No such thing as a 'small' phone anymore

alexondrums

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I’ve been on a mission to find a phone to replace my trusty Moto G which I’ve had for quite a while from new.

I tend to go for budget-mid-range phones, around the £150-£200 mark, but the thing that’s been frustrating me recently is the lack of smaller handsets.

There seems to be an obsession with ever bigger screens, and therefore handsets.

Even the journalistic speak on review websites describe 5.0-5.2 inch screens as small (and put a negative spin on it as a result!) – to me these are big, 5.5 is huge (now the norm) and 6.0+ is ridiculous! That’s like carrying a phablet around with you.

So to me a small phone should have a 4.0-4.7 inch screen, and be no bigger than my Moto G, smaller if possible.

Over the last few years I’ve tried a few different phones in search of a replacement for my Moto G such as:

Sony Xperia Z3 compact
This was a nice size, and a lovely phone, but within 2 weeks, the screen cracked (in my pocket), and then the back cracked (also glass), and the IP68 flap covers were annoying having to open every night to charge. I ended up selling it as it was too fragile and fiddly, and got hot.

Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus
I partially admitted defeat and got a new Wileyfox after reading some good reviews - a 5.0 inch phone (reviewed as small!), with a nice metal back and decent mid-range specs, and great price. Ultimately it was too big, but more annoyingly had software bugs which caused it to freeze randomly requiring it to be locked and unlocked. Another one I’ll be selling...

I’m now at the point where I’m fully admitting defeat, as there is no such thing as a mid-range android phone, with a screen smaller than 5.0 inches, not made of glass, and is well developed and good value.

The next best thing which I’m fairly sure I’m getting now is a Sony Xperia XA2!

My actual question for this thread is, will they likely make a compact version of this?

I guess not as they never did for the XA1, and although they do compact versions of the XZ1 and XZ2, these are not mid-range phones, and actually not that small anyway.

What makes me laugh is that most manufacturers make a ‘Plus’ or ‘Ultra’ version of a phone which is even bigger, but not a smaller version (like a compact!)

Rant over!
 

alexondrums

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I forgot to mention I had identified the Samsung galaxy A3 2017 and was close to getting it, but I think it's another 'glass' phone and 16GB storage is ok, but the deal I've found for the XA is better and has 32GB.

I'd be interested to hear of any other handsets that match what I'm looking for.
 

Morty2264

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You're right - anything considered "small" nowadays is inherently negative and is often reviewed as such by tech/phone enthusiasts. I have the 5" Pixel 2 and that is considered "small" by today's standards. I personally like the 5" size but why not also offer a smaller version of "bigger" handsets? I think the Note 9 is 6.4"... I just could never use a phone that large. It would not fit in my hand. I even hesitated to buy 6" phones - let alone 6.4" ones! Hopefully in time we will get more of a market for compact or smaller phones. For many consumers and for many manufacturers, bigger seems to be "better." Very unfortunate.
 

sulla1965

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Phones have always gotten bigger. Remember when the first note was released at 5.3 inches, and was considered by a lot of people as a ridiculous size for a smartphone. Today 5.3 inches is considered small. The days of 19 inch TV's and 15 inch computer monitors are gone and won't be comming back. Smartphones are no longer phones, but mini handheld multimedia devices.
 

Inders99

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Phones have always gotten bigger. Remember when the first note was released at 5.3 inches, and was considered by a lot of people as a ridiculous size for a smartphone. Today 5.3 inches is considered small. The days of 19 inch TV's and 15 inch computer monitors are gone and won't be comming back. Smartphones are no longer phones, but mini handheld multimedia devices.

Some of us don't watch movies or play games on our phones, like it or not 5.3 is still big for some people.
 

chanchan05

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I think you're confusing a lot of things. One of the main things people seem to equate as small is screen size. Why? Screen size has nothing to do with the actual phone size due to bezels. Case in point, the smaller versions of the Galaxy S9 vs the Pixel 2. The S9 has a 5.8 inch screen, the Pixel 2 has a 5.0 inch screen, but both have the same body size.

