Sony Xperia Z1 Compact ReviewSony Xperia Z1 Compact 9
The 20.7 MP G Lens camera with 1/2.3" sensor enables you to take wonderful images.
The beefy 20.7 MP G Lens camera of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has absolutely the same characteristics as that of the Z1, which is a great technological achievement by Sony – to fit the same sensor in a considerably smaller body. The great thing about the G Lens camera (G Lens is just a branding, by the way, don't look too much into it) is that it not only fits a great number of pixels, but those pixels actually have a decent size (1.1 microns). This has been made possible thanks to the large, 1/2.3" sensor. To give you some perspective, this sensor size is 64% bigger than what most high-end phones out there are equipped with (1/3”), and the whopping 80% bigger than the other popular sensor size (1/3.2”). Meanwhile, the aperture of the camera is quite wide (f/2.0), which allows the camera to capture more light. Finally, the Z1 Compact has a wide-angle lens of 27mm that will let you capture more of the scene in front of you – useful if you're shooting in a small room, for example.
Thankfully, the user interface is very easy to use, especially when you're sticking with Sony's Superior Auto mode, which attempts to automatically pick the best settings for you, depending on the scene you're trying to photograph. Still, Sony has also included a Manual mode, which allows you to tweak a variety of different settings on your own.
There are also some other interesting camera modes in the Xperia Z1 Compact. For example, there's Info Shot, which will attempt to give you useful information about the object that you're photographing. Or, there's also Social Live (powered by Bambuser), which lets you live-stream up to 10 minutes of video directly to your Facebook feed – very cool feature indeed, though we don't like that there's a time limit. There is, of course, a number of picture effects, as well as some interesting AR (augmented reality) effects, which kind of blend the real scene in front of you with a 3D scene of your choice. Playing around with these AR effects is fun for a while, but due to their limited number and overly-specific character, one quickly realizes that there isn't almost anything meaningful they can accomplish with them.
We're happy to say that, just like with the Z1, this 20.7 MP camera doesn't disappoint. Quite the contrary! Images tend to have very realistic, vivid and lively colors. At the same time, the handset doesn't oversaturate or overwarm them to artificially make them look prettier. Exposure is also great most of the time – the dynamic range is good enough to let you take immersive photographs that feature both darker and lighter areas, and it will all look natural and appealing. The only drawback we can find is that some very bright areas sometimes come out overexposed, but this doesn't happen very often.
Details are superb with the Z1 Compact's photos – even when compared to some of the best phone cameras out there, such as the G2. If you view the 20.7 MP photos in actual size, you might dislike the mostly pixelized look, but if you scale these gigantic images down to something like 13 or 8 MP, and compare them to awesome 13 MP photos such as those from the G2, you'll be surprised to find that the Xperia Z1 Compact actually captures detail extremely well. Actually, this is what the Xperia Z1 Compact does by default. With its Superior Auto mode, the Z1 Compact produces images in 8 MP size. It does use the full resolution of the 20 MP sensor, but scales the pictures down - this way, the user ends up with high-quality 8 MP photos of 'easy-to-share' size that don't exhibit visible artifacts when viewed in actual size. Furthermore, the Superior Auto mode enables you to use the camera's Clear Zoom feature, which produces good-looking, lossless-like digital zoom. Having in mind that one rarely needs a gigantic, 20 MP shot, we believe the Superior Auto mode is the more appropriate shooting mode for most consumers, due to its more easily manageable photos, the zoom capability, and the lack of visible artifacts. Still, the Manual mode lets you take 20 MP photos, if you happen to need this. We've used the Superior Auto mode to capture most of the sample images that can be seen in the gallery below.
Use our samples comparison tool to see photos from more phones
Unfortunately, such superlatives cannot be said about the Xperia Z1 Compact's night photos. The handset often messes up the exposure, while colors are also somewhat off. The only thing we can do right now is to hope that Sony will improve this aspect of the camera with a future software update.
On the other hand, we simply love the images that the Xperia Z1 Compact takes indoors. Photos have a great sense of depth and detail, with very realistic and pleasing colors. Thankfully, the LED flash also does a very good job, allowing you to illuminate a small scene.
When it comes to video recording, though, this surely isn't the best camera we've seen. Mostly smooth in nature, the 1080p video lacks fine details and fails to impress us. Its quality is OK, but it's nothing earth-shattering. Sadly, a 60 fps option is missing to let us record even smoother video, such as the one on the LG G2.
Thankfully, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact proved that its camera not only has the same specifications as the one in the Z1, but can also produce the same great images!
Not the best option for heavy multimedia usage...
With its relatively small screen, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact isn't an ideal phone to watch video on. The display looks very good in all of its IPS glory, and while watching a short video every now and then is more than satisfying, we don't really think it's very comfortable for longer experiences, such as watching a full-length movie. The phone supports all the popular formats, and even if you manage to find a video that is not playable with the stock player, you should be able to fix this by downloading a capable third-party player from the Play Store.
The Walkman music player is quite cool and simplistic. It sports some interesting features like ClearAudio+, which aims to give some more clarity to the sound, though it's basically a specific EQ preset. There are also some other sound enhancing tools like xLOUD, as well as a regular equalizer with many presents, including a custom option, allowing you to set your own equalizer.
The picture and video galleries are very good. The apps have a fresh and consumer-centric design. The Sony touch has worked well here.
The Z1 Compact has a pretty decent loudspeaker – just be sure to turn the ClearAudio+ option on, because otherwise the sound is quite dull and lacking in high frequencies. The speaker isn't as powerful as some of the best speakers in the class, such as the one of the iPhone 5s, but it's still above average.
Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review - Camera and Multimedia
|Display||4.3 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (342 ppi) IPS LCD|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
2 GB 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|