Best compact phones 2023 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 7 November 2023.

Last updated: November 7, 2023 (Changelog)

The trend towards growing displays seems to be plateauing, but even in the current state of things, most phones are just too big for easy handling with one hand. This is why we always enjoy it when we come across the occasional competent compact handset. In this section of our buyer's guide, we'll try to point out the ones we think deserve your attention.

Editors' choice

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Apple iPhone 13 mini

  • Tiny OLED, high-res, bright
  • Iconic design with ceramic shield, aluminum frame, IP68
  • The latest Apple A15 Bionic chip with 5G
  • The cameras take some great photos and videos
  • Night Mode and Dolby Vision available
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Improved battery life over 12 mini
  • Potential throttling under certain conditions
  • No charger, no headphones

Even if there is no iPhone 14 mini or iPhone 15 mini, probably waiting to be announced as the next iPhone SE, the Apple iPhone 13 mini remains the most compact yet flagship phone you can buy today. It is a smaller version of the iPhone 13 and it's lost nothing. The most important updates over the 12 mini are the larger battery capacity, the smaller screen notch, and the doubled base storage. We sure don't think iPhone 12 mini owners should update, but we do consider the 13 mini as the best compact phone there is right now.

The iPhone 13 mini packs a 5.4" OLED screen of 1080p resolution and the powerful Apple A15 chip with 5G connectivity! It has the same dual-camera as the regular iPhone 13, complete with sensor-shift stabilization, Night Mode and Dolby Vision video capturing. It also enjoys loud stereo speakers and improved battery life. Another best bits - the mini is one of the most durable phones to date as it has the same Ceramic Shield and IP68 water proofing as the standard and Pro models.

The iPhone 13 mini is the best compact smartphone to date, and we wholeheartedly recommend it. You should also consider the Apple iPhone 12 mini as it is cheaper, and the differences with the 13 mini aren't exciting.

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Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

  • It's an iPhone, and a 'cheap' one at that, as iPhones go.
  • TouchID!
  • IP67 rating
  • Apple A15 Bionic with 5G chipset
  • The camera takes some great photos and videos
  • Stereo speakers
  • While technically 'compact', the massive bezels mean small usable screen area
  • Apple’s excellent Night mode is sorely missed here
  • Battery life is only so-so
  • 60Hz LCD screen
  • No charger in the box

Apple released a new SE in 2022 and it's among our top picks in this Compact chapter for its incredibly compact and lightweight body. It's hardly perfect though, but Apple has the iPhone 13 mini and 12 mini for those seeking perfection. So, the SE has a dated a form factor introduced years ago and reuses a lot of the iPhone 8 bits. That means a single camera, a small battery, giant screen bezels and - TouchID.

The best bit about the iPhone SE 2022, outside its incredibly compact and lightweight body, is the chipset – it employs the Apple A15 Bionic chip with 5G, the same one behind the latest iPhone 13 generation. The A15 chip is more powerful than even the beefiest Android, and it'll remain capable for years to come, during which time it'll keep getting software updates - the iOS way. It's a very affordable entry into that iOS world too.

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Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23

  • No-nonsense sturdy and grippy design, IP68, 168g
  • Outstanding OLED screen, bright and fast
  • Excellent photo and video quality across the board
  • Top-notch performance, the fastest Android chip inside
  • Exciting One UI with DeX support, great connectivity options
  • No Dolby Vision or 10-bit color depth support for the screen
  • The GPU is very quick to throttle under load to 60% of its max performance
  • No charger in the box

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is one of the most compact Android flagships available and the small size didn't come at the cost of cut features.

The phone has an excellent 6.1-inch OLED screen with high brightness and adaptive refresh rate, the most powerful chipset on the Android market, and a superb quartet of cameras that will reliably capture whatever you put in front of their lenses.

We are glad that Samsung took the extra step and made an exclusive deal with Qualcomm for an overclocked version of the SD8G2 chip, and this will surely convince quite a few Exynos-doubting users to grab a Galaxy S23.

The smallest Galaxy S23 offers a decent battery life, too. It is one of the most compact droids available right now, the most powerful, too, and an easy enough recommendation.

