Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review

We are thankful for Clove Technology for sending us our new review unit, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Unveiled at CES this January and launched mid February, the Xperia Z1 compact is a smaller brother to the Sony Xperia Z1. Here, we review the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact in all it’s glory.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review:

Similar to its big brother in almost every way other than screen size (4.3 inch and 340 ppi instead of 5 inch and 441 ppi) and a battery size (2300 mAh instead of 3050 mAh), the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the Z1 share the same internal hardware (which we’ll come on to later). Going back to the screen for the moment, the 4.3 inch 1280×720 display has rich colours which doesn’t disappoint when viewing photos and videos. The Triluminos display for mobile (taken from their Bravia TV line) gives realistic colours, whilst the Xreality Image engine helps you to take easy pictures in low light with little to no effort.

The design of the phone itself is attractive and well made. To prove the point, with five other phones laid out on the table, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review phone is the one she instantly was attracted to due to its design, colour and style. Unlike previously reported, the back is plastic, cutting down on weight whilst the frame is metal and the front, obviously, tempered glass.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review
Aluminum body, Tempered glass front and a plastic back.

Like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active we reviewed recently, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is water and dustproof with a rating of IP58 (the highest rating available being 68). The first digit – the 5 in this case – is how resistant it is to dust. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact isn’t dust tight, but resistant to dust with “limited ingress”. The second digit – the 8 – signifies that the phone is completely water tight to over 1 m in water. The Sony website specifies that the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact shouldn’t be immersed for more than 30 minutes and only in non-saline water (chlorinated pools are ok, but not for long). You can visit the Sony support site for more information on this.

Hardware:

As mentioned previously, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has the same hardware as it’s bigger brother. This includes a Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz Quad-Core processor and an Adreno 330 GPU. This is supported by 2 GB of RAM and run by a 2300 mAh battery (which, as discussed above, is slightly smaller than the 5 inch version).

Benchmark Results:

With such impressive hardware, I was expecting some solid benchmark tests. The results, however, surprised even me.

AnTuTu 4 Benchmark:

On the Antutu 4 benchmark tests, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact managed a staggering 35,727 giving it an A+ from Antutu and placing it on top of the comparison chart above the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z Ultra and LG G2.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review Antutu Benchmark Results

In the OpenGL ES 3.0 3D Benchmark, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact managed a score of 3688 which places it nicely between the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (3D Benchmark score of 3396) and the Moto X (3D Benchmark score of 3821).

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review 3D Benchmark results
OpenGL ES 3.0 3D Benchmark results

The battery stability test had a few ups and downs but stayed fairly consistent over the test period with only a 2.5 degree increase in temperature (the more stable the battery test, the better).

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review Stability results
AnTuTu’s Stability test results

Quadrant SE Benchmark results:

As always, we put the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact through a second benchmark took, namely the Quadrant Standard Edition. This showed, unsurprisingly when compared to phoned that are 2-3 years old, that the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact was almost three times as powerful as the HTC One X (launched in 2012).

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review Quadrant SE benchmark results
Quadrant SE Benchmark results

Software:

Currently running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (with a planned upgrade to 4.4 KitKat), Sony have overlaid their own launcher which is heavily geared towards the Sony entertainment environment. For example, you have access to the Walkman app (to play MP3’s) as well as Sony’s own app store, called Sony Select (similar to Samsung’s own app store). Finally, you also have access to the PlayStation Mobile app, which allows you to play games, and connect to your PlayStation Network account. You can even connect a DualShock 3 Wireless controller using a USB adaptor (sold separately).

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review software screenshot
Sony’s Socialife app

Other apps included by Sony included:

  • TV Side View: A remote control and TV Guide compatible with a batch of Sony TV’s and Connected devices.
  • Xperia Lounge: An exclusive area for Xperia owners where you can win prizes to see bands, shows and trips as well as new phones.
  • Xperia Transfer: allowing you to transfer the data from your old phone to your new one.
  • TrackID TV: Similar to the music TrackID Music app, this one is geared towards telling you what you’re watching, as well as who is in it, biographies and show times. It also includes a TV Guide.

Camera:

One of the other serious features we wanted to test in this Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review was the camera. Despite it’s smaller size, the Z1 Compact still has the same 20.7 MP camera with Sony’s award-winning G Lens and the BIONZ image engine to process the image than it’s bigger brother. The photos you can take with this camera are stunning. We were only able to take a few brief photos to show them here, but what photos they were!

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review camera test
Outside in bright sunlight

The BIONZ engine allows for images to be made as sharp and clear as you would expect from an expensive point-and-shoot camera. The algorithms used in the engine allow for better auto-white and auto-balance processing, which will give a more realistic colours to your photos, meaning less fiddling about with settings.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review camera sample
Inside under fluorescent lights

The G Lens has a 27 mm wide lens with a  F2.0 aperture, allowing more light in for clearer pictures in darker situations.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review camera Sample
Inside under fluorescent lights

Finally, the 1/2.3 inch 20.7 MP sensor allows for higher sensitivity and less noise, which means great photos more of the time.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review Camera sample
Inside, no flash

Along with the amazing images capable from the camera itself, Sony have taken every opportunity to allow you to show off the pictures you take with it using features such as Social Live, which allows you to send a feed from your camera to share with your Facebook friends. On top of that, the camera app has several other features included such as Timeshift burst, AR Effect, Picture effect and Sweep Panorama.

Battery:

When it came to charging the battery, it took roughly 1.5 – 2 hours to charge from 0 – 100%. The onboard power management system stated that at 75% full (as I write) the phone still has 5 days and 3 hours left of battery left or 8 days of standby. Turning on the Stamina mode (which turns off WiFi, cell coverage and background sync off when the screen is off) boosts that up to 11 days. On the test device given to us, there was a fault with the Micro USB port. As a result, we were also lent a magnetic dock to charge the device.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Review Phone and magnetic dock
Phone and magnetic dock

This was a nifty feature. On the left hand edge of the phone is a magnetic dock port. This connects to the dock itself and it’s secured by the magnet. The phone is then in landscape and will charge when the Micro USB is plugged into the back of the dock. This is perfect when using the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact as an alarm clock on your bedside table or when at work to keep the phone within reach and in view for notifications. Although usually sold separately, Clove Technology are currently giving away a free dock when purchased with the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

Conclusion:

It’s hard to find anything about this phone we don’t like. If you liked the Z1 but were put off by the 5 inch screen, then this is perfect for you. You don’t lose anything in terms of performance or features, and it look great too. Whether taking photos in the pool on holiday, or making the most of it’s connected features to the Sony Entertainment Network, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has it all, just in a smaller format.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (with free magnetic dock) is available from Clove Technology at £399 incl. VAT ($663/€479) in Black, White, Lime and Pink.

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