• Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Review - A miniature flagship

Introduction


Can a mini flagship, the XZ1 Compact, live up to the expectations? Let’s take a look!

Sony’s Compact series is very well known, and now we have the latest model – the XZ1 Compact. The classic version of the XZ1 aims for the very top of the market, while the Compact version is reserved for those who, along excellent performances, seek for affordable price and compactness. This is exactly what separates the XZ1 Compact from the competitors. While other manufacturers make their Mini or Lite devices much weaker than the base model, Sony has a different practice. The XZ1 Compact has everything we could see in the XZ1, it is just – smaller. The display is smaller, the chassis is 2mm thicker compared to the XZ1, which is something not everyone will appreciate, but the same battery capacity as we could find on the “big” one is definitely something everyone will like. There are a few more changes, but we’ll go into more details in a bit. Inside the factory box of the XZ1 Compact we have: a Sony’s fast charging adapter, a USB Type-C cable, Sony 3.5mm in-ear headphones with spare earbuds and user manuals with Xperia Care paperwork. Available color options are: White Silver, Horizon Blue and Twilight Pink.

The XZ1 Compact promises a lot, so sit comfortably, we’re taking off…

Unboxing


Display


The most obvious change compared to the XZ1, and something that makes compactness possible is the display. In the XZ1 we had a 5.2” HDR compatible display, while the XZ1 Compact has a 4.6” HD display which is, sadly, not HDR compatible. Although many would say that this resolution is ridiculous in this day and age, this opinion may change as soon as they set their eyes on the amazing display of the XZ1 Compact. The aspect ratio is 16:9 which is a typical specification for displays, and the screen to body ratio is slightly bigger compared to the XZ1, 70.7%, which suggests that the bezels are made thinner in order to reduce the size of the device overall. HD resolution combined with 4.6” display results in 319 PPI. The matrix has also stayed the same, and this time as well we find the IPS LCD display which shows up to 16 million colors. The X-Reality Engine is also here in order to improve the video viewing. The Triluminous Display is also added as an additional mode which offers excellent panel brightness with vivid colors.


The general impression about the display of the XZ1 Compact is very good. The views are very sharp, and colors are remarkably vivid for an IPS panel.
The preset viewing modes are: Professional Mode, Standard Mode and Super-Vivid mode.



Colors stay very sharp even when viewing angles are changed, and the black color reproduction is excellent. The Glove Mode is also available, which is an excellent addition for the cold days which are ahead, because it will let you use the capacitive display of the Xperia XZ1 Compact even if you’re wearing your gloves. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is standard for all premium devices nowadays. Surfing the web on the XZ1 Compact is, however, not the most pleasant of experiences, but that is the price we have to pay in order to get the compactness and amazing battery. Put simply, all displays smaller than 5” are not very practical for web browsing, especially if you’re trying to reach the desktop version of a website. Another thing that is not the best, again due to the small diagonal is text input. If you’ve been using any display bigger than 5”, switching over to a 4.6” display will be a painful experience.

Hardware and OS


Now we come to, perhaps, the best part of the Xperia XZ1 Compact – the hardware. What makes the Xperia XZ1 Compact unique in the world of devices with the display smaller than 5” is its chipset – the best available chipset, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. All fanatics and geeks are we well acquainted with this chipset – octa core processor split into two quad core clusters. The more powerful cluster has its cores clocked at 2.45 GHz, while the power saving cluster has the cores clocked at 1.9 GHz. Next to the CPU, we find the powerful Adreno 540 GPU which is still the best Qualcomm has to offer. The Xperia XZ1 Compact comes in only one memory configuration which brings 32GB of internal storage memory and 4GB of RAM. Only 32GB of storage might be a choking point after some time, but luckily the XZ1 Compact supports storage expansions via a microSD card up to 256GB.
Considering the hardware which is brutally strong, you must be wondering about the performances? They are, in one word – extraordinary. Navigation through the menu is lightning fast, and screen transitions are executed with ease and very fluidly. When we speak about more demanding use – the XZ1 Compact performs brilliantly. No matter what application from the Google Play store you install, from the basic applications and demanding 3D games to complex photo/video editing tools – everything works flawlessly and tremendously quickly. A real little performance bomb! The latest software update combined with low screen resolution and brutally strong hardware makes for excellent results, and guarantees amazing performances. Device scored 154 555 points on AnTuTu Benchmark. Read our blog about AnTuTu Benchmark



Another bright spot of the Xperia XZ1 Compact is the preinstalled OS version. The XZ1 and the XZ1 Compact are the first devices which come with the Android 8.0 Oreo OS preinstalled. The system runs perfectly fluidly, and only a few applications come preinstalled, such as AmazonKindle, PlayStation and some others.
During testing we got security patches for December. This device is waterproof and has the IP68 certificate, just as its big brother, and it will endure water submerging up to 1.5m for 30 minutes. The fingerprint scanner is located on the right side of the device inside the power button, and it works perfectly fast and very accurately.

