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Sony Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE

We compare Sony’s new Xperia X Compact with the older Xperia Z5 Compact and Apple’s mini mobile, the iPhone SE, to see what the difference is and which is best for you.

Last year’s excellent Xperia Z5 Compact is one of our favourite mini mobiles of all time. A year after it was launched, we still return to it thanks to the excellent battery life, comfortable one-handed use and dependable performance. Have a gander at our long-term Z5 Compact review to see more.

Sony has just launched a fresh new Compact handset, dubbed the Xperia X Compact, which costs roughly the same as the Xperia Z5 Compact. At £350, both of Sony’s dinky blowers also rock a similar price tag to another tiny smartphone – Apple’s iPhone SE. This 4-inch mobile is a return to iPhones of yesteryear, with a screen that seems positively tiny compared with most modern handsets. And with premium specs and features packed inside that miniature frame, the iPhone SE is a strong rival for Sony’s Compact devices.

So, how does the new Xperia X Compact compare with the Xperia Z5 Compact and the iPhone SE? Here’s our full comparison review. And check out our best mini mobiles round-up for even more excellent one-handed handsets.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Specs

Phone Xperia Z5 Compact Xperia X Compact iPhone SE
Weight 138g 135g 113g
Screen size 4.6-inches 4.6-inches 4-inches
Screen resolution 1280×720 HD 1280×720 HD 1136×640
Water resistant? Yes No No
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes Yes
Processor Snapdragon 810 Snapdragon 650 Apple A9
Memory 3GB 3GB N/A
Storage 32GB 32GB 16/64GB
MicroSD? Yes Yes No
Cameras 23MP, 5MP 23MP, 5MP 12MP, 1.2MP
4K video recording? Yes No Yes

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Design

Sony’s Xperia X Compact and Z5 Compact sport a very similar design, possibly best summed up as ‘fun, colourful plastic bricks’. With quite sharp angles and a chunky frame, there’s a retro look and feel to the Compact handsets. That’s certainly no bad thing though, and both mini mobiles feature a decent heft, so they don’t feel toy-like despite the plastic finish.

If you like really bright colours, then you can pick up the Xperia Z5 Compact in neon yellow or pink, as well as the standard black and white. Sony was a bit more restrained with the finish of the Xperia X Compact, offering it in a light blue shade instead of radioactive colours.

Apple’s iPhone SE is another chunky monkey like Sony’s phones, but it’s also slightly smaller and sports rounded corners. Rather than using plastic, Apple has built the iPhone SE out of metal. It’s a great-looking phone, available in a range of colours including ‘rose gold’ (pink), while that metallic surfacing is pleasingly resistant to scratches.

The Xperia Z5 Compact is just as hardy, although the X Compact has picked up a few tiny scratches on the back. They’re only visible in certain light, but it’s still a worry. That said, all three phones can tolerate a bit of bumping, but only the Xperia Z5 Compact is water resistant.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: OS and features

Sony’s Xperia phones come packing Android OS, while the iPhone SE uses Apple’s own iOS. Which one you prefer will likely depend on what you’ve used in the past, although iOS is better suited to anyone who’s new to smartphones. Android is an open system, which means greater customisation and personalisation – better for anyone used to mobile tech.

Security-wise, you get a built-in fingerprint sensor with all three phones. This allows you to quickly and easily unlock each mobile, just with a tap of your digit to the scanner. The iPhone SE’s TouchID sensor is just as fast and accurate as Sony’s edge-mounted fingerprint scanner, so you’ll be into your desktops in under a second, no matter which mini mobile you choose.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Screen and media

Sony hasn’t updated the 4.6-inch screen for the Xperia X Compact, so you get the same 720p HD display previously found on the Xperia Z5 Compact. This gives you reasonably sharp visuals, with the option of boosting colour vibrancy using Sony’s Super Vivid Mode.

Apple’s iPhone SE offers up a smaller 4-inch screen, which definitely isn’t built for watching video over long periods. However, while the iPhone’s resolution isn’t quite as sharp as its rivals, images are still pleasingly crisp thanks to the reduced size.

The iPhone SE produces quite realistic visuals, with no option to boost the colour vibrancy like on the Sony handsets. However, there is a funky night mode which filters out blue light, for a more comfortable, easy-on-the-eye experience at night.

Both of the Xperias support Hi-Res audio and can upscale compressed tracks, for a fuller-bodied sound when using headphones. That’s something you won’t find on Apple’s mini mobile.

You also won’t find support for microSD memory cards on the iPhone SE, so you’re stuck with the 16GB or 64GB of built-in storage space. Meanwhile, the Xperia X Compact and Z5 Compact can both be boosted with a memory card, up to 2TB in size.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Performance and battery life

All three phones here produce smooth everyday performance, although the iPhone SE is the most powerful of the group. Apple’s A9 processor should keep you going for at least the two-year length of a contract, showing very little slowdown in that time.

The Xperia X Compact is the next most powerful, with its Snapdragon 650 chipset. However, last year’s Xperia Z5 Compact is still a smooth operator, despite using older tech. We’ve only seen a single crash in those twelve months and the everyday user experience is certainly satisfying.

As for battery life, all three of these mini mobiles can keep you going for a day and a half between charges. If you hammer them with non-stop video streaming or gaming then this will dip to hours, but that’s to be expected.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Cameras

If you’re after dependable optics then all three of these phones should satisfy, but they do offer different camera features and user experiences.

The most simple-to-use snapper here is the iPhone SE’s 12-megapixel camera. On auto mode it’s a very fast and effective mobile shooter, capturing quite sharp, good-looking photos across a range of conditions. You get limited control over brightness and focus, but that’s about it. You can also shoot Full HD or 4K video footage, including Slo-mo and Timelapse video.

Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact sports a 23-megapixel camera which can shoot more detailed photos than the iPhone SE. They’re pretty much evenly matched when it comes to overall photo quality however, functioning well in everything but proper low light. But the Sony offers more control, with full manual settings to fiddle with.

Once again, you can shoot Full HD or 4K resolution video.

This year’s Xperia X Compact updates the camera tech with new low-light functionality, including a laser-guided autofocus and improved image stabilisation. That makes for sharper shots in darker environments, an improvement over the Z5 Compact and iPhone SE. However, Sony has ditched the 4K resolution recording, so you can only shoot up to Full HD video.

Xperia X Compact vs Xperia Z5 Compact vs iPhone SE: Videos

For a side-by-side comparison with these mini mobiles, check out our hands-on videos below.