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Expect slower updates
The Samsung Galaxy S10e by far the largest phone on this list. Its 5.8-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display bumps right up against our “small phone” threshold. It may sound unwieldy on paper, but the tall aspect ratio (19:9), slim construction (7.9mm thin), and Samsung’s minimal bezel all contribute to very comfortable one-handed use.
Unlike other smaller alternatives in Samsung’s lineup, the Galaxy S10e doesn’t sacrifice too much of the core flagship experience. There’s no fingerprint sensor under the screen like on the Galaxy S10 and S10+, nor is the display curved. But you get the same Snapdragon 855 chipset with 6GB (128GB model) or 8GB (256GB model) of RAM, an awesome combo to be sure. It also drops one camera each from the rear and front compared to the Galaxy S10+, leaving a 12MP + 16MP array and a 10MP selfie shooter, respectively. You’ll sacrifice battery life for the smaller size, but the 3,100mAh cell inside can push through a full day, and there’s still Wireless PowerShare charging to keep the Galaxy S10e going.
Pure Android experience
Mid-range price tag
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Google’s Pixel 3 is one of the best small Android phones you can buy today. Its 5.5-inch Full HD+ P-OLED display sits between thick bezels at the top and bottom to tower out at 145.6mm, but the added height accommodates true front-facing stereo speakers. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset brings octa-core smarts to run the show, which is more than enough juice for the Android 9.0 Pie experience Google provides.
The real star of the Pixel series has always been its camera, and the 12.2MP dual-pixel sensor garnered rave reviews at launch. With phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilization, and post-processing helped along by Google’s AI and the Pixel Visual Core, the Pixel 3 can take stunning photos at both ends of the luminance scale. You also get two 8MP shooters up front for selfie needs. Add in extras like IP68 water resistance and wireless charging, and the Pixel 3 is a true flagship Android phone with a price tag that now straddles a mid-range price point.
Thick bottom bezel
Suffers with demanding games
The Nokia brand has roared back recently with a lineup of quality smartphones that have restored the prestige the company enjoyed in the heyday of mobile devices. There are many quality devices to consider from Nokia's current lineup, but the Nokia 7.1 deserves attention. Its 5.84-inch Full HD+ IPS display creeps over the “small” bar, but the ultra-slim bezel at the sides and top keep it right in line with our ergonomic needs.
The well-balanced package of the Nokia 7.1 is comprised of a Snapdragon 636 chipset, up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, dual 12MP + 5MP cameras with Zeiss optics, an 8MP front camera, a fingerprint sensor, NFC, and a Gorilla Glass chassis that could easily be mistaken for a phone that costs hundreds more. While you’ll miss out on features like wireless charging and water resistance at this price point, the Nokia 7.1 otherwise offers enough good stuff to satisfy most users. We also love its use of Android One, meaning you’ll enjoy a clean software experience that gets a couple more years of guaranteed updates straight from Google.
Even cheaper than the Nokia 7.1, Motorola similarly makes the most of the Moto G7 Play’s modest budget for a smartphone that eclipses expectations. Coming in with a 5.7-inch IPS display, its 720p resolution makes for fuzzier viewing, but this decrease in fidelity yields better performance and extended battery life.
The 1.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 632 chipset inside remains one of the most efficient mid-range pieces of kit on the market and while the 2GB of RAM inside is a little paltry, it will still run most Android apps and games, just don't expect much in the way of multitasking. Motorola includes a 13MP camera and a fingerprint scanner on the rear, plus an 8MP camera on the flip side. As for software, there’s a no-nonsense installation of Android 9.0 onboard with Moto Actions and Moto Display. Amazon also sells a version of the Moto G7 Play with Alexa and other apps of theirs if that’s something you’re into.
