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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact hands-on preview

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launched at CES 2014, packing the original Xperia Z1’s specs into a glorious new compact form. Our full hands-on preview…

Sony’s Xperia Z1 is the Japanese giant’s best ever premium smartphone, packing tons of great tech into a gorgeous frame, but that chunky rectangular design may be a little too bulky for some tastes. For those people, Sony has used CES 2014 to launch the Xperia Z1 Compact, which boasts practically all of the benefits and power of the original flagship handset, in a glorious portable size. We had the chance to go hands-on before the official launch, and we’re already pretty gosh darn impressed by how much this mini phone packs in.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

The Xperia Z1 Compact hasn’t strayed from Sony’s design ethos, sporting a glass and metal frame and that iconic rounded power button, all waterproofed so you can drop it in your pint without worry. It’s a tiny bit chunkier than the original Z1, but only around 1mm, and at 140g it’s impressively light. Put the Xperia Z1 Compact side-by-side with the enormous Xperia Z1 Ultra, and this new addition looks like some kind of crazy imp phone – but it really is comfortable to clutch and operate.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (far right) sizes up to the Xperia Z1 (centre) and the mighty Ultra (left)


Sony has targeted more lifestyle-focused consumers with the Xperia Z1 Compact, as shown by the bold new range of colours. The Xperia Z1 Compact is available in standard black and white, but you can also bag it in attractive lime and pink finishes. Both colourful options use the same glass design for the rear, framed by a similarly coloured brushed metal edging that looks and feels great.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

Once again you get Sony’s Triluminous display with X-Reality boost, but now it’s a 4.3-incher instead of a full five-incher. The resolution has been reduced to 720p, as the full 1080p would be overkill on a more compact screen, but that still produces gloriously crisp images. We had a quick play on YouTube and the latest HD movie trailers certainly look fantastic, while the bright panel managed to counter any glare from the overhead lights.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

Performance-wise, you also get the same quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon processor as the full-sized Xperia Z1, miraculously crammed into that dinky frame. As for battery life, you can expect a full day of use despite the 2300mAh battery being smaller than the Z1’s. That’s actually the same size as the original Xperia Z’s battery, and with the smaller screen sapping less power, we’re certainly hoping that Sony’s estimate proves to be correct.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

We’re pleased to report that the exact same excellent camera optics are also on board. The original Xperia Z1 packed a 20-megapixel lens with an unbeatable Superior Auto mode, making it one of the best mobile snappers out there, and the Xperia Z1 Compact hasn’t dumbed down this camera tech in any way. This mini mobile also comes with the same weird and wonderful features, including Info Eye, AR Effect and Timeshift Burst.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact launches at CES 2014

The Z1 Compact also aims to address issues with previous handsets, such as the irritation involved when switching over from another phone. Step forward Xperia Transfer Mobile, a new tool which allows you to quickly connect your old and new phones using a bundled cable, before transferring your stuff via a quick NFC tap.

Storage-wise it’s yet again no change, with 16GB of space on-board, expandable via MicroSD. You get Android 4.3 pre-installed, but come mid-March the Xperia Z1 Compact should get a welcome KitKat upgrade.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact will be available in the UK mid-February, price yet to be disclosed (but Sony has confirmed that it will be lower than the original Z1). So far we’re incredibly excited to see if Sony’s mini marvel can live up to all of its promises, and become the first essential smartphone of 2014.

-Chris Barraclough


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