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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact: Thoughts After a Full Weekend With Sony’s Smaller High-End Phone

At CES 2014, we struggled to find interesting mobile-related stories outside of wearables because, well, there just weren’t any. Unless you consider Sony’s Xperia Z1 Compact, which is the Japanese electronics manufacturer’s take on a smaller phone, just not one that necessarily falls into the “mini” category. With the Z1 Compact, you are looking at high-end specs packed into a phone that is much smaller than other flagships of today. And I say “flagship,” because it certainly stands up to other flagships, outside of its 720p display.

I picked one up last week even though it currently is only available overseas because as I just mentioned, it was one of the only interesting products to come out of CES. The thought of a high-end smart phone in a small package is something I find incredibly appealing, probably because it reminds me a bit of the thought process behind the Moto X. We also wanted to get ahead of this device, as Sony is almost guaranteed to release it in the U.S. six months from now.

So after spending an entire weekend with the phone, what are my current thoughts? I’ve captured them all in the clip below. Let’s just say that I think you’ll be surprised, especially since we haven’t spent all that much time with Sony products over the years.

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sony xperia z1 compact sony xperia z1 compact sony xperia z1 compact sony xperia z1 compact sony xperia z1 compact

  • Romano

    Hi, pls , have this Xperia Z1 Compact WI FI CALLING ?
    Thank you for answer

  • LoveSmallPhones

    Does anyone know if this is coming to Verizon? Thanks

  • Moll

    Pnones should be compared not only on screen sizes but also on bezel sizes. For screen size it is definitely compact, for bezel much less so… In such bezel they should put at least 4.5 inch display

  • joelbyork

    Can you throw in a T-Mobile USA SIM card and confirm that this is compatible with T-Mobile’s LTE network? My understanding is that it will be compatible as it appears to support Band 4 per the specs on Sony’s website. Confirmation though would be much appreciated.

  • Daniel

    Why did you not even mention or use the dedicated Camera Button?! That and the MicroSD, huge battery for the size, and the compact size sells this phone if only it were on Verizon

    • So used to not using a camera button that it hasn’t been something I’ve used. That and it launches the camera app like 1 out of 5 times. MicroSD is nice, but again, something I’m so used to not using, although I am using it on here. 😛

  • Tan

    I really hope sony can incorporate the knock on feature like lg on its phones

  • Tim242

    Holy bezels!

  • Jeff Martinez

    The 20th is the day I order this baby…in Lime!!!

  • Zander_206

    Sony, please please please bring this year’s flagship to Verizon!!! If you announce that at MWC, I guarantee I’ll be rocking it. The split second I can throw my money at someone. Thanks, Pissed verizon customer

  • Daniel Walsh

    Sony makes great phones.

  • DainLaguna

    Kellen: loving the new video format. very classy.

    also, about the screen…despite the resolution, ive read the display is massively better than whats on sonys current flagships…like color and clarity and it actually has viewing angles….thoughts?

    • Seems pretty poor to me, but it could still be an improvement over their other phones. Coming from the Nexus 5 and Moto X, it’s definitely a downgrade.

    • camnz

      I think he was being a little too harsh on the screen. From what I’ve read and heard, it has more PPI than a retina display. Of course it’s not a 1080 but it’s the best in that size. Also with the viewing angles, who tries to use their phone at a 45 degree angle?! Bit of an unnecessary criticism IMO

  • [A]dri[A]n

    Considering it only has a 4.3 inch display, it isn’t very compact. Pretty huge footprint for such a small display.

  • Jordan

    I wish they would have killed off the bezels & made it an even smaller device. Or more ideally made the screen bigger & kept the size of the device the same.

    • j

      Agreed.. It’s pretty handsome, but overall seems like a smartphone design study from 15 years ago. Too chunky.

    • Viqi

      Exactly my thoughts!!

    • jake

      it does have smaller bezel than iphone . However it shame that it doesnt have apple auto ignore bezel aura .

  • Daniel

    Now let’s all start a prayer that Verizon carries it…

    • The Motto

      Wound need a complete redesign on the hardware side with fitting CDMA and new antennas for US LTE.. don’t count on it..

  • Tyler

    What i took from the video: it has a camera button… rare.

    • Chris

      EVO LTE has one. press and hold and the camera app opens. Hit it again to take a picture. No fumbling around with settings or apps.

      • Chris

        Amazes me how one can be an android fan and yet do not know that this feature already exists…

        • flosserelli

          Chris I bet you are the life of every party, right? I’m sure people are just dying to meet you.

