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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Posted: , posted by Ray S.




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.


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.

The handset also comes with a simple calculator, as well as a versatile notes app, which isn't the most convenient notes app ever, but makes up for it by offering a good array of options. Using Sony's Small Apps is very convenient. Once you press the multitasking button, you gain access to a good number of shortcuts to handy mini-apps, including a calculator, timer, notes and voice notes. It's great that this list is customizable, so you can put those apps that you need most in the more accessible positions. In the end, we found it pretty easy to make quick notes or recordings using the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and its Small Apps. In some cases, it can be even faster to use a Small App to accomplish a certain task, rather than the respective full-blown version.


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.

Internet and Connectivity

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.

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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
PhoneArena rating:
Display4.3 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (342 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera20.7 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Krait 400 processor
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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