Google Pixel 4Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

Best Small Android Phones Android Central 2020

In just a few short years, big phones have gone from being an outlier to the norm in the smartphone industry. Just about every major device that's released these days has a larger physical size, and while that's great for watching movies and playing games, it can be a challenge for those of us that prefer our phones to be small and compact. Thankfully, there are still plenty of options out there — including the Google Pixel 3a as our top overall pick.

Best Overall: Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a XLSource: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central

First on the list, we've got the Google Pixel 3a. We've championed the Pixel 3a as being one of the best Android deals ever since it first came out back in May 2019, and over a year later, it still holds up as an excellent small phone. The 5.6-inch display size is downright tiny by today's industry standards, and with an OLED panel and Full HD+ resolution, it's a joy to look at.

The big highlight of the Pixel 3a is its rear camera, which takes gorgeous photos. The single 12.2MP sensor may not sound impressive on paper, but thanks to Google's unmatched image processing, the Pixel 3a impresses us time and time again whenever we shoot with it. Rounding out the experience is solid performance, clean software with promises for new updates as soon as they're made available, and a headphone jack.

Our only issue with the Pixel 3a is its age. Google has since discontinued the phone in preparation for the upcoming Pixel 4a, so if you can wait a little while longer, it may be worth seeing how that phone turns out. If you need a new phone right now, though, you can still buy the Pixel 3a with confidence and know it'll be a dependable handset for years to come.

Pros:

  • Takes gorgeous photos
  • Good performance
  • Has a headphone jack
  • Clean and up-to-date software
  • Works with all U.S. carriers

Cons:

  • The Pixel 4a is coming soon
  • No expandable storage
  • No wireless charging

Best Overall

Google Pixel 3a

Small phone champ

With an excellent balance of specs, features, and price, the Pixel 3a stands out as the best small phone you can buy.

Best Premium: Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Let's say you like what you see with the Pixel 3a but want something a bit more premium. What's a person to do? You should buy the Pixel 4, that's what! This is basically a souped-up version of the 3a, offering a nicer design and more capable specs while retaining a small footprint.

With the Pixel 4, you get a 5.7-inch OLED display with a crisp Full HD+ resolution of 2280x1080. It also has a 90Hz refresh rate, meaning that everything on the screen is incredibly smooth. Pair that with the Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM, and you have more than enough horsepower for whatever you want to do.

The Pixel 4 gets points in a few other areas, such as its outstanding cameras, up-to-date software, and powerful face unlock system that's easily the best we've ever seen in the Android space. So much about this phone is excellent, except when it comes to battery life. The Pixel 4 has some of the worst endurance we've seen on a phone in a long time, and some of its features, like Motion Sense, don't have widespread use, but there's still a lot to like.

Pros:

  • Incredible cameras
  • 90Hz AMOLED display is legit
  • Buttery smooth performance
  • Face unlock works really well
  • First-in-line for software updates

Cons:

  • Awful battery life
  • Some features have limited use

Best Premium

Google Pixel 4

Treat yourself to something nice

Assuming you can get over its poor battery life, the Pixel 4 offers an incredible experience you don't want to miss.

Best Features: Samsung Galaxy S10e

Galaxy S10eSource: Android Central

The Galaxy S10e has since been replaced by the new Galaxy S20 family, but as far as compact flagship phones go, it's still one of the best you can get. You're treated to a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen with that trusty Full HD+ resolution, and while it's only 60Hz and not 90Hz like the Pixel 4, it's still easy on the eyes. Thanks to smaller bezels, it's also a little easier to manage in one hand.

You'll find a plethora of features crammed into the Galaxy S10e, with just a few of the highlights being dual rear cameras, expandable storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Samsung Pay (which allows for both NFC and MST payments). There's also Samsung's custom One UI software, which is one of the most feature-rich Android interfaces on the planet.

Battery life on the Galaxy S10e may not last as long as you'd like if you're doing a lot on the phone, but it is a marked improvement compared to the Pixel 4. And, thanks to wired and wireless charging options, refueling the S10e is a piece of cake.

Pros:

  • Premium glass/metal design
  • AMOLED display looks excellent
  • Cameras are good
  • Headphone jack and expandable storage
  • Wireless charging

Cons:

  • So-so battery

Best Features

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Tiny phone, lots of features

The Galaxy S10e offers a heap of features in a compact body in a way that only Samsung could do. It really is something special.

