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Best Compact Smartphones: Which mini smartphone should you buy?

By Simon Thomas on 16th December 2014


While most flagship phones are getting ever bigger there are plenty of people who’d prefer a small handset. Sadly as popular opinion at the moment seems to be that bigger is better the smaller handsets are usually a little underpowered, but that’s not always the case as there are still some great ones. Here then are the five best compact smartphones available as of December 2014.

5. Nokia Lumia 530

 Nokia Lumia 530

 Small doesn’t have to mean cheap but in the case of the Nokia Lumia 530 it does. The handset comes in at just around £80 SIM free, which makes it spectacularly affordable.

It has more than just an attractive price tag too, as its 4.0 inch 480 x 854 display gives it a solid pixel density of 245 pixels per inch, while a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB of RAM are enough to deliver slick performance.

Plus with Windows Phone 8.1 under the hood you can enjoy the latest and best version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system and while there’s only 4GB of built in storage it has a microSD card slot which supports cards of up to 128GB.

It’s not the best phone around, but it’s small, covers the basics and is incredible value for money.


4. HTC One mini 2

 HTC One Mini

 The HTC One mini 2 is going toe to toe with the Galaxy S5 mini and the two phones are closely matched, albeit with different good and bad points. The price though is pretty similar, coming in at an ever so slightly cheaper £360 SIM free.

It has a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM, so it doesn’t win out in the power stakes, but its 4.5 inch 720 x 1280 Super LCD2 screen is just as good, with the same 326ppi pixel density.

It also has a good 13 megapixel camera, which trumps Samsung’s offering and even a 5 megapixel front facing camera, making it great for selfies. Unlike the original HTC One mini there’s also a microSD card slot, to boost it above the 16GB of storage that comes built in.

But the build quality is the real star of the show, as while the Lumia 530 and Galaxy S5 mini are both heavy on the plastic, the HTC One mini 2 has the same aluminium back and speaker grills as the HTC One M8, giving it a level of quality rarely seen on smartphones, let alone mini ones.

3. Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha was not just Samsung’s first attempt at a smartphone with a premium build, but also a rare occasion where it equipped a relatively compact phone with high end specs.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has a stylish and slim 6.7mm thick build with a metal frame and while it’s one of the biggest phones on this list with a 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 screen it’s still compact compared to most high end handsets.

That screen is pretty impressive too, using Super AMOLED to deliver bright, vibrant images. An octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM ensure it’s packed with power, its 12 megapixel camera can capture impressive images and it’s the most direct iPhone 6 competitor Android has to offer, even packing in similar features like a fingerprint scanner.

Its plastic back means it can’t quite match that phones build quality and that’s why it sits at number three on our list, but it sure does come close and with a starting price of around £400 it’s far more affordable too.

2. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

 Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

We loved the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact which combined a high-end spec and premium design with a compact form factor. And the Xperia Z3 Compact is a more feature packed and even higher specification smartphone.

Sony's smartphone has a 4.6-inch 720p display which puts it near the limit of qualifying for a compact handset, but the smartphone is just 8.4mm thick and weighs just 129g. It's powered by a staggering 2.5Ghz quad-core processor backed up by 1GB of RAM which blows its rivals away.

The 20.7 mega-pixel camera is capable of recording 4K video and is the only compact smartphone capable of such a feature. And when it comes to features it doesn't disappoint because it supports PS4 Remote Play, front-facing speakers and support for High-Resolution audio.  And it comes fully connected supporting 4G LTE, WiFi, NFC, DLNA, MHL and delivers excellent battery life. 

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact might not quite feel as premium as the iPhone 5S or HTC One Mini 2, but it's still a very well built smartphone that brings waterproofing and dust-resistance to the party. While, it's feature set and high-end specification are top notch.

1. Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 - Best Compact Smartphones

While the iPhone 6 is nowhere near as compact as the 4.0-inch iPhone 5S, it’s still fairly small by flagship standards at 4.7 inches and what a phone it is.

Its 750 x 1334 display delivers high quality visuals, its A8 processor ensures performance is impeccably slick and while it may only have an 8 megapixel camera it punches well above its weight with some of the best photo and video taking skills we’ve seen on a smartphone.

Then there’s its stunning aluminium shell that’s just 6.9mm thick, making it one of the best looking smartphones ever, its impressively fast and accurate Touch ID fingerprint scanner and iOS itself, which is still the most intuitive mobile operating system around.

With a starting price of £539 SIM free it sure is expensive but it’s hard to argue that it’s not worth the money. This is without a doubt the best compact smartphone around and very few handsets of any size can compete with it.

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