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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Pint-sized pocket rocket

The Good

  • Excellent performance
  • Impressive battery life
  • Beautiful HDR display
  • Fantastic camera

The Bad

  • Chunky design
4.5

Smaller than the standard phone but with next to nothing cut out, this could be the most capable Compact to date. Here’s our Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Design

Fans have been clamouring for Sony to switch up its smartphone design language for generations now and 2018 looks to be the year we get that change. Both the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact rock the company’s new Fluid Design design language, most obviously demonstrated by the protruding pillowed glass backs that both phones rock, as well as their now centrally positioned primary cameras.

In the case of the Compact, you get a frosted finish in place of gloss (as used by its bigger brother), which is markedly better at repelling smears and smudges. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor isn’t quite as dead centre as on the larger XZ2 either, which in our opinion makes it much easier to get to grips with and more comfortable to use on the regular.

Despite packing in a larger display than its predecessor, this latest Compact is barely any wider. That said, a look at its waistline and it has unquestionably packed on a bit of weight in the redesign. Even though it’s far from the slimmest 5-incher around, one thing we love about this new, more portly Compact is the feel in the hand; with the rounded Gorilla Glass blending almost seamlessly into the phone’s metal frame.

The XZ2 Compact also benefits from IP68 certification, so a tumble in the tub or use in the rain is a worry-free affair. On the flip side, Sony has finally decided to ditch the traditional headphone jack, leaving you to rely on an in-box adapter or Bluetooth buds for your in-ear audio needs.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Display & Media

At 5-inches with an 18:9 aspect ratio display, Sony’s been able to give prospective Compact owners the same extended Full HD resolution as they’d would find on the full-sized XZ2. Previously going for a Compact also meant a cut in pixels, but no longer.

Not stopping there, this latest Compact also enjoys HDR support and, as is nowadays customary for a Sony phone, you can expect a ton of control should you want to tailor your viewing experience further. There are different colour gamut, balance and temperature options, plus a Night Light mode for easier late-night or low-light viewing.

Absentee headphone jack aside, on the audio front you also get a decently clear pair of stereo loudspeakers that dole out clarity and range fitting of any flagship; along with the option of virtual surround sound. The phone’s in-built Hi-Res audio support is also a nice inclusion (when using wired headphones), as is the option to upscale standard definition tunes to near hi-res quality, so that they don’t sound like they were recorded on a potato by comparison.

Dynamic Vibration is one of the few new features Sony culled when adapting the XZ2 into this more Compact form, but aside from being an interesting experimental new addition to Sony’s flagship phone experience, it’s barely a blow to the Compact’s otherwise burgeoning feature set.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: OS & Features

Sony’s tailored Android Oreo experience gives users tons of meaningful customisability without sacrificing ease of use. You can tailor home screen transitions, the grid size used by your apps and apply entire themes with a simple long-press, whilst the new animated wallpaper is subtle enough that it won’t slurp down extra battery life every time you put your finger on the screen.

If you’re stuck wondering where to go or what to do on your new Compact, the revised Xperia Assist app offers an intuitive chat-style interface to highlight the phone’s main features and if you dig around you’ll also find tools to manage performance and battery, as well automation options called Xperia Actions, that streamline changes in behaviour based on time of day, location or circumstance.

There’s a little bloat out-the-box from both Sony and third-parties but these are all easily removed or disabled if you don’t like them cluttering up your apps drawer. The pre-loaded PlayStation experience includes access to Remote Play for you PS4 owners out there too.

The Compact is also one of the first Sony phones outside of the Ultra range to feature a proper one-handed mode, making reaching the top of the phone’s new taller UI that little bit easier.

These are all points we also cross in our Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Tips & Tricks feature. So check that out.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Performance & Battery

There’s aren’t too many phones on the market right now boasting Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 chip but the XZ2 Compact is one of them. Backed up 4GB of RAM and paired with that Full HD+ resolution, there’s very little this phone can’t handle.

Opening multiple apps and multitasking is a snappy, responsive affair any day of the week, as is 3D gaming or any other intensive mobile shenanigans.

There’s also 64GB of inbuilt storage out the gate, which is pretty generous on Sony’s part, however, the fact that almost a quarter of that is occupied by system files from the get-go stings just a bit. You do, at least, have the option of microSD expandability up to an impressive 400GB.

As for the battery, the Compact’s sizeable waistline isn’t just for kicks. Inside lies a 2870mAh cell that, twinned with the processor’s promised improved power efficiency, should grant you two full days of comfortable use without worry. And if you’re still not convinced, there’s Quick Charge 3.0 onboard and Sony’s favoured Qnovo power protection tech to ensure a long-lasting battery that doesn’t get overcharged.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Cameras

The updated 19-megapixel Motion Eye camera on the back of the XZ2 Compact is a great option for those after a smaller phone with an emphasis on photography. The Superior Auto mode will cover you for most of the situations you’re likely to shoot in and if not, the available manual controls might give you the edge you’re looking for.

Photos, particularly macro photography, are rather arresting and with intelligent features like object tracking and predictive capture, you can shoot just about anything without needing to be a photography scholar.

Sony’s AR lens and new Bokeh mode are standalone experiences, which seems a little odd, but you can still get at them from within the camera’s interface, whilst the real talking point is the phone’s video chops.

You now get the option of HDR capture when recording at up to 4K resolution and the already headline-making 960fps slow motion from last year’s phones has now received a resolution bump to Full HD. All of these subtle improvements make for a potent mix in such a small package.

Some might not like the comparatively low resolution of the 5-megapixel front-facer, but it takes a good mugshot nonetheless and the company’s 3D Creator app now supports selfie scanning too.

Read our full Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact camera review for greater detail on the phone’s smart snapper.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Review: Verdict

For those who’ve ever wanted an Xperia Compact but thought they compromised too heavily over their standard siblings, this generation might be the one to jump for.

This year’s Compact is an almost perfect recreation of the larger XZ2 in terms of form and functionality; with only Dynamic Vibration and wireless charging being sacrificed in the transition to a smaller footprint.

Add to that the fact that it’s almost £200 cheaper than the regular XZ2 and you’ve got even more reason to pick up this Compact pocket rocket right now.

Specification

Screen size5-inches
Screen resolutionFull HD+ (2160x1080)
Weight168 grams
OSAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Rear camera19-megapixels
Front camera5-megapixels
Processor2.7GHz/1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Memory4GB RAM
Storage64GB. Expandable via microSD up to 400GB
4G LTEYes
Bonus featuresIP68 certification, HDR BT.2020 compliant, Qnovo battery protection, Xperia Actions

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