Phones in 2021 have been mostly great. Summarizing dozens of devices in one sentence is not quite possible, but it would probably be fair to say that the biggest improvements this year were mostly centered around better battery life, plus innovation continued to trickle to smartphone cameras. While all of that has been great, at the same time, this year has actually been pretty bad for one particular segment of the market: smaller phones!
Apple seems to be the only exception here as it introduced not one, not two, but three powerful phones that all fit in the compact form factor: the iPhone 13 mini
of course, but also the 6.1-inch iPhone 13
and iPhone 13 Pro
, which are far smaller than your average Android device.
Speaking of Android phone makers, they went a different route and even Samsung, which usually makes an incredible variety of smartphones in different shapes and sizes, this year didn’t really have a true compact phone as even the tiny Galaxy S21
was actually not really all that small.
What happened to smaller Android phones?
The Asus Zenfone 8 (in the middle) was one of very few compact Android phones on the market in 2021
With LG exiting the market, Google was the only other big player around and it also killed its compact Pixel 5
, replacing it with more powerful, but also much larger Pixel 6
and Pixel 6 Pro
. Heck, even in the budget Pixel A series, where we used to have smaller phones, the new Pixel 5a is actually quite a bit bigger than earlier generations!
The only true Android compact phone that comes to mind this year is the Asus Zenfone 8
, but as much as we like it, we feel that the brand hardly has any presence and it’s hard to buy one of its phones as they are not available on the major carriers.
The Galaxy S22
is the big news here as it will shrink in size to what is rumored to be a 6-inch screen compared to a 6.2-inch display on the Galaxy S21
. This might not seem like a big change, but it might just be and with smaller screen bezels, the S22 is likely to be far more pocketable and truly a device that deserves the name “compact”
Here is a quick glance at the expected dimensions of the S22 compared to the current S21:
Galaxy S22 — 146 x 70.5 x 7.6mm
Galaxy S21 — 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
Samsung is also reshaping its budget phones where the most popular model, the expected Galaxy A33, is expected to feature much smaller dimensions than its predecessor, the Galaxy A32
. You might underestimate this cheapo gadget for its unremarkable specs, but it might be a far bigger deal than some might think, as Samsung reportedly plans to make 23 million A33 5G units in 2022, more than the combined production goal of the Galaxy S22 and S22+.
Don’t expect an iPhone mini-like super tiny Android phone, though
With the world’s biggest manufacturer switching gears to smaller devices, we expect others to follow suit too. Now, don’t hold your breath for an iPhone mini kind of an Android phone. That might just be a bit too tiny and have way too compromised battery life (even though we know a few people who would love such a thing with all its limitations). Instead, think of a slightly bigger, yet still very compact device, the new modern definition of compact.
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any commitment to smaller phones so far from the likes of Google and OnePlus, and both of them make great phones that unfortunately only come in two sizes: large and larger.
But if Samsung’s compact phones prove successful, we are sure others will quickly join in the party. And 2022, might finally fix the number one thing that Android compact phone lovers were missing — finally, an actually good compact Android phone!