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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

Is the solution to the Z1 conundrum to make it smaller?

Sony originally equipped the Xperia Z1 Compact with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which was a little disappointing given that KitKat had been out for a while.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

The good news is that the Xperia Z1 Compact has since been upgraded to Android 4.4.2, bringing you all the latest goodies from Google.

Sony also announced that it will be bringing the latest version, Android 5.0 Lollipop, to the Xperia Z1 Compact in due course.

Over the top of KitKat, Sony has equipped the Xperia Z1 Compact with a very well rounded and intuitive design.

Every OEM installs a level of customisation to differentiate themselves; Samsung has its TouchWiz design and HTC has Sense.

From the attractive slide-style unlock to the clean icons and the customised app drawer, it's clear that Sony has given its UI some real thought.

I am particularly fond of the app drawer, as it allows easy navigation though a toolbar located at the far left. It's these little touches that make smartphones feel smart.

The inclusion of themes is also pleasant, giving the Xperia Z1 Compact a slightly different feel and allowing you to change the whole look depending on your mood.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

The multitasking pane hides a feature that I think Sony should have made more of a song and dance about, as it rivals the multi-window feature on the Galaxy S5.

The ability to have floating apps such as a browser or screen shot made multitasking a lot easier and have long been a good feature of Sony devices - being able to simply open up a timer or calculator can be a godsend, although not having a torch option there seems weird.

A notification light (with multiple colours) also comes equipped on the Xperia Z1 Compact, giving it a leg up over the HTC One Mini 2 and Galaxy S5 Mini.

For those that like to know whether they have a missed message, this is an almost vital inclusion.

My love for widgets was also well catered for with Sony allowing you to add up to seven home screens, long-pressing open areas to add them. I was disappointed to find that there is no infinite scrolling though, something that makes the Xperia Z1 Compact feel a little less fluid when swiping around.

Fluidity is something that exudes from the phone, aided by the 2.2GHz quad-core CPU and 2GB RAM. Moving between screens is a dream, and I found no hint of slowdown even when downloading large files, playing music and web browsing simultaneously.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

Looking at the GeekBench 3 results it is easy to see why; the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact averaged 2731 on multi-core performance.

Interestingly though I did find that before the Android 4.4 KitKat update, the Xperia Z1 Compact had a slightly better average at 2884.

That's not a huge difference, and when it comes to every day performance you won't notice any change between Jelly Bean and KitKat.

Comparing the new score with those listed on the GeekBench site, the Xperia Z1 Compact still scores higher than nearly all the listed devices on multi-core.

This can be attributed to the smaller screen size, with the Adreno 330 GPU not being put under extra strain having to redraw the extra pixels that full HD displays require.

Whilst many may have scoffed at the idea of a handset that 'isn't even full HD', this has been beneficial to the Z1 Compact whilst still providing a crystal clear viewing experience.

Sure, it's not got the razor sharp clarity, but that boost in performance (and, as you'll see later, battery life) is certainly worth having. If you like a smaller screen anyway, this is quickly turning into one of the main phones to be packing.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

The hardware within the screen also hides a really nifty feature; the ability to use it with gloves on.

With winter proving that capacitive screens aren't best suited to texting in the cold, the ability to wear normal gloves whilst sending texts is a godsend.

It also means that if you're deft enough, you can pretend to be a Jedi and move the screen without touching it.

This mode does show a larger circle on the screen when activated, which will pop up on occasion even when you're not using gloves.

I'd say it's worth having it turned off most of the time as it also sucks power - unless you're in a particularly icy country. Or just fricking love gloves.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported64 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
SAR Value0.74 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia Z1 Compact
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution20.7 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD, microSD Extended Capacity (microSDXC)
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time18 Hour
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)137 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.3 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density342 ppi
Front Camera Resolution2 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedMicro
Height127 mm
Width64.9 mm
Depth9.5 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time670 Hour
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXperia Z1 Compact Smartphone
Processor Speed2.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineXperia Z1 Compact
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number1279-5054
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Introducing the Xperia Z1 Compact

The Xperia Z1 Compact is everything you expect in a premium smartphone, beautifully crafted to fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. Capture stunningly beautiful photos and videos using the same technology as featured in our compact digital cameras. Easily move all your valuable content from your smartphone to your new Xperia Z1 Compact with Xperia™ Transfer. Best of all, the Xperia Z1 Compact is waterproof* and comes in a range of colours.

Standard Memory2 GB