Sony Xperia Z1 Compact: First impressions including viewing angle test

It’s here! The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – a smaller screened version of the current flagship Z1 that should mean you no longer have to accept second best if you want something a little more pocket friendly.

The main differences over the Z1 are as follows:

  • Smaller screen (4.3-inch/720×1280 pixels vs 5-inch 1080×1920 pixels).
  • Smaller battery (2,300mAh vs 3,000mAh).

That means it still has the same 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC with Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (plus microSD expansion slot), 4G, dual-band Wi-Fi, and the same 20.7-megapixel camera with LED flash. Sadly, it also comes with Android 4.3 and not KitKat (4.4) but both models will be upgraded soon.

In other words, this is a no-compromise ‘mini’ phone a world apart from all the others, which usually have a slower CPU, lower-resolution screen, or a cut down camera.

This is a no compromise ‘mini’ phone a world apart from all the others

It’s great that Sony managed to get this on sale  in the UK after failing to get any operators interested in its last attempt, the ZR, which was the smaller screened equivalent to the Xperia Z and another great non-compromise phone. Instead we got the good, but not exceptional, Xperia SP instead.

I can predict this phone doing rather well given the fact not everyone wants a huge phone, but obviously that will also depend on whether it’s any good!

And, of course, I’ll be giving it a full review in the future. Considering Sony only gave out review stock in the middle of this week, be wary of those sites that have already published their reviews. They’ve had at best two full days to play with the phone.


Screen test

After taking the phone out of the box, I started by checking the main difference on the phone – the screen. After all, the battery will take time to test and compare, and the camera is identical to that of the Z1.

A lot has been said about the viewing angles on earlier Sony Xperia smartphones, including the Z and the Z1, so with news of the Z1 Compact using a different display (IPS), I was interested to see if it will now silence those who have been quite vocal about how bad the existing displays have been.

While I’ve always looked at my phones pretty much straight on and can’t really see what the fuss is about, when it comes to twisting and turning a phone to look at the screen from rather extreme angles, it’s fair to say that nothing can match the quality of the HTC One.

The point of the Z1 Compact isn’t to have Z1 owners switch, but attract those that want something a bit smaller

But the Z1 Compact screen could well be a close match for the HTC, and I instantly noticed an improvement in both brightness and contrast levels, without having any clever measuring tools to do any scientific tests.

So, yes, it seems the Z1 Compact screen can be considered an improvement, but few people with a Z1 are likely to switch because of it. It will perhaps give a hint as to what Sony might do with the eventual release of the ‘Z2’.

And what about the lower resolution? Not a problem given the smaller overall size. Everything still looks sharp, and the lower pixel count also means a slight improvement on the benchmarking too.

Viewing angle photos


You can also see more of the viewing angles in the following video, along with an AnTuTu Benchmarking test run (side by side with an Xperia Z1).

And now, part 2…


When Dell released the Streak with a 5-inch display in 2011, it was considered a tablet, not a smartphone. There was no such thing as a ‘phablet’ then, and most people would have laughed if you suggested every manufacturer would one day make all of its flagship phones with 5-inch screens or bigger.

(In 2011) most people would have laughed if you suggested every manufacturer would one day make all of its flagship phones with 5-inch screens or bigger

And don’t even start on pixels-per-inch, given rumours that Samsung or LG will likely give us a smartphone with a 4K display within the next 12 months.

Until now, if you wanted a phone with the best processor or camera available at the time, you had to think big, iPhone excepted. Thankfully Sony has now restored some sanity and given people a choice, and I’m really looking forward to giving it a proper test.


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