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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 9

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Introduction


Well, we've asked for it, and a smartphone maker has finally delivered. A truly high-end Android phone in a compact body – that's what we've been looking for time and time again, but all there was out there were those 5” beasts and their smaller, weaker sidekicks. Now that Sony has stepped forth with exactly the type of proposition we've been yearning for, though, it appears there's a new question we have to ask ourselves – are we ready to leave the 5” displays that we've just started to get used to, in exchange for the comfort that a smaller phone would bring?

We don't necessarily have to view the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact as an alternative to the popular Android flagships that are currently available. There is another function that Sony's latest handset might be willing to perform, and that is to compete with the iPhone 5s – not the way other Android flagships do (which is by differentiation), but by facing it directly and fighting for the very same customers. While this certainly doesn't sound like an easy challenge (we can't think of other phones that have tried to do it – besides the early Androids, and those failed miserably), the Xperia Z1 Compact seems surprisingly fit for the task, as it's got both the looks and the heart of a winner.

So, two questions that we'll seek to answer: the Xperia Z1 Compact as an alternative to an Android flagship, and the Xperia Z1 Compact as an iPhone rival. Let's get going!

Design

Sony's beautiful OmniBalance design in an appropriate form

The Xperia Z1's glass-and-metal design is undoubtedly beautiful, but the stylish, rectangular shape and sizable bezels have ultimately resulted in a gadget that is much more difficult to handle and carry in a pocket than many of the other offerings in the same class. As far as looks go – yes, Sony's so-called OmniBalance design is very appealing, however, the Z1's massive footprint has made it a bit difficult to enjoy.

All of this means that the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is just the right size to showcase Sony's premium design in its finest form. Now that having a bit of an extra bezel around the screen isn't such a big deal, we're simply delighted to hold and interact with the classy exterior of the Xperia Z1 Compact. The front side is made of durable glass, while the back uses a plastic material. The surrounding frame is made of sturdy metal. As a result, the Z1 Compact is a beautiful product with a high-quality construction that can easily best most of the competition.

The physical keys of the phone are mostly well-made, though the volume rocker could, indeed, be better. Still, the power/lock key and the two-step camera shutter react well to the touch, so you should have much trouble in this department.

In terms of dimensions, the Xperia Z1 Compact (5.00 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches (127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm)) is significantly smaller than the other high-end Android handsets. For example, here are the dimensions of the Xperia Z1: (5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches (144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm)), and of the Galaxy S4: (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm)). Yes, the Xperia Z1 Compact is slightly thicker than most flagships, but overall, it's considerably smaller. And, just in case some of us have forgotten the advantages to having a smartphone that isn't as big as a chopping board, we'll have to say that using such a compact handset is definitely easier, mostly due to the fact that you can easily operate it even with one hand only. Plus, it takes less space, and it doesn't make you feel uncomfortable when you want to sit down, while it's still in your pocket.

If we have to compare the Z1 Compact directly to the iPhone 5s, we find that Sony's marvel is just a bit bigger than Apple's fingerprint-identifying jewel. However, let's not forget the fact that the Z1 Compact sports a slightly larger screen, which brings us to...

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
5 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches
127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm
4.83 oz (137 g)

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Apple iPhone 5s
4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches
123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
3.95 oz (112 g)

Apple iPhone 5s

Sony Xperia Z1
5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches
144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.



Display

Sony has finally embraced IPS – the LCD technology that makes this the company's best mobile screen yet.

There's no denying – after so much time, going back to a 4.3” screen on an Android smartphone feels a bit weird, but this only lasts for a day or so. It's safe to say that re-adapting to a 4.3” panel is about as easy as it is to adapting to a 5” one. Sure, staring at the Z1 Compact's relatively small screen for longer periods of time may tire your eyes quicker than doing so with a larger display, but unless you are a very heavy user, the difference in the overall experience will be close to negligible.

If someone's willing to view the Z1 Compact's 720 x 1280 screen resolution as a compromise, we'd have to disagree, because at 4.3 inches, that works out to a fairly high pixel density of 342 ppi (versus 326 ppi for the iPhone 5s). The image isn't as perfectly clear as on a 1080p screen, but once again, the difference is more than negligible. Everything looks super-clean and easily readable on the Z1 Compact's display.


