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Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Xperia Z3 Compact: What’s the difference?

Sony just launched its new mini mobile at IFA 2015, the Xperia Z5 Compact, but how does it compare to last year’s Xperia Z3 Compact and is it worth upgrading? Here’s our full comparison review.

Design

Stack the Z5 Compact and Z3 Compact side by side and they could practically be twins. These are both 4.6-inch chunks slabs of plastic and glass, which are comfortable to clutch and pleasingly light. However, while the Z3 Compact sports a smooth, transparent back plate, the Z5 Compact changes up to a frosted glass panel that thankfully isn’t as cursed by greasy smears (great news if you’re usually handling chips and kebabs while you hail a late-night Uber).

However, the Z5 Compact offers more than just an aesthetics update. Despite retaining the Xperia Z3 Compact’s water resistance, the USB port is now uncovered. That means no fiddling with annoying flaps every time you need to charge.

And the Z5 Compact now adds a flattened power button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner. You just need to press your digit against the surface like Apple’s TouchID, so it’s a quick and secure way to jump straight into your desktops.

Screen and media

If you’re a movie or music fan, the Xperia Z5 Compact offers little reason to upgrade over the Z3 Compact. You get the same 4.6-inch IPS screen, once again packing 720p visuals. Images are crisp with rich, stand-out colours and HD movies look fantastic, as with last year’s model.

If you’re hoping to carry a massive media collection, then good news: the Xperia Z5 Compact can support memory cards up to 200GB in size, compared with just 128GB. Of course, that should only really prove important if you want to take dozens of Ultra HD films with you on holiday (and maybe then you should invest in a tablet).

Performance and battery life

Sony has boosted the Xperia Z3 Compact’s battery from a 2,500mAh cell to a 2,700mAh effort for the Xperia Z5 Compact. Sony still reckons you’ll get two days of life per charge, but we reckon a day and a half is more likely – the same amount as we got from the Z3 Compact.

The Xperia Z3 Compact is still a sprightly phone 12 months on, as you’ll know if you read our one year re-review. The Snapdragon 801 processor can handle the latest games and everything else in a silky smooth fashion, so you shouldn’t have to upgrade over laggy performance for a wee while.

Of course, the Xperia Z5 Compact brings things up to date with the new Snapdragon 810 processor, which shouldn’t age as soon as the 801. Our only concern is that the Snapdragon 810 is infamous for getting rather toasty, which was a serious issue for the Sony Xperia Z3+. So far the Xperia Z5 Compact seems to be fine, with none of the camera crashes and other issues seen on the Z3+. Sony reckons that’s thanks to some processing software and hardware improvements. However, we’ll be sure to fully test performance, temperature and battery life for our in-depth Xperia Z5 Compact review.

Cameras

One of the biggest updates over the Z3 Compact is the all-new 23-megapixel Exmor RS camera packed inside the Z5 Compact.

The Z3 Compact’s 21-megapixel snapper is still a great mobile camera, capturing detailed shots in a range of conditions. But it’s the same sensor that Sony’s used for two years now, so the Z5 Compact’s refreshed tech helps to bring the camera in line with recent flagships.

For a start, you have a super-fast focus that can snap onto your subject with just a tap, or automatically track something that’s bouncing around in a hyper fashion – great news if you’re a parent or dog lover. The Z5 Compact can also take more detailed shots of distant landmarks when you digitally zoom, thanks to some software trickery that fills in the gaps between pixels. It certainly seems to work, with a marked improvement in picture quality, but we’ll see how good these pictures look when they’re blown up onto a TV screen.

Verdict

Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact is a solid choice if you’re after a secure device with a cutting-edge camera, although existing Xperia Z3 Compact owners might not be swayed to upgrade just yet, thanks to continued solid performance and that decent everyday snapper. Media fans have the least reason to upgrade, with the Z5 Compact packing the same 720p screen as before.

Check back soon for our full Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review and in the meantime check out our hands-on review at IFA 2015.

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