Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

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Since Apple ditched small-sized devices when it brought the iPhone 6 to the table, Sony has become unrivaled when it comes to compact smartphones. Even though Steve Jobs stated that no one would buy a big phone, every single manufacturer has followed the trend of producing larger devices, except for Sony.

The Japanese giant has three new versions of the latest flagship smartphone: the Xperia Z5 Premium, the Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

It is true that Sony actually went and skipped models when it rolled out the mini-versions of their flagship Z4 smartphone, so the Xperia Z5 Compact is actually a follow-on to the Z3 Compact. The newer model has improved camera functions, updated design, and a new fingerprint sensor, but is that enough to make people prefer a smaller device over a huge and flashy phablet?

Specs

Operating System Android OS v5.1.1 (Lollipop) / upgradable to v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Display 4.6-inch / 720 x 1280 pixels (~323 ppi pixel density)
Processor Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)
Storage 32 GB / microSD (up to 200 GB)
Rear Camera 23 MP / f/2.0 / 24mm / phase detection autofocus / LED flash / 4K Video
Front Camera 5.1 MP / f/2.4 / 1080p / HDR
Network GSM / HSPA / LTE
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac / dual-band / Wi-Fi Direct / DLNA / hotspot / Bluetooth v4.1 / GPS / NFC
Sensors Fingerprint (EU model only) / accelerometer / gyro / proximity / compass / barometer
Charging Micro USB 2.0
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 2700 mAh battery
Dimensions 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm
Weight 138 g
Colors White / Graphite Black / Yellow / Coral

Design

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Xperia Z5 Compact on top of Z3 Compact

Sony stayed with the OmniBalance design language that it used in their Xperia models. There are subtle differences from the other Compact models, which include a new frosted glass back and lipped edges on both sides that help prevent scratches.

The Z5 Compact is a lot thicker than other models, which has led it to being called “the brick.” Although, it helps to add to the sturdiness that Sony has a reputation for. Just like the rest of the Xperia family, the Z5 Compact is actually waterproof, and it comes without the flaps that people griped about with the older devices.

The fingerprint scanner is halfway up the right side of the device, which is convenient and means that the screen size doesn’t need to be compromised by any additional hardware that may clutter up the front.

Screen

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Both the Z3 Compact and Z5 Compact have a 4.6″ screen

Even though the smartphone is quite small, Sony managed to fit in a 4.6-inch screen, which is only 0.1 inches smaller than on the iPhone 6.

The Z5 compact hasn’t made the leap to Full HD yet, though on a screen of this size it just isn’t needed. It does have a minor flaw that is common among other types of Sony screens, which is that under certain light conditions, having the screen tilted a certain way, it is possible to make out the touch-sensitive panel just below the glass.

Camera

z5 compact camera
Sample photo taken in auto mode

Sony has often been a pioneer with regard to smartphone camera modes thanks to the tech giant’s in-house camera technology. The new phone has a 23 MP sensor compared to the Z3 Compact’s 20.7 MP.

The outstanding optics of the Z5, as well as the image sensor, is almost way too good, since loading the camera and navigating the functions takes a tad too long. This is the fault of the software, though a better solution could be finding a new hardware.

The flagship phones from Sony have featured 4k capabilities as a standard feature since the Z3, even though previous models have had issues with overheating. This led Sony to issuing a warning that when the camera is opened for the first time, it could shut down. In a week of testing it, using the 4k video and the reality functions, the camera never shut down.

Software, battery, and hardware

z5 compact soft

Hardware is another area where the Z5 Compact actually shines. Sony placed the same QualComm Snapdragon 810 processor in it, as well as 32 GB of storage and 2GB of RAM together with up to 200GB microSD storage.

The prior models were criticized for their tendency to overheat, which caused power-intensive apps to close. While the warnings still pop up before using certain features, the device does not shut down during filming.

The fingerprint sensor has convenient placement and is great for security-conscious users. There was an issue with it failing to unlock on the first attempt.

Lastly, Sony is considered to be the best in the business when it comes to the battery life, and the Z5 Compact doesn’t disappoint at all. It will meet the 2-day battery life that Sony boasts about, and it can even go a few more days with light use.

Conclusion and price

The Z5 Compact is the only high-end contender for people who are looking for a smaller device, but to call the Z5 Compact the best small smartphone on the market wouldn’t be giving it enough credit. Despite the size, it is able to accommodate all the features and performance that the rest of the Z5 family has, which will give the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6 a run for their money.

At $459, it is at least $50 to $100 cheaper than the other flagships, which really does make it a great option for those who want a premium phone at a lower price.