Best Compact Smartphones For Photography

We take a look at the best compact models for smartphone photography in 2018.

|  Google Pixel 2 in Camera Phones
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If you're looking for a phone that's small enough to fit into your pocket but that also takes good images, you're in the right place. Camera phone technology has come on leaps and bounds meaning that even the smaller smartphone models now have the photographic capabilities of their larger counterparts, as well as storage and RAM capabilities to rival the best of them. 

Not everyone wants a huge phablet, so here we've rounded up the best handsets that offer fantastic imaging opportunities without being cumbersome to carry around. Everyone has different thoughts on what's classed as small in today's market but we've opted to only include phones that have a screen size of roughly 5 inches or less corner to corner. 

Looking for a larger handset? Check out our 12 best camera phones for photography 2018 or if you're on a tight budget, our best budget camera phones for photography under £300 article might suit. 

If you want to, you can purchase/find more information about each smartphone listed by clicking the green Amazon buttons featured below each product. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you press our Amazon buttons but by using our Amazon Affiliate links when ordering anything online, you are supporting the site - thank you.


Google Pixel 2 - 

Pixel 2

The Google Pixel 2 packs one of the best smartphone cameras in the world into a slim and stylish body which can still be classed as compact, with a 5 inch screen. We reviewed the Google Pixel 2 XL, which is larger, however, both models have the same 12-megapixel rear camera with super wide f/1.8 aperture. There are several camera modes which produce stunning images, 'Portrait with blur' being one that stands out for exceptional portraits which keep the subject sharp but artistically blur the background. 

The Pixel 2 also boasts OIS and dual-pixel autofocus as well as HDR functionality and 4K video recording. 

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Samsung Galaxy S7 - 

Samsung Galaxy S7 Black (11)

The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 5.1-inch screen, and while some may say this is stretching the limits of what could be classed as a compact smartphone, it does still fit in the pocket well and is smaller than a lot of the Plus and XL models available. 

The Galaxy S7 has an outstanding camera with a wide f/1.7 front and back. The camera has super fast autofocus and RAW shooting is possible in Pro mode. 4K video capability is built in and the phone is also waterproof to 1.5m for 30 minutes as well as dust proof.  It's not the newest model on the block anymore with both the larger S8 and S9 being released since, however, if you want to keep things compact then the S7 still has a good camera. 

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Apple iPhone 7 - 

Apple Iphone 7 Matt Black (11)sRGB

The iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch screen and features good cameras both front and back, with a 12 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor on the back and 7 megapixels on the front, both with f/1.8 brightness. 

The iPhone 7 also introduced 3 stop OIS - the camera on the iPhone 7 is a large step up from the iPhone 6/6S. There is 4K video capability and a true tone flash consisting of 4 LEDs. Thie iPhone 7 also has RAW image capture capabilities and is water and dust resistant. If you're an Apple fan, then the iPhone 7 is a good option for those that like a compact, slim phone. 

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact 

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

The Sony Experia XZ2 Compact is capable of producing images with excellent colour reproduction, although noise can be an issue when shooting at full resolution, and when you view images at full size. The camera app is intuitive and hasn't changed much through the generations, making it familiar to use for those upgrading from older Sony handsets. Video recording is good, offering 4K HDR video, although the smartphone doesn't offer 4K video at 60fps. The lack of optical image stabilisation hampers low-light performance, however, this is partly made up for by the use of electronic image stabilisation, which does a good job, particularly for video recording. 

The phone is stylish, well built and the new curvy, ergonomic design makes a big difference to the feel of the phone in the hand. The XZ2 Compact is one of the few smaller handsets to feature exactly the same camera setup as its larger counterpart, making it a viable alternative for smartphone photographers that want to keep things pocketable but not compromise on features and performance. Previous Compact generations lacked the processing power or larger counterparts, but not here - this small powerhouse of a smartphone currently stands out in the market.

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Moto X4 - 

Moto X4 (10)

The Moto X4 is a mid-range phone that has a 5.2-inch screen and 12-megapixel standard / 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle cameras. This makes it ideal for landscape photography lovers. There are also advanced shooting modes including selective focus. There's a dual LED flash and the camera is also capable of capturing 4K video. 

It's a well-equipped phone that's also waterproof and dustproof, with a good level of manual control of the camera settings.

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We haven't reviewed the following handsets, however, they are also on our radar as compact phones that are ideal for photography enthusiasts: 


Apple iPhone 8

iPhone 8

The Apple iPhone 8 has a 4.7-inch screen and 12-megapixel wide-angle camera that features a larger and faster sensor than the predecessor, the iPhone 7. There is OIS built-in, and f/1.8 enables bright captured even in low light. The iPhone 8 can capture 4K video, Slo-mo recording and time-lapse video. It's said to have one of the best cameras currently available on smartphones. 

The wide-angle camera on the iPhone 8 is the same as the one found on the larger iPhone 8 Plus which also features a telephoto camera. 

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Apple iPhone SE

iPhone SE

Another option for those that like to keep things really small is the Apple iPhone SE. This phone has a 12-megapixel camera which still captures incredible photos and 4K videos, all in a super compact body. The iPhone SE has the 'live photos' function, which allows you to touch the image and relive the moments just before and after the capture. It also has super fast processing capabilities for a phone of its size. 

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Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9 Rear

You may be thinking: 'What? this phone isn't small!' however, hear us out - the screen may be larger at 5.8 inches but the actual body size of the phone is slightly smaller than its predecessor the S7 and the S9 packs a seriously good camera - a super speed dual pixel 12 megapixel AF sensor with a max aperture of f/1.5. There is also OIS and selective focus built-in. There are also a variety of modes including super slo-mo, panorama and a Pro mode. 

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Huawei P20 Lite

P20 Lite

Another of the next-gen phones that has a large screen but smaller body size than some of the phones here is the Huawei P20 Lite. It's slim and the screen of 5.84 inches keeps it thin enough to comfortably slide into a pocket. It features a 16-megapixel dual camera with dedicated bokeh lens and a wide aperture mode that allows you to take portraits to impress.

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More options: 
Top 12 Best Camera Phones for Photography 2018
Best Budget Camera Phones for Photography Under £300

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josa 8 25 Czech Republic
24 Apr 2018 12:18PM
Getting Apple SE soon, that's compact!!!

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