
Blazing fast fingerprint scanner
Customizable gestures
Solid battery life
Negatives
Hot while gaming
No wireless charging
Limited camera package
Google Pixel 5
By Google
8
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Positives
Fantastic, fast display
Great battery life
Wireless charging
Negatives
Charging is a bit slow comparatively
Camera sensors are starting to show their age
No optical telephoto shooter
Samsung Galaxy S22
By Samsung
Promoted
8
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Positives
Refined, compact design
Small yet sweet display
Impressive camera setup
Unrivaled Android update support
Negatives
Low battery life
Slow charging
Limited storage options
Sony Xperia 5 IV
By Sony
8
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Positives
Compact
Headphone jack
microSD card slot
Negatives
So-so selfie camera
No variable refresh rate
Poor sustained performance
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
By Samsung
9
Check price
Positives
Improved battery life and faster charging
Efficient performance
Solid primary camera
Negatives
Crease is still visible
No telephoto camera
Still not a battery champ

Small Android phones aren’t as common as they used to be, but there are still a few solid options on the market. When choosing the best for you, these are the main things to consider:

  • How far can you stretch your budget?
  • How important is camera performance?
  • Have you considered folding devices?
  • Do you need the latest version of Android?

With those questions in mind, we’ve tested and reviewed hundreds of Android phones, boiling the list down to the very best small Android phones you can still buy. Note that some of these devices are a bit older, as most manufacturers simply don’t make small phones anymore. For more about our guidelines, check out our buyer’s guide below.


The ASUS Zenfone 9 is the best small Android phone for most people

Asus Zenfone 9Asus Zenfone 9
Asus Zenfone 9
Pocket-sized design • High peak performance • Customizable gestures
A compact device with more than enough power
The Asus Zenfone 9 is a compact device that still packs more than enough power under the hood. It also features a stock-like software experience, customizable gestures, and a lot more.

While most companies have moved on to 6.3-inch displays or larger, the ASUS Zenfone 9 bucks the trend with its slim and pocketable 5.9-inch AMOLED. This makes it one of the smallest modern Android phones on the market, and we found a lot to like about it in our review.

The size is perfect for one-handed use, which is very refreshing in today’s market of behemoth smartphones. The compact device fits perfectly into a pocket, and the rectangular edges made it feel robust in hand. Make no mistake about it — this is a true flagship device with a build quality to match. It just happens to be small (and relatively affordable).

That flagship standard extends to performance, with the efficient Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 powering through anything we could throw at it. Even the latest games like Genshin Impact and Apex Legends ran great in our tests, although the smaller screen and lack of heat dissipation prevent the Zenfone 9 from ranking among the best gaming phones. However, it does include the same great Game Genie overlay found on the reigning champion ASUS ROG Phone 6.

This is the only modern flagship device of this size in the Android world.

Despite the size, we found battery life to be more than adequate. We averaged around eight hours of screen time with normal use, and five hours with heavy gaming. We’re also big fans of ASUS’ Zen UI, which is lightweight and offers a stock-like experience, but with some interesting new features. For example, the fingerprint scanner, located on the power button on the side of the device, offers fully mappable press and hold, double press, and swipe actions.

Although it’s certainly not the camera’s strong point, camera performance was mostly good, with solid white balance, robust autofocus, and good HDR performance. However, we did find that some results were inconsistent, especially when it came to colors and exposure. It particularly struggled in low light, often failing to retain detail. Still, it’s a solid shooter for the price, and the six-axis gimbal is great for capturing video on the move.

Ultimately, the Zenfone 9 is one of the only flagship phones that retains a small form factor, and combined with the affordable price, it’s a compelling option for anyone looking for a small Android phone. The Samsung Galaxy S22 ($799) is another modern option that has more features and a longer update promise, but it’s slightly larger and quite a bit more expensive.

What makes it stand out

  • Size matters: This is one of the smallest modern Android phones you can buy.
  • Flagship killer: Great performance and solid cameras, especially at this price.
  • Good battery life: Despite the size, the Zenfone 9 can easily last a day on a single charge.

The Google Pixel 5 is the best small Android phone from Google

Google Pixel 5Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5
Fantastic, fast display • Great battery life • Wireless charging
Google's Pixel 5 might not be the most exciting phone in the world.
The Google Pixel 5 may not be the high-end Pixel we were expecting, but it's a pretty compelling mid-range option. Google is going back to basics with the Pixel 5, ditching higher-end features like face recognition and the quirky Motion Sense gestures.

