Smartphones keep getting bigger, which makes them difficult to use one-handed and easier to drop. We've found the best devices with smaller form factors, so you can keep their screens intact. If you struggle to take a picture, compose a message, or even unlock your phone one-handed, these small but mighty smartphones are the most comfortable, powerful, and easiest to hold.
If you're in search of a small smartphone, this is the one to get. The 4-inch iPhone SE is essentially the iPhone 6S innards in an iPhone 5S body. In comparison to the newer iPhones, this one doesn't have 3D touch, dual cameras, or a water-resistant body.
What it does offer is an impressive two-day battery life, a compact and durable design with an aluminum back that won't shatter like the iPhone 8, and the latest iteration of Apple's mobile platform, iOS 11. Best of all, it's the cheapest iPhone you can get — it's less than $400 for 32 GB of storage.
Best Budget Buy
If you're looking for a cheap, waterproof smartphone to take with you on vacation, the Moto X4 is a great choice. It isn't as powerful or feature-filled as flagship devices, but it has a cool design, top-shelf hardware, and an ultra slim body with excellent build quality. Even better, it costs under $300.
The smartphone runs Google's newer Oreo operating system, includes a 16 MP front-facing camera and dual rear cameras, and it has support for Amazon's Alexa assistant. It's equipped with 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of expandable storage. Hands down, it’s one of the most affordable smartphones you can buy.
With the iPhone X, you get almost the same amount of screen in a much smaller form factor than you would with the iPhone 8 Plus. We think it has a fantastic design and offers an amazing user experience.
Compared to its predecessors, this one has a gorgeous OLED Retina display without bezels, and it ditches the fingerprint sensor for facial recognition. The home button is replaced by swiping gestures, so instead of pressing a button to go to the home screen, you just swipe up. It’s outfitted with dual 12 MP camera sensors, a 7 MP selfie camera, and a large 2,716 mAh battery — all in a waterproof body. Until our dream of having a bezel-less iPhone SE comes true, this is the next best thing.
If you prefer Android to iOS and want a small smartphone, we recommend the new Xperia XZ2 Compact from Sony. It sports a 5-inch Full HD+ HDR display , a powerful Snapdragon 845 processor, and an impressive 4 GB of RAM (which is even more than the latest iPhone 8). It's water-resistant and equipped with a 19 MP camera and a large 2,870 mAh battery.
It's one of the few Sony smartphones that's equipped with a fingerprint sensor, and it also has a memory card slot onboard for more storage. Our only complaints are that it lacks wireless charging and a headphone jack. The phone comes in black, silver, pink, and pastel green colors, and it runs Android's "Oreo" operating system.
Samsung's elegant Galaxy S9 smartphone packs a ton of cutting-edge smartphone tech into a refreshingly compact body. Its curved 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display is practically free of bezels, which makes this pick comfortable to hold and interact with one-handed. The S9 has a waterproof design and a remarkable all-day battery life, and it's packed with a top-notch camera.
Unlike any of its rivals, the S9’s 12MP camera has the ability to change its aperture depending on the lighting condition. There are two available settings — f/1.5 and f/2.4. The smartphone has updated hardware over its predecessors, headlined by a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, an increase in RAM, and stereo speakers.
The Galaxy S9 also boasts wireless charging, expandable storage, and a headphone jack. Samsung even bundles it with a nice pair of wired earbuds by AKG.
With a screen measuring in at 5 inches, The Google Pixel 2 isn't the smallest smartphone, but it's still comfortable to grip and easy to hold thanks to its sleek metal body. The Pixel 2 features an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, a sharp OLED display, stereo speakers, and the best cameras in the business.
It's also equipped with Google Assistant, which can answer questions and respond to voice commands. You can activate the feature by squeezing the phone’s metal frame. The Google Pixel 2 offers the most advanced Android user experience, because Google prioritizes its software updates over other Android phones. We think the Pixel 2 is the best Android smartphone available.
Another budget option worthy of your consideration, the Galaxy A3 is one of the few smartphones that has a display that's under 5-inches. Compared to most other budget smartphones, this one features a mostly glass and metal exterior, while other ones in its price range are primarily made from plastic.
This premium finish is appreciated, and although we were disappointed to see that it only comes with 16 GB of storage, you'll be happy to know that it has a memory card slot and is completely water-resistant. It also has a USB-C port — a rarity for budget phones, which tend to use the older Micro-USB charging standard.
The new waterproof iPhone 8 features an all-glass design, better graphics and processing power than last year's models, and two superb cameras with impressive low-light performance. It's also the first iPhone that supports wireless charging and augmented reality. With a 4.7-inch screen, it isn't as comfortable and easy to hold as the 4-inch iPhone SE, but it's easier to use one-handed than the larger iPhone 8 Plus.
The Sony Xperia X Compact is a small, 4.6-inch phone with an excellent 23 MP camera and a solid all-day battery life. It features a plastic design that doesn't feel as premium as other glass and aluminum smartphones.
However, this one is a joy to use one-handed, and your fingers will definitely be able to reach all corners of its screen. Its IPC LCD display only has a 720p resolution, which is weak in comparison to other smartphones, but it still looks sharp and has excellent viewing angles. Our biggest complaint is this device lacks waterproofing and a fingerprint sensor.
If you're looking for a bezel-less smartphone with a gorgeous 5.7-inch display that's comfortable to hold, consider the Essential phone. It's crafted from ceramic and titanium, so it looks and feels more luxurious than most other smartphones. The device packs 128 GB of storage and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset, so it's as powerful as any other high-end offering. We only wish its dual camera took better photos.
If you are in search of the smallest smartphone money can buy, the Jelly Pro from Unihertz is hard to beat. Believe it or not, this smartphone is about the size of a pack of gum. It still has built-in GPS, dual-cameras, Bluetooth, and a headphone jack like every other modern smartphone, and it even runs on the latest 4G networks and comes unlocked. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, but it doesn't work with CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint.
We tested the Jelly Pro for over a week. It sports a mostly plastic design that comes in black, white, or blue. It’s equipped with mediocre cameras and a small battery that won’t even last a full day. Although we wouldn’t recommend using it as your daily device, it is an affordable option that you may want to consider purchasing for travel, to temporarily unplug, or use to listen to music. It’s a handy MP3 player or Spotify streamer, and you can even pick up an armband for it to run with. Or, if you just want to get away from all your apps and need an emergency phone strictly for calls or short messages, we think you’ll love it!