Sony Xperia Z5 Compact Review

Introduction


We don’t know about you, guys, but we find great joy in reading old smartphone reviews. They don’t just bring out that warm, soothing feeling of tech nostalgia. They can also be an amusing read – going back to our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 review, for instance, reminds us that a 4-inch display was considered huge only 5 years ago.

Times have changed since then. The average smartphone has grown in size, and so has its screen diagonal, which now hovers around the 5-inch mark. At the same time, those not ready to accept a smartphone of such proportions must be finding it increasingly hard to come across a truly powerful handset.

That’s the kind of folks the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is made for. While relatively small in size, as suggested by its 4.6-inch screen diagonal, the smartphone packs most of the features and hardware muscle one would get from the brand’s flagship, the Sony Xperia Z5. To be more specific, the Compact is equipped with a top-shelf processor, snaps photos with a 23MP camera, resists water ingress, blasts sound through stereo speakers, and promises great battery life. Not bad for a phone of this caliber, is it?

Okay, that’s enough chatter. Let’s take the Xperia Z5 Compact for a spin and see what it has to impress us with.

In the box:

  • Xperia Z5 Compact
  • Wall Charger (Output: 5V, 1.5A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • Quick Start guide

Design

You want a truly compact, pocket-friendly smartphone? Here you go!

What is it that makes a compact smartphone compact? Is it that it fits in the smallest of pockets? Or that it fits nicely in smaller palms? Or that it is easy to hold and ideal for use with one hand? Of course, all of these factors are of importance, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact does tick most of the right checkboxes. It is a very pocket-friendly phone and one highly suitable for single-handed use. Furthermore, folks with palms of smaller size will enjoy handling Sony’s petite handset – we did confirm this with a couple of lady friends. But the phone’s shape has a negative impact on ergonomics.

You see, when it comes to smartphones, Sony’s current design language favors flat surfaces, straight lines, and rectangular shapes. From a purely visual standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with that – a phone built around these principles has a classy, professional, timeless look. This applies to the Xperia Z5 as well. But on the flipside, the edges and corners of the Xperia Z5 Compact have barely any roundness to them and don’t feel nice against the palm. That’s not too big of a deal, but we had to mention it.

Size and shape aside, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is built within a plastic frame, with glass covering its front and back sides. The back, in particular, is made of what Sony calls frosted glass, and one should think of it as glass treated to a matte finish. There’s a benefit to choosing the latter over regular, glossy glass: fingerprints don’t stick to the back’s non-reflective surface. But on the downside, some folks will find the finish too slippery.

It might not look like it, but the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact comes with a pair of front-facing stereo speakers. The good news is that their openings – barely noticeable slits between the frame and glass panel – don’t spoil the looks of the phone in any way, as it was the case with the Xperia Z3 Compact.

There’s another noteworthy perk that sets the Xperia Z5 Compact apart from most other smartphones – the handset carries an IP65/68 certification, meaning that it is resistant to dust and water damage. However, while the Z5 Compact will survive accidental spills and being caught in the rain, you are strongly discouraged to submerge the phone completely underwater, especially if it is of the salty kind. In fact, improper use will invalidate your warranty. In any case, you must ensure that the cover protecting the SIM and microSD card slots is firmly in place, as that’s what stops dust and moisture from entering. Thankfully, no flap is needed for the Micro USB port at the phone’s bottom.

On the right side of the Xperia Z5 Compact reside all of its physical buttons – a power key in the middle, a volume rocker beneath it, and a 2-stage camera shutter. Disappointingly, these have not been designed well. The power button is soft, and accidental presses were common in our experience, but the volume controls are even more annoying. The volume rocker is just tiny and operating its buttons feels like pressing a sponge. On top of that, the rocker can’t be reached comfortably due to its awkward placement. At least the camera button works fine. It comes in handy while shooting photos, and long-pressing it will launch the camera from any screen.

Speaking of buttons, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact has a fingerprint scanner built into its power key. Naturally, its main purpose is to replace your lock screen and it does a good job at that. The scanner is fast and reliable, with a very high rate of successful readings. Due to its placement, however, the scanner is less convenient to use when the Z5 Compact is held in the left hand. Sorry, lefties!


Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches

143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.43 oz (154 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.78 x 0.27 inches

143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

Dimensions

5.75 x 2.83 x 0.29 inches

146 x 72 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.43 oz (154 g)

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


Display

The screen gets the job done, but we were expecting better quality given the phone’s price.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact comes with a 4.6-inch IPS LCD display. By today’s standards, that’s a screen size below the average, and that on-screen buttons eat up precious space does not make things any better. On one hand, there’s nothing holding you back from playing a game of Need for Speed or watching an episode of Voltron on a Z5 Compact. But on the other, these and other activities are more enjoyable on a bigger screen. When chatting, for instance, the on-screen keyboard occupies more space than the actual text conversation. Although the UI is also to blame for this imperfect experience. We’re not saying that a 4.6-inch screen is too small or impractical. It just has its obvious limitations when compared to larger offerings. Those demanding a compact phone, however, should do just fine with what the Z5 Compact has to provide.

In terms of resolution, the Z5 Compact’s display packs 720 by 1280 pixels, which translates to a density of 319 pixels per inch. The screen that Sony went for is sufficiently clear and crisp, which makes it perfectly usable. However, it would have been nice seeing a screen of higher resolution in its place, seeing that this is a rather expensive phone we’re dealing with. On the plus side, lower resolution means better gaming performance.

Sony could have paid more attention to color accuracy. Our display measurements show that the Xperia Z5 Compact’s screen has a color temperature exceeding 9000 kelvins, and that’s quite far from the reference mark of 6500K. The screen appears blueish because of that. And the delta E figures, which indicate the screen’s accuracy across the color spectrum and grayscale range, are average at best. It is nice that color accuracy can be tweaked from the settings menu, but we don’t see many Z5 Compact owners actually doing that.

Where the Z5 Compact truly shines, however, is in the brightness category. With a peak output exceeding 700 nits, the phone’s screen is one of the brightest around, which explains why outdoor visibility has never been an issue during the weeks we spent testing the phone.

Before we move on, we must mention that the Xperia Z5 Compact remains usable even when its screen or your fingers are wet. There’s also a Glove Mode, which can be triggered manually, but if you don’t plan on actually using the phone with gloves on, we’d recommend you to leave the feature off. Having it on results in frequent accidental taps when the phone is used with bare fingers.



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124 Comments

3. Plume-Veil

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 19, 2015

Still 3gb Ram, no 4gb Ram. Agree to NickT, Sony designs screams stylish.

5. Swordylove

Posts: 209; Member since: Jun 27, 2015

Z3 Compact camera is better.

7. jellmoo

Posts: 2620; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Yikes. It's really strange to see chart topping battery life, followed by text that seems to find the battery life somehow disappointing. I can't wait for the OnePlus X review. I'm anticipating a score of 3.

14. itsjustJOH

Posts: 232; Member since: Oct 18, 2012

Too high.

16. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

what did you expect? even when the Z3 Compact had almost TWICE the battery life of the iPhone 6, according to their benchmarks (from that time), it wasn't enough to make PA write something credible and unbiased... iPhone reviews are always filled with "Cons" (and missing a few more) but those seem to not matter at all regarding the final Rating... in comparison the Xperia Compact line tend to have fewer "Cons" but with bigger consequences to the final rating... I will wait for the comparison review at GSMArena if they decide to make one this year...

109. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

GSMArena FTW. iPA is just a has beens spammers paradise with zero credibility and no backbone

8. plasteek

Posts: 265; Member since: Jun 07, 2015

antutu 61k vs S6 58k...why not !

11. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Nice to see that PA finally got a regular Sony 1.5A charger... perhaps they can re-test Z3/Z3C charging time as well and they will see that it is Average time and not the +3 hours that they previously measured... Biased review as always so I won't bother pointing out the flaws, but regular readers will know... Anyway this is still the best compact device to get right now, along with the iPhone 6s...

28. Plume-Veil

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 19, 2015

Ip6s is not compact, but the ip5 is. What a great master piece of a phone and dedign by Sony , just let down by no Carl-Zeiss and Xneon flash, and 4gb Ram,

96. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Exactly this. I have a 1.5amp charger, and y Z3C takes about 130 minutes from 0 to 100. This site really needs to get real, and anyone who believes the stuff in entirety that comes out of it.

13. itsjustJOH

Posts: 232; Member since: Oct 18, 2012

PhoneArena described in the last sentence: "But if compact size is not of utmost priority, perhaps you might want to spend your money on something else – a proper Android flagship, perhaps, or why not even an iPhone?"

24. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

LOL... Call me when current "proper" Android flagships or even iPhones have Waterproof bodies, a proper fingerprint scanner location (I am lefty and this location is perfect for everyone, Left Index finger or Right Thumb), eyelet for landyard, stereo speakers, great battery life (even with 35 minutes less than predecessor), expandable memory, FM radio, Noise Cancelling headphone jack... I recently bought the NC31EM headphones and I tested against Bose QC in a Bose store and I couldn't hear any difference between the two... so saving $250 for similar quality and nolise cancelling is AWESOME, with the only downside is that it will not have noise cancelling with other devices

66. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

This!

