It’s pretty obvious that handset makers think the bigger the phone, the better. We’ve seen phones slowly climb in screen size, up from 3.5 inches to 4 inches to 4.7 inches, and now even past 5 inches. These bigger screens are fantastic, but it’s easy to see how people who prefer smaller phones may feel a little left out. So the point of this guide is going to help you find the right size phone on your carrier without carrying around what you consider a small tablet. Read on to find our best pick after the break.
Droid RAZR M
Verizon Wireless – $99 on contract
The cool thing about the RAZR M is that you get a more compact phone with a bigger screen. It sports a 4.3 inch edge-to-edge screen, with on-screen navigation buttons. Those navigation buttons are really what makes this phone stand out on this list. When navigating home screens and using applications, you get the comfort of a more compact phone with a smaller screen. When you start streaming YouTube or Netflix, those NavBar buttons disappear, giving you the full 4.3 inch real estate to enjoy your content. That, combined with the ultra slim bezel on the phone, really gives the RAZR M the best of both worlds and makes it an excellent choice on this list.
Like the bigger brothers of the RAZR family, the M does also sport Kevlar backing and the water-resistant coating. It’s packing a dual-core S4 chip, 1 GB of RAM. 8 GB of internal memory, and an 8 megapixel camera under the qHD (960 x 540) 4.3 inch screen. It’s also got a beefy 2000 mAh battery, NFC, and LTE to more than justify the $99 price tag.
AT&T – $0.99 on contract
The Pantech Burst is one of AT&T’s most impressive mid-range devices ever. It’s a stylish, slim phone that packs a dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU under a compact 4 inch (480 x 800) Super AMOLED screen, all while supporting the latest LTE from AT&T. It’s also got the standard 5 megapixel rear camera, front-facing camera, LED flash, and 1 GB of RAM. To top that off, it’s been upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich and includes some small enhancements from Pantech.
For less than a dollar, you’ve got a phone with enough power to compete with a much higher priced phone like a Samsung Galaxy S II, all in a comfortable form factor. Not too bad from a company like Pantech.
Samsung Galaxy Victory
Sprint – $49.99
The Samsung Galaxy Victory follows the extremely popular Galaxy lineup. It’s almost like a smaller Galaxy S II with some of the cooler software features of the Galaxy S III. It packs Samsung’s S-Beam and Sprint’s LTE under the hood, as well as Android 4.0, and even has Google Wallet support. It touts a 1.2 GHz dual-core S4 chip, 4 GB of internal memory plus Micro SD card slot, and a 5 megapixel rear shooter. All of this fits comfortably under the 4-inch LCD screen.
One thing that really stands out on this phone is the dedicated hardware camera button. It’s rare to see that on phones lately, and it’s one of the best small features that can be added to phones. For $50, it’s hard to go wrong with this phone.
T-Mobile – $149.99 without contract
The unbranded Prism, manufactured by Huawei, marks the smallest offering on this list with the screen coming in at 3.5 inches. The hardware in the Prism isn’t going to impress anyone, but at only $149.99 without a contract and a very affordable carrier behind it, it’s an excellent choice for the budget-conscientious consumer. It is still running Gingerbread, but it’s fairly close-to-stock, which makes it much more bearable. Aside from that, it’s a decent mid-range device with a 3.2 megapixel camera, MicroSD card support, and a 1400 mAh battery in tow.
HTC Evo Design 4G
Boost Mobile – $249.99 without contract
We’ve talked about the Evo Design 4G in another list of worthwhile phones, and it still holds up as a great phone on Boost Mobile’s network. This phone originally debuted on Sprint’s network, but has since been picked up by Boost. It runs Android 4.0 with Sense 3.6, has a dual-core processor, a 5 MP rear camera, and a qHD 4 inch screen.
The Design 4G sports a very luxurious feel, and probably has the most elegant design of all the phones on this list. Couple that with HTC’s Sense 3.6, and it’s arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing 4-inch phones in production. Sense adds a lot of features to the phone, and at only $249.99 without a contract, that’s a tempting deal.
These are five great devices across five different carriers, giving you plenty of choice for making a decision on which compact phone is right for you. The beauty of Android is that you get the choice to go with these smaller, easier to handle phones, instead of the 5 inch behemoths that are on the market.