By Andy Zahn/March 10, 2023 5:57 pm EST
We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.
Even as bezels shrink and convenient features such as the headphone jack disappear from our phones, these devices have seemingly inexplicably grown ever larger. As the line between phones and tablets becomes well and truly blurred, it’s understandable that many people now desire a more portable and pocketable mobile phone. Sadly, such petite devices have grown increasingly few and far between. Miniaturization requires sacrifice in most cases, and in the endless smartphone arms race, it’s all about power, cameras, and maximizing screen real estate. Small phones are unable to compete in the war for mobile supremacy.
Despite this, there are still good options out there for less obtrusive phones. From flip phones as basic as they are affordable, to cutting-edge folding screen devices that offer flagship power in a diminutive pocket-friendly form factor, to more traditional smartphones that appear to have been hit by a shrink ray, there are compelling tiny phones to be found even in this age of the phablet.
9. Nokia 2720 V Flip
For those searching for an old-school flip phone, the Nokia 2720 V Flip is an excellent option. It offers a form factor similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, but for a fraction of the price, albeit with the limited functionality you’d expect from a phone with an old-fashioned keypad. With that said, there’s a lot to recommend the Nokia 2720 V Flip over the ubiquitous smartphone, and you might be surprised by how many features are available in a phone with a design that’s practically retro at this point.
This flip phone actually has apps like YouTube, Google maps, and email, and while they’re certainly more difficult to use than on a smartphone, having the option to access them is a good thing. Battery life is a notable advantage for the V Flip, as it can go for a couple of days without needing to be recharged, and can last in standby mode for nearly a month. Of course, the big advantages of a basic flip phone like this are that it’s relatively cheap, and it can help you if you’re trying to distance yourself from social media and do a digital detox while maintaining the basic connectivity that’s become so necessary in the digital age.
The size of the V Flip is just 7.59 x 2.15 x 0.46 inches unfolded and 4.13 x 2.15 x 0.74 inches while folded., and goes for $108 on Amazon unlocked. The next entry on the list is a close contender in size with the Nokia 2720 V Flip, but the Nokia device is just a tiny bit larger while folded — and is easily the longest (or tallest, depending on how you look at it) device on the list while unfolded.
8. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
One of the best examples of how folding screen technology can offer real, practical benefits, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 allows a large, flagship phone to fold down into a tiny, pocket-friendly package. Despite boasting a spacious 6.7-inch screen when unfolded, the Flip 4 folds in half, and while this doubles its thickness, the resulting compact rectangle is much more pocketable than a typical smartphone. Unfolded it measures 6.5 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches, folded it measures 3.3 x 2.8 x 0.6-0.7 inches.
Unlike many smaller phones, the Flip 4 doesn’t compromise much when it comes to processing power and features. The dual camera array boasts both wide and ultra-wide lenses, and thanks to the 1.9-inch cover screen, you can use these primary cameras to capture selfies, though there’s also a dedicated selfie camera on the other side of the phone. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and 8GB of RAM under the hood put it in the same ballpark as contemporary flagship phones.
There are some tradeoffs with the foldable design. The Flip 4 has a fairly limited battery life, the folding screen isn’t perfectly flat when unfolded, and there are long-term durability concerns inherent in folding screen phones. However, the truth is that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best small phone you can buy right now. The Flip 4 is available unlocked starting at $899.
7. Asus ZenFone 9
If you like the iPhone 13 Mini but would prefer something more modern, the Asus Zenfone 9 is a great Android-powered alternative. Released in the latter half of 2022, the ZenFone 9 is a unique-looking device; with its small 5.9-inch AMOLED screen and almost bulbous dual cameras, it definitely stands out from the crowd. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 paired with as much as a whopping 16GB of RAM put it beyond many flagship phones in terms of potential performance, at least on paper, and it uses a vapor chamber cooling system to avoid those powerful components overheating.