Read full review
Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8

  • Compact and premium build, easy to handle, dust- and water-resistant
  • Bright and color-accurate 120Hz OLED panel
  • Improved charging
  • Overall, great camera quality with an unmatched character that has a loyal following
  • Superb stereo speaker
  • Android from the source, exclusive feature set, 7 years of software support
  • Some software features are limited to certain countries
  • No AF on the selfie camera, no Pro camera mode
  • Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light
  • A dedicated telephoto camera would have been nice
  • Unimpressive battery life and no charger in the box

The Pixel 8 offers an improved viewing experience in line with 2023's industry standards, excellent camera experience, faster charging, 7 years of software support, and timely major OS updates. And, it is one of the most compact smartphones on the market, one of the most powerful, and one with a remarkable photo quality from its cameras.

But the Pixel 8 isn't without its flaws. For instance, a 3x telephoto unit would have been greatly appreciated as well wider availability for its smart features. After all, many of Pixel’s clever software features can't be utilized to its fullest in many markets. Charging and battery life aren't particularly impressive either, although somewhat okay in Pixel terms. We also wonder why Google decided to skip the autofocus feature on the selfie camera and the support for Pro camera mode on the smaller Pixel.

Bottom line, the Pixel 8 is an easy recommendation because, despite its issues, it's a significant upgrade over the previous generation and manages to pack competent hardware into a compact body..

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Asus Zenfone 10

Asus Zenfone 10

  • Standout styling, IP68 rating
  • Excellent battery life, wide battery care feature set; now has wireless charging
  • Headphone jack, solid speakers
  • Fastest Android chipset on the market, solid sustained performance as these go
  • Reliable camera kit and quality, wonderful video stabilization
  • Maximum display brightness is below the standards of the day
  • 2 OS updates isn't a lot
  • Autofocus now gone from the selfie and ultrawide cameras
  • No telephoto camera

The Zenfone 10 continues in the footsteps of the 8 and the 9 and brings heaps of performance into an easily pocketable package. Its small size doesn't get in the way of achieving excellent battery life, the Snapdragon chip isn't all too bothered by the compact body, and there was room for the usual headphone jack, but also for the addition of wireless charging.

All that is great, but there's just not a whole lot of new stuff about the Zenfone 10, and some of the new stuff rubs us the wrong way. We're not entirely sure that the gaming-only 144Hz refresh rate on the display counts, and we most definitely aren't thrilled about having to change the camera section heading from 'AF all around' to 'AF gone'. And while allowances can be made for the absence of a zoom camera on a phone that small, that argument wears thin next to competitors with proper triple-cam setups.

Still, getting this Zenfone 10 is not a bad idea at all. It remains part of a relatively short list of phones catering to customers prioritizing compactness over everything else. And it does deliver flagship specs and promising performance across the board. Read full review

Sony Xperia 5 V

Sony Xperia 5 V

  • It's not Xperia Compact, but close. IP68, grippy, lightweight, too.
  • Classic no-nonsense design, GG Victus 2, IP68
  • Excellent OLED screen, bright, 120Hz, color-accurate, no cutouts
  • Superb battery life
  • Very good speakers of equal size and balance
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • Excellent photo and video quality across the board
  • Dependable video quality, great sound, top-notch stabilization
  • Powerful hardware, pro camera apps
  • 3.5mm jack, microSD expansion, physical camera shutter key
  • No charger or no cable in the box
  • No dynamic refresh rate for the screen
  • No telephoto camera, no macro capabilities
  • Throttles under heavy loads
  • 128GB storage is the only built-in storage option

The incredibly compact Sony Xperia 5 V is a minor update over the Xperia 5 IV - it brings a more powerful chipset, newer Gorilla Glass panels, and an improved main camera at the expense of the retired zoom one. Luckily, 2x zoom is still present, with excellent quality at that.

The Xperia 5 V can also be considered a cheaper alternative, and a more compact one, to the flagship Xperia 1 V with a larger 4K display and a proper telephoto with variable zoom.

