Best small phones 2020: stylish and powerful compact phones

These are the small smartphones to get if you're not a fan of big displays

best small phones Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact
(Image credit: Sony)

You're after the best small smartphone you can wrap your hand around, and we're here to help you: we've put together a comprehensive list of the best small phones you can buy right now, covering a range of different manufacturers (from Nokia to Apple) and price points.

Pick one of the best small phones of 2020 and you'll have more room in your bags and your pockets, as well as less strain on your thumbs. You might just save some money along the way too – check out the widgets on this page and the New Year sales deals to see what's going cheap. 

These really are the best compact phones on the market today. So, without further ado, here are the handsets deliver fantastic mobile phone experiences but in a modestly-sized form factor.

The best small phones available today

Samsung Galaxy S10e best small phones 2019

Samsung Galaxy S10e

1. Samsung Galaxy S10e

The best small phone with the most power

Weight: 150g
Dimensions: 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.8 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,280
CPU: Exynos 9820 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 3,100mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 16MP ultrawide
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Bags of power and performance+Decent camera photo quality

With a screen size of 5.8 inches, we can't pretend that the Samsung Galaxy S10e is a super-compact phone, but remember there's very little in the way of bezels – the overall chassis size means this is still one of the best small phones in the business.

And as well as a small-ish size, you also get the very best specs and performance that Samsung is able to offer in 2020. Under the hood there's a Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 processor, depending on your region, and that's paired with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage (which you can also expand).

Add in the fetching array of colours that the Samsung Galaxy S10e can be had in, and this is a great overall package for people wanting a smaller phone. It's not exactly cheap, but it is cheaper than the other Galaxy S10 models.

Best small phones Nokia 5.1

Nokia 5.1

(Image credit: Nokia)

2. Nokia 5.1

The best small phone for those on a budget

Weight: 150g
Dimensions: 151.1 x 70.7 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 5.5 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,160 pixels
CPU: Cortex A53
Storage: 16GB/32GB
Battery: 2,970mAh
Rear camera: 16MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Premium finish for a budget phone+Won't cost you much

Under the guidance of HMD Global, Nokia has once again been making a name for itself in the smartphone market, this time with a series of powerful yet simple handsets that stick to the basics and do them well, on top of providing a clean and speedy version of Android.

Included in this slow and steady rebirth is the Nokia 5.1, which with a screen size of 5.5 inches just qualifies for this particular roundup. It's not the fastest or best-looking handset you're going to find, but it's great value and it's easy to use with just one of your hands.

You're probably going to want to invest in a microSD card to get a usable amount of room on here, but other than that this is a solid budget phone from Nokia. It's a little older now so if you can't find it, check out the other models in Nokia's line-up.

iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone SE

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple iPhone 11 Pro

A modestly-sized phone that delivers a premium iPhone experience

Weight: 188g
Dimensions: 144 x 71.4 x 8.1 mm
OS: iOS 13
Screen size: 5.8 inches
Resolution: 1,125 x 2,436 pixels
CPU: Apple A13 Bionic
Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 3,046mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP telephoto + 12MP ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP
Reasons to buy
+Top-notch power from Apple+Will last you for years and years

The 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro is the smallest iPhone out of the models that Apple launched in 2019, and thanks to its super-thin bezels, you can still just about use this phone with one hand – which is a plus if you're after the best small phone.

While the screen is substantially bigger than the 4.7 inches of the iPhone 8 (see below), the overall size isn't much different, so it's a question of how much you want to spend and how good a camera you want on your next handset.

And it's a powerful compact too: the latest Apple A13 Bionic processor, a triple-lens camera around the back, all the good stuff that iOS 13 brings with it and more. Let's hope Apple eventually sees sense and brings out an iPhone SE 2 this year.

best small phones Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

An Android small phone powerhouse

Weight: 168g
Dimensions: 135 x 65 x 12.1 mm
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
Screen size: 5 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,160 pixels
CPU: Kryo 385 Silver
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 2,870mAh
Rear camera: 19MP
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+High performance handset+Impressive Sony camera, as always

Maybe Sony doesn't shift as many handsets as the likes of Apple or Samsung, but it does make one of the very best small phones in the shape of the Xperia XZ2 Compact. With some top-notch hardware packed inside, it has a screen size of just 5 inches diagonally.