The ZenFone 9 includes both a wide and ultrawide camera, but it’s the wide camera with its 50MP sensor that might be the most exciting single feature of the Zenfone 9, given that it utilizes internal gimbal stabilization. That rather unique feature and makes the Zenfone 9 worth considering if you shoot a lot of video with your phone, even if you don’t necessarily need a tiny phone.
The only big downside here is that it doesn’t support wireless charging, which, in a modern, relatively high-end smartphone is a somewhat odd omission. However, it makes up for this with a large 4,300 mAh battery; that means you’ll need to top it up less often than many other tiny phones which typically struggle with battery capacity. It measures 5.77 x 2.68 x 0.36 inches.
The ASUS ZenFone 9 can be found in ASUS’s Amazon listing for a variety of prices — each color of the phone has a different listing page, which is odd, but they’re all there, anyway. This device’s starting price is currently around $610.
6. Apple iPhone SE (2022)
While it’s not as compelling as the iPhone 13 Mini (which you’ll see lower on this list, too), the Apple iPhone SE (2022) is a slightly more affordable iPhone that will easily fit in both your pocket and your budget. While the iPhone SE (2022) is very slightly larger and heavier than the iPhone 13 Mini, the SE actually has a screen that’s 0.7 inches smaller than the Mini due to the beefy bezels surrounding the display on the SE. Just to get the bad news out of the way more quickly, the screen on the SE also suffers in terms of brightness and sharpness compared to the Mini and is afflicted by decreased storage and battery capacity. A greater loss still is that the SE lacks an ultra-wide camera, though fortunately the single 12MP camera it does sport is capable of capturing pleasing shots.
With that said, there’s a lot to recommend the SE — primarily its price point, which is $300 less than the iPhone 13 Mini. Also, while the SE is taller and wider than the Mini, it’s also thinner, and it’s powered by the same A15 chip as the SE. It measures 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches. The iPhone SE (2022) may not be the best iPhone or the best tiny iPhone, but it does deliver remarkably good value for money given its attractive price point.
It’s available starting at $351 on Amazon, but that’s locked into a carrier contact. If you want an unlocked one you’ll have to opt for a renewed phone.
5. Apple iPhone 13 Mini
While Apple neglected to release a miniature version of the iPhone 14, the Apple iPhone 13 Mini is still available, and it remains the best option for anyone looking for a small form factor smartphone from Apple. It offers practically everything there is to love about the full-size iPhone 13, aside from the camera, and is still relevant despite being a generation behind.
The iPhone 13 Mini sports a 5.4-inch display that strikes a nice balance between portability and usability. It’s small enough to fit into almost any pocket but is still just about as functional as a full-sized iPhone. It has the same twin camera system with wide and ultrawide lenses as its big brother and is powered by the same zippy A15 bionic chip. Beyond screen size and battery life (the Mini won’t last as long on a charge as the iPhone 13), you really aren’t giving up much for a miniaturized iPhone.
The elephant in the room is the unfortunate discontinuation of the Mini series of iPhones. For now, the iPhone 13 Mini is still very relevant, but it means that Apple fans can’t enjoy the latest and greatest that iPhone 14 has to offer without settling for a less convenient (larger) form factor. It measures 5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 inches and is available unlocked and refurbished on Amazon starting at $484. If you want one new, Apple is still selling the Mini for $629 from their online store.
4. Cubot Pocket
A tiny, fashion-focused smartphone, the Cubot Pocket has a more interesting design that sets it apart from the nearly identical slabs that are typical of modern phones. Its attractive colors and textured back are appealing, and designed to make it more durable so as to better stand up to outdoor activities, or being tossed into a cluttered handbag. It’s more compact than the iPhone 13 Mini, with a petite 4-inch display that’s smaller than the screens found on all but a handful of current phones.
Its camera quality and screen quality are acceptable in a phone with such a low price point, as are its admittedly rather slow processor and 4GB of RAM. While it only has 64GB of storage, that’s fortunately expandable via a microSD card slot, which is something most other manufacturers have sadly abandoned. If you’re looking for a stylish, budget-friendly tiny phone, the Cubot Pocket is an attractive option.
