Best small phones 2022: compact but powerful mobiles

These are the best small phones to get in 2022 if you're not a fan of big displays and pocket-breaking dimensions

The best small phones hero image showing an Apple iPhone 13 mini in various colours, including red, white, black, blue and pink
(Image credit: Apple)

The best small phones in 2022 offer a perfect combination of small size and big power: just because they're smaller than their rivals doesn't mean their specifications are smaller too. Whether you have smaller hands or just don't feel the need to have a phone the size of a dinner plate, the best small phones are brilliant buys.

It's nice to see some of tech's biggest names bucking the trend for ever-larger phones: for example, while Apple makes the truly enormous iPhone 13 Pro Max, it also makes the compact and bijou iPhone 13 mini and the small and smart iPhone SE 2022.

To create our best small phones guide we've set the maximum screen size to six inches or a little bit above. That means not every phone here is ultra-compact, but they're all smaller than the big brands' big flagships.

If you decide that the best small phones are a little small after all, we also have in-depth guides to the best phones of any size. We also have guides for specific types of phones: high-powered gaming phones, the best Android phones, the best Samsung phones and many more. And if you're shopping on a budget, don't forget to check out T3's guide to the very best cheap phones.

If you like the idea of a small phone that folds then make sure you scope out the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G in T3's best foldable phones buying guide.

The best compact phones on the market today include handsets from Google, Samsung, Apple and others. Read on to discover which small phone will be the best phone for you.

And, talking of small phones from today's top makers, every single year some of the best Prime Day deals we see are on compact phones from makers like Google and Samsung. Prime Day 2022 is now very close, too, so as a result we're advising shoppers right now to consider waiting to see what is discounted in the Prime Day sale, as it could save them a wodge of notes.

The best small phones you can buy today in 2022

iPhone SE 2022 best small phones

The best small phone for most people? That's the Apple iPhone SE (2022).

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best small phone for most people

Specifications

Weight: 144 g
Dimensions: 138.4 mm x 67.3 mm x 7.3 mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 4.7 inches (LCD)
Resolution: 750 x 1334 pixels (326 ppi)
CPU: Apple A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery: TBC
Rear camera: 12MP wide
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
All the power of iOS
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
iPhone 13 mini also exists

While the third-gen iPhone SE for 2022 might not have changed much in terms of looks from its predecessor, it's been given a huge upgrade on the inside: this compact handset is powered by the Apple A15 Bionic chip that also sits inside the iPhone 13 series.

That means any app you want to run on this is going to fly, especially as it only has to push pixels to a 4.7-inch display. The latest version of iOS is on board of course, so it can run any app that the bigger and more expensive handsets in the iPhone series can run as well.

While the camera setup isn't the best you're going to find, it's still capable of getting some very decent results, and then there's the price – this is the most affordable iPhone you can buy at the moment, and by some distance. For a lot of people this is likely to be the perfect iPhone.

iPhone 13 mini

The best premium small phone is the Apple iPhone 13 mini.

(Image credit: Apple)
The best premium small phone

Specifications

Weight: 141 grams (4.97 ounces)
Dimensions: 5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Apple A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 2406 mAh
Rear camera: 12MP wide + 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP wide

Reasons to buy

+
Very attractive, compact design
+
Improved battery life over iPhone 12 mini
+
Base level storage is 128GB
+
Super rapid performance courtesy of A15 Bionic processor
+
Latest version of iOS

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite expensive
-
Only 60Hz screen
-
Charging isn't the fastest

If you have a budget that goes beyond the level of the iPhone SE, then the iPhone 13 mini might just be the best small phone for you. It has a screen size of 5.4 inches, but thanks to the notch and lack of bezels, it's actually physically smaller overall than the iPhone SE.

Going with the iPhone 13 mini also gets you 5G and the fastest mobile Apple processor on the market (the A15 Bionic), plus a dual-lens 12MP+12MP rear camera rather than the single camera on the iPhone SE. Both these phones are running the latest version of iOS though, so there's virtually no difference when it comes to the software and apps.