  • Dan

    Would you mind giving us a link to that lock screen wallpaper?

    • It’s included in an icon pack that we’ll be writing up tomorrow. 🙂

      • Dan

        Ok, thanks. 🙂

  • CaptainHowdy13

    Wireless charging? Also where’d you buy it?

    • No wireless charging, bought from Clove UK.

  • Artem Pervenyonok

    Looking on this device for a while and can’t decide should I chose it over Moto X. On Z1 Compact’s side are better materials (but fingerprint magnet), expandable storage (or 32 gigs is more than enough?), camera; Moto X gets better screen, lower price, customization options.

    Kellen, if you decide on making a review – can you please focus on comparing it to Moto X?

    • The Narrator

      This really doesn’t compare to the Moto X. Mainly because it’s holding a SD 800 quad core processor, 20mp camera, expandable storage, water proof. That’s my thoughts. I’d compare the Moto X and Nexus 5, which i think they’ve done.

      • Artem Pervenyonok

        Well, it’s not about all specs (at least for me), I think Moto X’s hardware should be enough for my daily tasks. What I care about is the overall experience. Will I ever need that extra storage, pictures of my toiled or apps, that opens few blinks faster? Or should I chose better and bigger screen in the same size, better call quality and better comfort, while using the phone, due to it’s curved back. I’m sure it’s only me who should make that decision, but I’d like to hear other opinions and highlights on these phones.

  • Godzilla

    LOL Sony. The only thing I want from you is a PS4. You used to be king of everything. Now who’s king?

    TVs- Samsung
    Phones – Samsung
    Computers – build your own

    I’ll pass on your never updated phones

    • Nikuliai

      Computers (Notebooks): Lenovo

      Build your own has neven been popular, it’s something WE do since we’re informed, most people just buys the whole PC and right now the big market there is the notebook market and the king there is Lenovo, the only people who buys desktops now are gamers and enterprises

      • Chris

        Lenovo needs to die.

        • Nikuliai

          -please do not feed the troll-

      • Vince Longman

        Nope, most PC desktop gamers don’t buy pre-built PC, pre-built PC are nearly always worse, overpriced and lower quality compared to if you build it yourself.

        • Nikuliai

          By desktops I mean desktops, not pre-built, sorry I wasn’t clear, gonna refrase it

          Gamers/Geeks buy and assemble their own customized desktop (typing from one)
          Enterprises need a work station so they build PC’s (99/100 times pre-built)

          But the regular users now are going for notebooks since the desktop are not that useful anymore (if you’re not a gamer nor a geek), that actually makes me sad cuz the Desktops are gonna be a -kind of- small market in a couple years, and I would hate to play in my ultrabook since it has a card and a decent proc, but it’s too small, the keyboard is lame compared to a desktop and I use a big screen most of the time, so I can work on my notebook, but gaming is “only for emergency”, there is nothing like a custom made pc :/

          • Vince Longman

            Oh sorry, I miss understood what you meant.
            Yea I agree with you.
            I hope that the Oculus Rift becomes popular and encourages more people to move to PC.
            Also I hope Steam boxes make it simpler for more average consumers to move to PC gaming, though most of them at CES were disappointing, I think the $500 iBuyPower was pretty good, but the rest seem just like pre-built PCs (still overpriced) with Steam OS instead of Windows.

          • Nikuliai

            The Oculus Rift is a really cool concept but I wouldn’t use it (don’t like the idea of having no vision of anything but the “console”), so I don’t see it as something THAT good market wise, I hope I’m wrong tho, since it would make people move and would make the devs… well… develop some cool things accordingly.

            On the Steam boxes, I hope they change the market back to PC a little, since to me at least playing in pc is 10 times better than a console (and it’s upgradeable, like the PC), problem is that right now most devs ignore the PC market (they do port games but filled with bugs, and I mean not cracked, original games which crash, in my experience it has been something like 3 each 10 or something) and this is on Windows side, Linux right now is not even close to that, the catalog is REALLY small, so the Steam boxes, at least at first, should base their sucess on a user streaming the game (and then what is the point of the box), so to me it’s a good idea, but they will have to suffer a couple years to actually start seeing some results -at least in my opinion-

            So to me, right now the Windows Desktop gaming is the best console, but not that many people sees it that way 😛 (and for that reason we get less love than the consoles)

          • Vince Longman

            True, the Oculus Rift isn’t for everyone.
            Yea, I agree that Windows Desktops is the best. I think developer favor consoles just because there more popular and have the same specs so they are somewhat easier to develop and optimize for.
            I think they’re more popular because their simpler, just plug in and your done. PCs are more complicated, you got to choose parts, put it together and install Windows. Also console are initially cheaper, though PCs are cheaper in the long run because PC games are much cheaper and no need to pay for PS+ or XBOX LIVE.
            I don’t really think I’ll move from Windows because Macs are always too low specs for gaming and Windows PCs are more upgradable and versatile compared to Steam Boxes.
            I just hope Steam boxes make it simpler for people who are too intimidated to build a PC.

