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Best Compact Smartphones: Which mini smartphone should you buy?

By Simon Thomas on 20th October 2015

best compact smartphones

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 September 2015.

5. Samsung Galaxy A3

Samsung Galaxy A3 - Best Compact Smartphones

The Samsung Galaxy A3 is an exciting phone in many ways. Not only is it packing a premium metal shell, which until recently was a rare sight on a Samsung phone, but it’s also got a compact design and a fairly affordable price tag.

The Galaxy A3 just squeaks into compact phone territory with a 4.5-inch 540 x 960 Super AMOLED display, giving it rich if not super sharp visuals.

Its 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 401 processor and 1.5GB of RAM gives it mid-range power and it has an 8 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front-facing one to keep photo fans happily snapping away.

But the highlight really is its slim 6.9mm thick metal build, which makes it look distinctly high-end, despite only costing around £175.

4. Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini

Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini - Best Compact Smartphones

With the Galaxy S5 Mini Samsung cut more than just the size, delivering a phone with substantially worse specs than the full-size Galaxy S5. But it's also cheaper and still a good handset in its own right.

Its 1.4GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM leads to fairly strong performance, while its 4.5-inch 720 x 1280 display is reasonably sharp (as sharp as the iPhone 5s in fact) and it's also bright and vibrant, making it a joy to use and surprisingly viewable even in bright sunlight.

The plastic design is nothing to write home about, but it does benefit from water and dust resistance and with an 8 megapixel camera it's pretty good for photos too. It can be all yours for around £200 SIM free. There’s no Galaxy S6 mini yet and despite its plastic build it still edges out the Galaxy A3 as the best compact Samsung phone currently available.

3. HTC One mini 2

 Best Compact Smartphones - HTC One Mini 2

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 a slightly more expensive £260 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 Samsung Galaxy S5 mini is 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.

2. Apple iPhone 5s

Apple iPhone 5S - Best Compact Smartphones

Apple upped the size of its smartphones with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (not to mention the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus), but for those who prefer a smaller screen the iPhone 5s is still available. Better yet, now that it's been superseded twice over the price has dropped and it's still a great phone.

Unlike most compact phones the iPhone 5s was a flagship, so while it's getting on a bit the specs still impress, with a slim 7.6mm thick metal build leaving it looking far better than most handsets, let alone most compact ones, and a 1.3GHz dual-core Apple A7 processor which outperforms most quad-core processors, delivering slick performance.

The iPhone 5s also has an impressive 8 megapixel camera and Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Plus it runs iOS, which is arguably still the most polished and intuitive mobile OS.

Of course it's small too, with a 4.0-inch 640 x 1136 IPS LCD display, delivering natural colours and sharp images at 326 pixels per inch.

Despite a drop in cost the iPhone 5s still isn't cheap, with an RRP of £379, but it's well worth the money as it’s one of the best small phones available.

1. Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Best Compact Smartphones: Which mini smartphone should you buy?

Sony has for a while been leading the charge when it comes to compact phones, as it’s the only company which doesn’t particularly compromise on specs when shrinking the size of a handset.

Its latest small phone, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, is its best one yet, with a 4.6-inch 720 x 1280 display for a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch, a powerful octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 2GB of RAM.

Its camera impresses too, thanks to a 23 megapixel sensor on the back and a 5.1 megapixel snapper on the front. Its frosted glass back leaves it looking fairly high-end and with IP68 certification it can survive getting wet and dusty.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact has a lot of life too, with a 2,700 mAh battery good for up to two days of juice and with 32GB of storage plus support for microSD cards of up to 200GB you’ll never run low on space.

It even packs in some premium extras, like a speedy side-mounted fingerprint scanner, Hi-Res audio support and PS4 Remote Play.

In other words the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact really is a flagship smartphone in a smaller package and as such it’s the best compact phone available.

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