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CES: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact hands-on review

Sony's pint-sized Android smartphone could give the iPhone a run for its money
Tue Jan 07 2014, 13:53
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact features a 20.7MP rear-facing camera

LAS VEGAS: SONY unveiled the Xperia Z1 Compact at CES in Las Vegas on Monday, a miniature version of its flagship Xperia Z1 smartphone that retains its high-end specifications.

Taking a different approach than Samsung and HTC, Sony has decided that "mini" shouldn't mean sup-par, and has configured the Xperia Z1 Compact with the same top-end specifications as its flagship smartphone to attract those looking for a powerful, pint-sized handset.

Design
The Xperia Z1 Compact is a smaller version of the Sony Xperia Z1, which in terms of design is no bad thing. We're fans of the boxy, glossy design of Sony's Xperia line, and the Xperia Z1 Compact is no exception. 

We do have a couple of gripes, though. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is slightly chunkier than its predecessor, measuring 9.5mm thick compared to 8.5mm, which means it doesn't sit quite as comfortably in the palm of the hand, although at just 140g, it does feel light. 

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact design

The handset's also prone to picking up fingerprints, which means it can get grubby quite easily, although its glossiness means it's very easy to clean. 

We can let these gripes go, however, as the Xperia Z1 Compact's design also means that like the Xperia Z1 it's resistant against dust, water and scratches. It will also launch in a number of colours, including black, white, yellow and pink. 

Screen
The display on the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact isn't as impressive as its big brother's 5in 1920x1080 resolution display, but that's not to say that it's disappointing. Measuring 4.3in with 1280x720 resolution, it's clear that text isn't quite as sharp as on the Xperia Z1, but the screen still delivers vibrant colours and detailed images.  

Sony's Xperia Z1 has a 4.3in HD screen

Sony has equipped the Xperia Z1 Compact's screen with IPS technology, which means that viewing angles on the pint-sized smartphone are above average. 

Performance and software
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact comes powered by a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM, and it's rare for a smartphone of this size, besides the iPhone 5S, to have such nippy components. The chip is just as impressive in the real world as it is on paper, and we found the device very nippy, especially for a smartphone of its size. 

There's LTE support onboard, and the handset arrives with 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded to 64GB with a microSD card. 

As for software, the Xperia Z1 Compact runs Google's Android 4.3 Jelly Bean mobile operating system, but Sony has said that it will put out an update to Android 4.4 Kitkat "almost instantly" after the handset's release.

It's unlikely to make too much difference however, as Sony has coated Google's mobile operating system with its own custom user interface. While we've never been huge fans of Sony's own skin, finding it overbearing compared to a vanilla Android user interface, the firm's application lineup is a bonus, with the Xperia Z1 Compact arriving loaded with the firm's Walkman and Playstation companion apps, a boon for those who own a PS4. 

Cameras
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Xperia Z1 Mini Compact is its rear-facing camera, with the downsized device packing the same 20.7MP sensor as its flagship sibling.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact features a 20.7MP rear-facing camera

We gave it a quick go on the CES show floor, and we're pleased to report that image quality is just as impressive as on the Xperia Z1, with pictures appearing crisp, clear and full of natural colour even under the glaring Las Vegas lights.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact also features a 2MP camera on its front that's capable of shooting HD 1080p video.

First impressions
For those after a pint-sized smartphone with top-end smartphone specifications and features, it's a tough call between the iPhone 5S and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The handset's 4.3in screen is impressively vibrant, while its quad-core processor and top-end camera make this one of the most attractive small smartphones on the market.

However, the handset's success likely will depend partly on its price, and Sony has yet to reveal how much it will cost when it goes on sale in the coming months.

Check back with The INQUIRER soon for our full Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review. µ

 

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