Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-On

August 31, 2017 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Sony has unveiled its new smartphones for the second half of the year, which include the flagship Xperia XZ1 along with its smaller brethren the Xperia XZ1 Compact. Sony is still the only manufacturer making “small” smartphones. The Xperia XZ1 Compact sports a 4.6-inch 720p Triluminous display, which is basically the same display from the Xperia X Compact. Obviously HD is a bit dated in 2017, however with this being under 5-inches, you’re still getting 319 pixels per inch on this panel. Which is quite good, to be honest, and will still result in great battery life with the 2700mAh battery inside. Now since we have only gone hands on with the Xperia XZ1 Compact, and not spent extended time with the device, it’s hard to say how good that battery will perform, but it should do well with Sony’s lightweight skin.

Under-the-hood, Sony has installed the Snapdragon 835 chipset. This is the first time, since the Xperia Z5 Compact, that the Compact smartphone has gotten the latest and greatest silicon from Qualcomm. Paired with the Snapdragon 835 is 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Snapdragon 835 should provide some great battery life for the Xperia XZ1 Compact, as it has with other smartphones already on the market. It does also have that newer 19-megapixel camera with Sony’s Motion Eye technology. However there are some new features with the camera this year. And there’s one that Sony is really excited about.

The Xperia XZ1 Compact and it’s larger brother, the Xperia XZ1, is going to have 3D scanning. This is still just a gimmick for now, but it is pretty cool. You can do a 3D scan of yourself, and even print it out – although that feature isn’t quite finished yet. You can also do a 3D scan of your food or another object. It’s definitely not the reason to buy the Xperia XZ1 Compact, but it is a cool feature to show off to your friends. Now on the camera front, the 19-megapixel shooter back there seems to take rather decent pictures. Of course, this was in a controlled environment, so a full verdict will have to wait until review devices are in hand. The front-facing camera is a super wide-angle camera, which is not available on the Xperia XZ1, surprisingly. The Xperia XZ1 Compact gets a 120-degree lens while the larger Xperia XZ1 gets a 80-degree lens.

Sony has caught a lot of flack over the years for using, more or less, the same design for many years in a row. With really only doing a few minor tweaks with each refresh. But one thing that can be said about Sony is the fact that the design of its devices is definitely unique and stands out. Sony has tweaked the design with the Xperia XZ1 Compact once again, and made the entire back and left and right sides, one sheet of metal. The top and bottom of the phone are separate sheets, which helps with the signal. But it also gives it a seamless look, which looks pretty impressive. The Xperia XZ1 Compact looks and feels good in the hand, it feels really solid, and does not have curved edges like the Xperia XZ1. I actually liked holding the Xperia XZ1 Compact over the standard Xperia XZ1.

Android Oreo is available on the Xperia XZ1 Compact at launch, surprisingly enough. Sony didn’t say if it would be the first with Android Oreo or not, but it will definitely be one of the first. With the Xperia XZ1 Compact launching around the middle of September, it is possible that other smartphones could beat it. Again, we only used the device for a limited amount of time, but Android Oreo felt really smooth on the hardware, and the Sony skin is still there, but still rather minimal. A la HTC Sense as of late. This is a good thing, because there are plenty of great features included in Sony’s UI, but it doesn’t bog down the system, which is good.

There is a fingerprint sensor on the Xperia XZ1 Compact, but as you’d expect, it is not available in the US. It’s disabled as usual. Sony is still giving the usual “business decision” answer for why the device does not have the fingerprint sensor in the US. It’s a bit of a puzzling one really, and there are plenty of theories out there as to why that is, but we’ll stick with what Sony told us. The Xperia XZ1 Compact is still waterproof, rated at IP68 like other flagships, and it’s available in a few colors – black, white silver, blue, and twilight pink. The colors look really nice, especially the blue color that it is using on the Xperia XZ1 Compact. The twilight pink is almost like a salmon color, and what we noticed with the black model is that the matte finish makes it pick up fingerprints and grease like crazy. Obviously that is to be expected, but still interesting.

Sony’s Xperia XZ1 Compact is a great “little” smartphone with some flagship specs. The only spec that isn’t really flagship is the screen resolution. Which putting a Quad HD display on a 4.6-inch smartphone is a bit overkill, and Sony doesn’t think it needs to sacrifice performance for a higher resolution display. Which is something Huawei has done too – but recently gave in with the Quad HD fad. The only issue with the Xperia XZ1 Compact is the price tag, and the fact that it is only available unlocked and not at retailers. But it’s tough to say anything bad about this device. It’s a powerful little guy that is great for those looking for something smaller these days.