Admittedly the design isn't the most innovative or svelte that you're going to come across this year, but if you're looking for a lot of power from something that's still going to fit in your pocket, give it a look (the top-end Snapdragon 845 is the chipset running everything).

This being Sony, you know the 19-megapixel rear camera is going to serve you well, and the phone comes with some useful extras too, like an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust. Oh, and you can get the handset in four rather fetching colours as well.

Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3

(Image credit: Google)

5. Google Pixel 3a

Very decent hardware in a stylish, compact package

Weight: 147g
Dimensions: 151.3 x 70.1 x 8.2 mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.6 inches
Resolution: 1,080 x 2,220 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 670
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 12.2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+One of the best cameras in the business+Speedy and stable Android updates

While we await the arrival of the Pixel 4a, the Pixel 3a remains very affordable, and compact enough to take a spot in our best small phones of 2020 list – few phones of today offer a screen smaller than the 5.6-inch one that the Pixel 3a comes rocking.

This is Google's mid-ranger, so of course compromises are made along the way – the handset's specs can't compete with the more premium Pixel 4 phone, and you don't get quite the same choice in terms of internal storage either. You'll need to make do without waterproofing and wireless charging too.

However, what the Pixel 3a offers, besides a compact size and respectable performance, is an exceptional camera: you can take some truly great snaps with this phone, despite its positioning in the mid-range section of the market.

best small phones Apple iPhone 8

iPhone 8

(Image credit: Apple)

6. Apple iPhone 8

A small but powerful iPhone experience

Weight: 148g
Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
OS: iOS 13
Screen size: 4.7 inches
Resolution: 750 x 1,334 pixels
CPU: Apple A11 Bionic
Storage: 64/256GB
Battery: 1,821mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP
Reasons to buy
+Powerful Apple A11 Bionic chipset+The usual polish of iOS

The 4.7-inch iPhone 8 from 2018 remains on sale direct from Apple, even after the launch of the 2019 iPhones. It's not ultra-compact, but it's still smaller than a lot of the phone displays you'll come across in 2020, so it gets a spot on our list.

Remember the iPhone 8 has exactly the same guts as the iPhone X launched in the same year, so all you're really missing out on is the Face ID unlock technology, a notch at the top of the display, and a little bit of power. The camera's only a single-lens snapper too, but it still capture some very impressive photos.

The iPhone 8 runs the latest iOS 13 software, and will last you for several years in all its compact glory. New iPhones will be appearing this year, but that's always the case – don't let that put you off buying this.

Best small phones 2019.

One of the smallest Nokia phones packs certain charms. 

(Image credit: Nokia)

7. Nokia 3.1

This tiny phone packs a real punch

Weight: 138.3g
Dimensions: 146.25 x 68.65 x 8.7 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 5.2 inches
Resolution: 720 x 1,440 pixels
CPU: Mediatek MT6750
Storage: 16GB/32GB
Battery: 2,990mAh
Rear camera: 13MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Sharp-looking design+Camera is above-average +Decent screen quality

Completing our run-down of the best small phones is one of the cheapest, coming straight to us from HMD Global's Nokia partnership. The 3.1, complete with a screen that's just a shade over five inches, is a charming little device that won't break your bank, setting you back about £150 from most good retailers. 

While this isn't the best-specced phone on the list, it does come with Android One, meaning you get all the features of bigger phones, alongside a sturdy camera that worked well in our tests. The unique 18:9 aspect ratio of the display makes it more-than-ideal for watching Netflix, too. 

Like the Nokia 5.1, we recommend you invest in a sizeable microSD for this device as well as buying the slightly faster 32GB model that comes with 3GB.