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Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-on Review: A mini masterpiece

We’re already a little bit in love with Sony’s fresh 4.6-inch Xperia XZ1 Compact, a mini version of the full-sized XZ1 flagship phone boasting almost identical specs and some brilliant camera tech. We went hands-on with the Xperia XZ1 Compact at IFA 2017 for this first-look review.

Sony is one of the few mobile manufacturers who still bothers to produce smaller versions of its flagship handsets. The iPhone SE seems like a distant memory these days and other premium handsets seem to start at 5.5-inches, meaning the Xperia Compact mobiles are one of your only choices if you demand strong specs in an easily-handled form.

Last year’s Xperia X Compact was a bit of a disappointment, with its limited performance and lack of water resistance. Thankfully Sony seems to have responded to critics, so this year’s Xperia XZ1 Compact is back to premium specs.

The XZ1 Compact is of course a dinky version of the fresh new Xperia XZ1, Sony’s latest flagship handset launched at IFA 2017. We had the chance to play with both of these new blowers ahead of the official launch and here’s what we think of the brilliant Compact model. You can also check out our hands-on Xperia XZ1 review, to see our thoughts on the standard flagship, as well as our XZ1 vs XZ1 Compact comparison.

Read next: Our pick of the best mini mobiles right now

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-on Review: Design

If smaller mobiles are your thing, you’ll instantly fall in love with the diminutive design of the Xperia XZ1 Compact. A far cry from the mighty 5.5-inch phones launched by rivals, this tiny 4.6-inch handset is an absolute joy to use with a single hand.

Sony has stuck with the super-cute finish of previous Xperia Compact devices, so you once again have a 2.5D curved glass front which slopes around to meet the plastic frame. The loop design is pleasingly symmetrical while the unibody design means no ugly seams, for a clean finish.

In our hands-on session, the XZ1 Compact certainly seemed to be quite rugged too. The glass fibre woven plastic is apparently tough enough to be used for spacecraft, according to Sony, and it certainly seems to repel any scuffs or fingerprints. The Compact is quite light to handle as well, although naturally it’s quite a chunky device; after all, those premium components have to fit in somehow.

Unlike the X Compact, this year’s model is fully IP68 water and dust resistant. You also get dual antennas, housed in the top and bottom edges, to keep connectivity strong.

At launch in the UK, you will be able to pick up the XZ1 Compact in black, silver, blue or pink.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-on Review: Media and features

Sony’s full-sized Xperia XZ1 flagship phone dropped the 4K resolution of the Premium model, yet managed to retain the HDR support for realistic contrast and colour range. Sadly this has been axed for the Compact model, which sports a smaller 4.6-inch screen.

All the same, you’ll still enjoy a strong media experience thanks to Sony’s expertise when it comes to display tech. The 1280×720 HD resolution keeps things perfectly crisp thanks to the XZ1 Compact’s smaller size, while you still get the same Super Vivid Mode and image enhancement software found on the phone’s bigger brother. With that vivid mode activated, colours are impressively punchy. We also have no complaints when it comes to brightness levels or viewing angles.

Like the XZ1, this mini model also boasts strong audio chops. You can play Hi-Res tracks, while DSEE HX support boosts the quality of compressed tracks, so they don’t sound all crappy.

Gamers are also well catered for, with Sony’s PS4 Remote Play feature. This can be used to stream your PlayStation 4 game session over WiFi, to the XZ1 Compact’s dinky screen. Not an ideal display for those graphically gorgeous and detailed titles, admittedly, as you’ll struggle to work out what’s going on in particularly intense gun battles and the rest. Nevertheless, a great feature to have.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-on Review: Performance and battery life

The Compact once again sports the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, backed by 4GB of RAM, just like the full-sized Xperia XZ1. This time only Cat 15 LTE is supported, although that still tops out at 800Mbps speeds when you jump online, which is hard to sniff at.

We’re particularly impressed that Sony managed to cram the same 2700mAh into this mini handset, which should hopefully provide well over a day of life between charges. You get the same Qnovo adaptive charging tech too, so hopefully the battery performance won’t drop over time.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact Hands-on Review: Cameras

Housed on the back of the Xperia XZ1 Compact is the same 19-megapixel Motion Eye camera found on the full-sized XZ1. This once again offers up to 4K resolution video recording and the ability to shoot in Super Slow Motion (at a whopping 960 frames-per-second). You also have all of Sony’s new camera features on board, including Autofocus Burst Mode, smart smile capture and a special app for scanning in a lifelike 3D image of your own head.

You do get a slightly different selfie camera compared with the standard Xperia XZ1, however. This time the front camera is an 8-megapixel super-wide angle lens, which offers a choice of 80 or 120 degrees field of view when shooting photos or video.

Check out our in-depth Sony Xperia XZ1 camera hands-on review for all you need to know.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact UK price and release date

So far we know only that the Xperia XZ1 Compact is coming to the UK in September 2017. We’re not sure of the UK pricing details, although we’ll be sure to update this article as soon as we get the official word from Sony.

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