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Best small phones to buy in 2021

Big-screen phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra certainly have their benefits: Top specs and excellent cameras are often inside that larger body. But there’s no escaping their immense size. The 12 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch display means getting it into those tight jeans pockets is a real stretch, and using it with one hand is pretty much impossible for anyone with hands smaller than continents.
Phones have steadily increased in size over the years, with 6-inch or bigger phones being the norm now. Sure, that’s great for watching videos or playing games on the move, but what if you don’t care about the screen real estate and just want a great phone that can fit in your hand?
Your options are, I’m afraid to say, limited, but there are still some phones to consider. Everyone’s definition of “small” is different, though, and a comfortable size for you may feel uncomfortably large to someone else. Bearing that in mind, I’ll be including phones that are 6 inches and under in screen size, but if you’re concerned about the size, it’s worth trying to get hands-on with a phone at your nearest store (remember to take hand sanitizer!).
Google Pixel 5


Andrew Hoyle/CNET
At 6 inches, the Pixel 5 is towards the top-end of this list’s size scale, but the narrow bezel around its screen makes it surprisingly compact to hold. It’s a hell of a lot more pocket-friendly than the immense 6.8-inch S21 Ultra. Google’s current flagship includes a great camera setup, 5G and a fast and smooth interface that impressed us in our review.
iPhone 12 Mini


Patrick Holland/CNET
ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C E
NOV 2020
The iPhone 12 Mini is one of few small phones that don’t force you to make any compromises on power and performance. It has the same A14 Bionic processor found in all of the 12 series phones and it has the same dual rear-camera setup found on the standard iPhone 12 (albeit lacking the triple setup of the 12 Pro models). It’s a great all-round phone and at only 5.4 inches, it’s one of the best small phones money can buy.
Google Pixel 4A
Angela Lang/CNET
We liked the Pixel 4A’s balance of decent overall performance with its low price when it launched in 2020. Its screen size of 5.8-inches puts it on the smaller side of today’s phones. But what it doesn’t have is 5G, which may be a problem if you want to get on those super-fast data speeds everyone’s talking about.
So, get the 4A 5G, right? Not so fast. When Google added 5G to its cheapest phone it also bumped the screen size up to 6.2 inches, while its brand new Pixel 5A has an even bigger 6.34-inch display. Boo and, indeed, hiss.


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