This year has been the best yet for smartphones, with more useful features, better designs and much improved software. But it’s also been the year which has proved top experiences don’t have to cost top dollar and good smartphones don’t have to have massive screens.
Here’s a quick look five of the best smartphones available that won’t stretch your hand.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Sony’s flagship small phone has a 4.6in screen in a compact case that makes it the most powerful smaller smartphone currently available. A fast and accurate fingerprint scanner hides under the power button on the right hand side of the phone, so there is no need to put your finger on a home button to unlock your device.
The new 23-megapixel camera is Sony’s best yet, and arguably one of the best available. It takes microSD cards for adding extra storage and the phone is waterproof to depths of 1.5m for 30 minutes, meaning a trip down the loo isn’t the end of the world.
But it is its three-day battery life that is the killer feature. This is the longest lasting high-end smartphone currently available.
Verdict: a powerful, waterproof smartphone that lasts three days between charges
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Galaxy S6 is Samsung’s first premium-feeling flagship smartphone with an all-metal and glass body, and a big step up in design means it now matches the competition.
It’s the fastest feeling smartphone currently available, zipping between apps and blazing through games. It has a great 16-megapixel camera that is among the best out there, a fantastic 5.1in 2K screen, and it’s thinner and lighter than its competitors.
A fingerprint sensor under the home button unlocks the phone and can authenticate payments. It’s also got wireless charging and enough battery to see you through a day.
Verdict: the fastest feeling smartphone that just zips along
Apple iPhone 6S
The iPhone 6S is the latest 4.7in model from Apple, and one of the best smaller smartphones available. It’s biggest selling feature is a pressure sensitive screen, which allows new gestures and a 12-megapixel camera that can capture Live Photos – still snaps combined with a short video shot at the same time.
The metal body is now made of a harder aluminium that reduces scratches. It processor is 70% faster than last year. Apple’s new Touch ID fingerprint scanner is almost instantaneous, while its new Taptic Engine produces a great staccato vibrating feedback.
It’s biggest downside is a battery that will not last a day, meaning you’ll probably have to charge it during the day and overnight.
Verdict: a great small phone ruined by poor battery life
Google Nexus 5X
Google’s latest non-phablet flagship, the Nexus 5X, is the successor to the popular Nexus 5 from 2013.
It has a good 5.2in screen, is thin and light and is one of the first smartphones to run the latest version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The phone, made by LG for Google, runs Android the way the search giant intended it, without bloatware and will get software updates before anything else.
A fast and accurate fingerprint sensor on the back fits naturally under your index finger for unlocking your phone and authenticating payments. It also has a USB type-C port, meaning the cable can be plugged in either way up to charge. The battery lasts about a day, but not much more.
The camera is one of the best on the market and is easy to use to grab great pictures.
Verdict: fast, light and bloat-free, the way Google intended it
Motorola Moto G (2015)
Motorola’s third-generation Moto G is the greatest yet, and is the best all-round smartphone for under £200.
It runs Android without modifications, is snappier than the competition and gets the basics right. The battery lasts a good day, more with light use, and it feels good despite being noticeably thick with customisable plastic backs.
The Moto G is waterproof to IP67 standards or 1m of water for 30 minutes, which means it’ll be fine if you drop it in the bath or get caught in the rain.
The camera is capable of capturing above-average shots but there’s a microSD card slot for adding more memory if the 8 or 16GB built-in isn’t enough.
Verdict: the best balance of cost to experience available
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