Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Sony has a unique take on Android, and we actually don't mind it.
As any other popular Android smartphone manufacturer, Sony has its own, custom user interface. We certainly aren't in love with it, but we do have to admit that Sony's Android experience is more than usable. Most notably, it has this unified look across all menus and apps, which provides a sense of consistency and coherence. What's more, there are numerous bonus features by Sony, which bring additional value to its UI.
Running on top of Android 4.3 (an update to Android 4.4 is to follow), the custom UI is not so in-your-face, but is quite comprehensive. In our opinion, this is one of the more polished custom UIs for Android. It's certainly not the most feature-rich, but it's quite lively and pleasant to use.
The custom homescreen is very easy to get used to. Sony has done a good job at creating an intuitive experience that makes things like icon and widget placement (and widget resizing, too) easy as pie. Sony has found a good use for the pinch-in gesture on the homescreen. In the Xperia Z1 Compact, it initiates the homescreen editing screen, where you can easily add/discard homescreen pages, add wigets/apps, change the wallpaper, or the theme.
The otherwise standard main menu sports a special options panel that can be accessed with a swipe from the left hand side of the screen. Those options let you change the sorting or filtering of your app catalog, as well as initiate the Uninstall mode. This one's a bit irritating, as you can accidentally reveal the panel while simply scrolling through the main menu. It's probably not such a big issue on the Z1, but the smaller screen of the Compact means there's less space for you to swipe, and more chance of accidentally bringing up the options panel.
All of the essential apps like Phone, Contacts, Messaging and so on have been customized. They are quite simplistic and straightforward, which isn't a bad thing. We'll get back to the core applications, after we go over the silicon!
Processor and Memory
720p display + Snapdragon 800 chipset = cutting-edge performance
Powered by the potent Snapdragon 800 SoC, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is a true beast, despite the fact that its size is not as imposing as that of the other high-end Androids. Performance will never be an issue with this handset, at least considering the current generation of software available for Android. What's more, overall system performance is also great, probably even better than that of the Z1, due to the lower screen resolution – there are no visible hiccups or slowdowns. The CPU found in the Z1 Compact's Snapdragon 800 SoC is a quad-core Krait 400 beast that can go up to 2.2 GHz, if needed. Meanwhile, the Adreno 330 GPU is a worthy companion with its superb processing power when it comes to graphics. You can easily run every game out there and you'll enjoy sky-high frame-rates at all times.
Sony has installed the healthy 2 gigs of RAM on the Xperia Z1 Compact, which guarantees smooth performance even when you have multiple heavy apps running in the background. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact comes with 16 GB of internal storage, but thankfully, it also gives you the option to install a microSD card for additional storage space. You can't buy the Z1 Compact with a larger amount of internal space, but that won't be such a big deal for most consumers, as easy memory expansion will be just a walk to the store away.
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 20567
Sony Xperia Z1 20277
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 33468
Sony Xperia Z1 30838
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 1183
Sony Xperia Z1 1115
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 2947
Sony Xperia Z1 2889
Samsung Galaxy S4 1702
The phonebook of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is mostly pleasant to use. It looks and works well, although we don't like how little space is left for your call log, as it shares a single screen with the dialer. Other than that, switching between dialer, all contacts and favorites is pretty seamless.
Meanwhile, it's great to see that Sony has kept the good old T9-style dialing, where you can start T9-typing the name of the contact you want to call using the numeric keypad, and the phone will automatically find that person for you. It's very comfortable to dial this way.
The busy man's best friend, the calendar, is well represented in the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The phone's calendar app features all the basic necessities like month, week and day views, as well as some 'bonus' features such as the ability to expand the appointments for the selected day in month view. The pinch-to-zoom function from the stock calendar has, thankfully, been preserved.
Sony's has found a very good balance between comfort and versatility with the Z1 Compact's QWERTY keyboard. Featuring only the most needed keys, plus some additional ones such as the dot and the comma, typing is quick and easy with this keyboard. Sure, the keys aren't as big as on a 5” display, but still, composing messages and emails with this phone isn't bad at all. The landscape layout is also great, as it takes advantage of the full screen width.
The messaging app of the Xperia Z1 Compact is very well designed, with a versatile and intuitive interface. You can easily do stuff like attach a photo, video, sound, note, location, etc. to your messages. The default email app will do the job, though it lacks some more advanced settings like tweaking the preview text length, for example.
