The best small phones of 2023 offer a perfect combination of a compact size and big performance: just because they're smaller than their rivals doesn't mean their specifications are necessarily inferior, and sometimes they can be cheaper 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. Spend a few days with one of these handsets and you could quite reasonably ask yourself why you would need anything bigger. Plus, they actually fit in your pockets!
What counts as 'small' has changed over time as phones in general have got bigger. Here we've set a maximum 6.1-inch screen size for our best small phones guide – not exactly tiny, but relatively small compared with some of the monsters on the market. They do say good things come in small packages.
If you decide that the best small phones are a little too 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.
Which is the best small phone in 2023? The top 3
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The best small phone for most people is the Asus Zenfone 10. It's a small stylish phone with big specs and amazing video recording.
The best small Google phone is the Google Pixel 7a, a winning balance between features and price. You get fantastic camera performance and decent specs, plus very prompt Android updates when they're ready.
We love the Zenfone 9 already so this brand new model with a host of upgrades is right up our street. Our 5 star review was full of praise for this pockset sized wonder. With a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor you can expect top level performance and great battery life.
The Zenfone range is designed to pack flagship specs into a smaller handset and Asus has definetely achieved that with the Zenfone 10. We were particularly impressed with the smoothness of video thanks to the 6 axis Hybrid Gimbal Stabiliser and a HyperSteady mode.
With a 5.9-inch AMOLED display, this is a beautiful phone that also comfortably fits within our compact phones category.
Read our full Asus Zenfone 10 Review.
If you have a budget that goes beyond the level of the iPhone SE, then the iPhone 13 mini might be the best small phone for you. It has a screen size of a mere 5.4-inches, but thanks to the notch and lack of bezels, it's actually physically smaller overall than the SE.
Going with the iPhone 13 mini also nets you 5G, a dual-lens rear camera, faster wireless charging, and a higher-resolution OLED display. It's the more powerful choice and, perhaps surprisingly, the last of its kind: there's no iPhone 14 mini, so if you want higher-end Apple and you want it small, this could be your last chance.
Aside from the size considerations, this is everything that you would expect from an Apple iPhone: the build quality is excellent, the software works pretty much flawlessly, and there are a huge number of brilliant apps available for it.
The latest pocket sized Pixel is the 7a, and it's pretty special. This model makes the step up to Tensor G2 performance, one of the best chipsets out there. For the specs you won't have to break the bank either with a £399/$459 launch price.
Google always treats Pixel users to the best version of Android with first dibs on new features, but that's not the only reason to plump for the Pixel 7a. The camera has received a serious step up and the G2 processor brings the very best out of its AI photo features.
Granted it's not as svelte as some of the other phones on this list but with a 6.1-inch screen it's still on the smaller side for a modern phone.
Read our full Pixel 7a review.
Best small phones 2023: Best of the rest
While the third-gen iPhone SE (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 14 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.
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 by some distance. It's small, affordable and, therefore, will be the ideal small phone for most people.
Of course the iOS software running on the iPhone SE (2022) is the same as the software running on the more powerful and more expensive handsets in Apple's series of handsets, so there really isn't much difference in terms of what you can do with this compared wit the premium-level iPhones.
As we said at the start, it's not all that easy to find truly compact phones these days, and the Google Pixel 6a is pushing the definition a bit with its 6.1-inch display. Nevertheless, it's smaller than a lot of handsets out there at the moment, and won't weigh you down too much.
Besides the size, the Pixel 6a offers a rather appealing balance between price and performance. You could opt for the Pixel 7 or 7a instead of course, but for many people the Pixel 6a is going to have everything they need, and at a cheaper price too. Don't forget it runs on the same processor as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
As always with Google Pixel phones, the photos and videos you can get out of this handset are outstanding. The dual-lens 12MP+12MP rear camera may not set any records in terms of megapixel count, but you're certainly not going to be disappointed with the results you can get from it.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is the cheapest and the smallest of the S23 flagship series from Samsung, and it packs plenty of power into a relatively compact frame. Samsung has been making phones for many years now, and it shows in the quality and style offered by this handset.
Everything here is an improvement on the Galaxy S22 phone that came before this device, though in some cases we would've liked to have seen a more dramatic upgrade. There's certainly no problem in terms of performance, with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 keeping everything running very smoothly indeed.
As usual with a Samsung Galaxy phone, the camera quality is excellent, and the software that Samsung puts on its handsets is getting better all the time as well. All in all an appealing all-round package if you don't like the larger sizes and higher prices of the other Galaxy S23 phones.
If you want a small phone but still need as much performance as possible, look no further than the Asus Zenfone 9. It comes with the super-speedy Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 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 put together handset. Importantly for this particular round-up, the bright OLED screen measures a mere 5.9-inches from corner to corner.
The Asus Zenfone 9 is close to being a world-class, compact flagship, but its camera falls short of excellence and it misses out on wireless charging. Despite those drawbacks, it’s still an incredibly powerful compact Android device with long-lasting battery life.
Sounds like the powerful small Android phone you've been looking for? Read our full Asus Zenfone 9 review for more info
Ok, so this might seem like cheating seeing as it's not a sub-6-inch phone; indeed unfolded the display is 6.7-inches... but it's still small, because it folds literally in half to make for a pocketable or purse-friendly phone.
On the front the Z Flip hosts a 1.9-inch Cover Display which you can interact with more than was possible in its predecessors. The battery life is also beefed up, which makes it a far longer-lasting option then earlier foldables.
Perhaps the best part is that Samsung has lowered the price in this model, so while it's still kind of pricey you can bag it for about the same as any standard flagship these days.
Always thought of buying a folding phone? Read our full Galaxy Z Flip 4 review to see whether it's the choice for you