The 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”