The Xperia 5 V has one of the best designs on the market - it's a timeless classic with a lovely grip, an impressively compact form factor and a very secure grip. The all-round ingress protection is greatly appreciated, too.

Then there is the cutout-free OLED with excellent properties. Sony hasn't figured out the variable refresh rate just yet, but judging from the outstanding battery life, we think not many users will hold this against them. The latest Snapdragon chip and RAM will always come in handy, as well as the improved thermals. We like the new stereo speaker setup a lot. And the audio jack. And the microSD expansion.

Most importantly, the Xperia 5 V delivers on every camera promise. It snaps some of the best photos a smartphone can offer in both day and night conditions, across all cameras at that - primary, ultrawide, selfie. Furthermore, the 2x zoom turned out excellent for photos and good in videos, too.

Most importantly, the Xperia 5 V delivers on every camera promise. It snaps some of the best photos a smartphone can offer in both day and night conditions, across all cameras at that - primary, ultrawide, selfie. Furthermore, the 2x zoom turned out excellent for photos and good in videos, too.

Most importantly, the Xperia 5 V delivers on every camera promise. It snaps some of the best photos a smartphone can offer in both day and night conditions, across all cameras at that - primary, ultrawide, selfie. Furthermore, the 2x zoom turned out excellent for photos and good in videos, too. All of that – wrapped into this small compact body. Nice!

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

  • Compact foldable, reasonable price
  • Finally - gapless design
  • IPX8-rated for water resistance
  • Large and useful cover display with potential for further software tweaks
  • Outstanding foldable display - bright, color-accurate, 120Hz, HDR
  • The latest and greatest Snapdragon chipset
  • Great all-round camera experience and quality
  • Improved battery life, faster charging
  • Heavily throttles under 100% CPU/GPU load
  • No charger in the box
  • Running full apps on the cover display requires going through hoops
  • No DeX support

The Z Flip5 comes with two meaningful and significant upgrades. The gapless folding design is finally here, so the handset no longer looks like a prototype - it's sexier this way but also simply more compact. The other thing is the cover display - the new one is large enough to actually be useful for a change.

Alongside those two major developments, we're getting a handful of small ones that add up. The new chipset deserves a mention even if it was a given, but it's also at least partially responsible for the improved battery life compared to the previous generation - it has to be, since battery capacity has remained the same. Similarly, the camera hardware is unchanged, yet the 5 takes better pictures than the 4.

The Galaxy Flips have been steadily evolving, and with the Z Flip5, Samsung is approaching that point where it would need to do something big soon. For this year, however, we think a cover display and hinge will do. We'd be happy recommending the Galaxy Z Flip5 - just be sure to either grab one of the early promos or wait a couple of months for the inevitable price drops.

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Motorola Razr 40

Motorola Razr 40

  • Exquisite Flip design with grippy vegan leather exterior
  • Great primary display with a rather unobtrusive crease
  • Helpful external OLED
  • Adequate battery life, fast charging
  • Loud stereo speakers, good audio quality
  • Great sustained performance, no throttling, no heating
  • Great all-round camera experience
  • Polished software with 3 years of major updates
  • Basic ingress protection
  • We never saw 144Hz refresh rate on the screen unless forced
  • GPU performance is behind direct competitors
  • Electronic stabilization needs improvement

The Motorola Razr 40 can stand its ground successfully against most competitors and perhaps it is the only one to edge its value for money proposition. The Motorola Razr 40 is a modern foldable with exquisite design that is comfortable to hold and operate, too. The latter bits are surprisingly rare in the segment with the Galaxy Flip and Oppo Find Flip being properly slippery devices.

We found its foldable OLED to be of excellent quality, while its external OLED turned out to be quite useful if a step behind the 2023 trends. The loud stereo speakers were also a nice touch, as well as the solid camera quality across the board. The battery life turned out to be adequate for such a device, and if Motorola addresses the high standby drain with an update it could well become great.

The Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor is perhaps more than enough for the category as we don't see many heavy gamers going for flip phones. So all things considered we liked this compact Motorola Razr 40 and while it doesn't feel like it will be the new V3 it looks destined to become the most popular of the new generation Razr phones.

