Best small iPhone iMore 2021
While it seems that phones are just getting bigger, plenty of people still want a small, compact iPhone. Honestly, while many consider the original iPhone SE to be the perfect phone size, we probably won't get to go back to that small size again. But if you want the best iPhone, there are still some options to consider if you want to stay small. The iPhone 13 mini is the best small iPhone right now, as it has the most compact form factor while giving you the most screen, as well as all of the latest and greatest that Apple currently offers.
- Best compact overall: iPhone 13 mini (2021)
- Best compact value: iPhone SE (2nd Generation, 2020)
- Best compact for pros: iPhone 13 Pro (2021)
- Best compact for the middle ground: iPhone 13 (2021)
Best overall compact iPhone: iPhone 13 mini
The best compact iPhone overall is definitely the iPhone 13 mini. This super small iPhone features a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display and is a mere 5.18-inches tall and 2.53-inches wide. The display on the iPhone 13 mini is actually bigger than the 2nd-generation iPhone SE at 4.7-inches, but you get more on the screen at once since there is no longer a Home button or bezels.
With the iPhone 13 mini, you're getting pretty much the regular iPhone 13, but in a smaller package. That includes the A15 Bionic chip, great 17-hour battery life (just two hours short of the iPhone 13), Face ID for biometrics, 5G cellular data support, and MagSafe compatibly for accessories. If you prefer to stay up-to-date with the best that Apple offers but still want a device that can be used with a single hand, then the iPhone 13 mini is it.
On top of that, you can get at least 128GB of storage space, going up to 512GB. This is especially great if you plan to make use of the dual 12MP camera system with Wide and Ultra-Wide lenses, Night mode, improved overall low-light sensors, Deep Fusion, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, Photographic Styles, and Cinematic mode video recording. And since you have a TrueDepth front-facing camera, you also have 12MP with support for most of the aforementioned features of the rear-facing camera system for your selfies.
The iPhone 13 mini is great for those who want the best small iPhone that can be comfortably used with one hand while still having the latest technology. Of course, the small size doesn't mean it's inexpensive, though, but it's worth it.
- Smallest form factor
- A15 Bionic chip with upgraded camera systems
- More storage options
- 5G cellular support
- Not inexpensive
- No Touch ID
Best compact value: iPhone SE (2nd Generation, 2020)
If you're looking for the best compact iPhone but still want the most bang out with your buck (like we said in our iPhone SE (2020) review), then you can't go wrong with the second generation iPhone SE. In fact, before the iPhone 12 mini launched, we considered the iPhone SE as the best overall compact phone.
With the iPhone SE, you get a 4.7-inch Retina HD display. However, while the display is theoretically smaller than the iPhone 13 mini, that's only because there are still bezels around it, so you're missing out on the edge-to-edge display. The one-up that the SE has over the mini, though, is Touch ID since there is still a Home button. If you don't want to use Face ID, the iPhone SE and its Home button for Touch ID are fantastic.
The iPhone SE also packs in an A13 Bionic chip, so it's still pretty fast and snappy. You get up to 13 hours of battery life, and it starts with 64GB of storage and goes up to 256GB. You only get a single 12MP Wide camera, though, so you won't be able to take cool Ultra Wide photos, but it still has Portrait mode with Portrait Lighting and 4K video recording up to 60fps.
- Small size
- Most affordable iPhone
- Has Touch ID
- Good cameras
- Great battery life and storage options
- No Face ID
- Uses previous-gen tech
- No bezel-less display
- No Ultra-Wide camera
Best compact for pros: iPhone 13 Pro
If you want the best possible set of features but still have an iPhone that's a manageable size, then the iPhone 13 Pro is your best option.
With the iPhone 13 Pro, you get a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion, which is absolutely beautiful to look at. With the ProMotion, you get dynamic refresh rates of up to 120Hz, which is especially noticeable if you're enjoying some high-quality mobile gaming. You also get the A15 Bionic, 5G cellular support, up to 22 hours of battery life, Face ID, and it works with all MagSafe accessories.
However, the biggest draw of the iPhone 13 Pro is the camera system. You get a 12MP Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto lens with up to 3x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out for a total of 6x optical zoom range. There are even better low-light sensors, LiDAR scanners for Night mode portraits, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, Apple ProRaw support, Cinematic mode video recording, Macro mode for both photo and videos, and ProRes video format. And with storage that starts at 128GB and goes up to 1TB, there's plenty of room to store all of your photos and video, especially if you plan to shoot in ProRes.
You're getting the best possible features in an iPhone with the iPhone 13 Pro without being overly gigantic in size. It's the best if you need serious pocket computing power, but it doesn't come cheap. However, I can say that it's well worth it if you enjoy taking photos or video with just your iPhone.
- Smallest size with powerful camera system
- Gorgeous ProMotion display
- Long-lasting battery
- Starts at 128GB and goes up to 1TB
- Supports 5G and MagSafe
- Not as small as mini or SE
Best compact for the middle ground: iPhone 13
If the iPhone 13 mini is just a tad too small for you, but you don't need the features of the iPhone 13 Pro, then the regular iPhone 13 could be what you need.
With the iPhone 13, you pretty much have everything the iPhone 13 mini has, but the display is 6.1-inches instead of 5.4-inches. You'll still have the A15 Bionic, 5G cellular data, Wide and Ultra-Wide cameras, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, Cinematic mode video recording, improved low-light sensors in the cameras, up to 512GB storage, MagSafe, and more.
The 6.1-inch display is the same as the iPhone 13 Pro, minus the ProMotion, but if you don't need the Telephoto lens, ProRAW, ProRes, Macro mode photography, or up to 1TB of storage, then it's a good choice. Plus, you can save some money, too, as the iPhone 13 is just $100 more than the mini but $200 less than the Pro.
- Larger screen
- Has same features as mini
- Better battery life than mini
- Not the smallest
- Same as Pro without Pro features
- Somewhat pricey
The best compact iPhone is always small but mighty
The iPhone 13 mini is the absolute best compact iPhone for those who want a device that can be easily used with one hand and fits in any pocket. With the iPhone 13 mini, you get the super-fast A15 Bionic chip, 5G cellular connectivity, a 12MP Wide and Ultra-Wide camera system with Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles, MagSafe accessory support, up to 512GB storage, and great battery life. It also comes in a slew of new colors, including pink, and you get most of the same features as its larger siblings.
Of course, despite the small size, the iPhone 13 mini doesn't carry a small price tag. However, if you've been waiting years for the proper small iPhone with the best new features, then you must get the iPhone 13 mini, hands down. Don't forget to pick up some of the best iPhone 13 mini cases and iPhone 13 mini screen protectors to keep your device in pristine condition. For the best support with MagSafe accessories, make sure to pick up a case that specifically says it has MagSafe compatibility and not just wireless MagSafe charging compatible.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan has been using iPhones since 2008 with the OG iPhone. She's upgraded her iPhone every year to have the latest and greatest and certainly knows what iPhone is best for everyone. You can follow her musings on Twitter or check out her iPhone photography on Instagram.
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