Xperia Z1 Compact review roundup

by XB on 3rd February 2014

in Featured Content, Reviews, Videos, Xperia Z1

Xperia Z1 Compact_Pocket Lint_2The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is uniquely placed in the Android ecosystem, offering the most powerful and well-rounded 4.3-inch smartphone that currently exists. By taking Sony’s beautiful Omnibalance design and offering no compromises when it comes to construction, there’s no surprise the phone has been winning wide praise.

The icing on the cake has to be the IPS display, offering wider viewing angles, immediately removing the criticism that dogged most of Sony’s Xperia phones of 2013. You’ll notice in our Xperia Z1 Compact review roundup below that there are very few negatives, in fact most appear to surround the software (i.e. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean instead of Android 4.4 KitKat or the fact that Sony’s UI isn’t as advanced as others.) The Xperia Z1 Compact deserves to be a big seller for the company, let’s just hope that all those who have longed for a true mini flagship put their money where their mouth is.

Xperia Z1 Compact review roundup

Cnet: “The Compact packs a 720p display, which is a step down from the Full HD of its brother. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a great screen though, because it really is. Side by side, I couldn’t really tell much difference in sharpness and clarity against the Compact and the Full HD Z1 for everyday tasks. Icon edges are extremely crisp and small text on Web pages was easily readable. You don’t have the same screen real estate of course. Its IPS display technology helps its deliver bold colours — without looking over-saturated — and it has great viewing angles too.”

Xperia Z1 Compact_Cnet

Engadget: “If you’re used to using a larger phone, the Compact might not initially feel as small as you’d expect, especially with the decent-sized bezel at the top and bottom. Overall, it’s probably right to call this mid-sized, rather than small or mini. (In all fairness to Sony’s marketing team, “compact” is a more appropriate word.) It actually has a similar footprint to the iPhone — which is unsurprising, given that Sony is probably going after Apple customers here. In short, Sony’s managed to create something that’s very easy to use one-handed, without feeling particularly small or slight.”

Forbes: “But if I was recommending the Xperia Z1 Compact, I would not be focusing on just the size. The battery life on the Z1 Compact is immense for such a capable Android device. The smaller and more efficient screen, the extra volume allowing for more capacity than other ‘mini’ devices, and Sony’s aggressive yet functional battery software have created an Android device that can run smartly all day without having to worry if you’ll make it back home to your charger. This is one of the best performing Android devices for battery life of this generation of smartphones. Technically speaking this is a fantastic handset, and I’m fascinated to see if the public support the concept and buy the phone.”

Gizmodo UK: “We know what the first 30 comments are going to say. The Moto G is only £100 and offers a similarly modest screen size, so why buy this for £400? Well, because the Moto G has an abysmal camera that knocks mobile imaging quality back about five years and puts you off the idea of taking photos altogether, whereas the Z1 Compact is an immensely powerful snapper. That’s why. It’s also a lightning fast phone with a beautiful display, but it’s not as sexy a piece of kit to hold and be associated with as the rightful owner as the full-size Z1. We like using it, though. It’s fast and we approve of most of Sony’s deep Android customisations, without ever feeling hugely exciting. But the Z1 Compact does fill a very important gap in the market. For that it deserves your consideration if you want cutting-edge power inside a modest case.”

GSM Arena: “It has finally happened – we have a proper compact flagship on our hands. Is it everything we hoped it would be? With pretty much no deal-breakers, this may as well turn out to be Sony’s breakout star this year. The reason to become an ex-iPhone user. A supercharged droid you can wrap a single hand around. A message delivered loud and clear that the diagonal climb isn’t the only way up.”

The Inquirer: “The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is in our opinion the best pint-sized Android smartphone presently available on the market. Unlike its competitors – the Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini, for example – the phone boasts high-end specifications at a reasonable price, and not just for show. The handset is one of the smoothest we’ve used at this size, and it’s better than its rivals when it comes to screen quality, camera and battery life.”

