Sony’s Xperia Z1 Compact takes the very best of the Xperia range and tucks it into a smaller package than has been seen from the firm’s recent high-enders. So is this a competitor for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One mini, or has the Japanese firm done something more than its counterparts?
- 2.2 GHz quad-core processor
- 4.3-inch TFT display
- 16GB internal storage
- 20.7MP camera
- 137g weight
- Android 4.3
- 2300mAh battery
Design and build
On picking the Z1 Compact up, it becomes immediately apparent that it’s one of the sturdier handsets around. The device’s 137g frame makes it satisfyingly heavy and its chunky form factor is a welcome change to the rounded, super-slim devices that are now commonplace.
Where we found the squared edges of the recent Xperia designs a little uncomfortable on the Z1, they work really well on the smaller Z1 Compact and the device sits very well in the hand.
As with many other recent Sony smartphones, the Z1 Compact is waterproof up to 1.5m for 30 minutes, making it a truly durable device. In everyday use you may not actually immerse the handset fully, but it is especially well protected against accidental splashes.
Sony makes excellent displays, with the firm clearly putting its decades of experience of building televisions to good use. The Triluminos technology which is used in the Z1 compact ensures clear, bold colours and the image enhancing X-Reality functions add and extra element of quality.
While only 720p and not Full HD, the slight step down in quality from the likes of the Z1 is very hard to spot and not something that really becomes noticeable unless you were to place each of the handsets next to each other.
One unusual, and welcome, feature that the Z1 Compact can boast is that users have the option to adjust the white balance of the display to suit their tastes. So if you want to add a little blue or red to the image, you can just make simple adjustments with the sliding controls.
Under the hood
Staggeringly fast performance is delivered by the 2.2GHz quad-core processor, which far outclasses that offered by similarly sized Android devices from Samsung and HTC. That chip is just one example of how Sony has cut-down the size of its Xperia devices without trimming back the specs.
The handset’s performance is immediately obvious in the live wallpapers which sit behind the user interface, working without any hangups to create a multi-dimensional experience for the user.
Operating system and user interface
Spending further time with that user interface reveals it to be an attractive and minimalist take on Android 4.3, although there are few updates from what has been seen on Sony handsets for some time. We’ve never been a fan of the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed on the firm’s device, but some of its more useful creations work very well.
For example, the walkman app is one of the liveliest and most efficient Android music players that we’ve seen, and the movies app offers a constantly changing interface that is very easy to use.
Camera and video
Sony has transferred the Z1’s 20.7 megapixel camera wholesale to the Z1 Compact and it’s one of the smaller handset’s best features. The camera is also one of the things that really sets this device above the mid-range handsets that it may otherwise find itself competing against, as few other smartphones can boast quite as much photographic power.
Producing excellent images in its own right, the camera is augmented by a brilliant suite of features including Sony’s Superior Auto mode. This tailors the camera’s settings to suit any particular situation, and makes good quality snaps very easy to capture.
Photography enthusiasts can also switch to manual mode and adjust the settings themselves, and the camera app has several fun features such as Timeshift Burst and Picture Effect, expanding on what you can do with your images.
Performance and verdict
To sum up, Sony’s device packs a bigger punch than its size suggests. While the ‘Compact’ tag points towards this device going up against the ‘Mini’ handsets produced by Samsung and HTC, the Sony’s features are far above anything its rivals’ mid-range smartphones have to offer.
Really, the Z1 Compact is better compared to the higher-end of the Android market, and what it offers is leading, high-spec features in a package that may well suit anyone who doesn’t want a device with a 5-inch display. In this respect, Sony’s smartphone is a resounding success.