The best small and compact phones (Updated December 2021)

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The best small and compact phones (Updated December 2021)

Where did all the small smartphones go? Once dominating the market, compact phones are slowly but steadily getting replaced by bigger handsets that don’t quite fit the bill of just anyone that easily. 

Apart from the occasional compact phone announced once in a blue moon, the big players such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Motorola release larger than life phones, and definitely don’t cater to folks with smaller hands or just those who prefer a more compact phone, easy to pocket and carry around. 
But don’t think that small phones are going the way of the dodo. Albeit scarce, they do exist. In fact, just last year we saw a renaissance of compact phones. And if you’re looking to get one, you’re in the right place, as we’ve rounded up the best small phones you can buy right now.

What are the best compact smartphones in 2021? Let’s explore!

Here are the best small/compact phones to buy in 2021:

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

Until not long ago, we thought the era of compact flagship phones is over. But last year, these compact devices made a surprise comeback. The iPhone 12 mini became the smallest iPhone Apple is offering, beating even the iPhone SE for that title. And this year, we got its successor – the iPhone 13 mini.
Thanks to its thin bezels and flat-edge design, you’re getting a bigger screen compared to that of the iPhone SE, yet in a smaller body. And what’s even better is that the iPhone 13 mini is the cheapest of the four iPhone 13 models, starting at $699 for the 128GB model, which is also double the storage of last year’s iPhone 12 mini, but for the same price!

You won’t sacrifice much in terms of specs, either, going with the mini iPhone. You still get Apple’s A15 Bionic processor and same fantastic new camera features as the other iPhone 13 models. When it comes to high performance in a small package, nothing beats the iPhone 13 mini right now, and it’s probably the fastest compact phone you can get. 

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

The new Apple iPhone SE comes with Apple’s 2019 chipset but keeps the same retro body of the iPhone 8. Not only is the new SE fast, but it’s also pretty compact and affordable, but that comes at the expense of larger bezels and a bit dated design. 

Despite all that, the up-to-date hardware inside makes the latest iPhones futureproof for a couple of years at the very least. If the price of the iPhone 12 Mini is too high for you, this is the next best thing if you’re looking for a small iPhone.

Google Pixel 4a

Last year’s budget Pixel is an all-around pleasant surprise. It undercuts the iPhone SE price wise and while it has nowhere near that powerful, it has a large display with a punch-hole that makes the most of its compact body. It features a 5.8-inch display unlike the newer Pixel 5a, which is actually bigger at 6.3 inches.

But what’s best about the Pixel 4a is that Google has brought its computational photography wizardry to it, making it the best camera phone in its price category. Yes, there’s only one rear camera, but the Pixel 4a makes it count where it matters: picture quality. 

And as with the pricier Pixel 4, you can expect your Pixel 4a to only get better over time thanks to the software updates Google will keep sending in the years to come.

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung had a tough time peddling the Galaxy S20 series, so the Galaxy S21 had to deliver. From the looks of it, the Galaxy S21 fixed all the wrongs of the Galaxy S20 and helped Samsung to really bounce back. With a slightly refreshed design that ditches the curved screen, new colors in tow, and top-notch performance, the Galaxy S21 is a perfect choice for Samsung fans that enjoy smaller flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 specs are top-of-the-line. From the Snapdragon 888 chipset to the beautiful 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. In the camera department, the phone sports a triple-sensor setup on the back and comes packed full of features. If you don’t mind the plastic back, this phone will satisfy your compact desires.

Sony Xperia 10 II

When it comes to compact phones, Sony has often proved that it knows how to deliver. That’s the case with the affordable Sony Xperia 10 II. This phone is a great mid-ranger that offers a 6-inch OLED display, water and dust resistance, a fingerprint scanner, and a triple camera system on the back. 

Under the hood, it’s powered by a Snapdragon 665 chipset, coupled with 4GB RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage. A 3600mAh battery powers the device, which is still a decent capacity although we’re a bit spoiled by 4,000+ mAh batteries becoming a widespread option in most modern phones.

The best feature of the Xperia 10 II is its price. You can get the phone for less than $400, which is a bargain if you consider the amazing OLED display alone.

Asus Zenfone 8

Asus decided to turn things around in 2021 and launched two separate flagship devices in the Zenfone 8 lineup. The large Zenfone 8 Flip carried out the heritage of the flip camera but the vanilla model, the Zenfone 8, went down the compact route. Apparently, Asus saw a demand and a potential niche in the smartphone market, and the Zenfone 8 was born.
This little gem is just the right size – not as small as an iPhone 12 mini, which some people find too small, yet significantly more compact than the average modern flagship. It’s not just the size, though. The Zenfone 8 comes equipped with all the bells and whistles you’d find in a top-tier phone, and more! 

The latest and greatest Qualcomm chipset – the Snapdragon 888 – is the beating heart of this little beast along with a gorgeous 5.9-inch 120Hz AMOLED panel made by Samsung. Asus somehow found a way to keep the 3.5mm jack, and there’s also a pretty hefty battery inside. What’s the best thing about the Zenfone 8, though? It’s the price! It starts at €499 in Europe and it’s expected to cost $599 when it launches in the US, making it one of the cheapest Snapdragon 888 phones out there.

And there we have it – the best small and compact phones you can buy in 2021. If you’re still undecided in your quest to find the perfect phone, you may also find helpful the following picks:

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