Sony is one of the only companies still making fairly high-end compact phones, but it’s been a year since its last one, the Sony Xperia X Compact, and that was a phone that didn’t impress us as much as some of its earlier small screeners, so fans of compact handsets haven’t had much to get excited about lately.
That could all be changing now though, as Sony has just announced the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, alongside the Sony Xperia XZ1.
But just how different is the XZ1 Compact to the X Compact? And was it worth the wait? To help answer those questions we’ve put the two phones head to head.
- Read our hands on
The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact is constructed from glass fibre weave plastic, giving it a different look and feel to the ceramic-like plastic on the Sony Xperia X Compact.
It’s going to largely be subjective as to which is better, but otherwise these are very similar looking phones, with a similarly rectangular design and a distinctive power button on the side, packing a fingerprint scanner (unless you’re in the US).
The two phones even have the same dimensions of 129 x 65mm. However, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact is marginally slimmer and heavier at 9.3mm thick and 143g to the Xperia X Compact’s 9.5mm and 135g.
Perhaps the biggest design win for the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact though is that it’s IP68 certified dust and water resistant, so it can survive the rain or even submersion.
Waterproofing is a common feature on high-end Sony phones but is lacking from the Sony Xperia X Compact.
The XZ1 Compact also sports dual S-Force front surround speakers for 50% more sound pressure than the X Compact.
At 4.6 inches the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact certainly has a small screen by modern standards, and at 720p it's not overly high resolution, but the small size ensures it’s still fairly sharp.
However, that’s exactly the same setup as the Sony Xperia X Compact has, so there’s little to choose there. Either of these phones will be easy to operate with one hand.
We had no real issues with the Xperia X Compact's screen, despite its relatively low resolution, and in our early tests we've found the XZ1 Compact's display to be similarly high-quality.
OS and power
The Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, while the Sony Xperia X Compact is still on Android 7.1.1 Nougat and it’s not known if or when it will be updated.
The XZ1 Compact is also more powerful, sporting a high-end Snapdragon 835 chipset and 4GB of RAM, compared to the mid-range Snapdragon 650 chipset and 3GB of RAM in the Sony Xperia X Compact.
Both phones also come with 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB.
Camera and battery
There’s a 19MP camera on the back of the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, just like on other recent Sony flagships. And while it’s a lower megapixel count it can likely be considered an upgrade on the 23MP one on the Xperia X Compact.
It’s capable of 4K video recording and super slow-motion shooting at 960fps, neither of which can be matched by the Sony Xperia X Compact’s video camera, which tops out at 1080p.
The Xperia XZ1 Compact also has an 8MP lens on the front and it’s a super wide-angle one, so you can fit more in your shots. The Sony Xperia X Compact on the other hand has a more conventional 5MP front-facing snapper.
Both phones have a 2,700mAh battery though, so there’s no change there. We’ll be sure to put the XZ1 Compact’s fully to the test in our review, but the X Compact is quite a long-lasting phone, so we’re hopeful that its successor will be too.
There’s no word yet on what the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact will cost, but the Sony Xperia X Compact launched at $499/£359 (around AU$635) so the Xperia XZ1 Compact is likely to be similar. You can now find the Xperia X compact for around $100/£100 less than that though.
With a much higher-end chipset, more RAM, dust and water resistance, a likely better camera and a tweaked design, the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact sounds on paper like it could be the phone we hoped the X Compact would be.
Of course, how good it is in practice remains to be seen – we’ll let you know when we put it through our full review. It’s also not an improvement in all areas, with the screen and battery size remaining much the same, while the XZ1 Compact will also likely cost more to get hold of.
Still, if you’ve been holding out for a compact flagship this could be the phone to buy.
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