Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – 3 months later

Z1_Compact_Review_ImageBack in February I reviewed the Xperia Z1 Compact from Sony.

If you want some background then you can read my full written review, or if you prefer you can watch the video at the end of this post.

I waited a long time for a device like the Compact.

I don’t wish to be a spoiler but my conclusion was as follows:

I was never a real fan of the Z1, but admired what Sony had accomplished. I felt compelled to like the Z1 Compact long before even getting my hands on it, because it offered just what Samsung and HTC’s comparable ‘Mini’ devices failed to.

On too many occasions I have spoken to people who have bought the Mini devices thinking they did everything the more publicised S3, S4 and HTC One flagships did, only to find out when it was too late that they were either misinformed or mislead.

With the Z1 Compact the story is very different, even if it commands a slightly higher price.

Some will find fault, but I doubt anyone can show me a device that is perfect for everyone. Personally, I think I may just have to take credit card out and make this my personal device for the next 12 months.

As the conclusion suggested, I did choose to personally swap to the Z1 Compact and have now been using it for a period of 3 months. So I thought I would share my opinions and feelings after this amount of time. Read more after the break.

The device is quite heavy for its size and at 137g you do notice it.  It also isn’t particularly slimline at 9.5mm thick and 65mm wide. It does however feel very solid; it has a definite presence in your hand and it can easily be gripped with just one hand too. The squarer edges are not as rough as some would imagine, however I would be lying if I said the plastics and metals of the Samsung and HTC devices were not a little more pleasing on the palm.

The Z1 Compact fingerprint and dust magnet, much like other Z range devices from Sony. Stick it in your jeans pocket and it will be coming out with any dust it can find attached too it. In my instance, having a white colour phone is not so bad, but any dirt and fingerprints are immediately apparent on the display. Removing the factory-fitted shatter-protection film is supposed to solve this issue, although I have yet to do this in preference for keeping the extra level of protection.

The back cover particularly has picked up some scratches that initially could only be seen in certain lights. As time has gone on though, there have been more which can be noticed even on a relatively quick glance.  Being white they are a little less obvious than the black coloured phone. I think I have however reached the critical mass and new scratches are not obvious.

It would be fair to say at this point then that I do not actually use a case on my phone, plus I am quite a heavy user so it gets picked up and put down on a variety of surfaces during the day. I tried a gel shell but felt this made the device bigger than it needed to be so opted to go without. The scratches may have been eliminated had I used a case, but a phone is to be used after all.

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The port covers are fiddly, there is no denying this. Whilst they have good flex when opened, they can be a pain when you want to give your phone a quick power boost.  The DK32 magnetic charging dock is the solution and I use this primarily to charge my phone.

75% of the time I can get 1-1.5 days out of the battery, whilst 10% of the time I may get 2 days and the remaining 15% I get a day only. This is of course all based on my usage. Most of the time when in the office I will get the 1-1.5 days use out of it, which is also with it struggling to pick up reception in our office!

The camera is good but there is still room for improvement.  It takes some excellent shots in well lit conditions but in less favourable light the images can be grainy.  The results are still usable but as time has gone on and it has been used in more everyday scenarios, I have realised some of its weaknesses when considering it is in fact a 20.7 megapixel sensor. I still put it ahead of many other smartphone cameras though!

Here is an image I captured just a couple of days ago. Click on the image to enlarge and zoom in. The detail is superb.

I have often used phones out in the rain and never really worried, but with the Compact I really do not have to. Regular readers will know I have a dog and this being England, much of the time is spent walking in the rain. The IP rating is a blessing as I know I can safely use the phone as a camera outside in these conditions and I do. It is always a bit of fun to test the camera in the water too.

I really like the way Sony adapt Android, it is not too heavy but also not stock. There are some added-value items missing in my opinion but this can be easily solved with apps from the Play Store. I was also quite impressed at how quickly Android 4.4 came through and how reliable the device appears to have been since the upgrade.

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Rarely do I miss the bigger screen that I had on the Samsung Galaxy S4 because the benefit of one-handed operation outweighs this for me.

Also because the Compact is a little powerhouse, it has all I need to be able to efficiently work from it; never do I feel it is underpowered. Nor does it overheat as some seem to suggest about certain Xperia handsets.

Having just reviewed the LG G2 Mini I do have to admit that this device got very close to making me think twice about the Compact. Mostly because it manages to pack in a 4.7″ display in virtually the same form factor and actually felt smaller in hand. The G2 Mini fell short on raw specification though, like so many other smaller devices.

