The best small phones of 2023
If you're after a neat, slimline phone which you can easily operate with one hand or slip into a pocket, you're in the right place.
Here's a guide to the best small phones of 2023 with hardworking processors, fabulous features and crystal-clear screens for gaming, browsing and working.
If you're after something a little bigger, check out our guide to big screen phones
The evolution of small phones
The very first mobile phones weren't like the ones today - they operated more as two-way radios that allowed drivers and emergency services to communicate.
The first portable phone call was made in 1973 by a Motorola engineer in the US, and the first portable handset was introduced to market in 1983. In 1992 the first ever SMS message was sent, and Nokia presented the first mobile phone that ordinary users could afford - weighing 500g.
Mobile phones grew in popularity - and shrunk in size - over the course of the next two decades until they started getting larger again. Today's smartphones tend to have large screens and powerful processors.
Advantages of small phones
Small smartphones are everything you love in a larger smartphone but in a more compact form. They'll fit easily into your pocket or bag, so you can carry them everywhere with ease, plus you can operate them with just one hand, allowing you to multi-task.
Best small iPhone models
iPhone 13 mini
Screen size: 5.4 inches
iPhone 13 mini comes with a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display¹, Apple's most advanced dual‑camera system ever and 5G speed◊ powered by an A15 Bionic chip. Coated in a tough Ceramic Shield, its durable flat-edge design is part of a stylish exterior which packs a punch inside. The 12-megapixel Ultra Wide camera reveals more detail in the dark areas of your photos and the 12-megapixel Wide camera captures 47% more light for better photos and videos - plus, new sensor-shift optical image stabilisation keeps shots steady. Film in 4K and let Cinematic mode automatically create beautiful depth effects and focus transitions, and you can even adjust the depth effect after you shoot. Plus, the lightning-fast A15 Bionic chip powers Photographic Styles, Live Text and more. Its Secure Enclave locks down personal info like your Face ID data and contacts. And it's more efficient, helping to deliver longer battery life - get up to 1.5 hours more battery life on iPhone 13 mini².
iPhone SE (3rd gen)
Screen size: 4.7 inches
iPhone SE is back and better than ever, now in its 3rd generation. Lighter than the previous model and with up to 1.2x faster graphics performance, iPhone SE holds serious power for a seriously good price. Now boasting 5G¹, you can enjoy high-definition FaceTime and less lag with livestreaming and multiplayer gaming on an immersive 4.7-inch Retina HD display², bursting with sharp, bright colour. iPhone SE also features a new lightning-fast A15 Bionic chip, enhancing nearly everything you do on your phone. Smart HDR 4 automatically refines the contrast, lighting, and skin tones for up to four people so everyone looks their best, and Deep Fusion captures the subtlest details, textures and patterns in mid to low lighting. That's not all iPhone SE has to offer - a highly efficient chip, enhanced battery and iOS 15 work together to bring you big-time battery life, giving you up to 15 hours of video playback³. When you do need to power up, just place iPhone SE on a wireless charger or connect a 20W or higher adapter to fast charge from zero to up to 50% in 30 minutes flat⁴. Finally, iPhone SE still features the Home button you know and love, with Touch ID.
Best small Android phones
Best small Samsung phones
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
Phone size: 6.7 inches
Enjoy pocket-sized perfection, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5. With its biggest cover screen¹ yet (but still at a compact 3.4-inches) you can use Google Maps, buy using Samsung Pay, make calls or even capture a selfie, using Quick Shot to perfect your pose – all with the phone shut. Thanks to its new slimmer design with a zero-gap hinge and slimmer bezels², you can pop it into your purse, bag or pocket, and you won’t even know it’s there. Flip it open and enjoy a dazzlingly immersive 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X FHD+ Infinity Flex Display with a 120Hz refresh rate – perfect for video calls, streaming and scrolling. Take your selfie game up a notch with the 12MP main camera, giving your pictures true-to-life details and skin tones whatever the lighting, and use FlexCam to adjust your shot to the perfect angle. You can count on the Galaxy Z Flip5 to perform too – with all day battery life³ and built for robust Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and Armour Aluminium, you’ll be able to withstand the bumps and scrapes of everyday life.
Enlarging your phone's font and display size
There are plenty of ways to maximise your phone enjoyment, even if you've got a minimal screen.
If you need to enlarge the font size, the keypad or any icons, you can do this on Apple, Samsung and Google devices.
Frequently asked questions
The first commercial hand-held portable mobile phone was released in 1983 by Motorola, and the first mass-produced GSM 2G mobile phone was released in 1992, by Nokia.
In 2000 Nokia released the now iconic Nokia 3310 - which is still available to buy today.
iPhone SE, iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini:
Apple Pencil isn't compatible with any iPhone devices, as it was created to work with iPads. However, there are plenty of third-party capacitive styluses available which work on iPhone models.
A capacitive stylus conducts the electrical charge from your finger to the screen just like your finger does.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip:
You cannot use the S Pen (Fold Edition), the S Pen Pro, nor any older S Pen on the Galaxy Z Flip3, Flip4 or Flip5.
If you're watching a blockbuster and only the big screen will do, there are ways to cast what's showing on your phone's screen to your TV screen for a truly cinematic experience.
iPhone users can use AirPlay to stream or share content from an Apple device to your Apple TV, AirPlay 2-compatible smart TV or Mac.
All recent Samsung smartphones and tablets have an inbuilt feature that allows you to display your Samsung phone screen on TV's with a Wi-Fi connection
Terms and conditions
¹The display has rounded corners that follow a beautiful curved design, and these corners are within a standard rectangle. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the screen is 5.42 inches. Actual viewable area is less.
²Compared with previous-generation iPhone models. All battery claims depend on network configuration and many other factors; actual results will vary. Battery has limited recharge cycles and may eventually need to be replaced by an Apple service provider. Battery life and charge cycles vary by use and settings. See apple.com/uk/batteries and apple.com/uk/iphone/battery.html for more information.
¹Data plan required. 5G is available in select markets and through select carriers. Speeds vary based on site conditions and carrier. For details on 5G support, contact your carrier and see apple.com/iphone/cellular
²Display size is measured diagonally.
³Battery life varies by use and configuration. See apple.com/batteries for more information.
⁴Testing conducted by Apple in January 2022 using preproduction iPhone SE (3rd generation) and software and accessory Apple USB‑C Power Adapter (20W Model A2305). Fast‑charge testing conducted with drained iPhone units. Charge time varies with settings and environmental factors; actual results will vary.
Wireless chargers and power adapters sold separately.