Using the Moto G 2015 as the measurement barometer 142mmx72mmx12mm I looked for something smaller (the GSMArena only allows increments of 5 on the length, so it's either 140mm or 145mm. I went 140), and newer (2016 phones only an up). and there's 111 results. Expanding it to 145mm gives 307 results.

Some notables with metal/plastic bodies are

Samsung: J3 (2018)
LG: Q6, Q7
Sony: X Performance, X1, XA, XZ1 Compact
Nokia: 7

https://www.gsmarena.com/results.php3?nYearMin=2016&nHeightMax=145&nWidthMax=72&nThicknessMax=12
 

sulla1965

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Some of us don't watch movies or play games on our phones, like it or not 5.3 is still big for some people.

Yeah for some people, but most people do. The market dictates what is being made. Clearly bigger screens are the preferred choice nowadays.
 

mohit9206

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As of 2018 your choices of small phones are extremely limited. You mentioned XA2. There's also Honor 10 and Nokia 6.1 Plus. These are hardly small but people call them small for some reason. I'm currently using a 5 inch 16:9 phone and in future the smallest phone you could buy would be these notched 5.8 inch phones.
 

chanchan05

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As of 2018 your choices of small phones are extremely limited. You mentioned XA2. There's also Honor 10 and Nokia 6.1 Plus. These are hardly small but people call them small for some reason. I'm currently using a 5 inch 16:9 phone and in future the smallest phone you could buy would be these notched 5.8 inch phones.

As I said, that depends on your definition of small. The screen is not a basis for that. The 5inch Pixel One is a bit bigger than the 5.8inch S9.

Are you talking about small screen phones or a phone that's actually small?
 

Morty2264

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Yeah for some people, but most people do. The market dictates what is being made. Clearly bigger screens are the preferred choice nowadays.

It's true. The majority dictates what the manufacturers produce. I'm one of those people who will (nine times out of ten) use my laptop or Playstation 4 to watch movies and shows; so I don't see the need for a big screen. And I use consoles to play video games, so I almost never game on my phone.

But there is a large population of users who will use their phone for those things; and so we have to kind of make do with the smaller options available to us.

I also have small hands, so I think I could *probably* use a six-inch phone after an adjustment period; but anything super tall like a Note 9 may not work (of course, I haven't held one yet). Thanks to the new screen-to-body ratios, I can maybe get around the small-handed thing; but I'd rather not use a phablet at the end of the day.
 

mohit9206

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As I said, that depends on your definition of small. The screen is not a basis for that. The 5inch Pixel One is a bit bigger than the 5.8inch S9.

Are you talking about small screen phones or a phone that's actually small?

Both are relative.
Small screen phones is what? The definition has changed. Anything less than 5.5 is considered small screen and anything that's under 150mm by 70mm is also considered small by today's standards.

However for me personally small screen is anything 4.7 and below and size anything less than 140 by 70mm.
 

chanchan05

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Both are relative.
Small screen phones is what? The definition has changed. Anything less than 5.5 is considered small screen and anything that's under 150mm by 70mm is also considered small by today's standards.

However for me personally small screen is anything 4.7 and below and size anything less than 140 by 70mm.

It's because of the changing ratios. The 5.8 inch S9 has smaller usable screen than a 5.5inch S7. basically, in the new aspect ratio, the subtract half an inch and you get the corresponding "feel" to a 16:9 ratio. So the S9 feels like a 5.2/5.3inch phone (i.e. the smaller S7), while the 6.2inch S9+ feels like a 5.7 inch phone.

So if you're looking for a 4.7inch screen phone in 16:9 resolution, then you should be looking for a 5.2 inch screen phone in 18:9 resolution. This means that the upcoming 5.3/5.4 inch smaller Pixel 3 will feel like a 4.8-5.0inch phone screen.
 

alexondrums

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Thanks for all the replies, very interesting to read, good to know I’m not alone, although still the minority!

It’s bizarre that in an age where technology gets ever smaller, these devices are getting ever bigger (think 80’s mobile phone, compared to phones up to around 2006 before Smartphones).

