In 2017, the concept of what a “compact phone” could be was flipped around and old notions were shaken up. Since the introduction of the 18:9 aspect ratios, saying that a phone’s display has a 5.7-inch diagonal size doesn’t really mean that you’ll be holding a large phablet in your hand. On the contrary — it might just be a nicely narrow, easy to wield phone.
So, in this new age of smartphones, what is to be considered a small handset? Manufacturers have been stubbornly sticking to a 5-inch minimum for most of their screens in the recent past, which made it hard enough to find phones that we’d call “compact” with a straight face. For the most cases, it has become commonplace to call a phone that you can mostly use with one hand (though the use of another helps sometimes) and that is light and easy to pocket “compact”.
We thought we’d take a look at the phones that came out this year and pick out some that we can call “small” or “easy to handle”. Here’s what we came up with:
Best compact phones of 2017
Best compact phones of 2017
1. Samsung Galaxy S8
The Galaxy S8’s 5.8-inch display may sound huge on paper, but due to its 18.5:9 ratio, it really isn’t. Well, it is noticeably tall, sure, but also quite narrow. When we combine this with the edge curves on the screen’s sides and the almost-not-there bezels, we have a phone that is extremely easy to hold in one hand, really good reachability, and generally — something that we would call a “compact handset” in this day and age.
2. Apple iPhone 8
Sans the iPhone X, Apple’s “mainstream” handset hasn’t moved an inch (harr harr, puns) for the past 4 years — the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 is still as easy to wield as its predecessors. From here on, it’s up to you to choose — an iPhone 6s (from $450) that has a headphone jack, but no water-proofing, no Taptic engine, and no OIS for the camera, an iPhone 7 (from $550) that has all of these, with the exception of a 3.5 mm jack, and an iPhone 8 (from $700) that adds a glass back and wireless charging to the mix.
3. Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
Of course, Sony’s Compact series has a place in this pick. Every other year, the manufacturer releases an Xperia that has specs on-par with its most current flagship, but in a tiny, light body, with a 4.6-inch display. In fact, Sony is the only Android phone manufacturer that still caters towards the “small, but powerful phone” niche, which is one of the reasons it still gets respect points from many users out there.
4. Huawei P10
The Huawei P10 sports a 5.1-inch display with the classic 16:9 aspect ratio. However, thanks to some really, really thin side bezels it feels guite manageable in the hand. It’s only 1.2 mm wider than the Galaxy S8 and, due to the display not being as tall as the one on the Sammy flagship, it’s sort of easy to stretch for the notifications shade, too. The P10 is not officially available in the US, but due to it being sold in Canada, it’s easy to grab a hold of one through Amazon, Ebay, and other such sites.
5. Sony Xperia XA1
The XA series is Sony’s take on the bezel-less look… well, if you don’t count the over-emphasized “chin” and “forehead” the phone sports. Still, it’s quite easy to wrap your fingers around the midrange, 5-inch Xperia XA1. It costs half the price of the Xperia XZ1 Compact, too, though, the difference in hardware class is noticeable.
6. LG Q6
The Q6 was the first widely-available midrange phone to sport the all-new 18:9 screen aspect ratio. LG introduced it shortly after the LG G6, which is why it quickly drew comparisons and was labeled as a “mini G6”, but it’s really not. It’s a lower-midrange type phone with some obvious corner cutting in its build. That said, it’s pretty compact and can be had at a bargain via Amazon Prime, if you can live with the lockscreen ads.