Best Small iPhone iMore 2020
The iPhone SE was the perfect size for a lot of people. It was small and compact, and you could easily use it with one hand without an issue. But times have changed, and we have gone to bigger phones over time. While we don't have a current-generation iPhone that's the same size as the iPhone SE, there are still a few compact choices to choose from. Our pick for the most compact iPhone right now is the iPhone 11 Pro, because it has the smallest screen size but gives you all of the latest and greatest from Apple.
- Best Overall: iPhone 11 Pro
- Best Value: iPhone 11
- Best on a Budget: iPhone 8
- Best Middle Ground: iPhone XR
- Best Large iPhone: iPhone 11 Pro Max
Best Overall: iPhone 11 Pro
If you want the latest and greatest iPhone while retaining a small and compact size, then the iPhone 11 Pro is your best bet. It has a 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR Display, which is the smallest of the new iPhone 11 line (the iPhone 11 is 6.1-inches, and the 11 Pro Max is a whopping 6.5-inches). The display is also OLED, so the colors and details look much nicer than the LCD display you get on the standard iPhone 11, especially true blacks.
Along with the small but gorgeous screen, you get the latest Apple has to offer. This includes the A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine, Face ID, Ultra-Wide camera lens, and the incredible looking premium textured matte glass and stainless steel design. And with the iPhone 11 Pro, you still get the telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom, as well as Night mode. There are also some major improvements to the speakers, video playback (thanks to the OLED screen), and the battery life is 4-hours longer than the iPhone XS. And to top it off, the iPhone 11 Pro is water-resistant up to four meters for up to 30 minutes.
The iPhone 11 Pro offers the best that Apple has right now, and it's still compact enough for most people.
- 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR OLED Display
- A13 Bionic chip with 3rd-generation Neural Engine
- Face ID
- Ultra-Wide and Telephoto lenses, and Night mode
- Amazing battery life
- Starts at 64GB storage capacity
Small but mighty
The iPhone 11 Pro is the smallest iPhone with a 5.8-inch OLED screen, and it packs in the best Apple has to offer.
Best Value: iPhone 11
If you don't like the high price tag of the iPhone 11 Pro but still want a fairly compact device, then the iPhone 11 is a good option to consider. It features a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display, though it's LCD and not OLED like the Pro models. However, it's still a good, high-quality screen that should suffice for most people.
The iPhone 11 is also great considering the price point, which is $300 less than the iPhone 11 Pro, but you get most of the same features. This includes the A13 Bionic chip, Face ID, Ultra-Wide camera lens, and Night mode. The battery life is also decent, as it lasts 1-hour longer than the iPhone XR, which had terrific battery life out of the previous generation iPhones. You also get up to 2-meters of water resistance for up to 30 minutes with the iPhone 11, in case you're often around water.
- 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD LCD Display
- Fun colors
- A13 Bionic chip with Face ID
- Ultra-Wide lens and Night mode
- Decent battery life
- Starts at 64GB storage capacity
- Not OLED display
Apple's best for less
The iPhone 11 has most of what the Pro line offers but starts at $300 less. The 6.1-inch screen is still pretty compact too.
Best on a Budget: iPhone 8
If you're on a budget but need a small iPhone, then the iPhone 8 is a great pick, as long as you don't mind still using Touch ID. The 4.7-inch Retina HD LCD display is the smallest that Apple currently sells right now, though you'll need to keep in mind that there are still bezels on the top and bottom of the device front.
However, keep in mind that even though the iPhone 8 is a great budget pick, it originally launched in 2017, so you are buying slightly dated tech. This is the last iPhone that Apple still sells that uses Touch ID for security and biometrics, and it only features a single 12MP Wide camera lens. The front-facing camera is also only 7MP, compared with the 12MP of current devices. It also uses the slightly older A11 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, and the battery life is not as great as the newer generation devices.
- Highly affordable
- Still uses Touch ID (if you don't like Face ID)
- 4.7-inch screen size
- Outdated tech
- Large bezels on the front
Best on a Budget
If you don't want Face ID and are on a budget
The iPhone 8 is the last iPhone that still uses Touch ID. It's also small with the 4.7-inch Retina HD display.
Best Middle Ground: iPhone XR
The iPhone XR is one of the better devices from the previous generation, alongside the XS and XS Max. With the iPhone XR, you are getting the 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD LCD display, but like the iPhone 11, it's full-screen, so there are no bezels on the front, unlike the iPhone 8.
With the iPhone XR, you are getting last-generation tech, which includes the A12 Bionic chip with second-generation Neural Engine and Face ID. You also get superb battery life, since the XR lasts 1.5-hours more than the iPhone 8 Plus, which was already a beast when it came to battery. And while you only get a single 12MP Wide camera, the iPhone XR is capable of Portrait mode, but only with humans. So, unfortunately, you can't do Portrait mode shots of your pets or inanimate objects, but even getting Portrait shots with humans is impressive, considering it's only a single lens. But if you plan on taking selfies or doing video calls, be warned — the front-facing camera is only 7MP, but it does feature TrueDepth for Portrait selfies.
- 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD LCD display
- Long-lasting battery life
- Single 12MP lens capable of Portrait mode
- Front-facing camera is also able to do Portrait mode
- A12 Bionic chip and Face ID
- Portrait mode only works on humans
- Front-facing TrueDepth camera is only 7MP
Best Middle Ground
When you need a compromise
The iPhone XR is a great middle option. It has a 6.1-inch LCD screen, capable of Portrait mode, and has great battery life.
Best Large iPhone: iPhone 11 Pro Max
If you are looking for the opposite of a small iPhone, then you can't go wrong with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. This behemoth of an iPhone features a whopping 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display and is the biggest offering from Apple right now.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is just like the iPhone 11 Pro that we picked as Best Overall Small iPhone, but it just has the larger screen. So you still get the A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine, Face ID, Ultra-Wide camera lens, telephoto lens for 2x optical zoom, and Night mode. The improvements to video playback and audio are also present, and you get up to 4-meters of water resistance up to 30 minutes. However, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has the best battery life there is, as it provides an extra 5 hours more than the previous-generation iPhone XS Max.
So if you want the best of the best and don't mind sacrificing a little bit of the compact size, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the one to get.
- Large 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display
- A13 Bionic chip with 3rd-generation Neural Engine
- Face ID
- Ultra-Wide and telephoto lens, Night mode support
- Longest-lasting battery
- Very expensive
- Can be too big for some people
Best Large iPhone
Go big or go home
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is the biggest iPhone Apple sells, with a whopping 6.5-inch screen. It has incredible battery life.
Apple provides plenty of options for those who are looking for a new iPhone, but we still think the iPhone 11 Pro is the best overall small iPhone. The 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR Display is the best because it utilizes the entire front of the device, giving you the most information on the display at once. And it's an OLED display, so you get the best, richest colors possible.
And not only do you get the best, most compact display that Apple has, but you get so much more amazing stuff. The Ultra-Wide lens is amazing to shoot with, and Night mode lets you get the best photos possible, even in low-light situations. The telephoto lens is still useful when you need to zoom in because it's optical and not digital zoom. Face ID is faster than ever and works at more angles thanks to the A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine, and the battery life will last you all day without needing a charge. It's the best Apple has to offer, and it's all packed into a compact package.
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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