Phones just keep getting bigger, fitting in more features, better cameras, and larger batteries. But our hands and pockets aren’t getting any larger — some of us just want a small phone. The options are limited nowadays, but there are still good choices — at the high end, with the Pixel 4, and even for less money as well.
Amazing camera for less
Google Pixel 3a
Take the software, features, and camera that make Pixels great, but cut the price down — now you have a Pixel 3a. Strategic cutbacks in the hardware and specs are noticeable. But you may not care when you get to save money and keep that compact form factor you desire. Just be aware that the Pixel 4a is right around the corner; wait if you can.
$280 at Amazon
Google Pixel 4
Google has done a stellar job releasing the “same” Pixel in two sizes. The Pixel 4 doesn’t miss out on any features from its larger sibling — it has the same specs, cameras, and stereo speakers. The display may be smaller, but it’s the same quality. The only downside here is battery life, which is frankly poor — so watch out for that.
$645 at Amazon
Full of features
Samsung Galaxy S10e
The Galaxy S10e offers a 5.8-inch display that’s perfect for one-handed use. Samsung didn’t compromise on the hardware, keeping the same general spec sheet as the other S10s, plus all of the features like wireless charging, a headphone jack, and MicroSD card slot. Though it’s over a year old, it now has Samsung’s latest software.
$550 at Amazon
A great budget pick
Samsung Galaxy A10e
Samsung doesn’t just make great expensive phones anymore — the company is filling the needs of budget users, too. The Galaxy A10e costs less than you think but doesn’t skimp on the necessities, especially around the display. Bright and vibrant, the 5.8-inch screen goes edge-to-edge, facilitating the Android 9 Pie-based software. There’s also a dual camera setup on the back, 32GB of storage, and is compact enough to easily fit in one hand.
$150 at Amazon
The Nokia 7.1 has been replaced by the newer 7.2, but its successor is much larger. To stay compact, stick with the 7.1, and you’ll save money at the same time. It has a vibrant 5.8-inch display, and the Snapdragon 636 processor ensures you don’t see any lag. Then there’s the software — it runs Android One, guaranteeing a clean interface and timely security updates even though it’s getting older.
$209 at Amazon
Nokia 5.1 Plus
The Nokia 5.1 is incredibly inexpensive, but that also means it keeps things modestly sized with a 5.8-inch display. The specs are basic, as is the design, but for this money, you can’t have any complaints. You get everything you need, in a compact package, for a compelling price.
$180 at Amazon
If we’re making some suggestions
The market for small phones is dwindling, but there are a few reliable options still available. Our pick is the amazing Pixel 3a, which is one of the best values in smartphones out there today.
The Google Pixel 4 is the best premium pick right now, given its incredible camera and clean Google software experience. It’s easily usable in one hand, but doesn’t give up on specs or features — the only major downside is its bad battery life.
The Galaxy S10e is neck-and-neck, with its solid hardware and specs, running familiar Samsung software that’s packed with features. It’s ever-so-slightly wider, but a little bit shorter than the Pixel 4, so it’s easier to reach the top of the screen with one hand. It’s also got better battery life than the Pixel 4, which is significant, but it’s several months older — now well over a year old in total — and it’s cameras aren’t as good.
If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, the Nokia 5.1 Plus is the way to go. For a great price you’re getting a solid phone with Android One software that’s going to get updates longer than most in the price range — and it’s one of the few Nokia phones with a sub-6-inch display.