Unlike many other popular Android manufacturers, Sony isn't bundling its own Android browser, meaning that Chrome is the only browser available on the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact out of the box. For most users, though, Chrome will be all they need, as it tends to perform lovely on this device. Plus, it's always weird to see a phone ship with multiple internet browsers. As always, loading is super-fast with mobile Chrome, while navigation around pages, including scrolling and zooming, is very fluid and trouble-free. The browser inflates text mostly correctly, so usually it's just the right paragraphs that need to be read comfortably that are the ones to get an increased font-size.
LTE is supported across numerous bands, so as long as your carrier of choice offers 4G, the Z1 Compact should have access to those blazing-fast data speeds. If no LTE is available from your carrier, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact should default to HSPA+ (42.2 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up).
Further completing its full set of connectivity options, the Z1 Compact is also the proud owner of support for all the latest Wi-Fi protocols (802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac), Bluetooth 4.0, internet tethering, NFC, MHL and DLNA. If you're the type of user who loves to explore the possibilities with these new technologies, the Xperia Z1 Compact will certainly prove to be a fine playground.
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!
4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; Member since: 14 May 2012)
Would sell pretty well on AT&T and T-Mobile.
13. JerryTime (Posts: 468; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)
Would sell well on any major network not just a GSM provider.
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
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.
84. HarryWild (Posts: 49; 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!
2. AppleHateBoy (unregistered)
Relatively Small Display??
Yeah. We at PA expect phablet size displays in a phone barely bigger than an iPhone.
7. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3326; 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!
3. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; 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?
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.
26. buccob (Posts: 1566; 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
5. imparanoic (Posts: 70; 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
42. jael206 (Posts: 130; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)
But no matter how we bash PA for being bias, they still stand unapologetic.. What the face man!!
6. Xperia_droid (Posts: 25; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)
now IPS+Triluminos+X-reality display sounds interesting
8. Xperia_droid (Posts: 25; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)
of if i forget about camera
iphone 5s need to be scared
74. Lauticol (Posts: 217; 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
76. Xperia_droid (Posts: 25; 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
9. mokhtar (Posts: 272; 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 ?
43. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8922; 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.
72. mokhtar (Posts: 272; 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 :))
10. Amir1 (Posts: 274; Member since: 20 Aug 2013)
best compact phone ever made. iphone is a thing of the past.
11. R-vjn (Posts: 165; 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.
12. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3326; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Ray, could you add 20 mpx photos, since those are just 8 mpx and they look quite bad imho.
14. emadshiny (Posts: 1142; 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
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.
17. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 444; 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?
18. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1054; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
The small display is a pro for this phone- that's the selling point!
19. Feanor (Posts: 332; 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.
20. papss (unregistered)
Great phone other than the OS it uses. Honestly that's a deal breaker
36. aldridhl (Posts: 57; Member since: 12 Feb 2011)
papss, we may be fans of wp, but we shouldnt try to pick fights. Android or not this is a refreshing change to the "bigger is better" agenda many OEMs are pushing nowawdays.
21. SonyPS4 (Posts: 261; Member since: 21 May 2013)
I dont understand why this score lower than Xperia Z1 (9.2) when it has better screen, same processor, same camera and everything except screen resolution and battery (which shoud not affect score sincce it is smaller).
"Relativly small display" ? It supposed to be small high end smartphone and i dont see PA complain Iphone, S4 mini and One mini screen size but WHY Sony ?? Seems this guy really hate Sony.
22. SonyPS4 (Posts: 261; Member since: 21 May 2013)
My only complaint for this phone is older version of android 4.3 instead of 4.4 and 16GB internal storage. Should be at least 32GB or 64GB. Overall is is the best mini smartphone without compromise any perforamnce. Samsung, HTC should follow this trend
57. FredoGavera (Posts: 7; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)
Disagree completely. As a company it makes no sense to spend the time and resources into making models with separate internal memories when that option already comes in the form of an SD card slot. Seriously, doing that only forces the company to make each variant more expensive which is bad for both the company and consumer. I would rather sony mass produce one model and cut the costs down as much as possible and insert my $20 32GB SD card than pay an extra $50-$100 for 32GB.... especially since I already own the SD card as it is.
Besides, for most people memory is used up mostly by music, videos, and pictures. Non of these things will really show any benefit from internal storage...
23. newyorker78 (Posts: 1; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)
A big hope for this amazing device to be released in US market, Can't Wait!