PC Advisor: “Performance is outstanding, both from a user perspective and the benchmark results. Everything happens in a nippy fashion, no lag when opening apps, launching the camera with the dedicated button etc.
The Xperia Z1 Compact hit 4107 points in Geekbench 2, 2890 in GeekBench 3, 899ms in SunSpider and 34fps in GFX Bench 2.7. That means it beats our previous leader, the LG G2 (and the full-size Z1), in all tests – impressive stuff from this device. In the latest GFX 3.0 test the Compact managed 17fps.”

Phone Arena: “The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is just the right size to showcase Sony’s premium design in its finest form. Now that having a bit of an extra bezel around the screen isn’t such a big deal, we’re simply delighted to hold and interact with the classy exterior of the Xperia Z1 Compact. Both the front and back sides are made of durable glass, while the surrounding frame is made of sturdy metal. As a result, the Z1 Compact is a beautiful product with a high-quality construction that can easily best most of the competition.”

Xperia Z1 Compact_Phone Arena

Pocket-Lint: “The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact defies convention by offering power in a compact form and side-stepping the race to offer the largest display. The result is one of the best Android smartphones around. It betters the larger-scale Xperia Z1 in most areas: it’s better to use because it fits nicely into the hand, the battery life is great, it doesn’t run as hot, and the screen’s viewing angles are superb. And where it doesn’t better it drafts in the same water-proof design and top-tier power as its bigger brother handset. Most competitor devices force you to go large to get the latest hardware and power, but the Z1 Compact doesn’t. There are just a few minor niggles that hold it back from perfection: the software feels like it could do with an update and we feel this needs to happen fast, because as 2014 progresses there will be a lot more devices landing with new features and a newer version of Android. Sony needs to update to stay ahead of the pack.”

Xperia Z1 Compact_Pocket Lint

Stuff: “The Z1 Compact got a firm thumbs up from the smallest hands I could find – belonging to What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision’s dinky Kashfia Kabir. But this isn’t just a phone for girls; it’s for anyone who can’t handle a phablet. Carrying around a smartphone that doesn’t require thumb stretches will simply save you time – swiping down notifications, messaging, even unlocking your phone will be quicker if you can access the whole screen with less finger gymnastics. That’s what the Z1 Compact manages brilliantly and I reckon it could start an exodus of small-handed women, and men, from the iPhone. And, perhaps surprisingly, that could make this little phone one of the biggest threats to Apple’s enormous profits in quite some time.”

T3: “The Z1 Compact is more than a match for its rivals. On a day to day basis it’s a great alternative to an iPhone if you hate big-screen phones but still want Android. If we have one issue it’s Sony’s version of Android. It hasn’t changed much since the first Xperia handsets and it could do with updating. It’s not that it’s ugly, more that it’s beginning to look a little dated.”

V3: “The Xperia Z1 Compact has a 4.3in 1280×720 Triluminos display with X-Reality technology. Sony made a big deal about its mobile screen technology. But as we’ve found on previous Sony smartphones, the Z1 Compact’s display, while crisp, doesn’t live up to the claims. We’re not sure if it’s the colour palette Sony has chosen for its custom Android skin or a fault with the tech, but in general the Compact’s screen isn’t as vibrant as the Amoled and in-plane switching (IPS) displays seen on competing handsets, such as the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5C. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the Compact’s automatic brightness level is significantly lower than most other similarly priced smartphones. While this can be fixed by manually setting the screen brightness to be higher, it does mean the Z1 Compact’s screen looks fairly dull out of the box.”

The Verge: “Sony has wisely upgraded to a new 1280 x 720 IPS panel. It’s difficult to overstate how much of a difference this makes to the phone’s daily use. Whereas Sony’s previous choice of screen would wash out when viewed at an angle, the new display retains its color fidelity and contrast wherever you’re looking at it from and delivers much deeper blacks. As a result, the entire phone feels immediately a step above Sony’s previous generations. A higher-quality display doesn’t just benefit the look of the Z1 Compact, it also helps it last longer. Whereas Sony’s earlier smartphones would crank up the screen’s backlight to try and compensate for its inadequacies, the new panel inside the Compact is a lot more frugal with its power consumption.”

Xperia Z1 Compact_Verge

  • Roy Chao

    US gets no love for the compact :[

  • raj

    The Compact is No Compact, anymore
    The Mini is No Mini, anymore

    The Compact is the In-Thing, now
    All cos of you, SONY

    Till now, the Mini’s were unworthy of the brand name they carried (S4 Mini, One Mini etc)
    You have done it…. Kudos !!!!

