Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
Sony continues to offer an Android rival to smaller iPhones, this time with upgraded specs. CHRIS MARTIN reports
As we mentioned in the previous Hands-on Sony has used this year’s IFA as a platform to launch its new phones. We’ve already see the XZ1 (page 55). Here we look at the Xperia XZ1 Compact (£499).
Not much has changed about the design of the XZ1 Compact when compared to the X Compact, or even the Z5 Compact really. Sony has its design language and is sticking to it. Once again, the idea of the phone is that it’s smaller in size to make it more usable for those who don’t want or can’t handle a larger handset. The drawback here is that it still remains a chunky little number at 9.3mm and only just over 10g lighter than the XZ1. That won’t be a huge problem for most as it will be a small sacrifice to pay to get a smaller phone with high-end specs. Like the larger XZ1, the compact model has a unibody chassis with Sony’s Loop Surface design. This time it’s not made of metal though. Instead it’s a glass fibre and plastic composite but it feels nice to the touch. At the front there’s 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5 and there are diamond cut edges. However, some still chunky bezels don’t help it look particularly modern.
We’re pleased to report that Sony has brought waterproofing back to the Compact range so the phone has an IP65/68 rating so it can be fully submersed in fresh water without worry.
The XZ1 Compact will be available in a range of colours with harmonised h.ear headphones available. The colours are White Silver, Black, Horizon Blue and Twilight Pink.
The XZ1 Compact is a tasty upgrade to its predecessor and on the whole, has the same hardware as the larger XZ1 inside a smaller shell.
The display is smaller, of course, and is still Sony’s preferred 4.6in – the XZ1 is 5.2in – but has been bumped to Full HD finally so gets a healthier pixel density of 479ppi.
It doesn’t have the HDR support of the XZ1, but this is only used when you’re watching certain content on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix so is hardly the end of the world.
You’re buying it for the size and the 4.6in diagonal means it’s an easy phone to use one-handed unlike most new devices.
Processor, memory and storage
Like the XZ1, the Compact model has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is still the flagship chip and there’s also 4GB of RAM. Both are decent upgrades compared to the X Compact.
The only different is that storage is 32GB where you’ll get double that on the XZ1. There’s a microSD card slot though so you can easily add more.
With a smaller screen and no HDR, the XZ1 Compact is potentially more powerful than its big brother. It was certainly smooth during our time with it but we’ll test it properly when we get a final sample.
The XZ1 Compact has essentially the same features as the larger model looking at other specs. There’s
still USB-C, NFC and the usual wireless bits a pieces. It is Cat 15 instead of Cat 16 for LTE but users are unlikely to notice a difference in the real world.
It’s good to see a continuation of the fingerprint scanner inside the power button and Sony also continues to push audio as a selling point.
There’s a headphone jack which is a good start, plus features such as stereo speakers, aptX Bluetooth, High-Res support, an LDAC and more.
Photography is probably more important than audio for most smartphone users and this is an even bigger selling point for Sony. The firm is one of the only to offer a dedicated camera/shutter button.
The resolution may have dropped from previous devices but the 19Mp rear camera has larger pixels so can perform better in low light. The XZ1 Compact gets the super slow motion feature of the XZ Premium which allows you to shoot at 960fps, more than any rival phone.
Other new features include the handy Smile Shutter and Predictive Capture which will help you avoid missing a moment by taking photos before you hit the button. We also like the Autofocus Burst mode which can shoot 10 photos per second while keeping the subject in focus.
Sony is making a big deal of 3D scanning for the XZ1 and XZ1 Compact, although this is more a software feature. It means you can use the camera to create 3D scans of objects or people then share them, use them as live wallpaper or even get them
3D printed. It might sound exciting but we can’t imagine many people using this more than a few times just for fun.
The front camera is a little different to the larger XZ1 and is designed to appeal to a market of users who take selfies. The camera is 8Mp and has a 120 degree wide-angle lens so you can fit lots of people in the frame. You can use it in a non-wide mode but this means you’ll get a lower quality 3Mp crop.
Somehow, Sony has managed to put the same size battery in the XZ1 Compact as the bigger model. This means it has a 2,700mAh battery, the same as the X Compact. Sony has stopped claiming a twoday battery life for its phone but now says you’ll get all-day usages for the lifespan of the phone. There’s no wireless charging but you can utilize the reversible USB-C port and Quick Charge 3.0.
The XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are two of the first phones to come preloaded with the latest version of Android which is 8.0 Oreo (see page 4 for our in-depth review).
Google is touting better boot times, battery life, auto-fill logins and there’s a new picture-in-picture feature, too. Sony’s version of Android is still close to stock while remaining recognizable. Sony doesn’t mess around with core elements while adding value with wallpapers, widgets and its own apps including Walkman and PS4 Remote Play.
There might not be any one thing that’s overly exciting about the new XZ1 phones. However, the Compact model is particularly attractive and almost unique in the Android market. It provides top-notch specs in a smaller package and includes waterproofing again. It’s likely to be one of the cheapest phones with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
• 4.6in (1280x720, 319ppi) IPS LCD display • Android 8.0 Oreo • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor • Octa-core (4x 2.35GHz Kryo, 4x 1.9GHz Kryo) CPU • Adreno 540 GPU • 4GB RAM • 32GB storage (microSD support up to
256GB) • 19Mp, EIS (gyro), predictive phase
detection and laser autofocus, LED flash • 8Mp, 13mm, 1/4in sensor size, 1080p • Wi-Fi dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • NFC • Headphone jack • Stereo speakers • 2,700mAh non-removable Lithium-ion
battery • USB 2.0 Type-C • 129x64x9.3mm • 140g