Does size matter? Is bigger automatically better? Those are two of the questions that have been on the minds of men ever since the Stone Age and on the lips of women since Eve got Adam (and herself) banished from the Garden of Eden.
But we’re not here to talk about the sizes of… you know what. Instead, we’d like to focus on smartphones. It’s what we know best after all. However, we’re not going to join the size debate in relation to gadgets either.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste and choice and you know better if you need a big slab of silicon, with plenty of screen real estate and whatnot, or a compact, petite gizmo that you can comfortably hold with one hand.
What we intend to do today is offer choices for the latter category, since sadly finding a small yet technically capable mobile phone has become an almost tougher quest than taking the Ring to Mordor.
Okay, I’ve digressed much more than I intended to, so let’s begin our quest for finding the best smaller than 4.5-inch smartphones available. A little disclaimer first, as I’ve only taken into consideration for the below ranking gadgets that can be currently bought through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile’s online stores.
If you don’t live in the US, fret not, as a similar post is in the making and should go live by this time next week. Now, here we go:
5. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 – Verizon
This fellow ticks two boxes that used to be very important when buying a mobile phone not long ago: it’s both small and comes with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Because of the keyboard though, I wouldn’t exactly call the Stratosphere 2 compact, light or very portable.
It does weigh 154 grams after all, plus it measures a whopping 13.5 mm in thickness. But technically, it only sports a 4-inch screen, so it qualifies for being called “petite”… in a way. Unfortunately, it’s far from a powerhouse and packs some specs that are not even mid-range material anymore – 800 x 480 pix res panel, 5 MP rear camera, 1,800 mAh battery.
On the bright side, it does run Jelly Bean starting a couple of months ago, plus it’s powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, along with 1 GB of RAM.
4. LG Escape – AT&T
Also featured in our article about the best free Android smartphones, this guy is the textbook definition of a compact handheld. It weighs in at 128 grams, measures 9 mm in thickness and is overall slim, elegant and stylish.
Too bad it doesn’t score very many points in the performance department, coming with a run-of-the-mill 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and just 4 GB of on-board storage in tow. But it does have a couple of other aces up its sleeve, like 4G LTE speeds and a comfy 2,150 mAh battery.
3. LG Lucid 2 – Verizon
Another LG phone? Indeed and the company does seem to be one of the few that still cares about “mini” devices. This thing is a little thicker than the Escape and one gram heavier, but it also packs an even more generous battery – 2,460 mAh.
Other than that, you can say the Lucid 2 is essentially a Verizon-made variant of the Lucid 2, with the same 5 MP rear cam, dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC and Jelly Bean running.
2. Samsung Galaxy S2 – T-Mobile
You see where this continuing quest for bigger, heftier devices has brought us? We’re midway through 2013 and our second best compact smartphone is a two year-old. Sounds sad, but at the same time we have to hand it to Samsung – they’ve done such a good job with the S2 that the phone actually seems to get better with age.
Especially T-Mobile’s model (SGH-T989), which comes with a 4.5-inch display in tow, plus a 1.5 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear camera (LG, take note) and 16 GB of internal storage. And yes, the S2 does have a couple of flaws, but these are literally a couple… you know, two: the low-res screen (800 x 480) and meager battery (1,850 mAh).
1. Motorola Droid Razr M – Verizon
And the Oscar goes to… probably one of the most underrated, overlooked smartphones to have seen daylight in the fall of 2012. Not only is this small (4.3 inches) and uber-slim (8.3 mm in thickness and 126 grams weight), but also unexpectedly robust, plus fairly impressive tech-wise.
Given its price (it’s available for free with Verizon contracts), you can say the Razr M rocks dreamy specs, including a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 MP camera, 2,000 mAh battery, 4G LTE, NFC, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and so on and so forth.
And no, it’s no match for monsters like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 or the HTC One, but it has all it needs to lead the upper mid-range smartphone generation of today. And that should be enough for some of you out there. As for the rest, you should check out our series of comprehensive comparisons between some of the best high-end, larger than 4.5-inch phones available.