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June 28, 2018

Best Small Android Phone of 2018

by John_A

  • Best overall
  • Best for features
  • Best on a budget
  • Best tiny

Best Overall

Google Pixel 2

google-pixel-2-top-glass-camera.jpg?itok

See at Verizon
See at Google Store

For two years, the Pixel has been the quintessential Google phone, and the HTC-made Pixel 2 is our top recommendation for shoppers in need of a small phone.

The Pixel 2 may wield last year’s processor, the Snapdragon 835, but it sits in a class of its own when it comes to performance. It’s comfortable to hold thanks to a relatively small 5-inch 1080p display, and features front-facing speakers, water resistance, and one of the best cameras on the market. Despite a seemingly small 2700mAh battery, it even manages impressive battery life.

Bottom line: For the Google purist in search of a small phone, the Pixel 2 is the pretty much the complete package.

One more thing: The Pixel 2 lacks a headphone jack and wireless charging, though it does include a USB-C audio dongle in the box.

Why the Google Pixel 2 is the best

There’s no better way to experience Android the way Google intends it than with a Pixel phone. The Pixel 2 dispels the notion that small phones can’t offer a flagship experience, with the same spec sheet and performance as the larger Pixel 2 XL — without its various known issues.

The Pixel 2 is the first Google-branded phone with IP67 water resistance, and the first to offer front-facing speakers since the Nexus 6P. It also takes some of the best photos we’ve ever seen from a phone with its 12.2 MP primary camera, and the front-facing camera can capture great-looking selfies — even offering Portrait Mode through the use of machine learning. Google also sweetens the deal by including free unlimited backups on Google Photos for Pixel 2 owners.

You can buy the Pixel 2 in one of three attractive colors (Kinda Blue, Just Black, and Clearly White), and two storage options (64GB or 128GB), though there’s no microSD expandability, so choose wisely.

Best for features

Samsung Galaxy S9

samsung-galaxy-s9-coral-blue-on-table.jp

See at Amazon

The Galaxy S9 is one of the most powerful compact phones on the market, and even though it features a 5.8-inch display, it’s in a body barely larger than the Pixel 2. The Galaxy S9 takes all of the great design qualities of the GS8 and improves upon them, repositioning the fingerprint sensor to a logical place and dramatically improving the camera. Thanks to stronger glass and thicker metal, it’s less scratch-prone, too.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9 is a one-handed marvel, even though it’s got a large 5.8-inch display.

One more thing: The Galaxy S9+ is the phone’s larger sidekick, and it comes with a bigger screen, larger battery, and dual cameras.

Best affordable phone

Moto G6

moto-g6-review-22.jpg?itok=Z3GTRAdN

See at Amazon

The Moto G6 is one of the best smartphone deals today. It’s a modern-looking phone with a 5.7-inch 18:9 display, a reasonably powerful Snapdragon 450 processor, and a surprisingly good 12MP rear camera — all for just over $200. The 3000mAh battery lasts a good while, and the ultra-clean Oreo-based software is about as good as it gets for the price.

Bottom line: The Moto G6 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable unlocked phone in a fairly compact size.

One more thing: Don’t be scared off by the Prime Exclusive version — it just comes with some Amazon software that can be disabled anyway.

Best “really tiny” phone

Xperia XZ2 Compact

sony-xperia-xz2-preview-23.jpg?itok=XsXI

See at Amazon

Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact brings all of the features one expects of a flagship down to the palmable size. The line is one of the few that balances features, performance, and dimensions, and the XZ2 Compact is no exception, with a Snapdragon 845 and all the camera improvements of its Xperia XZ2 counterpart. Thanks to the combination of a 5-inch display and an 18:9 aspect ratio, it’s much smaller than even the Pixel 2.

Bottom-line: You won’t find another 5-inch phone with such high-end specs and small bezels, and it’s made even better with Android 8.0 Oreo on board.

One more thing: There’s now a fingerprint sensor on the back, and it works in the U.S.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 is simply the best compact Android experience around. You get pure Google software, a best-in-class camera, water resistance, front-facing speakers, and high-end specs, all in a small form factor that can easily fit in your hand or pocket. As always, it can be a bit difficult to find certain configurations in stock, but once you get your hands on one, the Pixel 2 leaves little to be desired — except maybe a headphone jack and wireless charging.

Best Overall

Google Pixel 2

google-pixel-2-top-glass-camera.jpg?itok

See at Verizon
See at Google Store

For two years, the Pixel has been the quintessential Google phone, and the HTC-made Pixel 2 is our top recommendation for shoppers in need of a small phone.

The Pixel 2 may wield last year’s processor, the Snapdragon 835, but it sits in a class of its own when it comes to performance. It’s comfortable to hold thanks to a relatively small 5-inch 1080p display, and features front-facing speakers, water resistance, and one of the best cameras on the market. Despite a seemingly small 2700mAh battery, it even manages impressive battery life.

Bottom line: For the Google purist in search of a small phone, the Pixel 2 is the pretty much the complete package.

One more thing: The Pixel 2 lacks a headphone jack and wireless charging, though it does include a USB-C audio dongle in the box.

Update, June 2018: We’ve replaced the Moto G5 Plus with the Moto G6 as our affordable recommendation.

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