Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review: Powerful yet Compact

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With this phone, Sony tries to recreate its brilliant – but admittedly large – Xperia Z1 smartphone in a smaller, but still smart, package. It’s tiring to observe that all flagship Android smartphones in the market right now boast of a 5-inch plus display. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact fills the void with top-of-the-line specifications in a smaller frame. Unlike other ‘mini’ flagships, the Xperia Z1 Compact compromise on only a number of specs compared to its big brother, while fitting everything into a neater and lighter handset.

DESIGN

Unsurprisingly, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact follows in the same design language that was started with the Xperia Z1. A full frontal glass is joined by an all glass rear that gives the Xperia Z1 Compact a really clean feel. The phone’s available in four colours – black, white, pink and lime.

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It’s smaller yes, but it is neither thin nor light. At 9.5mm, it’s slightly thicker than the Z1 and weighs 137 grams. The phone feels sturdy, and fits snugly in the hand. The curved edges help in the grip, and the phone actually feels very ‘compact’ in hand.

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The microUSB port and microSD slot (the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact supports up to a further 64GB of storage) are housed at the top of the left side, with the microSIM tray sat at the base. Popping in a microSD card was a lot simpler than microSIM slot. Sony has added a Camera Button which most smartphone makers avoid. The power key on the right and volume jack on the top. The speaker placed below looks neat.

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HARDWARE

The Xperia Z1 Compact is more expensive than the S4 Mini and One Mini. This higher cost does allow for the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2GHz quad-core CPU backed up by 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage.

The Xperia Z1 Compact has a 4.3-inch display, resolution of the screen is 1280 x 720 pixels and has 341 ppi density. A 20.7MP Exmor sensor housed on the back and 1.3MP camera on the front. Sony Z1 Compact offering a reduced battery capacity of 2300mAh compared to the Xperia Z1′s 3000mAh.

CAMERA

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The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact features a 20.7 MP Exmor camera with single LED flash, and it’s one of the best cameras amongst the Android smartphones. However, there’s no consistency in image quality. In good lighting conditions, the photos come out very good, and in low light, it’s competent.

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The Z1 Compact has an an easy-to-use camera app, smooth HD video skills and plenty of settings and effects to play with. I quite liked the dedicated shutter button, being used to one on my Windows Phone, but the button is slightly awkward and ironically induced a shake sometimes while clicking photos.

The front camera is 2MP and the selfies come out fine.

SOFTWARE & PERFORMANCE

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The good news is that the Xperia Z1 Compact has since been upgraded to Android 4.4.2, bringing you all the latest goodies from Google. The launcher supports theming and even allows changing icons, accent colours, and navigation buttons. The optimizations that Android 4.4.2 introduced and the internals of Xperia Z1 Compact translate into a fast and snappy user experience and performance that matches most flagships. Sony’s mini apps – they float on the top of the open app in a small window – such as note app and calculator are available on Z1 Compact. These apps are useful.

We did not notice any user interface lag on this phone. The device handled web browsing, social media use and multi-tasking with ease. GPS in the phone works well. The device also played most of our 1080P videos with ease. Some video formats that could not be played with default player were handled fine by third-party apps like MX Player.

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By default Sony has installed a lot of apps. This is both good and bad. Good because you get apps like Facebook, Twitter and File Commander preinstalled. Bad because if you want, you cannot uninstall them. Though, you can disable them. Then there are apps like BigFlix, Sony Jive (a rather limited music store for streaming songs), Sony Select (an app store) and WisePilot (a navigation app). We didn’t find these apps useful. They just add to the clutter and are unnecessary.

The graphics processor in Z1 Compact is Adreno 330, which is a very capable chip. The result is that Z1 Compact plays almost games available for an Android phone. Casual games like Angry Birds run smoothly on this phone. Even the demanding games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 4 are smooth at their maximum graphics settings.

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact scores 34538 in AnTuTu benchmark test.

VERDICT

This is the smoothest Android smartphone available at the moment in the market and with the screen size provided and great specifications, this one is a hit. Don’t be too hard on the camera. You can still make your peace with it. With the rest of the ‘minis’ of flagships falling flat on their face, we’re glad Sony at least had their heart in the right place and didn’t compromise on the specs, giving a really good phone with excellent performance.

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