Hands on with the new Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

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Ever since we first spied the details on Sony’s Xperia Z1 Compact we’ve been looking forward to getting our mitts on one. On the back of today’s news that LG would be introducing a miniaturised version of its G2 at Mobile World Congress the Xperia Z1 Compact arrives in South Africa with an eye on tying up the market before another challenger arrives.

The Xperia Z1 compact is already up against Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Mini as well as the HTC One Mini, but in saying so Sony has taken a different approach to creating a smaller smartphone. Instead of cutting down on specifications, like the competition has, Sony threw everything that the full size Xperia Z1 has into the compact with only two major changes.

Sony Mobile South Africa’s marketing manager, Andrew Fraser, made it clear that Sony’s aim with the Z1 Compact was not to make a ‘mini’ device like their competitors had, where features were stripped out and only the name of the flagship remained. The Xperia Z1 is a compact version of the Z1 proper with a change in size.

That means the same quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, and expandable 16GB of storage are on board. More exciting though is the inclusion of the fantastic 20.7 megapixel camera sensor and the IP58 certified water and dust proof build that other flagship phones from Sony enjoy.

Of course fitting all of this into a smaller package requires some sacrifice. Compared to the Xperia Z1, the Xperia Z1 Compact’s display resolution has been reduced from 1080p to 720p to accommodate the shrink down to the smaller 4.3-inch display. However with an impressive 342 pixels per inch (ppi) it bests even the iPhone’s famed 326ppi Retina display even if not managing to match the 441ppi of the 5-inch display in the Xperia Z1. The battery has also been reduced from 3000mAh to 2300mAh but considering that the display it powers is smaller than the Z1 proper we suspect that this won’t harm it too much.

The Xperia Z1 Compact is for all intents and purposes the exact same phone as the larger Xperia Z1 but gives an option to those looking for a premium smartphone in a more compact frame.

Look and feel

If you’ve held an Xperia Z series smartphone any time in the last 18 months then the Z1 Compact will immediately feel familiar to you. The same water and dust proof construction as the Z1 returns with the microUSB and SIM slots covered while the headphone jack is exposed. Glass covers both the front and the back of the phone and picks up fingerprints at every opportunity. It feels fantastic in one hand with rounded edges than feel smoother and less intrusive than those of the Z1.

Because the internals are the same as the Xperia Z1’s the Compact is blisteringly fast, every action is completed with near instant effect. We had no problems with the performance of the Xperia Z1 and so far the Xperia Z1 Compact is living up to its billing as a smaller, but still top end smartphone.

We are happy to report that the new IPS display being used in the Z1 Compact is better than the one that didn’t quite live up to our expectations when we reviewed the Xperia Z1 last year.

Price and availability

Price:

Availability

  • Vodacom confirmed that it isn’t planning to offer the Xperia Z1 Compact in the near future but haven’t ruled out adding it to the portfolio later.
  • Both MTN and Cell C will have the Z1 Compact available from March but no contract deals have been made available yet.
  • The black and white models will be available initially with the pink model not having been taken up by any networks.
  • Every Z1 Compact purchased will allow users to download six of ten available Sony picture ‘blockbuster’ movies. The offer will roll out to other Xperia devices after a period of exclusivity for Z1 Compact owners. Additional titles will be available for purchase.
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