At IFA 2016, Sony announced two new additions to its Xperia X series: the Xperia XZ and the latest compact model, the Xperia X Compact. The Xperia X Compact is essentially a smaller version of the Xperia XZ, although it hasn’t exactly followed the same flagship-specs-in-a-compact-body recipe Sony employed with previous compacts. Some of the high-end features are there, but others are not. Check out our Sony Xperia X Compact hands on for our first impressions.

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The first thing to note about the Xperia X Compact is its design, which finally takes more than a tiny step away from Sony’s familiar Omnibalance look, even if it’s still pretty similar. The XZ and X Compact introduce the new “Loop Surface” design, featuring symmetrically rounded edges, a flat top and bottom edge and a frame around the sides that makes the whole thing feel “constructed”, which is actually a nice change from the unibody look and feel.

The Xperia X Compact is made out of plastic, which may or may not be a positive depending how you feel about smartphone construction, as opposed to the aluminum finish used on the Xperia XZ. But what the X Compact arguably loses in terms of premium feel it makes up for in weight, shock absorbance and durability.

It feels good in the hand, partially due to its novel size, but also thanks to the curved edges and polycarbonate material. The X Compact feels sturdy, light and is refreshingly easy to use with one hand. It’s worth noting though that depending on which color you pick – light blue, black or white – that you’ll either get a glossy or matte surface. The glossy version naturally picks up a lot more fingerprints than matte, so keep that in mind when color picking.

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The Xperia X Compact features a 4.6-inch HD Triluminos IPS LCD (319 ppi) with 2.5D glass and the size and resolution should mean good things for battery life, given the decently-sized 2,700 mAh battery and hexa-core Snapdragon 650 chipset used. The chipset is the second big difference when comparing the X Compact and XZ (plastic being the first) and essentially, the Xperia X Compact is almost a Compact version of the original Xperia X rather than being a smaller Xperia XZ.

Other Sony Xperia X Compact specs include 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, microSD support, what looks to be the same fingerprint scanner in the elongated power button from the Z5 series, an impressive 23 MP main camera with triple image sensing technology and 5-axis stabilization – a first for a smartphone – and a 5 MP front-facing camera.

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Unfortunately, the Xperia X Compact does not have an IP rating, meaning it is not protected against dust or water ingress. So if you pick one up be sure to remember it’s not water-resistant like most Sony phones. On the plus side, it features Quick Charge 3.0, USB Type-C and Qnovo Adaptive Charging.

The X Compact weighs just 132 grams and measures 129 x 65 x 9.5mm, essentially the same size as the Z3 Compact, but a little thicker. It includes both NFC and a 3.5mm headphone port, because apparently that needs mentioning these days. Category 6 LTE and Bluetooth 4.2 are both on board, with a variety of accessories and covers that might be worth checking out, especially the bumper case with see-through protective cover.

Packing a flagship-spec’d main camera is one of Sony’s compact trademarks and the X Compact is no different, even if you won’t get the massive 13 MP front-facing camera used on the XZ (the X Compact uses a 5 MP f/2.0 selfie shooter). Laser auto-focus, a fancy triple image sensing technology and 5-axis stabilzation mean that even the most avid photographer will still be well equipped, even without a giant flagship phone in their pocket. Unfortunately you can’t shoot 4K video like the XZ though, thanks to the weaker processor it utilizes, but you do get a full manual mode.

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On the software front, you’ll get Sony’s relatively minimal skin on top of Android Marshmallow, but nice theming options, icons and SwiftKey out of the box. Sony hasn’t gone overboard with bloatware, simply adding the usual Sony suite of arguably useful apps, all thrown around the screen via Sony’s Home launcher. It’s even got double-tap to sleep and the Google Now screen to the left of the home screen.

While some might consider the Snapdragon 800-series chipset used in the Z3 Compact and IP68 rating to mean the X Compact is a lesser version, it’s good to see Sony mixing it up a bit: after all, if the mid-range processor and removal of an IP certification means a cheaper phone with better sounding (dual front-facing) speakers, that’s not a bad thing at all.

The X Compact follows in many of the footsteps laid down by the Z3 Compact but takes some exciting steps in new directions. Without knowing the price though, it’s hard to say just how competitive the Xperia X Compact can be against the likes of the Axon 7 Mini. At $300, the Axon 7 Mini – and several other devices like it – have redefined the budget smartphone landscape. Against that backdrop, the X Compact has its work cut out for it, and Sony has never been known for pricing its devices on the lower end of the spectrum.

Sony Xperia X Compact specs

 Sony Xperia X Compact
Display4.6” HD Triluminos IPS LCD
ProcessorHexa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 650 (2 x 1.8 GHZ, 4 x 1.2 GHz)
RAM3 GB
Storage32 GB + microSD
Dimensions129 x 65 x 9.5 mm
Weight135g
IP ratingNo
Main camera23 MP, predictive hybrid auto-focus, triple image sensing technology, 5-axis stabilization
Front camera5 MP
Battery2,700 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0, Qnovo Adaptive Charging, USB Type-C
Fingerprint sensorYes
NetworksGSM GPRS/EDGE (2G), UMTS HSPA+ (3G), Cat. 6 LTE
ConnectivityA-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS), Wi-Fi Miracast, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC

The Xperia X Compact release date is scheduled for September 25, with regional variations for other markets. The Xperia X Compact price has not yet been disclosed, but should be announced in the next week or two.

Thoughts on the new design? Should Sony have stuck with flagship specs?

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