          • Nikuliai

            and the Macs are worse than Linux gaming wise, almost nobody develops for them.

            PS: true that, PCs are so much cheaper if you’re an active gamer (steam sales makes my wallet cry)

    • The Narrator

      King of sales =/ good product all the time. My Sony TV kills anything samsung i’ve ever owned.

      • Nikuliai

        Well tbh I hated my Vaio notebook, I gave it away and bought an Asus lol, it’s a matter of taste, but I’ll grant you this, Sony makes pretty things, and that matters on TV

        • The Narrator

          I would never deal with Asus QC again. They are all talk and no game. I do like my Nexus 7 though.

          • Nikuliai

            That may be true lol, a friend of mine got a notebook that just stopped working, but to be fair to me he looks like Edward scissor hands (he breaks A LOT of tech), luckily mine is flawless for now (I got an Asus UX-32VD, I can even play on that ultrabook and it’s so freaking sexy), but I have heard they do have problems on QC, especially on keyboards, but I can’t talk from experience since all I’ve had it’s good (and sexy) products 🙂

    • M3D1T8R

      My Panasonic VT60 series plasma is better than any TV Samsung offers, including their high end plasma. (All lcd(led) sets are a flawed technology and don’t compare.) Probably the best picture quality ever, and likely will be for the next many years, now that Panasonic has unfortunately decided to stop making plasmas. I had to get one while I still could, and now after three months it is still a total joy to watch, every minute, love it more each day. If you can still find one, I suggest people get a VT60, or the cheaper ST60. After inputting calibration settings, everything looks just stunning on this set. Bluray/high def especially, but even the occasional standard def Netflix stuff looks surprisingly great.

      I would also disagree on Samsung for phones.

      But I will agree on self built computers. I’m still rocking the same basic one I built about 6 years ago, with upgrades to the CPU, video card, RAM, and an SSD along the way. Unfortunately I’m finally going to have to upgrade from Windows XP since they’re stopping support soon..and maybe to play BioShock Infinite.

      • Cameron Stabile

        Agreed on TVs – I own the earlier generation Panasonic 60GT30 and it’s amazing! The THX picture is SO much nicer than the over-saturated garbage you see on most LCDs, but you’re definitely going to get some negative reactions from people who are used to those settings, so be warned.

        I do, however, want to check out the 4k XBR set that Sony makes, every review says it’s flawless.

    • Ian

      Lolz “build your own” you really think that how most people acquire a computer?

  • WCM3

    I’m getting one and taking a picture in the toilet.


  • paul_cus

    My next phone.

  • Radgatt

    I hope the rumors of the phone that Sony is set to introduce at MWC 2014 coming to Verizon is true.

    • Chris

      Where will they place their huge ass logo?

      • tomn1ce

        on the huge ass bezel

    • The Narrator

      Guaranteed Snapdragon. ..hopefully 805. Would pair nicely with their 20mp+ cameras.

  • JZ

    Kellen, I’m really enjoying the new shooting techniques you’re using at the start of your videos. The audio voiceover is really nice too. Great job!

    • Thanks! Trying to up the quality a bit this year. Should only get better, still learning.

      • cizzlen

        Been with you guys since the OG Droid days. You guys only continue to get better 🙂

  • wade_county

    Gorgeous device. I’d probably would drop my Moto X for this.

    • Nikuliai

      really? I mean it’s gorgeous on a side-front view but it still doesn’t come close to the X imo lol (which btw should do an aluminum back just for the sake of “premium” guys)

  • The Narrator

    If only it was 4.5″. 4.3″ is too close to iPhone territory.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      What does that have to do with anything

      • The Narrator

        Because i like my phone screens big. All that power for a small screen = useless.

        That’s my opinion. YMMV

        • AbbyZFresh

          Some of us actually like our phone screens small like the iPhone. That’s why i got a Moto X instead of a Droid Maxx or Ultra.

          • AbbyZFresh

            Now who down voted this. i’m just saying my opinion.

          • James Burkett

            The Moto X is 4.5 inches.

