Japanese tech heavyweight Sony's smartphone business has been going through something of a renaissance over the last year. This started at CES 2013 when it unveiled its Sony Xperia Z. On paper the original Z featured all the necessary features to be an excellent smartphone. It came loaded with a top-end Sony Bravia screen, Exmor camera technology and a powerful quad-core Qualcomm processor.
But when we tested the Z we found a number of niggling flaws, and poor battery hampered the phone's ability to shine. Sony learned from its mistakes and came back months later with its Xperia Z1 flagship smartphone. Loaded with a 20.7MP rear camera, super fast 2.2GHz quad-core Krait Qualcomm MSM8974 processor and being water and dust resistant, the Z1 was one of 2013's best smartphones.
The Xperia Z1 Compact is designed to ride off the success of the Z1 and offer the same top-end performance and life-proof design, but in a smaller, pocket-friendly size.
Design and build
The Compact lives up to its name and looks like a shrunk-down version of the full-sized Z1. The Z1 was a wonderfully well-designed handset and we're pleased the Compact boasts the same sleek look. As an added perk the Compact also features the same IP55 and IP58 certifications as the Z1, so it is water and dust resistant.
Thanks to its shrunken-down 127x65x9.5mm size and 137g weight, the Compact also feels much more comfortable to hold than the Z1. The Z1 by comparison measured in at a significantly larger 144x74x8.5mm and weighed 169g.
The Compact's comfy feel is helped by its intelligent button placement. The Compact's power, volume and camera shutter buttons are on its right-hand edge. The power button is at the centre of the right edge just above the volume rocker. Below these, the shutter button is at the bottom right-hand corner of the phone. The placement means the buttons sit where your fingers naturally fall when holding the Compact one handed.
Putting aside the reassurance offered by its IP certifications, the Z1 Compact also feels very top-end and robustly built. The phone has metallic sides, a polished polycarbonate back and Gorilla Glass front. We found the Compact's unremovable back didn't give at all when met with pressure and it also lived up to its waterproof branding, managing to survive an accidental drop into a water-filled kitchen sink.
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