Litigation is a machine which you go into as a pig and come out as a sausage - Ambrose Bierce, allegedly
THE SONY Xperia Z1 Compact smartphone 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 package. However, the Xperia Z1 Compact has hit a market that's already filled with some pretty impressive Android handsets, including Google's latest Nexus 5 flagship, which we compare 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 127x65x9.5mm and weighing 137g. By comparison the larger Nexus 5 measures 138x69x8.6mm and weighs 130g. The Xperia Z1 Compact's increased thickness and weight are likely due to its IP55 and IP58 certifications.
These 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 isolate all of the phone's ports - engineering that undoubtedly contributed to the handset's weight.
The Xperia Z1 Compact's IP certification is effective and it is significantly more robustly built than the Nexus 5. 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 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 one-piece chassis.
Despite having a more angular design, the Xperia Z1 Compact was more comfortable to hold than the Nexus 5. This is largely due to its smaller dimensions, which ensure that even users with the small hands can use the device one-handed.
Winner: Xperia Z1 Compact
Comparing the Xperia Z1 Compact's 4.3in, 720x1280 resolution, 342ppi Triluminos display with X-Reality technology against the Nexus 5's 5in, 1080x1920 resolution, 445ppi in-plane switching (IPS) Plus capacitive touchscreen, we noticed that 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 display.
That said, the Xperia Z1 Compact's screen is still very good. Despite being slightly dimmer and boasting a lower pixel count than the Nexus 5, we found that text and icons displayed on the Xperia Z1 Compact were still very crisp and the screen had decent viewing angles.
Winner: Nexus 5
Next: Operating system and software, performance and camera.
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