  • The Hummer country needs no compacts, etc.

    (just kidding)

  • Christian

    My next phone..

  • ShinOrochiX

    One thing I don’t like just from looking at it is the front camera positioning, extremely far right. I have the Xperia L where the camera is too far to the left and it is annoying at times when taking ‘selfies’ as I am constantly having to shift around to get a ‘centered’ picture-this is the most annoying part. I am sure the Z1 Compact will have the same issue.

  • vcsg01

    Patiently waiting….(kind of). For US availability

  • Nimche

    I ordered mine from last week and got it today. Pretty nice. I am on H+ tilll I move to t-mobile. I hate AT&T

  • raj

    But the paradox is: The Hummer country loves a rat iPhone.

  • Roy Chao

    You ordered from Germany and had it delivered to the States? Can I asked what the your final price?

  • J

    is it just me or is camera recording audio quality not very good? from the video reviews and youtube samples recording sounds somewhat muffled and low volume. that’s probably the only thing I don’t like about this phone.

  • Nimche

    It was something like $620 with fast 2 business days shipping. Price was 499 Euro with local tax already being added to the price but since I am out of Germany, it went down to 419.33 Euro + 22.60 Euro shipping

  • Roy Chao

    Yea i just priced it out on Amazon DE. Came out to USD 607.75 for 5-10 business days and USD 618.95 for 2 business days.

    I wish there was some way I could get your email to talk to you without posting it here. I have so many questions! haha

  • Nimche

    Post your email here and I will contact you or ask questions here that could be helpful to all?

  • Roy Chao

    Okay ill just ask here.

    1) What color did you get and how does it look in person?
    2) When ordering from, it will be Tmobile LTE compatible with US networks?
    3) Any issues with shipping or ordering from European Amazon site?
    4) You are currently using ATT? I used to have ATT and the service was great, how does the Z1 Compact perform on this network (voice clarity/speeds/reception)?

  • Nimche

    1) I ordered White, I think it looks very nice in person and small (I have white Z1 as well) I very much like both by Z1 is way larger phone.
    2) It should work with tmobile USA but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t tell for sure.
    3)No issues at all, everything was smooth. I ordered on Thursday and it was here on Monday.
    4) I am on AT&T, I haven’t experience any issue with voice or anything else but ATT LTE band (17) is not supported on Z1 Compact (D5503) so it works only on H+ service which may be enough for me. I usually have WiFi access all the time.

  • hans
  • hans
  • Roy Chao

    Thank you!!! This is very helpful.

    Which part of the states you from?
    Did you get a case or screen protector (over the stock screen protector)?
    Why did you switch from Z1 to Z1c? For size?

    Im really considering about buying it! LTE may or may not be needed for me since its very limited in NJ.

  • Nimche

    San Diego, CA
    I got no screen protector, and basically the phone by itself. I wanted to get the dock for charging but haven’t had a chance to search and find goodies.
    Reason moving from Z1 to Z1C was only size factor. Z1 is very nice if it was a bit smaller, maybe in ZL footprint.

    I like how Z1C is pocketable as my Z1 was always sticking out of pocket. So far very happy with the purchase if only I can trash my ATT service.

  • jeebus

    please tell me how it is on tmobile! I also live in CA

  • Nimche

    I may go to store and ask them to put a sim-card in there to see if it works with LTE.

  • Roy Chao

    Last question… About the flash (hans post in this article), is the flash very bad in dark situations? Like a bluish hue to the pictures?

    I just took a couple pictures with my iphone 4s in pitch darkness and the quality still came out good. Can you compare yours?

  • jeebus

    thank you so much! This is the perfect phone for me but since i live in the US it’s difficult.

  • bigshynepo

    This phone needs marketing and word of mouth! This small flagship shows they are the next big thing, way to go Sony!

  • yehia

    what about the performance of the phone does it over heat shortly or after a while i know heating is normal with such spec

  • Nimche

    I have been using it all day today for web and other stuff but haven’t experienced any overheating.