After 3 months I feel like all I have done is talk about the faults, but the phone is still extremely powerful and I love using it. What I haven’t had with the Compact, where I have had with most other phones is that urge to use it, explore it and constantly get hands on.  As silly as it sounds I think this is a good thing, or maybe it is because I use a lot of phones?!

The Compact has just slotted in with my life; it works, no grumbles. I probably treat the phone with less care than I have others because I know it can take a few knocks. If something fits so comfortably in your lifestyle that you can do this then I think that is evidence of a perfect fit.

Thanks Sony!

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About Jon

Constantly challenging opinions and looking for new opportunities, Jon develops the product ranges and business activities and very much strives to maintaining growth and taking Clove in to the future.

Never knowing when to stop, he spends too much time in the office! He's very organised; writes lists, reports, spreadsheets, you name it, he's on to it!! When he does relax, however, he can be found driving his pride and joy (his Range Rover Sport), walking his Dog, down the pub or at a local restaurant. He does too like the finer things in life and often lives beyond his means, only the best hotels will do.

Comments

  1. Paul Mansfield says:

    I’m considering the Z1 Compact for my wife, to replace her ageing Sensation; she has a Note 8″ tablet so no point in getting a large phone and the Z1-C would probably be ideal.

    • Josh Bethell says:

      I’d recommend it Paul, as I know Jon would. It’s definitely been a sleeper hit, probably selling more overall than the full size Z1 did.
      Sony really hit the nail on the head of what a large base of consumers want with both a smaller screen and top-end specs.
      Plus you can pick up a Z1C at a very good price – about 360 inc VAT in a pick of colours is a steal for the combination of power & reliability.
      I think the major manufacturers have possibly overestimated the desire for the current crop of 5-inch plus flagships; it will be interesting to see what the big 3 do with their Mini / Compact versions this year which are undoubtedly just over the horizon.

  2. Andrea Gwinnett says:

    For some reason I got an early, early upgrade from my Xperia Ray to the Z1 compact. As per usual I was traumatised by the change of phone but I soon got the hang of it and often discover/learn new things about it. I LOVE it !!! It’s just the right size and I think it makes my husbands i-phone look rather dated :-).
    It’s a very capable phone and the battery charge lasts really well.
    Sony’s transfer app thing worked really well.
    My only small gripe is that when I was looking at some of the photo’s I took on the Ray, despite the compact’s much lauded 20.7 pixel camera. I’m not convinced the photos it takes are as good – which is odd. I take a lot of photos and I think that camera was slightly easier (screenwise options) to use. It does have some clever things on it but I’m pretty sure personally I’ll never use them.
    P.S. I am I the only grown-up that won’t feel the need to insert dinosaurs in photos ?

    • Andrea,

      Thanks for the comments. I have to say as cool as the AR mode is, I do not see much need for it other than playing with it the first time you get the phone, but I am not as creative as others! I am on your side of the fence on that one.

      Interesting comments on the camera. Maybe we need the ability to be able to change as a user the layouts of camera apps more than we currently do?

      • Andrea Gwinnett says:

        Praps it’s just me, I use the camera on the superior auto function mostly (bit of a happy snapper, although I’ve been told some of my shots are great :-) ) I’ve never got the hang of shutter speeds etc. I probably need to practice the macro stuff more, did manage to take a good shot of a Maybug on night shift last night so perhaps i.m improving. Jon’s comment about being able to change camera layout sounds good, however despite the new adventurous me and my Sony smartphones I’m not techy enough to dabble with anything off-piste ! :-)

    • Josh Bethell says:

      I’m with you and Jon about the AR mode, my Z Ultra recently got an upgrade that included this and it really is very silly!
      I can see how it might be a cool little feature to demo as a salesperson though and I’m sure if you have kids they’d enjoy playing with it.

      I think with the Z1C we start to see the quality / quantity argument with the 20+ MP camera. When viewing the images on your phone, uploading to Facebook or other social media etc. (which compresses them) then the extra detail is not really required and most ‘quick pics’ are much of a muchness.
      You can see from Jon’s shot of the wasp in this article though, that the close-up / macro processing is very good and the extra MP are especially useful if you want to zoom / crop / edit later. I think in these kind of highly detailed shots you should see a marked improvement on the Ray. The 8 MP camera (with basic lens) on my Z Ultra wouldn’t come close to capturing that kind of detail.