Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

Sony came out with a compact version of its flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z1. This time around, they didn’t make any compromises. Read on.

One of the most popular trends that we are seeing right now in smartphone design is the push towards larger screen sizes. Ever since 2008, the average screen size has slowly increased. This gave birth to a new term, the ‘phablet’, the phone that looks like a tablet. It has developed a new market and following on its own. It is said that this market is poised to explode.

However, large screens are not exactly to everyone’s liking. Most smartphone manufacturers are already embracing the larger phone concept. On the other hand, several manufacturers have also launched mini versions of their flagship devices. Case in point, Samsung with its Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC’s One Mini.

These phones appear to be smaller and even cheaper than their flagship equivalents. However, both HTC and Samsung have made compromises when it comes to the phones’ specifications. Let’s take the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini as an example. It has a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with 8GB of internal memory compared to its flagship S4 which has 1.8GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory.

No more compromises

With the launch of the Xperia Z1 Compact, Sony has broken this trend of compromising. It may be smaller than its Z1 flagship but it offers many of the same features that include a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 900 chipset,  2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage and a camera with a 20.7 megapixel resolution. In other words, it is the same top-of-the-range device but in a smaller package.

The Xperia Z1 Compact has a big display of 4.3 inches. It is slightly bigger than the iPhone5s. It is also slightly fatter than the Z1. It measures 9.5mm. It competes in weight though. It is lighter than many smartphones with the same or competing specs, weighing in at only 137g. The rounded edges also make it comfortable to hold in one hand.

Exterior

The smartphone sports a robust aluminium case. It is clad with ‘Dragontail’, a scratch-resistant glass on both the front and the back. These features give the phone a premium feel. The downside is the glass picks up fingerprints easily. It also seems to attract dust and fluff easily so users may find themselves wiping their phones a lot.

Like the other models in the Xperia Z range, the Z1 Compact is also waterproof. This means that the microUSB port, microSD and SIM slots have removable covers. They are a bit fiddly to put on and take off though. The headphone jack is waterproofed on the inside so there is no need for a cover.

Sony’s signature round silver power button can also be easily accessed on the right hand side of the smartphone.

The Xperia Compact does differ from it the bigger Z1 in some ways. The battery life is an example. The Z1 Compact offers a reduced battery capacity of 2300mAH. Its big brother has a capacity of 3000 mAh. However, due to some power-saving features, the Z1 Compact can last more than 36 hours on a single charge during tests.

For users that need more ‘juice’, Sony allows one to extend the battery life further by putting the phone into ‘Stamina’ mode. This mode turns off data. It also prevents power consumption when the phone’s display is in standby.

The Xperia Z1 Compact’s display has some slightly lower specs than the bigger Z1. It offers 341 ppi pixel density compared to the 440ppi of its big brother. However, at this scale there is no noticeable loss of clarity. Brightness, contrast and colour saturation are all excellent. Viewing angles are also good.

The Z1 Compact comes with the previous version of the Android software which is the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. An update to 4.4.2 KitKat is on the way.

Sony has also added a few customisations such as a suite of app search tools that can be accessed from the app page with a swipe gesture. These are fairly intuitive though.

This smartphone does have a few software glitches like most new phones have. The power button sometimes becomes non-responsive. You may need to restart your smartphone to get it working again. The home and back buttons also become inactive. We may blame it on an early release model and let us trust that Sony will be able to fix these glitches easily and immediately.

In general, the Xperia Z1 Compact is very impressive. It is a stylish device for users who not just want function but form. It has a high-end feel and excellent specs.

It is everything you expect in a premium smartphone. It is beautifully crafted to fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. You can capture stunning photos and videos using the same technology that Sony uses in their compact digital cameras. The advanced camera phone comes with Superior Auto which is a default setting that recognises up to 36 scene types. It then adjusts the settings automatically so you get the best photos anytime, anywhere. You can enjoy the moment and let your phone do the thinking for you. And because it is waterproof, you can take silly underwater photos with your friends and family.

You can easily move all your valuable content from your smartphone to your new Xperia Z1 Compact with the trademarked Xperia Transfer. All these in a waterproof, colourful package.

Sony offers the Z1 Compact in a myriad of colours. You can choose from a masculine black or go for a bright yellow, a girly pink or a classic white. Battery life is more impressive than other phones.

With the release of the Z1 Compact, let’s hope that other manufacturers will follow suit and start producing mini or compact handsets that cater to customers who prefer smaller screens but do not compromise on quality.

We give the Sony Xperia Z1 4 out of 5 stars. It costs £449.