24. Avenger827 (Posts: 46; Member since: 19 Jan 2014)
Crap biased review, it's supposed to be smaller than flagships, it's even in the name, can't you read english? Do I need to tell you the meaning of "compact"? This is the reason I always listen to gsmarena reviews, not crap iphone arena reviews. And are you people that much desperate that you've turned "iphone arena"(without space in the middle) into an offensive word? You should be ashamed, how much is apple paying you,huh?
28. Feanor (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
I think the review is quite good, it really doesn't mention any grave drawbacks. The score is only a bit unfair... and yes, the "small display" con.
25. RandomUsername (Posts: 559; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)
Sky-high frame-rates at all times?
Try GTA:SA :P
27. RandomUsername (Posts: 559; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)
Relatively small display as a con? Are you drunk, Ray?
41. fireblade (Posts: 714; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)
I remember when 3.5" display was considered too big lol
30. Feanor (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
The review says that this is an issue in full scale, but once you scale the photos down to the 8 or 13Mpx of the competition, the photos are rather good.
33. jphillips63 (Posts: 185; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
So what carriers will have this phone?
35. Lyngdoh (Posts: 225; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)
The Z1 compact's display is not a di*k that it has to be seen as a con for being small.
37. Edmund (Posts: 656; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)
What on earth are you idiots on about (re bias) ?? 9/10 for a phone with so many shortcomings is an excellent score
39. Tech_Junkie1996 (Posts: 43; Member since: 29 Aug 2013)
What shortcomings? Screen size? Is made to be smaller than flagship devices. Internal specs? It has the latest in internals. Battery? It has a 2300 mah battery, which is pretty high for a phone off that size. For reference, the GSIII had a 2100 may battery. Camera? It has a 21 MP camera. ROM? 16 GB is more than enough for the average user, and it has a micro SD slot. What shortcomings can you point out?
38. ncarlosmiguel (Posts: 206; Member since: 14 May 2013)
This is great for people who already have a tablet. No need for a big screen phone.
40. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
People need to stop complaining. Different reviewers have different standards. Relatively small display can be a con for one reviewer and a pro to another. People need to stop looking for discrepancies in two completely different reviews. The writer at the time makes it as fair as his biases allow and is not obligated to look at an ancient iPhone 5s review before writing their Xperia Z1 compact review....
2nd, the small display is a much bigger culprit here because the dpi and font settings for Android are mainly tailored for larger screens and the compact is much much bigger than the iPhone 5s overall. With the Xperia Z1 compact dimensions, Samsung or sharp or moto can make a much bigger display in the same dimensions or less. The Sharp phone with a 4.5 inch 1080 p screen is smaller than the 5s. This is way fatter with a 4.3 inch 720p screen.
44. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
Ooh... tater why do you always say something really stupid???
Iphone 5s is the latest and the most advanced smartphone from apple.
Z1 Compact is intended for people who want a phone that is compact but also has cutting edge specs.
Smaller screen and dimension than average flagships should be an advantage, that's why in Japan Z1 Compact has a much better sales than the Z1, Note 3, G2, Iphone 5s and others.
Z1 Compact is bigger than the iphone but the difference is not too much at all (http://mobiltelefon.ru/post_1389058201.html).
And anyone with common sense will surely be amazed with what sony doing, especially when considering Z1 compact is using larger camera sensors, battery and also superior in durability than the iphone or sharp mini.
I agree with you that Sharp can make bezelless waterproof phone, but you must be dreaming when you say that samsung and moto can do better job than Sony (just show me any bezelles waterproof phone from samsung or moto at least with IP57 certification!!! )
But don't worry in near future your beloved company (samsung) will copy sharp technology so they can make bezelles waterproof phone.
Sharp mini is taller, wider and thicker than iphone 5s (Sharp mini 124 x 63 x 9.9 mm even the thickest part is 10.3 mm)
tent.com/translate_c?depth=1&h l=en&ie=UTF8&nv=1&prev=_t&rurl =translate.google.com&sl=auto& tl=en&u=http://www.kddi.com/co rporate/news_release/2014/0122 c/besshi3.html&usg=ALkJrhhE82w Ij3POxH8hbLdOH8JGzpRcQw
45. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Lol no one cares about waterproof. That is why the iPhone and galaxy series doesn't bother with it. The Moto X has a 4.7 inch screen and it's pretty much the same size as the Z1 compact.