Sharp OLED display
Google’s purest Android
Google’s goal with the Pixel 3a was to offer the essential Pixel experience at a reduced price and this mid-range smartphone accomplishes just that. It has a 5.6-inch Full HD+ OLED display at an 18.5:9 aspect ratio, which means it’s comfortable in the hand. The bezels bordering the top and bottom are thick, causing the device to exceed 150mm in height. This is especially odd since it doesn’t have two front-facing stereo speakers like the original Pixel 3.
If you can get past that, however, you’re in for a swell smartphone. The Pixel 3a has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670 chipset to provide flagship performance for typical application processing and enough graphics power for most games. Furthermore, Google uses the same award-winning 12.2MP camera sensor of the flagship Pixel 3, but with only one 8MP camera in the front. There’s no water resistance and you also miss out on wireless charging, but one thing it can boast over its big brother is a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus the same pure Android 9.0 software perfected by Google.
Amazing performance for cost
Striking glass design
Improved EMUI Android Pie experience
Lacks microSD slot
Huawei US customer support shaky
Honor may not have the same clout as the brands mentioned in our guide, but it’s a product of long-time player Huawei. The Honor 10 is a prime example of the company’s expertise in crafting premium smartphones on the cheap. It has a 5.84-inch Full HD+ IPS display sandwiched between a bold Gorilla Glass design, the back of one model sporting a sharp-looking blend of purple and blue. That backside also houses two cameras, a 16MP color sensor, and a 24MP monochrome option, both with phase detection autofocus and f/1.8 aperture. The latter can take photos on its own, but it really shines when the AI combines data from both cameras to enhance your shots.
The specs on this phone give you more to love, like the Kirin 970 chipset. This Huawei-made silicon uses a set of four 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 and four 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores with at least 4GB of RAM. Performance for the much-improved Android 9-based EMUI 9.1 software is exceptional as a result. It’s paired with an ARM Mali-G72, which gained prominence as a top-grade graphics chip in Samsung’s Exynos-based smartphones. It's tough to compete with the Honor 10 purely on a basis of price to performance.
Hi-res stereo speakers
It’s fitting for a Sony device to grace the list of the best small Android phones. Sony has consistently been an industry leader of pocket-friendly smartphone design for around a decade. The electronics giant is still at it with the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, with a 5-inch IPS display (which supports HDR) and a tall 18:9 aspect ratio, the XZ2 Compact is just 135mm tall and 65mm wide. The resolution is Full HD+, too, so you get a nice sharp pixel density of 483 ppi. It might have been even shorter, but Sony is notorious for large bezels, and at least they’re put to work here with hi-res front-facing stereo speakers.
It’s rare for devices this small to have the power of a Snapdragon 845 chipset. Paired with 4GB of RAM, you’re getting true flagship performance. Sony includes a 19MP sensor on the back with fast laser-assisted autofocus, and the front’s 5MP camera, while a bit ordinary, is perfectly sufficient for video calls and your average selfie. Unfortunately, this compact device features a lackluster 2,870mAh battery and is missing a 3.5mm headphone jack, though neither are absolute deal-breakers if you must go this small.
Muted elegant design
Poor battery life
Neutered Android experience
If you're looking for the smallest Android phone, the Palm Phone fills the niche admirably. You can engulf this tiny 3.3-inch device in its entirety with just one hand. While this size is impractical for gaming, 720p resolution and access to all the apps at Google Play still provide a usable user experience for Android apps.
The Palm Phone fulfills some very specific needs, at the cost of some features. While it’s perfect for children or those confined to a single hand because of disability, the Palm sports a paltry 800mAh battery. That won't last long trying to power an HD display. The 12MP (rear) and 8MP (front) cameras work, but their capabilities are bland, especially with video topping out at 720p on either side.
There’s also Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 chipset with 3GB of RAM, which doesn’t jump off the charts in benchmarks. And although it runs Android, expect a pared-down version that won’t satisfy heavier users. The Palm Phone was originally a Verizon exclusive, but there’s now an unlocked model compatible with all major wireless providers in the United States except for Sprint.