Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs Apple iPhone 5s: first look

Despite the numerous, and quite significant, differences between the Apple iPhone 5s and the massive crop of Android devices, Cupertino's smartphone has often found itself on the shortlist of devices that new flagships inevitably end up being compared with. And yet, it's very rare that we have an Android device that is this similar to Apple's flagship. We're talking, of course, about the newly-unleashed Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Sporting a premium build which rivals that of Apple, a compact, 4.3-inch display, and top-notch hardware, the Z1 Compact is not at all unlike the iPhone 5s. Let's take a look.


Apple user or not, there's no denying the refined looks of the Apple iPhone 5s. It's slick, with a sturdy, aluminum corpus, and some seriously compact dimensions, thanks to that 4-inch screen. The frame, the home button that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner, and every other ornamenting element all give the iPhone 5s a dignified, truly premium look and feel. And yet, despite all of the above, the iPhone 5s doesn't snatch an easy win when faced with as greatly-built device as the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. To its end, Sony has also outfitted the Z1 Compact with a truly sturdy construction, one that is both water- and dust-proof, which is an important perk. Moreover, the materials that went into the body of the Z1 Compact are just a shy less impressive, thanks to the all-glass back and metal frame.


Looking at the display of these two little warriors, there are a few things we'd like to note. For starters, the 4-inch 1136x640 resolution IPS display on the iPhone 5s is quite familiar to us, and we've always regarded it as one of the best ones out there. It's sharp (325ppi), produces very accurate colors, offers excellent outdoor visibility, and leaves little to be desired, as far as viewing angles are concerned. On the other hand, the 4.3-inch IPS panel on the Xperia Z1 Compact is no punk, either. It's even more detailed (341ppi), thanks to its 720x1280 resolution, renders colors accurately for the most part, and looks great overall. 


When it comes down to the interface, there's obviously a lot we could talk about in terms of differences. Android and iOS are, after all, quite different in their approach, though we certainly feel like the gaps between the two are much narrower now. This is especially true with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, as the manufacturer has kept true to a more sane philosophy, which means that functionality doesn't come at the expense of simplicity. The UI is kept relatively simple, and doesn't bombard you with an endless stream of options and tweaks, and is actually beautifully made. But when it comes to minimalism and ease-of-use, nothing quite nails it as does Apple. This has changed a bit, now that iOS 7 has been introduced, yet even the new, more colorful UI remains top of the class, as far as intuitiveness goes.

Processor and memory

We're looking at two truly powerful devices, with the Xperia Z1 Compact and the iPhone 5s. Both are packing some truly high-end silicon, and you'd be hard-pressed to get your hands on more potent device. Starting with the Xperia Z1 Compact, we've got Qualcomm's most powerful chipset right now -- the 2.2GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 800, with a speedy Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM. We've witnessed the abilities of Qualcomm's chip first-hand, and we can imagine it'll have no trouble handling any possible task we may think of, especially on a 720p resolution device. Apple's iPhone 5s, on the other hand, sounds slightly less impressive on paper -- a custom-made 1.3GHz, dual-core A7 chip with a PowerVR G6430 GPU and 'just' 1GB of RAM. Be that as it may, Apple's 64-bit chipset has proven to be an absolute powerhouse, and not just because of the lower number of pixels it has to push. Simply put, the hardware on either of the two leaves little to nothing to be desired, and is ahead of the needs of just about any piece of software currently available.


Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact sports the very same 20.7-megapixel rear shooter, found on the Xperia Z1/Z1S, so we assume that we can expect just as great results from it. Outfitted with G Lens and an Exmor RS sensor, we regard this as one of the very best shooters currently available on a phone, though it isn't exactly perfect. For example, night shots are not as great, not to mention that despite its giant resolution, the software snaps 8-megapixels by default. On the other hand, all these extra pixels do allow for some lossless zooming, which is a considerable advantage. In contrast, the iPhone 5s' 8-megapixel snapper is much less complicated, yet produces some amazing results, thanks to the intelligent software. Moreover, taking great shots with Apple's flagship is both quicker, and simpler, and it has proven to be the slightly more reliable option. Once again, this is only valid, granted that both the camera software and hardware found on the Z1 Compact haven't gone through a revision.


Appreciators of the compact form-factor just got themselves something to love. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is, all around, a great device, and it will undeniably prove a perfectly adequate alternative to the Apple iPhone 5s. Both smartphones are packing some seriously bleeding edge hardware and come in a sturdy, premium body. With that in mind, it really comes down to a choice between the worlds of Android and iOS.

Related phones

Xperia Z1 Compact
  • Display 4.3" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2300 mAh(18h 3G talk time)
iPhone 5s
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A7, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1570 mAh(10h 3G talk time)



1. WHoyton1

Posts: 1635; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Xperia Z1 compact for me....but it is close!

2. aranauser

Posts: 58; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Iphone 5s all the wayyyy

3. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

The display on my 5s looks yellow and looks like crap next to my Nexus 5. Yes the viewing angles on the 5s is better but still, it looks like crap. So I hope the 5s screen doesn't edge out this 720p display for the sake of the people that are buying this phone....

4. JerryTime

Posts: 468; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Why do I even read these anymore? SMH...

5. Amir1 unregistered

Z1c is overall better.