          • AbbyZFresh

            Doesn’t feel much different from the iPhone on my hands. Close enough.

          • The Narrator

            Looks significantly larger in person.

          • wade_county

            Its actually 4.7 inches. Motorola built a engineering masterpiece.

          • Nikuliai

            Moto G is 4.5, Moto X is 4.7

        • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

          Want a bigger screen? Buy the high end version. It’s called “compact” for a reason.

          • The Narrator

            4.5 is compact. Unless there is a growing population of small hand genetics i am just now finding out about.

          • Tim242

            The point is, they could remove the bezels, have a bigger screen, and still be compact.

          • Ian

            And while they’re at it, throw a Samsung logo on that bad boy *elbows Tim* amiright?


        • wade_county

          Actually, if the screen is smaller it would make the phone more battery efficient and faster.

          • The Narrator

            My G2 lasts all day, goes on charger at night. Phone’s don’t need multiple day batteries.

          • wade_county

            “Phone’s don’t need multiple day batteries.”

            You’re the first person that doesn’t want long battery life.

          • The Narrator

            I never said i didn’t want long battery life.

            8am to 11pm is long enough. 12+ hours. I don’t need 8am Monday- Wednesday afternoon

          • Chris

            Yeah. YOU don’t.

          • Chris

            You’re joking right?

        • DainLaguna

          ‘all that power for a small screen=useless’

          this makes no sense.

    • Chris

      There was a time when 4.3 was the flagship size…..

      Get off your high horse. Screen size has NOTHING to do with the iphone.

      • The Narrator

        High horse? I was stating an opinion. Not up here yelling like you are.

        We’ve moved far away from the 4.3 in screen’s because as consumers, we love power.

        • Whyme

          From reading some of his previous post, I don’t think he’s capable of understanding that.

          • Chris

            Na. Its mostly dealing with punks that come on here mouthing off…

          • flosserelli

            Maybe you should get out of your parents’ basement more often.

        • Nikuliai

          Just a heads up, I haven’t seen a constructive comment of Chris… ever, he usually just complains of someone, about the post or tries to troll, don’t take him too seriously 😉

          PS: opinion wise I actually loved my 4” screen, now that I have a 4.7” I got used to it, but 4 is the max for a lot of people (I was on that group and I have big hands), I do think tho we should have the option (something like the Z1 – Z1 Compact, have small or big sized smarphone depending on what you want without having to sacrifice tons of specs for it)

  • Philip J. Fry

    dem bezels

    • Alec

      Since the display is small, you need as much space on the the front of the phone as possible to fit all those cores and a decent sized battery inside

      • spearman792

        Why can’t you fit them behind the screen? Displays are thin, and the Z1 compact is thicker than most phones anyway (9.5mm thick compared to the Nexus 5’s 8.6mm). Also, remember that the Moto X fits a significantly bigger screen into a body that is shorter than the Z1 compact

        • Nikuliai

          The Moto X battery is smaller tho, but I agree

  • moew

    Waterproof for pictures in your toilet, nice Kellex!

    • LamN

      Hahaha I did realize that!

    • DL, always looking for new uses of phones. 😛

  • Maxim∑

    Its rare these days to find a small Android phone with the specs of a larger phone. I wish the bezels on the compact were like the Moto X though

  • Michael

    “Sony is almost guaranteed to release it in the U.S. six months from now” Makes sense….

    • Thomas

      I wish Verizon would carry it 🙁

      • Gr8Ray

        Was trying to figure out why I had never considered an Xperia phone before… then I remembered Verizon.

      • Memphis May [S]unjay

        So that it would never get updated?

    • paul_cus

      Sony hates us.

      • ThomasMoneyhon

        Really think sony just wants to play exclusive to t-mobile and not make deals with the biggest carrier in the usa?
        No verizon hates you (loves your wallet though) No waterproof galaxy active, huge delay on the nexus 7, no g flex, delay on the htc one, no galaxy zoom, won’t let you keep grandfathered unlimited data, but puts up tons of billboards bragging about how awesome their network is (meaning they don’t really stand behind the network).

      • The Motto

        No.. Sony just don’t want to go in to the clusterfuck that is the is the US carrier situation.. Sony made one phone that covers Asia and Europe.. To cover the US would need 2 – 3 versions more to cover the network mess off AT&T’s LTE, Verison and Sprint.. If I where a OEM I would properly stay out of the US..

      • Stone Cold

        Sony has not had a lot of success in America. So they are taking baby steps. Even as a T-Mobile customer not happy with the exclusive agreement for this device.