Oh and you are dreaming if you think the compact is barely bigger than the iPhone 5s, it's way chunkier. You Sony fanboys are delusional.
I wouldn't call anyone stupid until you start reading the crap that comes out of your mouth. Lol
46. Feanor (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Erm... but it's true that your comment is not the cleverest... this bezel talk has to finally stop, particularly for this phone. It's not only the waterproofing, it also the bigger battery and camera sensor. There is no comparison with anything else in the market, so stop trying to find shortcomings where there are none. If a device needs to be a couple of mm larger in order to pack the most advanced camera, the largest battery and waterproofing, then so be it. Ultimately we are talking about a few mm more, not an ergonomical disaster.
51. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Naw. The difference is pretty big and you like Sony too much to admit it. The camera on the Z1 isn't even that great according to reviews. No excuses there. Ultimately, the waterproofing, battery, and camera is not advanced enough to justify the size increase and I am sure I am not the only one that thinks it's way too bulky for a 4.3 inch phone.
49. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 920; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)
Oh, now Sony fanboys are delusional? Just take a look at your pathetic posts, you can only complain and complain and complain about everything that doesn't start with an S and end with a G.
52. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Yes Sony fans are extremely delusional, they actually defend deal breakers like huge bezels , annoying flaps, and poor viewing angles.
Yes this phone improves on the poor display.
They also put compactness, probably one of the most important parts of a MOBILE phone, well below other criteria. And they seem to place waterproof and megapixels at the same importance level of display and usability. If that isn't delusional, then if don't know what is.
53. Feanor (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Taters, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, which is what Samsung came up with in this segment, is only 2mm shorter and half mm thinner having inferior camera, plasticky body, smaller battery and worse screen and no waterproofing. Who is delusional here?
Also the Z1 camera has won all camera comparisons in Phonearena and GSM arena, even if by a small margin. Influencial camera websites also consider it amongst the best cameras in smartphones.
61. PorkyBurger (Posts: 256; Member since: 18 May 2013)
People, I am absolutely OK with you stating that the Z1 Compact is the best "mini" model here. I think like that too.
But you have forgotten one thing:
Z1 Compact - new High-end phone (even considering its size)
S4 Mini and One Mini - old midrangers.
Ahem. Don't go full retard, please.
63. Feanor (Posts: 332; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
I didn't say that Z1 is exact the same; I'm just saying that Sony wouldn't be able magic out some impossible solution of fitting so much more technology in a bezeless body. We need to have some reason. Also, ok, bezels are a bit critical on a 5" phone, but a 4.3" phone can take a bit of bezel without making it unusable.
79. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
Sure they can. Put a good iPhone 5 level 8 mp camera or a gs4 level 16mp camera and make it thinner. Take out the water proofing and make it thinner.
Plenty of ways if they really wanted it thinner and smaller, which they really should have went for.
78. Taters (Posts: 3600; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)
You are delusional... 2mm and half a mm is a lot......
Besides, no one is talking about the gs4 mini. We are talking about the z1 compact. The GS4 isn't even remotely the best of what Samsung can do. If you believe that, then you are more delusional than the Sony fans. The GS4 mini is like a pimped out version of the Galaxy Ace, meaning it is in the same boat as the mega, round, etc.
54. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
Yeah no one cares about waterproof maybe that's why sony phone sales have increased (although most Sony phones has poor viewing angle, large bezel and less feature than samsung phones).
Even with smaller sensor and battery Moto X is still thicker than Z Compact, and if you talking about bezels can you show me any phone from moto or samsung with better screen ratio than Xperia ZL???
I'm not think that the compact is barely bigger
than the iPhone 5s because I have show you real life comparison between iphone and Z1 Compact.
And anyone with a good eyes can see clearly that the difference between the iphone and Compact was not too much (Just remember Compact also has bigger sensor and battery than iphone + waterproof).
For me you are very stupid because everythings that you have said is complete nonsense.
Let me tell you the reason why
1. for electronic devices especialy the one that you carry almost all the time and waterproofing is way... more important than bezelles body.
2. Bigger battery also much more important than slim body.
3. I'm 100% sure 9.5 mm is slim enough for almost any normal adult human.
|Display||4.3 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (342 ppi) IPS LCD|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Quad core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2048 MB RAM
|Size||5.00 x 2.56 x 0.37 inches|
(127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm)
4.83 oz (137 g)
|Battery||2300 mAh, 10 hours talk time|