The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact was officially presented by its manufacturer at the last CES, after weeks and months of crazy rumors. Some of you probably know it, but the rascal has been with me every day for a little over a week. After a first grip , the time has come to look seriously at the case, and a full assessment of the operation. Just to see what it is worth on the ground.
As usual, it should be made clear that this test is not intended to be pure technique. This is more of a user opinion, but you will still be entitled to some figures obtained with the benchmarking solutions on the market, and plenty of funny videos as a bonus. The routine, in short.
If you pass by regularly, and if you are used to reading my reviews, then you probably know the song. Before going any further, we will actually start by looking at the technical specifications of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact in order to refresh our memory a little.
- 4.3 inch screen.
- HD 720p type definition, i.e. 1280 × 720.
- Triluminos and X-Reality technologies.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 LSL8974 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz.
- Adreno 330 GPU, 2 GB of RAM.
- 16 GB of storage space expandable through the micro SD port.
- 20.7 megapixel Exmor RS sensor.
- G-Lens f / 2.0 optics.
- BIONZ processing chip.
- WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC.
- 2,300 mAh battery.
- Dimensions: 127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm.
- Weight: 137 grams.
- Price: from 499 euros without subscription.
This technical sheet may remind you of something and this is quite normal since it is very close to that of the Xperia Z1. In reality, it is even identical except for the size of the screen, its definition and the on-board battery.
Just like its big brother, the Z1 Compact is IP55 and IP58 certified. It is therefore able to withstand dust , splashes and immersions . Be careful, however, because the terminal cannot descend to more than one meter in depth, or remain underwater for more than thirty minutes.
Otherwise, the terminal is available in four colors: white, black, pink and yellow. I had them all in hand except for the black model and they impose well as it should.
Design & Ergonomics
The similarities between the Z1 and the Z1 Compact do not stop at the data sheet of the terminals. They are also very close to each other aesthetically. The small phone thus takes up the lines of the latest Xperia, with this famous “premium” button serving as a signature.
Much attention has been paid to the materials used in the design of the Compact over the past month. Basically, it was about two sheets of tempered glass held firmly by an aluminum metal hoop, but several specialized sites have mentioned a plastic back. I do not know if they are right or not, but one thing is certain: the finishes of the terminal are exemplary . We are really on a high-end product, and it is enough to take it in hand for a few minutes to realize it.
Ergonomically, Sony has still made some notable changes. The various hatches allowing access to the SIM card, the micro SD card and the micro USB 2.0 port are all on the right side of the device. They frame its connector, the very one that will allow us to recharge the Z1 Compact by placing it on a base.
The usual buttons are on the right edge and so this is where we can get our hands on the power button, the volume controls or the physical trigger. A long press on the latter will allow us to launch the application in charge of capturing photos or videos. The attachment for the wrist strap is also included.
The Xperia Z1 Compact is devoid of physical buttons on the front. Sony has opted for tactile buttons which, unlike those on the LG G2 ( tested here ) and LG G Flex ( tested here ), cannot be customized. It's a shame, but the manufacturer may correct the shooting in a future update.
Above the screen, we find the manufacturer's logo, of course, but also the front camera, the brightness detector and a notification LED placed lower than on the Z1. The headphone jack is integrated into the top edge of the device, the exact opposite of the speaker.
The photo module and its flash are integrated into the back of the device, in the upper left corner. Sony puts forward its optics, the size of its sensor and its definition. As for the Z1, in short, except that all these mentions are placed to the left of the lens, and not to the right.
Overall, the device is pleasing to the eye and well balanced.
Screen, Power & Autonomy
As everyone knows, the Z1 Compact is equipped with a 4.3-inch screen capable of displaying a definition close to 720p. The size / definition ratio is very correct. The visuals are fine and neat, the colors bright and natural. It draws a little towards the yellow but it is not embarrassing. The tactile layer is extremely responsive. The only downside is that the screen glass attracts dirt a little too much and it will have to be cleaned frequently.
Good thing, the terminal is amphibious.
Under the hood of the Z1 Compact, there is a Snapdragon 800 coupled to an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB of RAM , the same characteristics as those of all “superphones” of the moment. I am obviously thinking of the Z1, but also of the LG G2.
In terms of raw power and without much surprise, the terminal is doing as well as its competitors. It is incredibly responsive and extremely fluid. It doesn't matter if you launch dozens of apps, it won't fail. The observation is obviously the same for films in high definition, or for games. I have had the opportunity to play Dead Trigger 2 or even Demonrock several times without encountering any issues.
In order to evaluate the performance of the Xperia Z1 Compact, and as usual, I ran several dedicated benchmarking solutions including BenchmarkPi, Quadrant, Linpack, An3DBench or even GeekBench 3. The results obtained will allow you to compare the small Z1 to your own terminal.
- BenchmarkPi: 112.
- Quadrant: 19909.
- Linpack: 629 353.
- An3DBench: 7,585.
- GeekBench 3: 901/2 525.
- AnTuTu: 34 399.
