Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

Seth Barton
7 Feb 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The Z1 Compact isn't perfect but it's still very good, a top-end smartphone in a smaller package



Android 4.3, 4.3in 1,280x720 display

Most of the big phone manufacturers release smaller versions of their flagship handsets. They're ideal for those who prefer more compact handsets, but they often sacrifice a top-end specification in order to hit a more acceptable price. Key examples include the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini. Now Sony has released its Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, but it's actually very different to its apparent competition.

The new phone is indeed a smaller version of the flagship Sony Xperia Z1. However, Sony has taken a stance that a smaller handset shouldn't necessarily be cut-back one and so has, where appropriate, matched the specifications of its larger sibling, so you get all the power in a smaller package.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

The Z1 Compact comes in four different colours, one of which should appeal

The Xperia Z1 Compact measures a fairly svelte 127x65x9.5mm and weighs 140g. It's much smaller than the recent crop of superphones, it fits easily in your hand or even the smallest pockets. Admittedly, it's 1mm thicker than the full-sized Z1 but that's still pretty impressive given everything has to be packed in behind its smaller 4.3in display - 26% smaller than the Z1 and most other flagship phones.

The display's resolution has been reduced from 1,920x1,080 resolution to just 1,280x720, but that still works out to an impressive 342 pixels-per-inch (PPI). That's more detail than you get from the iPhone 5S, it matches the resolution on the HTC One Mini and is superior to that on the Galaxy S4 Mini.

The screen itself is an IPS type and is very impressive. Colours are nicely saturated, looking richer than those on say the Nexus 5. It's bright, with a peak brightness of 502.06cd/m2 according to our testing kit. Whites are pure too, with no colour cast perceivable. Again the Z1 Compact shows its flagship pedigree here, with an all-round, great-looking display.


The Xperia Z1 Compact does have the same quad-core SnapDragon 800 chipset as its big brother, which is running at the same 2.2GHz clock speed. That'll make it far faster than anything its size that's running Android. It blazed through our various benchmarks, with a SunSpider JavaScript benchmark of just 833ms.

Its 3D rendering is just impressive. In 3DMark's Ice Storm test it 'maxed out' the normal and Extreme settings and scored 19,193 in the Unlimited. All of this was groundbreaking when first saw the Z1, and though SnapDragon 800 is now more common it's still the best Android chipset around.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

We like Sony's take on Android, it's largely stock with a few useful tweaks

Android 4.3 ran very smoothly with no hint of hesitation as we switched between apps. We like the custom icons (for a change) and the restrained pallet. There's quite a few apps trying to sell you Sony content but they're easy enough to remove. You get around 12GB of free memory out of the 16GB provided, and you can add up to 64GB thanks to a microSD slot.


The battery is smaller than the Z1's, just 2,300mAh versus 3,000mAh as a larger one would have been hard to fit behind the smaller display. However, that smaller screen has a smaller power draw and the results therefore are impressive, with 12 hours and 32 minutes in our video playback test. Again it's a bigger battery than its competitors have managed to pack into their Mini handsets - the HTC One Mini has only an 1,800mAh battery, which lasted for just eight hours and 38 minutes.

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