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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs Google Nexus 5 head-to-head review


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is one of 2014's standout handsets. This Android smartphone is one of the first to offer users top-end performance and internal specifications in a small form factor. However, the Xperia Z1 Compact has hit a market that's already filled with some pretty impressive Android handsets, chief of which is Google's latest Nexus 5 flagship, which we've compared head-to-head with it in this review.

Design and build
Interestingly, despite being smaller than the Nexus 5, the Xperia Z1 Compact is slightly fatter and heavier, measuring in at 127x65x9.5mm and weighing 137g. By comparison the larger Nexus 5 measures in at 138x69x8.6mm and weighs 130g. The Xperia Z1 Compact's increased thickness and weight is likely due to its IP55 and IP58 certifications.

The certifications mean that the Xperia Z1 Compact is on paper far more rugged than the Nexus 5 and should be water and drop resistant. The consequence of this is that Sony had to design the Xperia Z1 to meet the certification standards and do things like plug all the phone's ports – a practice that undoubtedly contributed to the handset's weight.Xperia Z1 Compact vs Nexus 5 three quarter

The Xperia Z1 Compact's IP certification rang true and it is significantly more robustly built. For example, during testing the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact survived a direct drop onto a pavement, crack free, while one of the Nexus 5 units we have tested broke after suffering a two-foot drop onto a carpeted floor in our office.

That said, thanks to its glass front and polished plastic back, the Xperia Z1 Compact is more prone to picking up dirt and blemishes than the Nexus 5, which features a slightly rubberised and surprisingly scratch-resistant single-piece chassis.

Despite featuring a more angular design, we found the Xperia Z1 Compact more comfortable to hold than the Nexus 5. This is largely due to its smaller dimensions, which ensure even users with the smallest of fingers can interact with the device one handed.

Winner: Xperia Z1 Compact

Running the Xperia Z1 Compact's 4.3in, 1280x720, 342ppi, Triluminos display with X-Reality technology against the Nexus 5's 5in, 1080x1920, in-plane switching (IPS) Plus, 445ppi capacitive touchscreen, we noticed the Google phone had a definite edge.

Colours on the Nexus 5, in general, were slightly more vibrant and the display was noticeably brighter than the Xperia Z1 Compact's.

That said, the Xperia Z1 Compact's screen is still very good. Despite being slightly dimmer and boasting a lower ppi count than the Nexus 5, we found text and icons displayed on the Xperia Z1 Compact were still very crisp and the screen boasted decent viewing angles.

Winner: Nexus 5

Next: Operating system and software, performance and camera

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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