There's faster wireless charging on the iPhone 13 mini compared with the iPhone SE (although it is by far not the fastest on the market) as well, while the screen is a higher resolution and OLED rather than LCD. The iPhone 13 mini costs more, but you get more back for your investment – and it's actually even smaller.

Whether or not it is right for you depends on your needs. If you need flagship-grade performance in a small, compact form factor then you need iPhone 13 mini. If you're happy with just every-day-use kind of performance and don't want to spend a lot, then the iPhone SE is the way to go.

Google Pixel 5 small phones front and back in black colorway on white background

If you don't need all the power of the Pixel 6, check out the Google Pixel 5.

(Image credit: Google)
The best budget small phone

Specifications

Weight: 151 g
Dimensions: 144.7 mm x 70.4 mm x 8 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6 inches (OLED)
Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels (432 ppi)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4080 mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP wide + 16MP ultrawide
Front camera: 8MP wide

Reasons to buy

+
Fast Android updates
+
Impressive camera system

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is just average

Google has gone back to focusing on flagships with the Pixel 6, but the Pixel 5 remains a relatively powerful and relatively affordable option if you can find it – it has a screen size that's exactly 6 inches from corner to corner.

What really makes Pixel phones stand out are their mobile photography capabilities, and although the Pixel 5 only has a dual-lens 12.2MP+16MP rear camera, it can take some stunning pictures day or night. You also get a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB in return for your money.

This being a Pixel phone, it's always going to be running the latest version of Android, which is another reason to give it a look. There's support for 5G, wireless charging, and an IP68 rating for waterproofing as well, so it's a great value offering from Google.

Sony Xperia 5 III in black colourway on a white background

The Sony Xperia 5 III is a compact phone with plenty of power.

(Image credit: Sony)
The best premium small phone

Specifications

Weight: 168 grams
Dimensions: 157 x 68 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.1 inches
Resolution: 2520 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP, 12MP, 12MP
Front camera: 8MP

Reasons to buy

+
Superior screen tech
+
Distinct, narrow style
+
5G enabled

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better 
-
Slippy glass design 

With a 6.1-inch display, the Sony Xperia 5 III is pushing the definition of a small phone, but it's still more compact than a lot of handsets on the market – and thanks to the 21:9 aspect ratio it's very tall and narrow (in portrait mode), making it easier to use with one hand.

It's an expensive phone as well, but you do get a lot for your money: a high-end Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, and plenty of useful extras such as 5G connectivity and IP68 waterproofing. There's even wireless charging. 

This being a Sony smartphone, the display and the triple-lens rear camera are top notch – areas that Sony has plenty of expertise in as a company – and it's a handset that's well worth considering if you want a small phone that's also a premium phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G small phone shown with folding screen on white backgroundT3 Award

In its folded form factor the Z Flip 3 5G is really, really pocket friendly.

(Image credit: Samsung)
The best small phone that folds

Specifications

Weight: 183 g
Dimensions: 72.2 x 166 x 6.9 mm (unfolded)
Screen size: 6.7 inches (unfolded)
Resolution: 1080 x 2640 pixels (unfolded)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 3,300 mAh
Rear camera: 12 MP wide + 12 MP ultrawide
Front camera: 10 MP

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy, strong design
+
1.9inch cover screen with widgets
+
Available in 7 different colours 

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite thick when folded
-
Camera tech is just alright 
-
Relatively small battery

A stylish foldable small phone that is well worth buying, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G will satisfy your nostalgia for the classic noughties flip phone while actually giving you some of the most up-to-date tech and smarts around.

It has a 1.9inch cover screen and a large 6.7inch 120Hz main screen inside. The cover screen is 4x bigger than the original which means it can fit plenty on it. You can control your music, access Samsung Pay and check your messages, it’s really easy to use you just swipe through the widgets. You can even take pictures without unfolding the handset at all, you’ll just need to double press the power button. 