The Cubot Pocket is available for $149 on Amazon and measures 4.7 x 2.3 x 0.5 inches.
3. Unihertz Atom
Checking the boxes for both small size and rugged build quality, the Unihertz Atom is the result of a successful kickstarter campaign. It’s only 3.8 x 1.8 x 0.7 inches, runs Android 9, and is one of the smallest fully functional smartphones available. Its 4GB of RAM and older CPU mean you won’t be playing demanding mobile games, but it does have all the basics you expect in a smartphone, such as cameras, fingerprint and face ID, and USB Type-C. Though it’s certainly getting on in years, the age of the Atom does mean you get the increasingly rare luxury of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
What’s really important here is its aforementioned small size and its remarkable durability. The Atom boasts an IP68 waterproofing rating, and with a shock-resistant design and Corning Gorilla Glass display, it’s clearly meant to survive the rigors of even the most rough-and-tumble lifestyle. This would be an excellent phone for hikers, climbers, kayakers, and all manner of other outdoors enthusiasts. You can purchase this phone from Unihertz on Amazon for around $240.
Note that the Palm Phone below has the same height as the Unihertz Atom. The Palm Phone is wider than the Unihertz Atom, but thinner and significantly lighter — and both devices are the same height. The Palm Phone weighs in at 62.5 g (2.22 oz) while the Unihertz Atom weighs a comparatively hefty 300.5 g (10.6 oz) — Unihertz also lists the phone with a weight without the battery, but since we cannot use the device without the battery, that weight is meaningless for the purpose of this list.
2. Palm Phone
The concept of the Palm Phone is slightly unusual. It is officially only referred to as the Palm and is meant more as a companion to a smartphone. Think of it as being halfway between a smartphone and a smartwatch. The Palm is designed to work alongside another smartphone, the idea being that with the Palm you can leave your large, primary phone at home and carry the more portable 3.8 x 1.99 x 0.29 inch Palm instead. Users have the option of using it standalone with a separate phone number and data plan or connected via Numbershare to an existing line so that it shares their current phone number.
The Palm features a “Life Mode” which silences incoming calls and notifications every time you turn the screen off. When you turn the screen on it goes back to functioning normally. This helps prevent unwanted interruptions and minimizes the influence your phone has over your daily life. It’s still a fully functional phone, with cameras, Android 8.1 (at launch), and a minuscule 3.3-inch display. It’s even got an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, making it even more attractive, as you don’t have to worry so much about it getting damaged by accident.
While the Palm was originally only sold by Verizon to customers who already owned another Verizon phone, it’s now available unlocked and works with most major US carriers. You can pick it up for $199 on Amazon.
1. Zanco Tiny T2
The Zanco Tiny T2 is the world’s smallest fully functional mobile phone. At just 1.8 x 0.8 x 1 inches This device goes well beyond portability, to the point where the question becomes not how it will fit in your pocket, but instead whether or not it may get lost in there. Though its extremely small dimensions severely limit its functionality, you’re still able to make calls and send text messages, though typing out a message of any length on its tiny keypad and 1-inch OLED screen is not a task for the faint of heart or the weak of thumb. It’s also capable of functioning as an MP3 player and is even equipped with Bluetooth and a camera.
There aren’t a lot of practical applications for a phone this small for the average person. It might be attractive to the kind of ultra-light backpackers who cut their maps up to shave every ounce possible from their packs. Another scenario might be as a backup phone in a portable emergency kit, or for a cosplay event where your costume doesn’t allow for much in the way of pocket space. While it’s not for everyone (particularly those with big hands), if the absolute smallest phone possible is what you’re looking for, it’s the Zanco Tiny T2.
This phone is called T2 because there is a first-generation version with the name T1. There are T1 units out in the wild, but they’re difficult to find, courtesy of their limited production. The second-generation unit is part of a Kickstarter campaign and may be available to purchase by the general public in the near future.