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Best Small Phones to Buy in 2023

These compact phones are great for people with hands smaller than continents.

It's a tough market if you prefer a smaller, more compact phone. These days, bigger is apparently better -- at least according to the phone industry. Top brands continue to increase the size of their flagship phones, with the new iPhone 14 Pro measuring in at 6.03 inches, the Pixel 7 Pro at 6.7 inches and Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra taking it even further to 6.8 inches. It makes it hard to believe that Samsung's original Galaxy Note was once considered a Goliath at just 5.3 inches. 

Bigger displays certainly have their advantages. Top specs and stellar cameras are often packed into those massive bodies, while the sheer size of the screens make them great for watching videos on the move. But there's no escaping the fact that the increase in size has made them more cumbersome to hold and use for anyone with hands smaller than continents. And that's to say nothing of the embarrassing bulge caused when you try to shove one into the pocket of your skinny jeans. 

While bigger phones can be better for those of you really into your videos or playing lots of mobile games on the move, there are many of us that would still prefer a smaller phone that's easier to type with one-handed. 

Your options are, I'm sorry to say, limited and getting more so all the time -- especially as Apple opted not to refresh its iPhone Mini line this year. But there are still some smaller phones to consider, though you may have to sacrifice some features like longer battery life, wireless charging and better camera performance. Everyone's definition of "small" is different, and a comfortable size for you may feel uncomfortably large to someone else. If you're worried about the size, it's worth trying to get hands-on with a phone at your nearest store. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

While Apple didn't release an iPhone 14 Mini in 2022, essentially putting a nail in the coffin of the Mini line, the iPhone 13 Mini is still officially on sale directly from Apple. Its 5.4-inch display makes it a fair bit smaller than any in the iPhone 14 range, and actually qualifies it as the physically smallest phone Apple makes. Sure, the iPhone SE 2022 has a smaller display, but it has large bezels around the edges, which makes the whole phone slightly larger.  

With pricing that starts at $599, you'll be paying extra money over the iPhone SE for that more modern design, along with a dual rear camera system that adds an excellent ultra-wide angle to the standard view. It's a shame Apple hasn't updated the Mini range this year, but while it's still being officially sold by Apple, the iPhone 13 Mini is the best smaller phone to consider right now. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

Launched last year, Apple's iPhone SE packs a solid single camera, a potent A15 Bionic chip and 5G support into a body with a display that measures only 4.7 inches. That's a huge size difference compared with the gargantuan 6.69 inches of the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Using an older design, its large bezels actually mean it's physically slightly larger than the iPhone 13 Mini, despite having a smaller display.

At $429 it's the cheapest iPhone Apple makes, but you will have to sacrifice some features including the more impressive multi-camera arrays found on the higher-end models as well as things like Face ID. Still, if you're after a solid everyday small phone that won't break the bank, it's the phone to go for. 

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2022) review.


Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

At 6.1 inches, the Google Pixel 6A isn't exactly small, but it's still one of the smallest Android phones you can buy, undercutting the 6.3 inches of the more recent Pixel 7 and lopping a huge amount off the similarly priced 6.5-inch Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.  

CNET's Lisa Eadicicco called it the "best Android phone under $500" in her Pixel 6A review, calling out how it keeps the same Tensor chip seen in the $599 Pixel 6 and many of its features. It includes 5G connectivity, solid all-round performance and a dual camera system that can take great photos in daylight and at night. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

With a 6.7-inch screen size, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4's screen is way too big to be on this list. But before you slam your fists into your keyboard at my incompetence, hear me out. As one of Samsung's foldable phones, the Z Flip 4 folds in half, turning that massive screen into a small, square puck that quite comfortably fits into a jacket pocket. 

An outer display will alert you to incoming notifications, meaning you only need to unfold it to its full size when you actually want to reply. Sure, it might not be the perfect solution, and with a starting price of $1,000 it's hardly cheap, but its innovative hinge design might offer you the best of both worlds: a compact form when it's sitting in your pocket, but a big screen for when you want to use it. 

Read our Galaxy Z Flip 4 review.


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