It seems the companies have figured it out – smaller form factors aren’t a fringe product but are in very real demand. But “mini” versions of flagships tend to lose some of what make their bigger siblings appealing in the first place, unfortunately. Sony, though, appears ever aspirational in its quest for greater consumer loyalty and market share, and wanted to buck that trend with a “compact” offering that literally just shrinks down their best device.

Related: The best Sony Xperia Z1 Compact cases.

Pros 

  • Best in class performance
  • Fantastic 20.7 Megapixel camera
  • strong battery life
  • Water resistant, dust proof, and very durable device
  • Best compact phone on the market with no compromise

Cons 

  • Bezels are a tad thick
  • Could fit a larger display in same form factor

In an attempt at creating a best in class device that offers little to no compromise over its larger, and equally powerful older sibling, the Sony Xperia Z1, Sony brings us the Xperia Z1 Compact. Is the Z1 Compact the accessibly sized phone that we’ve all been waiting for? You can find out in our review.

Sony took the shrink ray to the Xperia Z1 and brought everything down to size. The glass finish with an aluminum frame takes the premium look and feel that only Sony really puts out consistently, and brings it to a smaller, easier to handle form factor. It’s clever of them to identify an opportunity in the market in a way that seemingly no other manufacturer has, except for Apple. While smaller form factors remain popular in certain parts of the world, big 4.7-inch+ devices have become the norm, alienating huge swaths of people not used to negotiating seemingly gargantuan devices. 

And, without a doubt, while bigger devices the the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, LG G2, and even the Nexus 5 are certainly appreciated, the fact remains that not everyone wants a big device. Not everyone has large hands, and not everyone has access to both their hands at a time – something often demanded by anything with a display larger than 5 inches,

Button layout takes on the now classic Sony motif, as the big silver power button, the volume rocker, and the dedicated camera shutter button are on the right side. One problem we must mention here is that the camera button is a little hard to press, as it is really small and slim – it might be just a little difficult to easily snap a picture with it.

The left side of the phone has the microUSB charging port, the microSD card slot, and the SIM tray covered with pieces of plastic, telltale signs of the phone’s resistance to water and dust.

Of course, the main story here is the smaller size and how easy it makes this phone to maneuver. The 4.3-inch display is surrounded by the rather thick bezels that Sony is known to employ, but, overall, the device is still in a pretty reasonable size, not too big and not too small.

The smaller size works wonders in some cases – one particularly great experience I had was with typing – the already pretty great stock Sony keyboard allows for easy swipe typing, and its small size makes one-handed use a breeze.

Bottom line, this is a refreshingly easy phone to work with.

From left to right: Siblings Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Sony Xperia Z1, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

The 4.3-inch TFT LCD display on the Xperia Z1 Compact packs 720p resolution, which is a specification that flagship Android devices were rocking back in 2012. Does that mean the Compact is inadequate? Not really.

At a density of 342 ppi, the Z1 Compact can’t match the 440+ ppi screens of 1080p devices like the Galaxy S5 or HTC One, but it’s still above the threshold of 320 ppi at which pixels no longer resolve for a person with normal vision. In other words, 720p is more than enough on a display this size.

Color rendering on the Z1 Compact is excellent, thanks in part to Sony’s homegrown display technologies, Triluminos and X-Reality. The former means that the display uses quantum dots to render colors, which put simply, makes it possible for the display to show colors that exceed the typical vividness of LCD. It’s not quite AMOLED level of color intensity, but it’s a notch above what you get on most LCDs. X-Reality means that the phone processes images and videos on the fly to make them look at their best. It’s not a stretch to say that the Z1 Compact looks a bit like a very tiny Sony TV thanks to these technologies.

A display may have the nicest colors, but it’s all for nothing if bad viewing angles spoil everything. Luckily, the Z1 Compact is clearly better in this area than earlier devices in the Xperia Z series.

In a few cases, we noticed that apps don’t adapt well to the smaller size of the display, but overall this relatively small screen performs very well.