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

iPhone 11 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

You want the best small smartphone for your needs, and we want to help you find it – and to that end we've put together a full and current list of the best small phones you can buy right now, covering a range of price points and manufacturers (from Nokia to Apple).

Invest in one of the best small phones of 2020 and you'll get more room in your bags and in your pockets, plus the added benefit of less strain on your thumbs. You might even save some money along the way as well.

These really are the best compact phones on the market today, delivering strong internal hardware suites, versatile camera systems and slick user interfaces — they just do so in a smaller scale handset. Read on for our full list.

The best small phones available today: get one of the best compact phones

Samsung Galaxy S10e best small phones 2020

1. Best small phone for most people: 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

(Image credit: Future)

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If may be more than a year old now, but with a screen size of 5.8 inches, the Samsung Galaxy S10e is smaller the the Galaxy S20 phones, and still super powerful. If you're after a compact phone then this one is well worth considering.

And as well as a small-ish size, you also get the very best specs and performance that Samsung was able to offer in 2019. 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. As it gets older, the price continues to come down too.

iPhone 11 Pro best small phones 2020

(Image credit: Apple)

2. Best small premium phone: 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 Nokia 2.2

(Image credit: Nokia)

3. Best small budget phone: Nokia 2.2

The best small phone for those on a budget

Weight: 153g
Dimensions: 146 x 70.6 x 9.3 mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 5.71 inches
Resolution: 720 x 1,520 pixels
CPU: Mediatek MT67671 Helio A22
RAM: 2GB / 3GB
Storage: 16GB / 32GB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Rear camera: 13MP f/2.2
Front camera: 5MP
Reasons to buy
+Costs very little+Smart finish

You can get the Nokia 2.2 for not much money at all, and of course that means there are going to be compromises in terms of the specs, the camera, and so on – but the phone is still going to be capable of getting through most of the stuff you ask it to do without too much trouble.

Nokia brand owner HMD Global has built up quite a reputation for producing affordable, stylish, no nonsense phones, and that's the case with this one too. The phone runs a nice clean version of stock Android, and you're guaranteed security updates for three years.

Of note for this particular round-up is the 5.71-inch display, which is simple to operate with one hand (assuming you've got fairly big hands). If you don't have much money spare, this is the best small phone to go for.

best small phones 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

(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

(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.