The Google Pixel lineup has evolved over the years, but 2020’s Google Pixel 5 was the last truly small Android phone the company released. It also marked a key design change that has stuck with Google’s flagship devices ever since.

The Pixel 5’s 6-inch AMOLED feels great in hand, and it’s significantly lighter and smaller than its successors, the Pixel 6 (6.4 inches) and Pixel 7 (6.32 inches). Overall we were very impressed with the quality of the FHD+ display, with fantastic colors that really pop out of the screen. The aluminum and bio-resin (read: fancy plastic) backing material is noticeably less premium than more expensive devices, but we did find it to be very sturdy, even without a case.

Rather than focusing on raw power, the Pixel 5 uses a more efficient Snapdragon 765G processor, which is typically found in mid-range devices. In our testing, it was more than capable of powering through everyday apps and normal daily use. However, it didn’t compete with flagship processors at the time, and now it will feel underpowered compared to the Tensor processors found in newer Pixel phones.

What the Pixel 5 does excel at is photography. Like all Pixel phones, Google has embued its logarithmic magic into the Pixel 5, turning an otherwise unmarkable set of camera sensors into an excellent camera phone. It features a 12MP main camera and a 16MP wide-angle camera, both of which we found to be excellent performers. Colors were warm and pleasing, and the addition of a wide-angle lens was great to see. However, this camera hardware was dated in 2020, and it’s borderline ancient by today’s standards. That said, for basic photos and video, it still gets the job done.

The bad news here is that the Google Pixel 5 isn’t as easy to get your hands on nowadays. It’s no longer sold by Google, so your best bet will be third-party retailers or buying second-hand. If you can deal with a slightly larger screen, the Pixel 7 ($599) offers a lot more phone. In fact, we think it’s the best value in the Android world, and it only builds on what made the Pixel 5 great.

What makes it stand out

  • Pixel magic: Google has infused Pixel phones with useful, but not overwhelming, unique features.
  • Great cameras: The sensors are a bit dated, but the Pixel 5 is still a great camera phone.
  • Compact form factor: The Pixel 5 was the last truly small phone that Google made.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the best small phone from Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S22Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22
Compact design • Impressive camera setup • Unrivaled software support
The smallest and cheapest phone in the series
While it's the entry phone of the Galaxy S22 series, this handset still offers plenty of power, a gorgeous screen, great cameras, and a fantastic software promise. It's also compact enough to easily use with one hand.
$699.99 at Samsung
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$699.99 at AT&T
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$699.99 at Verizon
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$749.99 at Amazon
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The Samsung Galaxy S22 should need no introduction. Samsung Galaxy phones have always been among the best Android phones you can buy, and the smallest in the series is just small enough to recommend here at 6.1 inches. It’s just a bit larger than the ASUS Zenfone 9 above, but it’s got all of the polish and aftermarket support that’s made Samsung the leader in the Android world for years.

Starting with the screen, the AMOLED was nothing short of excellent in our testing. Although you can find sharper displays on larger devices, the full HD+ resolution is more than enough for a display this size, and the color profile is fantastic out of the box. It’s a 120Hz variable display for speedy scrolling in compatible apps, but the dynamic refresh rate can go as low as 48Hz to preserve battery life.

Despite this, battery life was still a bit of a pain point in our review. The 3,700mAh cell made it through a relatively inactive day, but heavy users will struggle to make it to bedtime without turning on battery-saving modes. On average, we got three and a half to four hours of screen-on time in testing. Charging was slower than its more expensive kin at just 25W, but we found that that was fast enough to fill the small-ish cell in just over an hour. Unfortunately, there’s no charger in the box, so you’ll need a USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible charger (here are our recommendations). Using a 15W wireless charger, a full charge took roughly 90 minutes.

Like its larger siblings, the Galaxy S22 features two variants: one with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and the other with Samsung’s own Exynos 2200. We tested both, and although the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 came out on top, both had problems sustaining performance due to heat. That said, both were absolutely fine for daily use, as long as you aren’t committing to long gaming sessions. Our only major complaint with regard to specs was the lack of a storage option beyond 256GB, especially considering the lack of a microSD card slot.

