Single-cell RNA-Seq (scRNA-seq) is invaluable for studying biological systems. Dimensionality reduction is a crucial step in interpreting the relation between cells in scRNA-seq data. However, current dimensionality reduction methods are often confounded by multiple simultaneous technical and biological variability, result in “crowding” of cells in the center of the latent space, or inadequately capture temporal relationships. Here, we introduce scPhere, a scalable deep generative model to embed cells into low-dimensional hyperspherical or hyperbolic spaces to accurately represent scRNA-seq data. ScPhere addresses multi-level, complex batch factors, facilitates the interactive visualization of large datasets, resolves cell crowding, and uncovers temporal trajectories. We demonstrate scPhere on nine large datasets in complex tissue from human patients or animal development. Our results show how scPhere facilitates the interpretation of scRNA-seq data by generating batch-invariant embeddings to map data from new individuals, identifies cell types affected by biological variables, infers cells’ spatial positions in pre-defined biological specimens, and highlights complex cellular relations.