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Best Small Phone of 2023

Best Small Phone of 2023
$429 at Apple
iPhone SE 2022

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best cheap smaller phone

These days, finding a compact phone with all the latest features can be tough. When it comes to smartphones, it seems companies believe bigger is always better. The screen on the new iPhone 15 Pro comes in at 6.1 inches, the Pixel 7 Pro at 6.7 inches and Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra takes it even further to a whopping 6.8 inches. Seriously, it’s hard to believe that Samsung’s original Galaxy Note was once considered a Goliath at only 5.3 inches. 

Big screens do have their advantages though. Top specs and stellar cameras are often packed into those massive bodies, while the sheer size of the screens makes them great for watching videos or playing games. But there’s no escaping the fact that the increase in size has made them more cumbersome to hold and use for anyone with smaller hands than continents. And that’s to say nothing of the embarrassing bulge when you try to shove one into the pocket of your skinny jeans. 

Though bigger phones can be better for those of you really into your videos or playing lots of mobile games on the move, there are many of us who’d still prefer a smaller phone that’s easier to type with one-handed, and less cumbersome in your pocket.

Your options are, I’m sorry to say, limited and getting more so all the time — especially as Apple opted not to refresh its iPhone Mini line after the iPhone 13 Mini, which has since been discontinued. But there are still some smaller phones to consider, though you may have to sacrifice some features, like longer battery life, wireless charging and better camera performance. Everyone’s definition of “small” is different, and a comfortable size for you may feel uncomfortably large to someone else. If you’re worried about the size, it’s worth trying to get hands-on with a phone at your nearest store.

What’s the best small phone right now?

The best small phone is hands down Apple’s iPhone 13 Mini. Although it lacks the high performance processor and amazing camera skills of the more recent iPhone 15 Pro, it offers great all-round performance for everyday use and its 5.4-inch screen is one of the smallest around. 

Best small phones of 2023

iPhone 13 Mini
Patrick Holland/CNET

While Apple has put a nail in the coffin of the Mini line, the iPhone 13 Mini is still available for purchase all over the internet. Its 5.4-inch display makes it a fair bit smaller than any in the iPhone 15 range, and actually qualifies it as the physically smallest phone Apple has made in recent years. Sure, the iPhone SE 2022 has a smaller display, but it has large bezels around the edges, which makes the whole phone slightly larger..

iPhone SE 2022
Patrick Holland/CNET

Launched last year, Apple’s iPhone SE packs a solid single camera, a potent A15 Bionic chip and 5G support into a body with a display that measures only 4.7 inches. That’s a huge size difference compared with the gargantuan size of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Using an older design, its large bezels actually mean it’s physically slightly larger than the iPhone 13 Mini, despite having a smaller display.

Google's Pixel 7A phone
James Martin/CNET

Google’s budget phone offering took a leap forward in 2023 with the Pixel 7A, which boasts many of the same benefits as the Pixel 7 but at a cheaper price. At 6.1 inches, it isn’t exactly a tiny phone, but it’s certainly among the smallest Android phones you should consider buying.

The back of Google's Pixel 6A phone
Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Though the Pixel 7A has technically replaced the older Pixel 6A, Google is continuing to sell the 6A and it’s even lopping some cash off the asking price. The phone is frequently found for around $350, which is a huge savings over the regular $449 price, so make sure you shop around if you’re looking for a bargain. Like the 7A, its screen measures 6.1 inches, which is just what we have to consider small these days.

The Galaxy Z Flip 4 closed in someone's hand
Patrick Holland/CNET

With a 6.7-inch screen size, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4’s screen is way too big to be on this list. But before you slam your fists into your keyboard at my incompetence, hear me out. As one of Samsung’s foldable phones, the Z Flip 4 folds in half, turning that massive screen into a small, square puck that quite comfortably fits into a jacket pocket.

How we test phones

Every phone on this list has been thoroughly tested by CNET’s expert reviews team. We actually use the phone, test the features, play games and take photos. We assess any marketing promises that a company makes about its phones. And if we find something we don’t like, be it battery life or build quality, we tell you all about it. 

We examine every aspect of a phone during testing:

  • Display
  • Design and feel
  • Processor performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera quality
  • Features

We test all of a phone’s cameras (both front and back) in a variety of conditions: from outdoors under sunlight to dimmer indoor locales and night time scenes (for any available night modes). We also compare our findings against similarly priced models. We have a series of real world battery tests  to see how long a phone lasts under everyday use.

We take into account additional phone features like 5G, fingerprint and face readers, styluses, fast charging, foldable displays and other useful extras. And we, of course, weigh all of our experiences and testing against the price so you know whether a phone represents good value or not. For more, check out our page explaining how we test phones.

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