We’re used to having Sony oriented towards multimedia, having reached great popularity with their Walkman brand. The XZ1 Compact is also a great multimedia package, well rounded with pretty good stereo speakers on the front of the device. The sound is clear, basses are pretty deep, but a little downside is the overall volume.


 

Camera


The new Sony sensor made its debut on the XZ Premium, and we can find the same one on the XZ1 Compact, as well as on the “big” XZ1. It is the 19MP Sony IMX400 ExmoRS sensor, which can boast with taking 960fps videos using a special memory buffer next to the sensor. The results are spectacular. There is also the Phase Detection Auto Focus as well as the Laser Auto Focus and Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). The shutter speed is great. Some other additions to the camera are: Geo-Tagging, Touch Focus, Face Detection, HDR and Panorama. Images are perfectly clear, without the typical Xperia flaw where the corners of images are blurred. The colors and the contrast are excellent. Videos are captured in 4K resolution, and one of the key points is the HD at 960fps video recording capability, just the same as on the Premium model. The maximum up to now was HD at 240fps, but Sony took a step further with the implementation of the memory buffer next to the main camera sensor, which enables taking parts of the video in unbelievable 960fps.

The main camera supports several working modes:
  • Superior Auto – which automatically adjusts camera parameters
  • Manual – which offers a number of settings, akin to DSLR cameras
  • Video – which offers the option to take videos
  • Camera Apps – camera applications such as: AR Effect, Creative Effect, Sound Photo and Panorama
Predictive capture is also one of the available options which will capture a few frames before any video in order to let you choose a perfect moment and save it!

Another very interesting application is the 3D Creator which is separated from the camera application. It is a software which lets you create the 3D image of a face with the help of the main camera senor. The front facing camera is also very good, but this is another field in which the XZ1 Compact differs from the XZ1 – it takes photos in 8MP resolution and this time it does not have the Auto Focus system. The shutter speed is great on the front facing camera as well. Something that is fixed compared to the previous models is the 4K video which is now set in the resolution adjustment menu as it should be, and not a special shooting mode. Sony actually does listen to the critics! Another disadvantage is definitely the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS) which is somewhat supplemented with the EIS (electronic image stabilization). Although Sony falls behind the competitors regarding the implementation of the double camera setup, good sensors and excellent results fix this issue to a great extent. We, however, must not forget the separate photo button on the right side of the device. It’s been a while since you’ve last seen something like that, right? Although it could be a little bigger, it is very practical and much better to use than the on-screen button.
 

Connectivity


Sony got us used to having their devices packed with connection options. This device ships only as a singleSIM device. Today we’re testing the G8441 version. The XZ1 Compact uses the Type-C connector for charging and data transfer which we definitely support considering the market as a whole is migrating towards the Type-C standard. The difference compared to the XZ1 is that the Compact version uses the version 2.0, while the XZ1 uses the version 3.1 of the connector. Every multimedia machine has to have a 3.5mm headphone port, and the XZ1 Compact can be paired with your favorite 3.5mm headphones.

When we speak of wireless connections, we have:
  • WiFi 802.11 (HotSpot)
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • A-GPS (GLONASS, BDS)
  • DLNA
This device supports 4G connections, and next to 4G frequencies, also supported are:
  • 2G GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHZ
  • 3G UMTS: 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHZ+
 
 

Battery


The 2700 mAh battery showed remarkable results, and although this is a device of small dimensions, the battery size remained the same compared to the classic XZ1. Well optimized software, low screen resolution and power saving cores of the powerful processor all do the trick. This device, of course, supports fast charging through the Type-C connector, and it is the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology which will charge your XZ1 Compact from 0 – 100% in about 2 hours. Another big advantage is the Ultra STAMINA mode which will reduce the battery consumption to the minimum and it will let you save up battery life in the case it is not charged as much as you would like it to be. The fast charging adapter comes inside the factory box. Sadly, wireless charging is not supported. One full charge will provide: up to 4 days of moderate use with 4h of screen on time. The battery is really amazing, and if you’re a battery junky, the XZ1 Compact is the right device for you.
 

Final words


Sony’s baby showed good potential to conquer the market of compact devices below 5”. Excellent hardware, advanced cameras, battery as well as compactness are the main attributes of this device. What could be a dealbreaker, and a pretty bad thing about the XZ1 Compact is the size of the display which is honestly not the best solution for reproduction of video material and web surfing. The battery has shown some of the best results we could see so far. Although the camera is very good, it still came short with a couple of functions missing, for example the Bokeh effect.

All in all, if you’re using a desktop or tablet for web browsing, and you expect your phone to be fluid, compact and autonomous, the XZ1 Compact is the right choice for you. However, if you’re typing a lot or view web material on your smartphone, we’d honestly recommend a bigger device.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Specifications

Advantages and disadvantages

Reasons for and against it

Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box
960fps video recording
remarkable battery
build quality
brutal performances in all aspects
microSD card slot
4.6” diagonal can be too little
pretty high price point
the front facing camera lost the auto focus
only 32GB on internal storage