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Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: The best compact phone of 2016?

Sony just launched the Xperia X Compact, a mini version of the rather good Xperia X phone which came out earlier in 2016. Boasting a more portable design as well as most of the Xperia X's best features, is the Xperia X Compact the best mini mobile of the year? Here's our hands-on review.

Recently we've seen a trend towards bloody massive mobiles, with the likes of the Moto G4 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and OnePlus 3 all proving serious hand-fillers. Check out our 'best 5.5-inch phones' round-up to see more of these huge handsets.

However, here at Recombu HQ we prefer a mini mobile that can easily be operated with a single hand. That's why we got some serious geek chills when Sony launched the Xperia X Compact here at IFA 2016 in Berlin, alongside the full-sized Xperia XZ handset.

We've had a lengthy hands-on session with the Xperia X Compact and here's our full hands-on review, along with all you need to know - specs, best new features and the rest.

Read next: Best mini mobiles you can buy in 2016

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: Specs

Phone name Sony Xperia X Compact
Screen size 4.6-inches
Screen resolution 1280x720 HD
Weight 135g
Water resistant? No
Fingerprint sensor? Yes
Processor Snapdragon 650
Memory 3GB
Storage 32GB
MicroSD? Yes
Battery 2700mAh
Rear camera 23-megapixel
Front camera 5-megapixel

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: Design

The Xperia X Compact immediately looks familiar, sporting much the same design as last year's Xperia Z5 Compact.

You once again get a seriously chunky frame, to make up for the fact that the height and width have been crushed right down. Sadly the Xperia X Compact isn't made of metal like the full-sized Xperia X, instead packing a frame that's 'inspired by ceramics'. In our hands-on session we had a lengthy fondle, and the X Compact feels rather plastic. That said, it also seems to be quite hardy and didn't show any signs of scratching or scuffing.

At 135g and with a dinly 4.6-inch display, the Xperia X Compact is definitely easy to use one-handed. That's great news for anyone who wants to multi-task, or simply check their messages while carrying bags and other bits. That rounded frame is really comfortable to clutch, despite the bulk. And we like the white and 'mist blue' models, which look suitably shiny to stand out from the crowd.

Like the full-sized Xperia X, the X Compact comes packing a narrow side-mounted power button which doubles as a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor. Just tap your digit to the surface and the phone unlocks pretty much instantly. Around the opposite edge, you have a pull-out flap which hides the SIM card slot and microSD memory card slot.

Unlike last year's Z5 Compact, the Xperia X Compact isn't water resistant, so don't go dropping it in the bath. That's no real surprise, as the standard Xperia X wasn't waterproof either.

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: Screen and media

The Xperia X boasted a crisp and colourful 5-inch screen with a 1920x1080 Full HD resolution, but for the Xperia X Compact this has been scaled down to a 4.6-inch display. As a result, the resolution also drops to 1280x720 HD.

Don't worry if you think that visuals might suffer as a result, because the Xperia X Compact still produces pleasingly sharp and attractive images. You can push your eyeballs up against the glass but you'll still need seriously impressive sight to make out individual pixels.

Likewise, Sony's Super Vivid mode is once again built in, so you can boost the X Compact's colour reproduction. As a result, images are just as punchy as they are on rivals like the OnePlus 3 and Galaxy S7.

The X Compact supports microSD memory cards, so you can happily expand the 32GB of built-in storage and carry around a massive movie and music collection.

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: Performance and battery life

Like the Xperia X before it, the X Compact sports a Snapdragon 650 processor and 3GB of RAM. In our hands-on session, the Xperia X Compact certainly seemed to be a smooth performer, just like its bigger brother. We saw no stutters when zipping around in Android Marshmallow, nor when opening apps.

You still can't multi-task with two apps side-by-side sadly, as Sony's Small Apps feature is once again missing in action. However, you should be able to play the latest games without a worry.

A 2700mAh battery is stuffed inside the phone, which is impressive work indeed - that's even bigger than the original Xperia X's 2620mAh cell. We're hopeful that the Xperia X Compact will therefore survive for at least a day and a half between charges, and maybe even a couple of days. Nice.

You get a Type-C USB charging port for powering up the Xperia X Compact, an upgrade over the full-sized phone's old-school USB port. Not only is it fully reversible, but data transfer should also be a lot more nippy.

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: Cameras

The same 23-megapixel camera from the Xperia X is packed inside the Xperia X Compact, which is great news. If you don't know why, go check out our Xperia X camera review, where we bigged it up as one of the best smartphone snappers of 2016.

However, the front-facing camera has been scaled down from the excellent 13-megapixel Xperia X selfie snapper to a more basic 5-megapixel lens. In our hands-on tests, this still seemed to be a worthy camera that can capture sharp, attractive images. But in our full review, we're expecting the low light performance to take a dip.

Hands-on Sony Xperia X Compact Review: UK price and release date

The Sony Xperia X Compact should be available in the UK around October time, although we don't have a price or precise release date just yet. Expect to pay around £399 SIM-free.

Video: Xperia X Compact hands-on review

 

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