One of the main issues with 2016’s Sony Xperia X Compact was that it had forgotten its legacy. While maintaining its iconic, pocket-sized demeanour, it lacked the brawn and playful quality of the Xperia Z5 Compact.
Thankfully, Sony has come to its senses with the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact.
This 4.6-inch smartphone is capable of just about everything its larger sibling, the flagship Sony Xperia XZ1 is, but in a smaller, more battery-efficient form factor that can be easily operated with one hand.
If you’re looking for a smaller Android handset, this is one of the few you can buy that offers top-end specs along with a compact design.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact price and release date
- Price is set at £499/$580
- The phone is out now in the US and UK
The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact release date was in September 2017 and if you live in the US, UK or Australia you'll be able to buy it now.
Prices fluctuate from week to week, but we've seen it as low as £450 / $580 / AU$620 and that's a touch below the RRP. In the UK you can buy the phone on contract too with the best Xperia XZ1 Compact deals starting at around £20 a month with 1GB of data.
Design and display
- Small form factor is great for those who don't want a device with a huge screen
- Typical Sony design of the last few years, but uses plastic on the rear
- 4.6-inch 720p display is sharp and bright, much better than it sounds on paper
Like the XZ1, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact has received a bit of a shake-up in terms of design over its predecessor. While it’s still boxier than the larger flagship, its edges have been slightly rounded off for a more ergonomic feel in the hand.
Compared with the full-size XZ1 you might be expecting some compromises to have been made in the process of squeezing this phone into its compact form factor. But other than its dimensions, which come in at 129 x 64 x 9.3mm, there’s honestly not much that’s different here, that’s a good thing.
While the chunky design might put some people off, there’s something rather endearing about the XZ1 Compact. Its almost cutesy look is appealing, and it’s nice to have a smaller option when most mainstream manufacturers are only making large-screen premium phones.
The body of the phone is plastic, but it’s not ‘plastic’ in the cheap sense of the word – and it certainly doesn’t feel like a low-end phone in the hand.
The unibody is constructed from a glass fiber woven plastic, which is both strong and lightweight and also gives the phone a pleasing feel and finish. You really wouldn’t know this wasn’t metal, as it feels sturdy when you’re holding it in your hand.
The top and bottom of the device are capped with metal, while the front is protected by Gorilla Glass. Thanks to the smaller design we also don’t think this phone is particularly heavy at 140g.
When you’ve got this phone on your person you’ll barely notice it, while with many modern smartphones it’s all you can do to fit them in your jeans pocket. Sony’s habit of making its smartphones dust- and water-resistant continues here, with the XZ1 Compact having an IP65/68 rating, which means it’ll even survive a dunk underwater.
We ran this phone under the tap and it survived the experience, which means your phone should be okay if it accidentally slips into the bathtub, or if you have it in the bathroom while you shower.
Despite being a good bit smaller than the Xperia XZ1, the XZ1 Compact retains that phone’s button and port layout. The volume rocker sits on the right-hand side of the phone, and we found this a little too small – it’s around the same size as the adjacent power button, so we regularly accidentally locked the phone rather than changing the volume.
The power button itself sits flush with the body of the device, and – unless you’re in the US – has a fingerprint scanner built in. We found this to work quickly, and as it sits where your thumb naturally falls on the device when it’s in your hand it’s easy to reach.
Note that ‘unless you’re in the US’ though. Inexplicably, and maddeningly, Sony has once again omitted the fingerprint sensor from the power key for the US market, limiting security options to a PIN or pattern. Exactly why Sony has chosen to do this remains unclear.
For colors you have the choice of Black, Snow Silver, Horizon Blue and Twilight Pink. We tested the Horizon Blue option – it’s a highly distinctive color compared to any other ‘blue’ phones we’ve used, and it certainly turned some heads.
The XZ1 Compact’s 4.6-inch display rocks a 720p HD resolution, which is standard for Sony’s Compact line and comfortably positions it against its main competitor, the iPhone SE; it may disappoint some, but we didn’t miss having a higher-resolution panel.
It’s a bright display and it’s colorful too – if Sony had opted for a Full HD panel it would have likely just impacted negatively on battery life, without adding greatly to the user experience.
If you like to play a lot of games and watch a lot of video on your phone you may find this smaller panel too small, but we liked the size of the screen, and it’s just right if you like to be able to use your phone one-handed.