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Small wonders: the 5 best compact Android phones under 5 inches
In the world of 5″-6″ smartphone displays, one has to wonder what happened with those compact, powerful munchkins that you could easily operate with one hand, and went unnoticed in your pocket or purse. Fret not, as there are still a few of those being built, and some of them dwarf their larger brethren, if not in size, then in specs, looks and manageability.
If you are looking for a compact Android handset in a year when most flagships come with 5″-5.5″ display panels, and phablets extend that range all the way to the gargantuan 6″ mark, look no further than our humble roundup below. It offers a refreshing set of phones with sub-5″ displays that lay comfortably in your palm, and let you text or answer calls easily while carrying a bag of groceries in the other hand, for instance.
Don’t be fooled by the adorable munchkins’ one-handed manageability, though, as they also feature some of the best specs and forward-looking features your money can buy at the moment, so check them out, and tell us which one would you get if you were in the market for a compact, yet powerful Android handset.
The 5 best compact Android phones
1. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact ($510)
We’d be remiss not to start with what is arguably the best small Android phone at the moment. Not only is the Z3 Compact as decked-out as its larger sibling, the Z3, with a powerful Snapdragon 801 chipset and a whopping 20.7 MP camera, but it also offers a truly jaw-dropping battery life, and a waterproof chassis – you can’t go wrong wit this one in any aspect, price included.
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2. Samsung Galaxy Alpha ($520)
After getting slammed for years about the uninspiring design of its otherwise excellent handsets, Samsung took the matter to heart, and introduced the Galaxy Alpha – a harbinger of things to come, as it features a metal frame, nice rear texture, wonderfully fast camera, and a very manageable with one hand chassis, which on top of that leaves a warm, premium feeling in the hand with its thin and compact design. It is also the first handset with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 protective layer, so you can rest assured that the thin frame doesn’t come with too much fragility.
3. IUNI U2 ($245)
Cat got your tongue when you saw prices for the above compacts hovering in the $500 range off-contract? Fret not, as IUNI U2 is here as the best value-for-money small Android handset out there. Gionee ‘s offshoot company equipped it with a 4.7″ 1080p Sharp IGZO display, Snapdragon 800 chipset, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, as well as a 16 MP rear camera with huge 1.34 micron pixels, and a 4 MP UltraPixel front cam. It is indeed stuffed to the gills with specs, but the other notable feature is its design, as the IUNI U2 is made from a single machined aluminum piece, and comes in a choice of colors, including the funky green you see in the picture.
A dedicated Yamaha DSP for the music lovers out there doesn’t hurt as well, and it comes at a price that is half of what the other compact flagships command, while carrying a similar or a better performance. The downside – you’d have to buy it from an importer if you don’t live in China, or order one yourself and deal with wait times and tariffs.
4. HTC One ($360)
Oldie but goldie – if you don’t mind a midrange chipset and lower-res camera, the original HTC One is still one of the best compacts you can get, as it sports a 4.7″ 1080p panel, a premium aluminum unibody, and great BoomSound stereo speakers at the front. Most of all – it can be had at a much lower price now, and that’s with 32 GB of internal storage to boot.
5. Sharp Aquos mini SHL24 ($495)
With Sharp’s renowned EDGEST design that almost removes any top bezel from sight, the 4.5″ Aquos mini SHL24 is as big as the 4″ iPhone 5s, for instance, yet sports a 1080p IGZO display, Snapdragon 800 chipset, and a 13 MP rear camera, plus a completely waterproof shell.
6. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact ($370)
It might come with only a 4.3″ HD display, yet the Z1 Compact deserves your attention as a bonus in our best compact Android handsets roundup, as it has now fallen in price significantly, while donning a 20.7 MP camera and a waterproof design, just like its 4.6″ successor, the Z3 Compact, which will however cost you much more.
19. cncrimposted on 10 Dec 2014, 09:20 +0
I think you are specs man. All phones have pros and cons, as far as hardware and software I give it to M7 and hardware only I gave it to z3 compact. Aplha is cool but touchwiz kind of make user experience unfriendly( laggy and stud) some feature is half bake. Best user experience on any android phone I gave motoX and also the price on X is much more friendly. In short I would recommend Moto X to any average user.
21. cncrimposted on 10 Dec 2014, 09:25 +0
Depend what r u looking for? Hardware or software or somewhere in between? Then go to #19
26. JC557posted on 10 Dec 2014, 10:23 +0
Well the old Moto X has a much more compact body than most of the phones in the 4.7″ range, water resistance (though other phones here have it as well), a decent camera, good sounding earpiece and loud speaker, active display comes in handy, pretty ergonomic body that fits many hands well, and of course good battery life especially after recent fixes.
The old Moto X can be had for a good price as well and doubly so used.
Of course it’s not “better” but it’s also no slouch and should have been included.
29. Genzaposted on 10 Dec 2014, 10:33 +0
For the title of the best compact Android phones under 5 inches, we need everything (Hardware, Software and Size).
And as far as I know from the specifications and reviewer Moto X doesn’t have the best hardware, software and size (screen ratio) or even “somewhere in between” (the best combination between hardware, software and size).
I can speak for the Z3C because my girlfriend is using it.
The Sony UI maybe not everyone’s favourite but it fast, beautiful and can serve everything you need from a smartphone.
Thanks to SD810 and HD resolution I can run any apps or play heavy games in the highest setting without any problemsThe phone also has very good screen to body ratio.
- This comment is posted in response to #21 Show
- This comment is posted in response to #21 Hide
32. darkoman4posted on 10 Dec 2014, 11:17 +0
I agree and today only, you could get a Moto X 2013 for only $159 at nomorerack dot com. This is the best deal out there.
2. cncrimposted on 10 Dec 2014, 08:00 +2
The best phone under 5in is moto x the spec don’t look impressive but after use the thing i found more phone should be like moto x.
12. DeusExCellulaposted on 10 Dec 2014, 08:16 +1
Moto X (old version) cant touch the Z3, IUNI U2, HTC One, the Alpha or even the Z1c. The only phone it could come close to are the Sharp Aquos,
15. Genzaposted on 10 Dec 2014, 08:35 +0
if you already have use and compare at least 3 phone from the list above with Moto X and you also able to show us solid reason that MotoX is better.
It will be much easier us to believe and agree with you.
36. hurrycangerposted on 10 Dec 2014, 18:31 +1
Isn’t it the only phone from major brands with “Compact” in its name? xD