Other highlights are the camera, which is identical to the Galaxy S22 Plus with the best results of any phone on this list, and One UI software. Samsung’s flavor of Android is highly customizable and a joy to use, although there is more bloatware than you’ll find on devices from other OEMs. Still, that’s a small price to pay for the best software support in the industry — four years of OS updates and five years of security updates.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is a solid phone for just about anyone. It’s not the smallest Android phone you can buy, but it’s small enough to be convenient and comfortable to hold with one hand. Apart from the other small Android phones listed above, the only real alternative at this size and price is the iPhone 14 ($799), which is a whole other bag of chips.

What makes it stand out

  • Great cameras: The Galaxy S22’s cameras are a step above other small phones in this price range.
  • Gorgeous screen: The 6.1-inch AMOLED is a bit on the large side, but it features great color and sharpness.
  • Industry-leading support: With five years of security updates and four years of OS updates, this phone will last a long time.

The Sony Xperia 5 IV is the best premium small Android phone

Sony Xperia 5 IVSony Xperia 5 IV
Sony Xperia 5 IV
Excellent video capture • Superb camera autofocus • Compact design
One of the best multimedia hardware packages
The Sony Xperia 5 IV is for the folks who like the Xperia 1 IV but can't stomach the price. While it's cheaper and offers less than its bigger brother, it's still one of the best phones for creators out there.
$799.00 at Amazon
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$798.00 at B&H
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If you can afford to spend a bit more, the Sony Xperia 5 IV is a fantastic little Android phone with some serious photographic chops. It has a 6.1-inch display like the Galaxy S22, but it feels smaller in the hand thanks to the longer, 21:9 form factor. We were easily able to hold and reach the edges of the screen with one hand, and although it is noticeably taller than most other small Android phones, it never felt overly tall in our review.

The screen is a 120Hz FHD+ OLED panel that we found more than bright enough to use outdoors. We were a bit disappointed that Sony didn’t include a variable refresh rate display, which means you have to use 120Hz for everything and drain the battery or 60Hz for everything and deal with more sluggish scrolling. The phone defaults to the latter, but you’ll have to decide what’s more important for you.

Around that is premium casing through and through. The cheap-feeling plastic of the previous generation has been replaced by a sturdy aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass Victus covering the front and back of the device. This gives it an exceptionally premium look and feel, although we did find that it does tend to attract fingerprints.

There are a few other notable extra features packed in here, such as front-facing stereo speakers. These are a rarity on phones nowadays, and their inclusion means the Xperia 5 IV sounds significantly better than the competition. They’re also housed in a new enclosure that reduces vibration when the phone is propped up on a table. If you prefer listening more discretely, the Xperia 5 IV has another rarity for modern phones — a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Another welcome inclusion is a sizeable 5,00mAh battery. With the default 60Hz refresh rate, we were easily able to make it through a day’s use, even with demanding games and apps. At 120Hz, we still got a respectable four hours of battery life, which is short but still better than the Galaxy S22 achieved. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same heat dissipation problems thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

The Xperia 5 IV’s camera hardware isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but we got excellent results. Like all Sony cameras, this one has great color accuracy, white balance, and natural details. The cameras don’t rely on oversharpening or oversaturation, and more serious photographers can tap into the Photo Pro app’s A/P/S/M options. Video results were also impressive, and the device is capable of shooting 4K/120fps within the Photo Pro app.

Overall, the Xperia 5 IV is an expensive small Android phone, but it packs a lot of features that really make it stand out from the crowd. We do wish that Sony offered more than two Android upgrades and three years of security patches, but if you take good care of it, this device will last a lot longer than that.

What makes it stand out

  • Compact size: Sony’s long, skinny design is easy to hold and slip into a pocket or purse.
  • Great cameras: The Xperia 5 IV’s cameras provide great color accuracy and details, plus pro features for serious photographers.
  • All-day battery: The beefy 5,000mAh battery easily lasts for a day of standard or heavy use.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a great alternative pick

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
Efficient performance • Solid primary camera • Compact design
The affordable foldable
While it still costs a pretty penny, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is much more affordable than a lot of other foldable phones. It also has a retro vibe to it due to its clamshell design. But there's more to the phone than looks alone — it also packs plenty of power, a solid main camera, and a lot more.

Our last pick for the best small Android phones comes from a completely different category: Foldables. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 manages to keep a small footprint thanks to its folding design, and many of the drawbacks of earlier foldables are no longer an issue.