Best Value: Nokia 7.1

Nokia 7.1Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

The Nokia 7.1 is no longer the newest Android phone in Nokia's lineup, but it does have one of the smaller screens that the company offers. It comes in at 5.84 inches, and even with the large chin and notch at the top, it's still very easy to manage and use as a compact device. An LCD panel is used for the display, along with a crisp 2280x1080 resolution. What's especially cool about the Nokia 7.1 is that it supports native HDR and can convert SDR content into HDR for a more vibrant and colorful image no matter what you're looking at.

Outside of the tiny and powerful display, there are plenty of other reasons to get excited about the Nokia 7.1. Its battery life is very good for such a tiny phone, you get an NFC chip for Google Pay support, and the metal/glass design is almost too good for as little as the phone costs.

Nokia also takes a major win in the software department, offering a clean user interface that's backed by guaranteed updates and monthly security patches.

Pros:

  • Sharp and colorful display
  • Converts non-HDR content
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Has NFC for Google Pay
  • Android One software

Cons:

  • Performance can be a bit choppy
  • Only works with T-Mobile and AT&T
  • Newer phones in Nokia's lineup

Best Value

Nokia 7.1

Get more for your money

Getting a lot for your money is critical for a lot of shoppers, and if that sounds like you, the Nokia 7.1 is the phone to buy.

Best Affordable: Nokia 5.1 Plus

Nokia 5.1 PlusSource: Nokia

Speaking of Nokia, it has another small Android phone in the form of the Nokia 5.1 Plus. This is one of the cheapest phones on our list, making it a great choice for when your budget is especially tight. Its display is a little bigger than the Nokia 7.1 at 5.86 inches, but this is still a very easy-to-use form factor.

Despite costing so little, you still get a pretty well-rounded smartphone with the Nokia 5.1 Plus. There's expandable storage, a headphone jack, dual rear cameras, and a fingerprint sensor (something you don't always see at this price). The design also looks quite good, even with the large notch.

The Nokia 5.1 Plus isn't the fastest phone we've ever encountered, but for most apps and day-to-day tasks, it should be fine for doing everything you need it to.

Pros:

  • Fast enough for day-to-day apps
  • Expandable storage + headphone jack
  • Rear fingerprint sensor
  • Backed by guaranteed updates

Cons:

  • Doesn't have NFC
  • Weak performance
  • Older phone

Best Affordable

Nokia 5.1 Plus

Super small and super cheap

You make some sacrifices for a phone this cheap, but even so, the Nokia 5.1 Plus still delivers a great user experience.

Best Cheap Samsung: Samsung Galaxy A10e

Samsung Galaxy A10eSource: Samsung

Speaking of cheap and small Android phones, you should also consider the Samsung Galaxy A10e. The display is nice and small at just 5.83 inches, and with incredibly tiny bezels along with a waterdrop notch, one-handed use is a joy.

Looking at the A10e's specs, it's not the most powerful phone in the world. The display resolution is limited to 1560x720, the Exynos processor isn't the best at handling demanding games, there's just a single rear camera, and you don't get a fingerprint sensor. Even with all of that said, using the A10e is mostly great. It looks nice, is fast enough for regular daily use, and is compatible with every cellular network in the U.S.

This is another phone that hits a really sweet price tag, making the Galaxy A10e hard to ignore if you're shopping with a tight budget.

Pros:

  • Minimal bezels around the display
  • Reliable battery life
  • Storage is expandable
  • There's a headphone jack
  • Compatible with Big Four carriers

Cons:

  • Doesn't have a fingerprint sensor
  • Weak performance
  • OK display

Best Cheap Samsung

Samsung Galaxy A10e

Go Samsung without going broke

Samsung phones are incredibly popular, and with the A10e, you can get one for yourself without spending an arm and a leg.

Bottom line

The market for small Android phones isn't as expansive as it once used to be, but if you know where to look, there are still plenty of choices out there. Among everything currently available, we think the Google Pixel 3a is the best one you can get.

Google just about perfected the small phone formula with the Pixel 3a. It's an attractive and well-built phone, has capable specs across the board, and comes in at a price that's more than reasonable. Using the Pixel 3a is pretty darn great no matter what you're doing, often punching above what you'd expect from a phone this cheap.

What's special about the Pixel 3a is that it goes above and beyond in some regards — namely the camera and software. These are two areas that the Pixel does better than anyone else, and with the Pixel 3a, you get those benefits while staying within your budget.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Joe Maring is Android Central's Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to joe.maring@futurenet.com!

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