Review: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – Full Blown

Xperia_Z1_Compact_Official

Introduction:

Making a “mini” version of the flagships has become a trend nowadays. If our memory serves right, it was the Samsung to do it first and since then OEM has missed the opportunity. Sony isn’t different either. Company has launched the mini version of its yesteryear flagship Xperia Z1 as Z1 Compact.

While making mini versions of flagships, most OEMs downgrade both on the size and the specifications, of which later is the important part of any flagships. And most of them are overpriced too. What sets Sony and Z1 Compact apart is the fact that it retains almost all of the characteristics of the flagship Xperia Z1 but in a compact and should we say, perfectly sized chassis? This makes device’s asking price which is close to $550 (Rs.35,000) as of publishing this review, acceptable too. Why so? Read on.

Design:

If you have followed Xperia 2013 lineup and particularly Xperia Z1, the design should be very much familiar to you. The design is as premium as it should be. Sony is one of those manufactures, apart from HTC and Apple that make really premium designs.
Since Xperia Z1 Compact is a variant of the Xperia Z1 itself, it uses similar design, not same. There are just minor tweaks to fit everything in smaller chassis. Just like Xperia Z1, Z1 Compact is waterproof as well with IP55/IP58 certified which make dust resistant and waterproof.. Xperia Z1 Compact’s overall dimension are 127×64.9×9.5 mm and it weighs just 137gms. It fits rather comfortably in your palms. It neither too big, nor too small by today’s standards. Just perfect. People who are always on the run and worry about carrying huge devices in their pockets, would instantly like Z1 Compact.

Xperia Z1 Compact features a 4.3 inch HD (720p) display with various toppings such as TRILUMINOUS, Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 and X-Reality for mobile.Display also gets ‘Glove Mode’ which enables users to use the phone even with the gloves on. This is a hardware specific feature which is not available on its larger sibling. Another thing similar to its original version is the thick (not huge) bezel above and below the display. On Xperia Z1, the thick bezel really wasted lots of space which could otherwise be given to the bigger display apart from spoiling the looks of the device. Same goes for the Xperia Z1 Compact.

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The display is further protected by shatterproof film. The ‘SONY’ logo is printed on the film and not the glass itself. Above the display, on the left side, there is an ambient light sensor and a proximity sensor. Front facing 2MP camera is on the right side. Above the display, a notch holds Z1 Compact’s earpiece as well as multi-color notification LED.
Xperia Z1 Compact features round corners and smooth curved edges.

The left side of the Xperia Z1 Compact is very much crowded. Starting from the top, there is, a microUSB-cum-charging port, microSD card slot, dock connector and finally a microSIM slot. Except for the dock, everything is protected by the flaps to maintain waterproofness. Weirdly, Sony hasn’t put identification mark on microUSB and SIM card shutters. For first time user, this could well be confusing. On the right side, there is a power-cum-unlock key, a volume rocker and a dedicated shutter key. Placement of the power key is very well thought as it is accessible very easily. The shutter key felt too little and a bit hard to us.

Xperia_Z1_Compact_Left_DSCF5059Xperia_Z1_Compact_Right_DSCF5021

Right at the junction of bottom and right sides, there’s a lanyard socket for handstraps. Looking at how everyone else is not bothered about having a lanyard socket, it will soon become an exclusive feature of Sony handsets.
Metal grill on the bottom houses loudspeaker and also the mic of the handset. Good job there sony. A 3.5mm audio jack without any flap sits on the top of the device.

Xperia_Z1_Compact_Bottom_DSCF5024Xperia_Z1_Compact_Top_DSCF5025
Unlike Xperia Z1 which uses glass made back, Z1 Compact uses back made up of high-rigidity plastic sheet which would almost look like a glass. And there is also 20MP camera with LED flash.

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We rarely come across the designs with very minor flaws and that of Z1 Compact is one of them.

Specifications, Performance and Battery:

If you’ve already read our Xperia Z1 review, you can skip this part. But since the Xperia Z1 we reviewed was running Android Jellybean 4.2.2 while the Z1 Compact runs 4.3, there would definitely be fixes to improve the performance.
Internals of Xperia Z1 Compact are no different and that’s the very exciting part about it. It still uses Snapdragon 800 SoC with quad-core CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz and 2GB of RAM. This makes Sony’s little soldier just as powerful as the big daddies. Display is HD (720p) which gives pixel density of 340ppi as well, so you’re not missing on any fun with Z1 Compact. Xperia Z1 Compact has far better display than the Xperia Z1 which failed to impress us. Xperia Z1’s display was plagued by issues like poor contrast and equally poor viewing angles. On Xperia Z1 Compact Sony has seemed to resovle those concerns and it is evident. Z1 Compact’s display has good viewing angles and colors are rendered very well too. And don’t underestimate the 2300 mAh battery just yet. It’s got 16GB of internal memory too, out of which, around 11GB is available for users.
Snapdragon 800 SoC is surely a number crunching one and one shouldn’t have any doubt about it. With all our essential apps installed, we had anything from 650MB to 1GB of free RAM while some of the rest of the RAM was reserved for the OS itself and the remaining was taken up by idling processes. Subjectively speaking, device ran very smooth, lag free. The 2300 mAh, although sounds very small, Sony has apparently done excellent job at software level to squeeze out maximum juice out of it. For my kind of usage which included syncing three push mail accounts on WiFi or 3G, using device on the 3G network itself, using maps and few SNS apps but excluding multimedia (video, songs or games), it lasted whole day or 24 hours before plugging in the charger. In my experience, with and without STAMINA mode enabled, there was hardly any difference between battery performance. Nevertheless, it won my heart.
For the people, who believe in numbers, here are few benchmark scores,

Benchmark1_Web Benchmark2_Web

 

OS and UI:

Xperia Z1 Compact runs Android Jellybean 4.3 with Sony’s NXT UI. At the time of publishing this review, Sony has already started roll out of Android KitKat 4.4 for Z1 Compact but ours didn’t get it just in time.
The NXT UI is very much straightforward yet it has all the customization options one would expect from custom UIs. As usual there are seven homescreen panes which share single wallpaper. You can set a wallpaper for your lockscreen too. The notification bar hosts a quick settings panel which lets you toggle essential functions of the phone apart from showing your notifications.

Xperia_NXT_Lockscreen_WebXperia_NXT_Homescreen Xperia_NXT_Homescreen_EditXperia_NXT_Notification_Bar

App drawer uses horizontally scrollable pages with app grid of size 4×4. Swiping from the left edge brings up the menu which let you customize the app drawer and download or remove apps. Removing apps is made easy. All you have to do is hit the ‘Uninstall’ menu and the apps which can be removed will get a small ‘x’ over them, tapping on which will uninstall the particular app.

Xperia_NXT_App_Launcher Xperia_NXT_App_Launcher_Edit

Apart from some small apps from Sony, its customized version of Android is very much clean. Whatever 3rd party apps are there can be uninstalled free up some more space.