80. Swordylove

Posts: 209; Member since: Jun 27, 2015

Yeap. This review hurts its credibility the most by recommending iPhone at the end.

110. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

didn't hurt credibility - iPA lost credibility a long time ago :p

15. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

Well that is it. The best compact android phone gets a 7. I do understand that it gets 7 out of 10 but compared to other phones (uhm iphone6) this should be just as high. No consistency in the scores. But let's face it, website which give phones a number aren't that good. It's more of a race on the same standard grounds without any points for something original and new and mostly biased towards certain phones. Gsmarena has the best reviews.

27. buccob

Posts: 2973; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Exactly... I respect GSMArena for not giving out RANDOM numbers to the devices they review... most of the time they give unbiased reviews with sincere comparisons and conclusions.

29. Plume-Veil

Posts: 174; Member since: Nov 19, 2015

Reputable site GsmArena

31. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

This Made Me Laugh. "The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is quite the unusual handset. It promises flagship-worthy features in a tight, compact package, and there’s still plenty of folks looking for that kind of phone" So Are You Saying The iPhone 6/6s Is Unusual? And Millions Of People Are Looking For Compact Phones. Just Look At The Sales Of The iPhone 6/6s. "The screen gets the job done, but we were expecting better quality given the phone’s price" LOL No You Didn't Just Go There, The Resolution Is 720p Basically The Same As Apple's 750p SMH PA.

33. WallStreet

Posts: 256; Member since: Sep 21, 2014

This really shows how biased it is. And the only real objective of the author- to put down this phone!

34. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

My Thoughts Exactly.

42. 0kax0el0

Posts: 238; Member since: Nov 15, 2012

In Xperia Z5 Compact "In terms of resolution, the Z5 Compact’s display packs 720 by 1280 pixels, which translates to a density of 319 pixels per inch... However, it would have been nice seeing a screen of higher resolution in its place, seeing that this is a rather expensive phone we’re dealing with." In iPhone6s: "4.7 inches, while the resolution is also unchanged – 750 x 1334 pixels. This may not seem like much, compared to the 1080 x 1920- and 1440 x 2560-pixel screens used by some Android phones, but in reality, it leads to a pixel density of 326 ppi, which is still a very high number even by today's computing standards." In both reviews is mentioned the advantage of the lower resolution on battery and performance, but it is clear that while for Sony is "Meh, I don't like the low resolution", for Apple is "it isn't class leading, but it doesn't need to, because it's awesome"

45. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

Perfect example to show how biased and unprofessional these guys are. It's a pity some take these guys seriously.

70. dazed1

Posts: 805; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

If you had idea you wont spread BS like this http://i.imgur.com/c99iXOd.png Color temperature - should be 6.500K - Z5 - 9000! Gamma should be - 2.2 - Z5 - 2.7! Delta e greyscale should be -

75. mixedfish

Posts: 1560; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

So he's talking about resolution and you're talking about calibration. There's a saying: apples and oranges, look up the definition, you might learn something.

89. dazed1

Posts: 805; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Resolution is much less important then calibration! good calibrated 720p> bad calibrated 1080p.

128. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

in your opinion, leave it as that.

98. RajRicardo

Posts: 500; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

Do you even know that colour temperature can be adjusted?? Sony gave us that option inside the display settings. Can the iPhone do that?

113. dazed1

Posts: 805; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Do not try to defend Sony. You cant adjust the greyscale, and the calibration as a whole, changing the color temperature won't solve the utter terrible calibration, also the displays are very grainy as always they got bad displays, i don't know who is the idiot who push the X-reality or whatever their TV BS is implemented. iPhone does not need sliders, becasuse at worst their display have very good accuracy, much better viewing angles, they do not suffer from gamma/contrast shift - and the terrible grainy effect, they also got decent white balance 6500-7000K.

127. ogee4life

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 12, 2014

have u actually tested both handsets side by side, u come here spitting crap figures from phonearena. All these screen display measurements mean absolute nothing. What matters is real life quality, i can send u tons of reviews showing both displays side by side and no reviewer picked the iphone display ahead of the z5. They both render accurate colours but the z5 is punchier like an amoled screen and brighter as well. Stop all this crap talk of grainy, u have never tested a sony phone in your life talkless of owning one. I have done several side by side comparison of the i phone 6 and z3 side by side, no one can fool me.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Xperia Z5 Compact
  • Display 4.6" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 23 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2700 mAh(14.8h 3G talk time)

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