Folded, the Z Flip 4 is easily the most compact device on this list, and it still has 6.7 inches of AMOLED real estate once opened. It’s tall and thin, like the Sony Xperia 5 IV above, and we found it relatively easy to use one-handed. The screen itself was bright and speedy in our testing, although it does have a crease in the middle. However, your eyes get used to it quickly, and after a few hours, you’ll forget it’s there, trust us. On the front of the device, there’s a smaller Cover Screen that’s great for checking notifications or the time without opening the device, which is good news for battery life and removing distractions from your life.

The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor was a big performer in our testing, powering through anything we could throw at it. Like all modern processors, it did heat up with extended use, but not to the same extent as its non-Plus predecessor. This processor is also more efficient, and the larger battery in the Z Flip 4 compared to the Z Flip 3 meant we got four to five hours of battery life. This is less than a traditional flagship but still enough to make it through a full day. It took about 75 minutes to top off on a normal charger or 90 minutes on a wireless charger, but unfortunately, neither are included in the box.

Camera performance was also great, but not quite as good as the mainline Galaxy S22 series. We weren’t in love with Samsung’s trademark oversaturation, but the punchy colors may appeal to some. Either way, the details captured by the primary camera were impressive, and night mode and portrait mode were also top performers. The ultrawide lens is nice to have for niche shots, but we did notice a different color profile between the two cameras. One nice feature both cameras have is the ability to use the smaller screen on the front as a viewfinder for selfies, since the external cameras are far better than the internal selfie camera.

Apart from that, the Z Flip 4 has a few interesting software tricks that make the most out of its folding form factor. When half open, the phone enters “Flex Mode,” which effectively separates the top and bottom parts of the screen to perform two tasks. For example, YouTube may play videos at the top and display comments at the bottom. Our favorite trick is with the camera app, which uses the top of the screen as a viewfinder and puts the shutter button at the bottom. This turns the device into a kind of camcorder when held in hand, or a great group selfie camera when placed on a table. Even without Flex Mode, Samsung’s One UI is one of the most robust and fully-featured Android skins out there. Update support is also the best in the business, with Samsung offering four years of version updates and five years of security updates.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 isn’t a small Android phone in the traditional sense, but in many ways, it’s even better. It certainly isn’t cheap, retailing at the same price as the Xperia 5 IV above, but the cool factor of having a foldable is more than worth the price of entry. If you’ve been eyeing foldables for a while, this is the one that we can finally recommend to just about anyone.

What makes it stand out

  • It flips: The Z Flip 4 opens up into a large 6.7-inch screen, just like the clamshell flip phones of olden times.
  • Great software: With a few special features, this phone takes full advantage of its unique form factor.
  • Solid cameras: Both sensors on this camera perform well, with Samsung’s trademark post-processing.

What we look for in the best small Android phones

Size is obviously our main concern when selecting the best small Android phones, but there are several factors we consider. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Size: For this list, we considered phones with screen sizes of 6.1 inches and below. This is larger than phones from the past, but unless you’re willing to use a phone from five years ago, this is, unfortunately, as small as it gets. It’s also worth noting that screen size is measured diagonally, so the exact dimensions for each phone will vary.
  • Price and value: More expensive phones are not always better, and small Android phones are not always cheaper. In fact, many of the few small Android phones on the market are more expensive than budget alternatives, but still represent a good value for what you get.
  • Performance: All of the small phones on our list have flagship power, although some are older gen models. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as many newer flagship processors struggle with heat issues.
  • Cameras: Small Android phones tend to have fewer lenses, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable shooters. All of our picks above take great pictures, but you will have to sacrifice a telephoto lens.
  • Battery life: Size constraints mean smaller Android phones generally have smaller battery capacities, but all of the phones we’ve selected are capable of making it through a full day’s use.
  • Build quality: Phones are only getting larger, so the more durable your phone is, the longer it will last. Premium materials like aluminum frames and Gorilla Glass Victus are what we look for.
  • Software: Although all of these phones run Android, each manufacturer’s version of Android differs, as does the number of years each phone will receive updates and support.

Frequently asked questions

We can’t pinpoint an exact reason why smaller smartphones are so rare these days, but we can say it’s an industry trend that’s been developing for years. The market has slowly moved to larger screens, which naturally translates to bigger devices.

They are rare, but some high-end devices do come in smaller iterations. These include models like the Xperia 5 IV, ASUS Zenfone 9, Samsung Galaxy S22, iPhone 14, and others. Again, they are rare, though.

Although it’s counterintuitive, cheap Android phones tend to be on the larger side. In fact, most of the small Android phones on our list are premium devices with pricetags to match.