The best part is that Samsung has lowered the price in this model, but actually offers much more in this handset than it did before. Now that it’s about the price of a flagship phone, this is definitely worth considering!

Samsung Galaxy A41 small phone in blue colorway on white background

It's basic and compact. Factors which make the Samsung Galaxy A41 a smart budget buy.

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy A41

The best basic small phone

Specifications

Weight: 152 g
Dimensions: 149.9 mm x 69.8 mm x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.1 inches (OLED)
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels (431 ppi)
CPU: Mediatek Helio P65
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3500 mAh
Rear camera: 48MP wide + 8MP ultrawide + 5MP depth
Front camera: 25MP wide

Reasons to buy

+
Bright, sharp screen
+
Solid Samsung build quality
+
Affordable price point

Reasons to avoid

-
Entry-level specs

Samsung makes more phones than you might have realised – it's not just about flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – and with a 6.1-inch display the Galaxy A41 is actually one of the smallest in the current Samsung range, as well as being one of the cheapest.

The phone's budget nature is given away by the Mediatek Helio P65 processor, the 4GB of RAM and the 64GB of internal storage (which you can expand with a memory card), but the phone is still going to be able to get through everything you need it to. The triple-lens 48MP+8MP+5MP rear camera is also very good quality for the price you're paying.

While you don't get extras such as wireless charging, waterproofing or 5G, you don't have to spend very much at all to get your hands on this phone, and it'll still serve you well – on top of being one of the best small phones that you can buy at the moment.

Asus Zenfone 8 best small phones

The Asus Zenfone 8 packs a lot of power into a small space.

(Image credit: Asus)
Packed with power but still small

Specifications

Weight: 169 g
Dimensions: 148 mm x 68.5 mm x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 5.9 inches (OLED)
Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels (446 ppi)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 6GB / 8GB / 12GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4000 mAh
Rear camera: 64MP wide + 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Solid build quality
+
High-end camera system

Reasons to avoid

-
Not all that cheap

If you want a small phone but still need as much performance as possible, look no further than the Asus Zenfone 8. It comes with the super-speedy Snapdragon 888 processor inside and can be configured with as much as 256GB of internal storage and a whopping 16GB of RAM.

That's not where the appeal of this phone stops either, because this is a very well designed and very well put together handset (as you would expect from Asus). Importantly for this particular round-up, the (bright OLED) screen measures a mere 5.9 inches from corner to corner.

While you can find cheaper small phones out there, and small phones with better camera systems on the back, the Asus Zenfone 8 holds its own in just about every department and is a really good choice for your next upgrade – it's undoubtedly one of the best small phones out there.

Nokia 2720 Flip small phone in red colorway on white background

A small feature phone that folds? That's the Nokia 2720 Flip.

(Image credit: Nokia)

8. Nokia 2720 Flip

One of the best small feature phones - and it folds!

Specifications

Weight: 118g
Dimensions: 104.8 x 54.5mm
OS: KaiOS
Screen size: 2.8 inches (internal), 1.3" (external)
Resolution: 240 x 320 (int), 240 x 240 (ext)
CPU: Snapdragon 205
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 512MB
Battery: 1,500mAh
Rear camera: 2MP

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap and cheerful
+
28-day standby time
+
WhatsApp and Facebook

Reasons to avoid

-
Low-power specs

The Nokia 2720 Flip is a fascinating little phone. We love its looks, which take us back to the 1990s when dropping your Nokia would break the floor and battery life was measured in weeks and months, not hours. But despite the retro styling this is a very modern device that sits somewhere between feature phone and smartphone. It doesn't have an App Store like Android phones or iPhones do, but it does have Facebook and WhatsApp with 4G LTE connectivity so it's not completely internet-free. 

We really like this phone. As much as we love our smartphones there's a lot to be said for simplicity, and this is a particularly good option for people who need a phone with basic social networking and nothing else – or for parents who want their kids to be contactable by them but not by every Tom, Dick and Harry on the internet. The big icons and big numbers on the keys means it's also a good option for people whose eyesight isn't what it used to be.

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.