  • Mac

    I’m still waiting for the white one here in Sweden..

  • hfs+

    Android 4.3 really

  • Felix

    Hopefully it will be fixed with a software update. Looks like the timing is bad.

  • asian101

    True that, indeed.

  • paganini
  • paganini

    Hopefully the they fix the flash problem!

  • transformer

    i was under the impression that this great phone would need a lot of marketing, but obviously people are well informed..

  • Fynjy7771

    I think, it will be solved with the nearest software update.

  • bossman

    This phone has the right ingredients, I hope it sells and sells well!

  • bossman

    How many units did Z1 sell?

  • transformer

    probably only sony got this info ;)
    as those infos are confidential we will not get it until they are published.

    anyway as krusell is selling cases worldwide it gives a good idea which phones are most demanded.

  • yehia

    thnx for ur reply :) i want to know another thing is it true that the flash makes bluish hue or its fake ?

  • Nimche

    Today I went to check out if the tmobile LTE works in store and I actually moved to T-Mobile. LTE works :D

  • Roy Chao

    I have couple more questions because I am about to order. Thanks!

    1) Does it scratch easy due to the anti shatter film?
    2) Hows the speaker clarity/volume?
    3) Is the picture quality not that good like people say? With the flash issue (blue/purple hue)?

  • Nimche

    1) Now I have had it for few days without any protection and it has been holding pretty good.
    2) I don’t know what I compare it to but for me it sound OK. If you using it as speaker phone, I think it is more like other Xperia phone I have had.
    3)I took few pics in total dark, and you will notice a little shade of light from the left side of the pic, but not that crazy. + After all, this is a phone and not a pro camera. It is good enough for my needs.
    4) I have used before and their price is lower but I couldn’t wait for the release but they have it now.

  • Nimche

    I think, it is pretty much like AT&T. I am very happy with my decision,

  • Roy Chao

    Haha based on the tone of your responses, it would appear that nothing about this phone is WOW-ing you other than size/speed.

    -Speaker probably worse that iphone 5s, and incomparable to htc one.
    -Camera performs poorly in dark (with flash issue) compared to galaxy/iphone/one.
    -Price is somewhat cheaper than the other phones.

    Im highly reconsidering waiting until after WMC2014 to see what Samsung/LG/HTC has to offer first.

  • Nimche

    That is my tone in general. I love this phone more than anything else in the market right now, but I am a person to use this or any other phoned for the right function and not for everything else, like camera function to high quality pics or as my car navigation, etc. I think every electronics are good for some good proposes and not everything. If you can wait till WMC, you would see other thing, but other things are being introduced every few weeks. I see my decision for myself as best one at this moment, and can’t really recommend thing to anyone as my taste of joy could differ. Good luck with your next phone and hopefully every manufacturer introduces phones to the U.S. at a same time they do in other countries so we can check out the test units at store before purchase.

  • John Kneeland

    I imported this phone from the UK and it is amazing.

  • ComboBreaker

    I have mine for 3 days. Back side is not glass, it is plastic and scratches easily. Screen does not have the feel of touching glass. LG G2 screen quality is better in color, vibrancy and viewing angles. Good speed overall, camera and walkman application (audio) but Sony is not yet premium level.

  • raj

    it is not the plastic that gets scratched. They have a screen guard pre-applied on its front and back

  • omenking

    i was just curious if you have tried putting in the tmobile sim card to see if the LTE works? i read somewhere that it should! work but havent had no one really confirm this for me before i go ahead and order.i really want the LTE feature and if it doesnt work i will probably try and wait a lil longer for the US version… im trying to wait for this phone to come to the States but im tired of waiting… i heard it might take another 6months! before it will be released to the US and thats just to much im in need of a new phone mine shutting down on me … lol

  • Forever-ly waiting…… (kind of). For Egypt availability :”””’)

  • Next “compact” thing.

  • Arun

    It costs Rs. 34000 in India. roughly around 575 USD. Will be getting one this week!!!!

  • Divya Bharathi

    Very interesting thing I just come across at – I could choose any number of jewellery items (from the list) at very heavy discount rates (up to 75% off online) – more we buy more discount – I never seen this before.

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