What we're especially glad to report, though, is that Sony has finally embraced IPS technology, which means that the company's high-end phones will no longer suffer from poor viewing angles and insufficient color vibrancy. It's a much-needed tech in a modern smartphone, and we're glad that Sony has finally integrated this must-have feature. Here's to hoping that the company will keep outfitting its future devices with IPS (in-plane switching) as well!

The Xperia Z1 Compact is equipped with one rather potent display. The 4.3” panel has a maximum brightness of 515 nits, which is more than what most Android flagship phones can offer you. However, the screen can't get very dim, meaning that it might be a bit uncomfortable to read in the dark. Color temperature is around the decent 7200K zone. This translates to an image that appears just slightly colder than what's considered the reference point: 6500K. To give you some perspective, the iPhone 5s' color temperature is about 7150K – and it has an awesome display, so the Z1 Compact certainly doesn't disappoint. Delta E (grayscale), though, is a bit high, at 5.11. It's still decent, but it shows that there's some brightness disbalance, which is also visible in the gamma of 2.68. The Z1 Compact tends to display some of the darker areas a bit darker than they should be, potentially resulting in some lost detail in the shadows (the dark areas of images). In terms of colors, the Xperia Z1 Compact's IPS screen manages to stay away from any significant deviations from the correct values (Delta E rgbcmy of 5.06). Color gamut range is a bit bigger than the reference, sRGB range (110% of sRGB), though the display's actual coverage of the sRGB standard's colors stands at 97%. For the most true-to-life color experience, it's recommended that these two numbers (110% and 97%) are as close as possible to 100%, and in this case, they aren't quite there. Finally, viewing angles are good enough with the Z1 Compact – and much better than those of the other Xperia handsets.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 515
(Excellent)
39
(Poor)
1:1648
(Excellent)
7253
(Good)
2.68
5.47
(Average)
5.11
(Average)
Apple iPhone 5s 587
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:960
(Average)
7351
(Good)
2.18
3.41
(Good)
3.44
(Good)
Sony Xperia Z1 495
(Good)
23
(Poor)
1:1440
(Excellent)
7355
(Good)
2.08
5.29
(Average)
4.57
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
(Poor)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7316
(Good)
2.16
5.52
(Average)
7.31
(Average)
View all

91 Comments
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posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:31 10

1. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


Yet another Sony phone that makes me drool. And yet another phone that Sony should've sold in the states. Bring your phones back to the states on every major carrier in the States please Sony!

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:38 4

4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Would sell pretty well on AT&T and T-Mobile.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:21 5

13. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


Would sell well on any major network not just a GSM provider.

posted on 24 Jan 2014, 14:55 2

58. FredoGavera (Posts: 7; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)


To be honest, I was never really a huge fan of xperias. The only sony phone I ever owned was the play which was great except for the complete lack of support...

Regardless, the last xperia to catch my eye was the Z1, never got it though because I'm in the category of people who find phones that size absurd. Once this phone is out I'm pretty much a guaranteed buyer.

I just really hope that updates won't be delayed too bad for future android OS's... I hear sony isn't the best with keeping up... already had to deal with LG's shenanigans

posted on 25 Jan 2014, 08:44

59. RickB (Posts: 6; Member since: 25 Jan 2014)


Sony has been doing very well with open sourcing their builds so even if they don't provide updates as fast as we want, you can always upgrade the ROM yourself.

I'm running a custom ROM on my Xperia ZL and it easily doubled my battery life. It's still a Sony ROM so I have the great apps like Walkman and Dual Shock controller, but none of the bloatware that I don't need that just consumes the battery.

posted on 09 Feb 2014, 19:35

84. HarryWild (Posts: 60; Member since: 18 Oct 2012)


I finally found a phone that I want to buy and it not going be sold in the U.S.! It a high end phone too! Just crazy, Sony! No wonder you are in trouble!

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 14:11

87. Heretic (Posts: 18; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


I agree.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:33 23

2. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)


Relatively Small Display??

Yeah. We at PA expect phablet size displays in a phone barely bigger than an iPhone.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:48 19

7. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Yeah, and I guess they didn't realize that the phones name is Z1 COMPACT. It's supposed to be smaller than average!

