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Hands On with the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

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Aug 31, 2017, 6:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Xperia XZ1 Compact is a true miniaturized version of the larger XZ1 flagship handset. It includes nearly every single feature offered by its bigger brother, but stuffs them into a more compact and usable piece of hardware. Here are Phonescoop's first impressions of the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact.

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Sony has a new compact handset, appropriately called the Xperia XZ1 Compact, on deck for an October debut. The phone is a smaller version of the XZ1 flagship and carries over almost all the larger handset's features, save for the size. The phone employs design characteristics we've seen from Sony before and assembles them into a blocky form factor that will appeal to those who like small devices or have small hands.

Sony uses its Loop Design language on its flagship handsets, though it's somewhat hard to see on the XZ1 Compact. This phone is made from a glass fabric that feels a lot like plastic to me. The material and chunky form make the loop — a profile that has a seamless path around the top and bottom edges — hard to see. The phone still has rather sharp corners and looks like a rectangle to my eyes.

XZ1 Compact  

I'm rather averse to the phone's plain looks.

The glass fiber material wraps around the entire rear panel and forms the side edges as well. The top and bottom ends are made from polycarbonate. The front is covered in "2.5D glass" that is curved so it meets the side edge seamlessly.

The footprint is very nice. I prefer bigger phones, but the Xperia XZ1 Compact is a really nice size. I wish it weren't quite so thick. It may be short and narrow, but Sony had to cram all the innards somewhere. The edges are indeed smooth and feel comfortable in your hand.

The front has a smallish screen and the (same old!) thick bezels for which Sony is known. Sony has got to move on from this design language. It's just tired. There are no physical buttons, but stereo speakers are positioned above and below the display. The 4.6-inch 720p display is decent. The smaller size helps the lack of pixels. I thought the screen was bright and colors looked excellent. The low resolution means the XZ1 Compact is no good for virtual reality.

A hatch on the left side covers the SIM and memory card slots, while all the buttons are huddled together on the right edge. Sony was able to correct some of the mistakes it made on last year's X Compact. The screen lock button is near the middle of the side edge. It is rather flat, but easy enough to find. The volume toggle is positioned above the screen lock key and works well. It has a slim profile. The dedicated camera button is where you expect to find such a key at the bottom of the right edge. The headphone jack is on top and the USB-C port is on the bottom.

The rear fabric panel is flat. The camera elements are tucked into the top-left corner. The camera lens itself is rather small, but the focus/flash array is rather large. The phone has laser and phase-detection to assist in focusing on your subject. The panel cannot be removed, nor can the battery.

Under the hood, the X Compact has a great set of specs. You'll find the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It's got a 19-megapixel main sensor and an 8-megapixel user-facing sensor. It also has a 2,700mAh battery with Quick Charge. I'm a little nervous about the small battery, but Sony insists it delivers all-day battery life.

One of the neatest features of the phone is called 3D Creator. With it, you can scan 3D objects. There are four presets: head, face, food, and freeform. Each capture mode includes a tutorial so you can figure out how to use it. It takes about one minute to pan the phone around whatever object it is that your capturing and voila, you've created a 3D scan. What can you do with these scans? Share them via messenger, use them as your avatar, or even send them to a 3D printer to be made into a physical thing. This is totally superfluous, but also a lot of fun.

You wouldn't know that the Xperia XZ1 is running Android 8 Oreo, thanks to the hefty Sony user experience. The Android UI on the phone ran blazing fast on the preview units we saw. It includes the usual spate of Sony apps and services. The camera application is particularly powerful.

As long as you don't mind small phones, the Sony XZ1 Compact has a lot to offer.


About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Aug 31, 2017, 2:18 PM

The small phone lives on!

I've had most of the Sony Compacts, starting with the Z3c, Z5c, and Xc and am very excited that I have another phone to look forward to in this line. I'm glad they're using the same chip inside as in it's larger sibling, and cannot wait to upgrade. Glad they're still certifying waterproof ratings, but might import to get the fingerprint sensor (or use global firmware)
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