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Niche choice

Oppo Find N3 Flip

Oppo Find N3 Flip

  • Exquisite glass design, IPX4 splash proofing
  • Superb foldable OLED, HDR10, bright and can be color accurate
  • Useful cover OLED with a lot of mini-apps and playful pet
  • Dependable battery life, one of the fastest charging times in the Flip segment
  • Loud stereo speakers, good audio quality
  • Flagship-grade performance
  • Top-notch photos and videos from all rear cameras, day and night
  • The 5x zoom turned out to be surprisingly good
  • Powerful ColorOS, 5 years of updates
  • No HFR gaming
  • Throttles big time
  • The tele camera should fire more often at night
  • The inner (selfie) camera is mediocre
  • Using the cover screen as a viewfinder limits video recording to 1080

The Oppo Find N3 Flip seems like the most all-round compact Flip phone on the market right now. It has a useful cover screen and a great foldable one, a sturdy design with splash proofing, great battery life with super-fast charging for this segment, and the best camera kit among the Flips to date. Plus, the rear cameras excel in everything, and their photos are among the best we've seen.

The Find N3 Flip impressed us with performance and software, too, and we are glad Oppo will be taking care of this phone for five years. It definitely deserves flagship treatment, just like any other phone.

The Find N3 Flip is not perfect; no phone is. High-refresh rate gaming is absent on the N3 Flip, much like on all other BBK phones, and the phone throttles big time as an overheating prevention measure. Another very BBK thing is the mediocre selfie camera that uses a Quad-Bayer sensor and then saves upscaled photos.

But even with these issues, the Oppo Find N3 Flip is still one of the best Flip foldables right now. It has some niceties that no competitor has - such as the speedy charging and the 2x zoom camera, while the IPX4 splash-proofing and new glass panels are welcome build quality improvements.

Overall, we liked the Oppo Find N3 Flip a lot as it managed to surprise us more than once. It's a solid smartphone with the most feature-rich Flip specs sheet, and even better - it delivers on the official promises.

Read full review

Most recent updates

November 7, 2023: Replaced the Pixel 7a with the Pixel 8, the Zenfone 9 with the Zenfone 10, Xperia 5 IV with the Xperia 5 V and the Galaxy Z Flip4 with the Z Flip 5. Added the Motorola Razr 40 and the Oppo Find N3 Flip. Removed the Motorola Edge 30 Neo and the Xiaomi 12X.

June 13, 2023: Added the Pixel 7a.

March 13, 2023: Replaced the Galaxy S22 with the Galaxy S23.

November 2, 2022: Replaced the Asus Zenfone 8 with the Zenfone 9. Replaced the Xperia 5 III with the Xperia 5 IV. Added Motorola Edge 30 Neo, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, Xiaomi 12X. Removed the Xperia 10 IV.

June 29, 2022: Replaced the iPhone SE (2020) with the iPhone SE (2022). Replaced the Galaxy S21 5G with the Galaxy S22 5G. Added Sony Xperia 10 IV. Removed the Pixel 5.

Oct 20, 2021: Replaced the iPhone 12 mini with the iPhone 13 mini. Replaced Xperia 5 II with the Xperia 5 III. Replaced the Pixel 4a with Pixel 5. Removed the Galaxy A41.

Aug 02, 2021: Added the Pixel 4a. Removed the 'Almost There' suggestions.

Nov 27, 2020: Replaced Galaxy S20 with Galaxy S21. Added the Asus Zenfone 8. Removed the Galaxy S10e.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 16 Feb 2024
  • AAr

Problem with Zenfones is their trash software support and they don't have bootloader unlocking anymore. Not to mention that Asus has been patching any and all unofficial ways of bootloader unlocking or software downgrades, which is simply unforg...

Problem with Zenfones is no Micro SD Slot.

  • Anonymous
  • 28 Nov 2023
  • Kk}

The only real options are the iPhone SE, 12 Mini, or 13 mini, or clam-shells; the Zenfone is a stretch at 5.92 inches. Nothing for the mid-range market.