I suppose the analogy for TV’s is relevant, it’s more about the screen size than the phone size, but they do impact each other. For me the screen size isn’t really the problem, it’s more the phone’s overall size. In order to fit a 5-6” screen, the phone needs to be bigger than 4”, so therein lies the problem. Small bezels is also frustrating because now it’s becoming even harder to hold or re-position a phone without accidentally touching the screen and making unwanted gestures.

I don’t play games or watch movies on my phone – that’s what my PC/console/TV is for, but I realise a lot of people do.

For me my Moto G was a perfect size phone, and screen. I could hold it in one hand, and operate it mostly one handed – e.g my thumb could reach every corner of the screen, but it aged pretty quickly and the newer equivalent – Moto G5 or 6, has a 5 - 5.7” screen, and are rather large in the hand, so before I’d admitted defeat these were already off my shortlist.

In the end I did get a Sony Xperia XA2, and it’s mostly been ok, apart from it being a bit of a brick. I often have to use it with 2 hands, and it protrudes from pockets sometimes, and it’s a little heavy, but I knew this would be the case – there simply weren't any other options that were within my price range at the time, or had all the features the XA2 has.

Having lived with the XA2 for a few months now, I actually think I prefer my Wileyfox physically – the screen seems better, and it was nice to use generally, the Sony is a bit awkward for some reason – but I couldn’t deal with the random freezes of the WF so can’t go back to it...

I suspect some of the negative experiences I’ve been having with my Sony are self-inflicted – I have a gel case to protect it from drops – making it feel bigger than it is, and a tempered glass screen protector, which is mostly awful and quite badly affects screen sensitivity. I’ll be removing it soon, once I find a replacement or the nerve to run it without one!

Finally very interesting about aspect ratios – this is something I’d read about in newer phones, 18:9 being the new preferred standard - but it doesn’t really bother me I’m quite happy with 16:9 and a physically smaller screen and phone!
 

Tsepz_GP

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I’ve been on a mission to find a phone to replace my trusty Moto G which I’ve had for quite a while from new.

I tend to go for budget-mid-range phones, around the £150-£200 mark, but the thing that’s been frustrating me recently is the lack of smaller handsets.

There seems to be an obsession with ever bigger screens, and therefore handsets.

Even the journalistic speak on review websites describe 5.0-5.2 inch screens as small (and put a negative spin on it as a result!) – to me these are big, 5.5 is huge (now the norm) and 6.0+ is ridiculous! That’s like carrying a phablet around with you.

So to me a small phone should have a 4.0-4.7 inch screen, and be no bigger than my Moto G, smaller if possible.

Over the last few years I’ve tried a few different phones in search of a replacement for my Moto G such as:

Sony Xperia Z3 compact
This was a nice size, and a lovely phone, but within 2 weeks, the screen cracked (in my pocket), and then the back cracked (also glass), and the IP68 flap covers were annoying having to open every night to charge. I ended up selling it as it was too fragile and fiddly, and got hot.

Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus
I partially admitted defeat and got a new Wileyfox after reading some good reviews - a 5.0 inch phone (reviewed as small!), with a nice metal back and decent mid-range specs, and great price. Ultimately it was too big, but more annoyingly had software bugs which caused it to freeze randomly requiring it to be locked and unlocked. Another one I’ll be selling...

I’m now at the point where I’m fully admitting defeat, as there is no such thing as a mid-range android phone, with a screen smaller than 5.0 inches, not made of glass, and is well developed and good value.

The next best thing which I’m fairly sure I’m getting now is a Sony Xperia XA2!

My actual question for this thread is, will they likely make a compact version of this?

I guess not as they never did for the XA1, and although they do compact versions of the XZ1 and XZ2, these are not mid-range phones, and actually not that small anyway.

What makes me laugh is that most manufacturers make a ‘Plus’ or ‘Ultra’ version of a phone which is even bigger, but not a smaller version (like a compact!)

Rant over!
Palm have just the device for you then, check it out:
https://www.palm.com/product
 

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