Best compact phones 2019 – buyer’s guide

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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 ocasional 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

  • Proper triple camera setup (wide, ultra wide, tele) with great image quality
  • Excellent display
  • Dependable battery life, quick top-ups
  • Plenty of performance for the money
  • No storage expansion
  • No 3.5mm jack
  • Superb display
  • Great battery life, two-way wireless charging
  • Nice camera output across the board
  • Has a 3.5mm jack
  • Awkward fingerprint reader placement
  • No tele camera
  • Superb display
  • Great (screen-on) battery life, wireless charging
  • Class-leading performance
  • Proper triple camera (wide, ultra wide, tele)
  • Best video capture on the market
  • Very expensive
  • May be compact, but it’s not light in weight
  • Lightning port, no storage expansion, pricey storage upgrades
  • Compact and light, and affordable
  • Very good AMOLED display, FullHD too at a small diagonal
  • Good camera output for the money
  • Has an ultra wide angle cam (not spectacular, but present still)
  • Battery life is decent, but nothing more
  • The chipset is good enough for basic daily tasks, but is geared towards efficiency and struggles under GPU-heavy loads

Niche choice

  • Great performance
  • Outstanding camera (albeit a single one)
  • Clean UI and guaranteed software updates
  • Dated design with plastic construction
  • No dust and water-resistance
  • No wireless charging
  • No wide or telephoto cameras

Google’s been making a compact version of all generations of Pixels, but with the Pixel 4, we don’t feel like it’s making a convincing case. Hence, our recommendation for getting a good enough Pixel experience at a sensible price goes to the Pixel 3a.

When the flagship 4 is missing a camera it should have, does it matter that the 3a is missing two? We reckon not, plus the Pixel 3a puts out identical images to the Pixel 3, and those are great images. The midrange Snapdragon 670 is… well, good enough.

Google was careful to make the 3a midrange nature apparent and made it out of plastic. It also denied it nice features like wireless charging and the ingress protection, but it is a Pixel at half the price, so all is well.

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