Sony Xpe­ria XZ2 Com­pact

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Sony has bro­ken its usual smart­phone re­lease cy­cle to bring its next flag­ship, the Xpe­ria XZ2 ( page 31), to Mo­bile World Congress 2018, a few months ear­lier than ex­pected, and along­side it comes a smaller sib­ling: the Xpe­ria XZ2 Com­pact.

The Com­pact packs a smaller screen (no sur­prise there), but the rest of its specs are im­pres­sively close to the big­ger ver­sion. We’ve tested the phone out our­selves, and here’s what you’ll get when the XZ2 Com­pact ar­rives later this year.

Price

First up, Sony hasn’t an­nounced an of­fi­cial price or re­lease date for the phone yet, but it’s ex­pected to be out some time around the first week of April, pre­sum­ably along­side the main XZ2. The XZ1 Com­pact re­tailed at £499, and we’d ex­pect the XZ2 Com­pact to hit a sim­i­lar price point – po­ten­tially with a small hike of £50. Ei­ther way, we’d ex­pect it to be around £100 cheaper than the larger XZ2.

De­sign

Along­side the XZ2, the XZ2 Com­pact rep­re­sents the de­but of Sony’s new ‘Am­bi­ent Flow’ de­sign phi­los­o­phy, which is ba­si­cally just a fancy way of say­ing that they’re rounded off some of the straight edges for a more curved de­sign.

Sony boasts that this is the world’s most com­pact phone with a 5in screen, re­tain­ing sim­i­lar pro­por­tions to last year’s model de­spite a big jump up from that phone’s 4.6in dis­play. De­spite a com­pact frame you still get some bezels at the top of the bot­tom, and the curved back makes the phone com­fort­able to hold but does leave it feel­ing de­cid­edly chunky, too.

It’s housed in an alu­minium frame with hard­coated poly­car­bon­ate fin­ish on the rear – a change from the 3D glass back found on the XZ2. There’s a slight sheen to the hard­ware, but it’s a far cry from the glossy fin­ish on the larger model.

Still, the rest is pretty sim­i­lar. The dis­play it­self is 18:9 – the thin­ner aspect ra­tio that’s re­cently be­come pop­u­lar – and you get IP65/68 wa­ter­proof­ing, USB-C charg­ing, and a fin­ger­print

sen­sor and cam­era cen­tred on the rear. The 3.5mm head­phone jack is gone though.

The XZ2 Com­pact will be avail­able in four colours: Black, White Sil­ver, Moss Green, and Coral Pink (pic­tured) with the pre­in­stalled UI theme colour­coded to match.

Hard­ware

The Com­pact fea­tures (mostly) the same specs as the main XZ2, which means you’re get­ting flag­ship power in a rel­a­tively small size. The pro­ces­sor is the new Snap­dragon 845, Qual­comm’s fastest yet. It’s backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB built-in stor­age, ex­pand­able via mi­croSD, so we’d ex­pect very smooth per­for­mance from the phone.

The 5in 18:9 screen of­fers full HD res­o­lu­tion and HDR, which means it’s ca­pa­ble of show­ing off the full po­ten­tial of HDR pho­tos and video. Even bet­ter, it’s also able to up­scale stan­dard con­tent into HDR, whether it’s lo­cal or streamed, so you can get deeper blacks, brighter colours, and more de­tail from just about any vis­ual con­tent.

There’s also the same 19Mp sin­gle-lens cam­era as in the big­ger phone, which for the first time in any smart­phone is ca­pa­ble of record­ing video in 4K and HDR. Last year’s su­per slow mo­tion has also been up­graded, of­fer­ing the abil­ity to record at 960fps at a higher 1080p res­o­lu­tion – at least for a few sec­onds.

There is one big thing the cam­era can’t do: por­trait mode. The blurred back­ground bokeh ef­fect is one of the big sell­ing points of dual-lens cam­eras for most, and the XZ2 Com­pact can’t of­fer an al­ter­na­tive

– there’s not even a soft­ware por­trait ef­fect built into the main cam­era app, de­spite Google prov­ing it can be done to great ef­fect in the Pixel 2.

As for the front cam­era, that’s 5Mp but now comes with Sony’s 3D face scan­ning built-in, so you can take 3D mod­els of your own head, in case you ever feel the need.

Fi­nally, there’s sup­port for high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio, some im­pres­sive front-fac­ing speak­ers, NFC, Blue­tooth 5.0, and USB-C charg­ing. The bat­tery is 2,870mAh, which should hope­fully be enough to give a day’s bat­tery life pretty com­fort­ably.

It’s worth not­ing that there are a cou­ple of fea­tures you won’t find here that are in the XZ2 proper. For one, since this doesn’t have a glass back, there’s no wire­less charg­ing. The Com­pact is also miss­ing the new Dy­namic Vi­bra­tion Sys­tem, which gives hap­tic feed­back in time with video and au­dio con­tent in the larger phone.

Soft­ware

The XZ2 Com­pact will ship with An­droid 8.0 Oreo as stan­dard, us­ing Sony’s typ­i­cally min­i­mal ad­di­tions and tweaks. The big­gest is the new Xpe­ria As­sist soft­ware, de­signed to help users make the most of their phones. It’s in­tended to pop up the first time you use any app that could ben­e­fit from ad­vanced fea­tures – like HDR up­scal­ing – and uses a chat­bot UI to ex­plain how it all works. A chat­bot pop-up telling you how to use your phone ei­ther sounds like a great in­tro to new fea­tures or an aw­ful in­tru­sion on your phone us­age – we’ll leave it to you to de­cide how an­noy­ing you think you’ll find it.

Ver­dict

The Xpe­ria XZ2 Com­pact fits al­most ev­ery ma­jor fea­ture from the XZ2 into a smaller frame, of­fer­ing one of the bet­ter screen-to-body ra­tios you’ll find for a 5in phone right now. With less com­pe­ti­tion at this screen size, the Com­pact could be a more com­pelling op­tion than it’s big­ger brother, so long as you don’t mind miss­ing out on wire­less charg­ing or the gim­micky vi­bra­tion. Do­minic Pre­ston

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5in (2160x1080, 483ppi) IPS LCD ca­pac­i­tive dis­play • An­droid 8.0 Oreo • Qual­comm MSM8998 Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core 4x 2.7GHz Kryo 385 Gold and 4x 1.7GHz

Kryo 385 Sil­ver CPU • Adreno 630 GPU • 6GB RAM

• 64GB stor­age, mi­croSD up to 400GB • Fin­ger­print scan­ner • 19Mp rear-fac­ing cam­era: f/2.0, 25mm, 1/2.3in, 1.22μm), gyro EIS, pre­dic­tive phase de­tec­tion and laser aut­o­fo­cus, LED flash • 5Mp front-fac­ing cam­era: f/2.2, 23mm, 1/5in, gyro EIS, 1080p • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO • Mi­cro-USB 3.1 Type-C • Non-re­mov­able lithium-ion 2,870mAh bat­tery • 135x65x12.1mm • 168g

The XZ2 Com­pact is avail­able in four colours, in­clud­ing White Sil­ver

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