Over the past few years, the average size of a smartphone has moved from 3.5 inches to 5 inches. Does anyone even make phones smaller than 4.5 inches anymore? Sony just did, launching the 4.3-inch Xperia Z1 Compact. It packs powerful hardware in a smaller body and is a rather welcome change in a market full of phones that look more like footwear.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Xperia Z1 Compact looks just like the Z1 and Z1 Ultra. The only difference is its size. Although it is easy to use with one hand, there is a lot of empty space above and below the screen. At the top, there’s the Sony logo and the front camera, but the area below the screen could have had buttons. When you switch on the phone, you will notice three icons (back, home and switch apps) near the bottom edge of the screen. These take up valuable screen space and could easily have been shifted to the empty space below the screen.
Sony claims that the phone is water and dust-proof, as long as all ports are sealed and you don’t immerse it for more than 30 minutes in fresh water. However, the user manual clearly says that if any water is found in the phone, the warranty becomes void.
That said, the build quality is impressive. The phone feels good to hold and weighs just 137 grams. The buttons on the Z1 Compact (volume, camera, power) are all on one side, and feel sturdy.
The display on the Z1 Compact is excellent. The screen resolution is 1280×720 pixels and the pixel density is 342 ppi. We loved watching videos on this phone. Reading for five to six hours at a stretch left us with no eye strain at all. However, the font size on the Z1 Compact is too small. It looks like Sony simply scaled down the software from a bigger Xperia phone. We compared font sizes with an iPhone and the Z1 Compact’s default font size looks tiny. Thankfully, all you need to do is go to Settings > Display > Font Size and increase it. Extra large is the option we liked most, although it led to some minor issues such as some app names taking up two lines in the menu (eg: Messaging, Alarm & Clock).
SOFTWARE & PERFORMANCE
The phone comes with Android 4.3 (upgradeable to 4.4). Sony’s own software customisations are quite good when compared to other manufacturers. The phone has a powerful quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage (64 GB microSD card supported). Similar hardware is found in most of today’s flagship phones. The phone runs anything you can throw at it with ease. There was no trouble with any app or game that we tested. Most importantly, the phone’s 20.7-MP camera is the icing on the cake. It is superb, and the dedicated camera button makes taking pictures an effortless experience. Although we found it a tad too small, you can half-press this button to focus on your subject, which is a real boon.
While the phone has specs to match today’s flagship phones, it unfortunately doesn’t have the battery life. We started with full charge in the morning (8 am) and ran out of juice by 9 pm. Heavy use (gaming) further reduces battery life. Hence, a battery pack is recommended.
For Rs 34,990, the Xperia Z1 Compact is a powerful phone with a great camera. If you want an Android phone that you can use with one hand, there’s nothing better than the Z1 Compact. If only the battery life were better, there would have been no complaints.