The size of our phones has grown drastically over the last few years. I remember when the original iPhone came out with a 3.5” screen and almost everyone commented on how big the phone was. And today, we’re looking at Sony’s latest Xperia which, with a screen size of 4.2-inches, is considered compact. Indeed, at a time when 6-inch screens are starting to become an accepted size, the Sony Xperia Z Compact fits the description perfectly.
Packaged in a flat square box, very much like the Xperia Z1 and the Xperia Z Ultra, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is unmistakable as a Sony product. It comes with a charger plug and a USB cable along with warranty information and a quick-start guide. Although my review sample did not include a headset, I’d be surprised if the retail version also came without it.
Design & Construction
The Xperia Z1 Compact follows the same design language as Sony’s last few flagship products – a glass front and back with a metallic frame around it. I received the phone in white but it is available in black, red and yellow as well. Measuring 127 x 64.9mm, the Xperia Z1 Compact fits very comfortably in one hand although it feels a bit weighty at 137 grams. Compared to the Xperia Z1, it’s also slightly thicker at 9.5mm. The bezel areas look a bit large on the Xperia Z1 compact – hopefully Sony can add more screen space in a similar form factor in future models.
Like the Xperia Z1, the Compact is also water-proofed allowing you to use the phone and take pictures under water. You have a 3.5mm jack on top, power and volume buttons along with a dedicated camera button on the right and the water-proofed USB, SIM and MicroSD slots on the left along with the charging dock pins. You’d think that Sony might have cut a few connectors considering the smaller size of the Z1 Compact but that is not the case.
Specs & Performance
We’ve seen “mini” versions of flagship products from HTC and Samsung, however, besides cutting on the size, these products have also gone through a cut in specifications. Sony engineers had different ideas and that is the reasons why they called their phone Compact instead of Mini. With the Sony Z1 Compact, you are getting the same performance and camera quality along with the water-proofing housing as their flagship Xperia Z1 phone. Here is how the phone compares to the HTC One Mini and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
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After looking at screen sizes of 5-inches or more, the Xperia Z1 Compact with its 4.3” screen looks a bit on the smaller side. Sony has also lowered the resolution from 1080×1920 on the Xperia Z1 to 720×1280 which might sound like a step down, but considering the 342ppi, it is actually better than what you have on the iPhone 5S.The smaller screen size and the lower resolution also help save up on battery life.
Like the previous Xperia Z1 model, the Compact also features a Triluminos display with the X-Reality engine. Thankfully, Sony has addressed one of the complains I’ve had with previous Xperia phones – viewing angles. With the Xperia Z1 Compact, the screen is much more readable when not looking at it directly such as when lying on the desk.
Camera, Interface & Apps
The Xperia Z1 Compact retains the same 20MP camera and features found on the Xperia Z1. It continues to be one of the best cameras we’ve seen on an Android phone and is water-proof which allows you to take pictures underwater. Along with the camera, the app that Sony bundles is also quite good allowing you to switch between different effects without switching apps.
Sony continues to use their custom interface on Xperia products which has a clean and minimal design. It’s not stock Android but it is also not one that is over-the-top. There are a few custom widgets for social updates or contacts that you can place on the home screens. Power users will probably want to switch to a launcher such as Nova.
Because of the smaller size of the Z1 Compact, Sony had to reduced the battery capacity to on 2300 mAH. However, considering that the Z1 Compact also has a smaller and lower resolution, the end result of using the Z1 Compact is not much different in terms of battery life. You will still be able to get a full day’s charge and then some. Sony also has a really impressive Stamina mode that allows you to select which apps get to run in the background and consume data. You can selectively shut down those apps and increase your usage to close to two days,
Simply put, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is the most powerful and full-featured Android phone that can be easily used with one hand. Unlike some of its competitors Sony chose to keep the specs as high as they could providing a smooth and fast user experience. Having said that, I found the Compact to be a bit too small. With the flexibility that Android brings, I prefer a larger screen size and would rather go for the 5-inch Xperia Z1. However, that’s just a personal preference. If you like a smaller phone, there is nothing better than the Xperia Z1 Compact in the Android space.