13. dratomic

Posts: 483; Member since: Oct 09, 2013

i hope other manufacturers follow sony and kill apple once and for all :))

6. starkiller306

Posts: 58; Member since: Nov 13, 2013

What do you guys at PA have against the Z1 compact?!! 1st you bash it with the "Alternatives" article and now tthis? Maybe it's just your Apple fanboyism acting up but seriously? at least use facts to criticise the competition. Z1 compact has an IPS display with awesome viewing angles. IPS DISPLAY NOT TFT.

9. JerryTime

Posts: 468; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Just shows you these so called reviews are nothing but Apple biased 99% of the time. We have all seen it on here before. This should come as no surprise to you.

14. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

That is because a good 20% of the viewer base is Apple fans and so you have to feed the fire with something. Not that there aren't great Apple devices like the iPad air/mini 2 that deserve credit, but seriously, when they compare the iPhone as if it is an equal to any phone since February is just sad.

7. AshishRomea

Posts: 145; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

Xperia Z1 Compact is better I guess PhoneArena still doesnt know that Z1 Compact comes with "IPS Display" and Not the normal TFT unlike its senior Z1!

8. bernwong0274

Posts: 7; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

Xperia Z1 compact for me...water proof advantage proved useful for me... Can take video underwater..

10. yudi.nemesis unregistered

IP certification also means you can bring your phone into the desert, beach, rain forest, or just a pool party without having to use some protective cases. So your phone will always be available for you at any place and if you use some protective cases your phone will be much tougher.

12. Killertech2099

Posts: 148; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

The compact looks pretty awesome at least its not super big or anything it's just right, the colors they have, i love the camera, what's not to like about the compact maybe they are biased.

15. LGisgood

Posts: 833; Member since: Jun 23, 2012


16. Smokin

Posts: 120; Member since: Oct 10, 2013


17. number29

Posts: 185; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

The Z1C has been getting a huge amount of attention it seems. Let's hope Sony's Android is competitive with iOS. I'll certainly be giving one of these a try to see if that's the case.

18. alexvv

Posts: 165; Member since: Oct 16, 2013

another typical apple fanboy article.. 5s is a tad worse on every aspect, still just as good, how is that even possible?

19. number29

Posts: 185; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

5S has iOS, the Z1C has Android. Depending on how you rate each OS will swing the result in favour of one device or the other. Personally I think iOS is far superior to Android hence I'd say the 5S is the better device. The specs are essentially meaningless, what matters is the software.

20. starkiller306

Posts: 58; Member since: Nov 13, 2013

yeah keep telling yourself iOS is better.

27. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Far superior? you mean the way you cant even set default apps to open specific files/links Superior as to how you can use a different keyboard that speed up your typing and can be as flexible as you like... or Superior in the sense that you can only have icon shortcuts with no additional use unlike what widgets can let you do quick task without leaving home How about placing quick contacts on your homescreen to make a one-tap dialing for your family or most contacted ones... How about automation apps like Tasker, Llama, Smart Connect that after being set you can forget about turning on/off wifi, bt, data, you can set brightness to automatically lowers when certain battery level is reached... you can automatically launch your music when a bt speaker is detected, or automatically silence the phone when a Calendar even reads: "meeting"... How about floating apps that lets you do truly multitask... making a quick calculation over an office file, or a whatsapp chat... or creating a note while browsing the web... Yeah buddy... iOS is vastly superior... SMH


Posts: 99; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

Why do we keep comparing cutting edge devices against outdated Apple iPhone? You can't. Apple Is yesterday so let's do comparisons where the devices can actually compete. Sony blows the 5 away.

22. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

TBH, Xperia z1 compact wins in every way except camera..

23. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Actually the camera is faster since Sony phones with shutter button have a quick launch straight from sleeping. The 8 mp auto mode is better than the iPhone's 8 mp, and if you are a good photographer you will know how to manually configure the Z1 c camera for night shots .. Something you can't do with the iPhone's native camera, you are stuck with auto (a good auto mode but still)

24. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Sorry but i can't agree at all. the 8mp is good yes, but you need a tripod or really steady hand or the pic will become blurry. It does have better colour reproduction. and i havent had a worse phone when it comes to nightshots. the phone tries to remove all kinds of noise and that makes the photos look extremely blurry. My old HTC desire had better quality.. the only way is to change ISO manually but i don't want to change ISO everytime i want to take a normal pic... it should do well on its own. its true i have gotten some REALLY good pictures with my Z1 but that is like 6-8 out of 700..

25. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Well my Acro S takes better pictures both in well light condition and night shots than iPhone 4s, and iPhone 5... The only think where those iPhones are superior to my old device is in Picture to Picture time.... very fast... and HDR Night shots do require very steady hands, but if that is not possible I usually select Party Scene instead of messing with ISO/Exposure. And also Sport Scene takes great care of blur in daytime... (Those two scenes are not recognizable for Auto Mode) for my Sony, Macro is better, details are better, colors are better (specially at night with flash, but that was kind of fixed in the iPhone 5s) and I love how the Auto mode detects backlight conditions... somehow a small fix for not having HDR Now regarding iPhone 5s and Z1 well the only thing I seen the iPhone do better is keeping the noise lower, and of course Panoramas... I still don't know why Sony do not update their crappy panos... Either way I admit I had to learn to take better pics on my Sony since it is not as easy as the iPhone... but once you learn you CAN take better pics almost everytime

26. Astoni

Posts: 649; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Macro, yes! i forgot. Macro shots is really really nice on the z1 :p

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