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:37 30

3. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Ray, I read the whole review. Now how the hell does having a small display count as a con when the iPhone 5S and 5C (as mentioned under the display category) has a 4" display?

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:34 5

15. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


See my comments under the Z1S vs 5s article and you'll have your answer. ;)

It's gotten to the point where these reviews and phone comparisons are laughable at best.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 13:11 4

26. buccob (Posts: 2578; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Also my comment... I will summarize.

What readers should pay attention is to User Rating... And if that rating somehow is close to what PA gives, then you have a fair review... But the norm is that most user gives Sony smartphones a higher rating than what authors do, and that shows a disparity and probably a bias review.

We all know this phone is going to get >9.3 on user rating so it does not worry me... I will still buy it

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:39 27

5. imparanoic (Posts: 88; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)


phonearena crap bias review, relatively small displaÿ4.3, yet you don't mention this supposed disadvantage on iphone 5s or 5c even though the screen is smaller at 4"

I think phonearena should called iphone -arena

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 22:07

42. jael206 (Posts: 145; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)


But no matter how we bash PA for being bias, they still stand unapologetic.. What the face man!!

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:43 1

6. Xperia_droid (Posts: 39; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)


now IPS+Triluminos+X-reality display sounds interesting

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:50 1

8. Xperia_droid (Posts: 39; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)


of if i forget about camera
iphone 5s need to be scared

posted on 28 Jan 2014, 23:03

74. Lauticol (Posts: 346; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)


Triluminous, Bravia and X-Reality are all gimmicks Sony adds in it's smartphones displays, but you compare them to other company's flasgships and Sony screens are the worst

posted on 29 Jan 2014, 07:31

76. Xperia_droid (Posts: 39; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)


Bravia/X-reality are awesome when watching videos. they makes videos a bit oversaturated and boost contrast. yes sony's previous screen panels are not too great but i still prefer this for watching videos.
but i want 6" retina display with X-reality :D

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:52 2

9. mokhtar (Posts: 405; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)


now do a test between 5s / s4 mini / htc one mini , or you will avoid that " phone arena" because you know sony will smoke the others ??
Sony now : best phone z1 , best compact phone , best tablet ... you made phone area :p ?

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 22:07

43. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10457; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Z1 is not the best phone lol. Best compact is a tie between the 5S. Best tab? iPad Air/Mini 2.

posted on 28 Jan 2014, 15:22

72. mokhtar (Posts: 405; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)


For you yeah, for the world.and.reviewrs tablet z the best tablet and the award winning of 2013 :), best phone is z1 and ray and the other reviewrs say that not me :) ( note 3 is a phablet :))

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 09:52 13

10. Amir1 (unregistered)


best compact phone ever made. iphone is a thing of the past.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:05 2

11. R-vjn (Posts: 193; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


Finally IPS comes to Sony, thank god. I always hated the displays of xperia's, even Triluminos, when compared to the best IPS panels around.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:12 2

12. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Ray, could you add 20 mpx photos, since those are just 8 mpx and they look quite bad imho.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:30 8

14. emadshiny (Posts: 1144; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


I cant see such a con as "relatively small display" for iPhone which is even smaller than Compact. Oh! I forgot here is iPhone arena

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:34 1

16. zhonghua (Posts: 2; Member since: 14 Jan 2014)


Mr. Ray, please share the video review if you do have. I can't wait to have this phone soon.. :) Nice review by the way.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:40 5

17. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 595; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)


A cons that states "Relatively small display". Say whuut? How can you never say that to an iPhone yet you can say it to a "Compact" branded phone?! What kind of logic is that?

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 10:50 12

18. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1237; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)


The small display is a pro for this phone- that's the selling point!

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 11:15 4

19. Feanor (Posts: 733; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)


Hmm...9.0 is clearly a bit unfair when the larger Z1 brother with the significantly worse display, slightly worse performance and potentially less battery life received a better note. Also in comparison to iPhone I was expecting at least same score.

posted on 23 Jan 2014, 11:55

20. papss (unregistered)


Great phone other than the OS it uses. Honestly that's a deal breaker

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

OS: Android 5.1 5.0 4.4.4 4.4.2 4.3
view full specs
Display4.3 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (342 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera20.7 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.00 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches
(127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm)
4.83 oz  (137 g)
Battery2300 mAh, 10 hours talk time

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