As you can see, the rascal doesn't have to be ashamed of the competition.
But what about its autonomy? This is undoubtedly one of its best assets. Admittedly, its battery does not exceed 2,300 mAh, but its 4.3-inch screen is also energy efficient, and this gives it excellent autonomy. Allow more than a day, for normal use, and without having activated the STAMINA mode. If you decide to get your hands dirty and take a little time to configure it, then you can save at least an additional half day.
My personal record? Two days, but by disabling certain services such as automatic data synchronization.
Photo & Video
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is presented by its manufacturer as a “photophone” , and you just have to take a look at its technical sheet to understand that the latter was not there with the back of the spoon. 20.7 million pixel Exmor RS sensor, BIONZ processing chip, G-Lens optics, all the ingredients seem to be in place to seduce amateur photographers, or even experts.
And we must admit that he is doing really well. Like its big brother, it struggles a bit when the light is lacking but it still delivers very good quality shots, with a particularly impressive sharpness. Focusing is quick and the Z1 Compact only needs a few seconds to aim at the subject of our choice.
An image is better than a thousand speeches, here is a small gallery that will allow you to see a little more clearly. If you want to recover the photos in their original format, know that they are all available on my Dropbox, at this address .
The same goes for videos. There, it is really the optical stabilizer which impressed me the most. Filming freehand while walking is often a perilous exercise, but the rascal comes out with all the honors.
Sony has taken the greatest care in the application in charge of capturing photos and videos, with the integration of several well-crafted tools. In addition to the usual Superior Auto and Manual modes, we will thus be entitled to a Burst mode, Panorama , Info-Eye and, above all, Social Live . There, the idea is quite simple since it is a question of retransmitting on his Facebook profile everything that the terminal is filming, live and in streaming.
If necessary, we can go to the Play Store to pick up new shooting modes.
And it is not finished because, behind, there is also a complete editor directly integrated into Albums. Perfectly formidable, this tool will allow us to paste filters on our images, but also to play with their exposure, their saturation, their hue and many other things. I admit I fell in love with this application, and I am not the only one.
During the event dedicated to the launch of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact in France, I actually had the opportunity to meet a photographer passionate about nomadic technologies, a photographer who uses the Z1 (among other things) at daily for his photo projects. He has also set up a Tumblr to highlight his work and I highly recommend that you take a look at it to get a better idea of what it is possible to achieve with a little training.
Anyway, Jean-Fabien (that's the name of our photographer) was kind enough to accompany me in the alleys of Beaubourg to teach me two or three techniques. I also had the opportunity to ask him a few questions during a filmed interview.
I had the opportunity to approach the length, breadth and depth of the Sony ecosystem during my test of the Sony Xperia Z1 . So I'm not going to list all the peculiarities of the manufacturer's overlay here, but rather focus on its strengths and weaknesses.
Among its strengths, we find these famous filters integrated into the screen listing all the applications installed on the terminal. By swiping multiple times from left to right, we can effectively bring up a sidebar made up of a number of options. In a few moments, we will be able to modify the sort order of our applications , or even bring up the ones we use most often . Sony has also integrated a search engine to save us even more time.
The windowed application system is also well thought out. Just like with LG's QSlide Apps, we will have the ability to launch some tools in flyout windows, windows that can be moved individually. The icing on the cake is that it is possible to turn any widget into micro-applications. It's very practical on a daily basis, even on a screen as small as that of the Z1 Compact.
The action center, on the other hand, suffers from a very annoying limitation since it is not possible to display more than ten quick shortcuts . I would have preferred a system similar to what Samsung or LG offers, with a horizontal bar that can scroll in either direction.
The Z1 Compact comes with a number of applications that allow you to manage your emails, SMS, alarms or even your agenda. These are well designed, but their interface is a bit too traditional for my taste. Sony should be inspired by applications like Mailbox, Cal or Tidy.
I'm nitpicking a bit but I think that's really where Sony should be focusing its efforts.
I've spent the last few months on smartphones with screens that are five inches and larger. My biggest fear, with the Z1 Compact, was to feel cramped like when I shared my life, or rather my daily life, with the iPhone 4S. But that was not the case. In fact, the compact dimensions of this terminal are a real asset, especially when it is used to capture photos or to record videos. On this terrain, the Z1 Compact is much more manoeuvrable than the Z1.
Sony is not the only manufacturer to offer a “Mini” version of the flagship of its fleet. However, unlike its competitors, it did not want to compromise on the raw computing power of its terminal. Good for him because that is precisely what makes the Z1 Compact so attractive. Its Snapdragon 800 is not afraid of anything and it will be able to run the most demanding games in the Play Store without batting an eyelid, and it will be exactly the same for high definition movies.
But the real asset of the small phone, from my point of view, is its incredible autonomy. It's really nice to be able to go to work in the morning without needing to take your charger. Now, notice, I work from home so this might explain it, eh.
No, really, I fell in love with the Z1 Compact. If you have the budget and are looking for a versatile phone, no need to think about it, you can go headlong.