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The best small phones to buy in 2022

Phones with huge screens like the Pixel 6 Pro, iPhone 13 ProMax other Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra they certainly have their advantages. Top specs and stellar cameras are often packed into those larger bodies, while big screens can be great for watching video on the go. But there’s no escaping that sheer size: the 13 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch screen means it’s unlikely to stumble into tight jeans pockets, and using it with one hand is virtually impossible for anyone with hands smaller than the continents.

Phones have grown steadily in size over the years, with 6-inches and larger now being the norm. That’s great for watching videos or playing games while you’re on the bus home, but that still begs the question: Is it bigger? Really better? What if you don’t care about screen space and want a small smartphone that actually fits in a pants pocket?

Your options are, sorry to say, limited, but there are still some great compact phones to consider. Everyone’s definition of “small” is different, and a size that’s comfortable for you may feel uncomfortably large for someone else. With that in mind, I’ll include phones with a screen size of 6 inches or less. If you’re worried about size, it’s worth trying to get a phone at your nearest store.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

At 6-inches, the Pixel 5 is the smallest smartphone at the top end of the size scale on this list, but the narrow bezel around the screen makes for a surprisingly compact smartphone. It’s much easier on the pocket than the massive 6.8-inch S21 Ultra. It has a solid rear camera setup, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, 5G, and a fast and smooth interface that impressed us in our review.

The Pixel 5 has wireless charging capabilities and the battery can last up to 48 hours. With Call Screen, the Google Assistant filters incoming calls, detects spammers, and provides useful information about phone calls. The processor is Qualcomm Snapdragon, the internal storage is 128 GB and the device has 8 GB of RAM.

It’s not Google’s latest flagship phone, it’s the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but even the smallest of the new flagships measures 6.4-inches. And that, unfortunately, is not little.

Read our Google Pixel 5 review.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The iPhone 13 Mini is one of the few small phones that doesn’t force you to compromise on power and performance. It has the same A15 Bionic processor found in all 13-series phones and more battery life than its iPhone 12 Mini predecessor. This iPhone Mini is a great phone overall and at just 5.4-inches, it’s one of the best small phones money can buy.

Read our iPhone 13 Mini review.

Angela Lang/CNET

We liked the Pixel 4A’s balance of decent overall performance with its low price when it launched in 2020. Its 5.8-inch screen size puts it on the smaller side of current phones. But what this little Android phone doesn’t have is 5G, which can be a problem if you want those super-fast data speeds everyone’s talking about.

So get the 4A 5G, right? Not so almost. When Google added 5G to its cheapest mobile phone, it also increased the smallest screen size to 6.2 inches, while its new Pixel 5A has an even larger 6.34-inch screen. Boo and, in fact, yours.

Read our Google Pixel 4A review.

John Kim/CNET

Apple’s cheapest iPhone packs a punch for the price, with a powerful processor and a single camera that’s capable of taking beautiful photos. Like the Pixel 4A, it doesn’t have 5G, but that may be a sacrifice to make if you can’t fit your budget into the 5G-enabled iPhone 12 Mini. Its 4.7-inch screen size is small, but its wide top and bottom bezels mean the phone itself isn’t much smaller than the standard iPhone 13.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The wallet can not stretch to the latest Apple iPhone 13 Mini? Apple still officially sells the 2020-year 12 Mini and it now starts at $599, a decent saving from the new model. Its 5.4-inch screen makes it certainly pocket-friendly, while its solid camera and great performance make it generally great to use.

Read our Apple iPhone 12 Mini review.

At 6.1 inches, this Android phone is technically outside the 6-inch threshold I put in this article. But hear me out before you go on Twitter and call me a buffoon. The phone has a 21:9 aspect ratio, which makes it much longer than it is wide. At just 2.68 inches wide, it’s actually narrower than the aforementioned Pixel 4A, making it as comfortable to hold as any other small phone.

It’s also packed with the best tech, including a cracking camera setup and 5G connectivity (although 5G is only supported on Xperia 5 II phones sold outside the US). The screen is beautiful, and its aspect ratio makes it ideal for widescreen videos. It could be a smart compromise if you want a more hands-friendly phone but still want to enjoy videos on the go.

Read our Sony Xperia 5 II review.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Apple has officially discontinued the 2019 iPhone 11 Pro, but you can still find it at various retailers. Its screen measures 5.8 inches. This, along with the narrow bezels, makes it pocket-friendly.

It’s packed with power and its triple-camera system blew me away with its quality when I took it on a road trip in a supercar when it launched. No, it doesn’t have 5G, but if you can stomach it then it’s a great smaller phone to consider.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A special mention must go to the Z Flip 3. While its main screen measures a whopping 6.7-inches, this compact smartphone folds flat in half. It can be closed to sit comfortably in the palm of your hand or fit in your pocket without causing any awkward bulges. It could be the ideal compromise of portable size, but with a nice big screen for when you want to use it.

You’ll pay handsomely for that compromise, as foldable phones like the Z Flip (or Motorola’s Moto Razr 5G, which offers the same concept) cost a lot more than regular smartphones. You’ll have to decide if you’re willing to spend that much money just for the convenient size.

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