Sony has finally joined the ranks of manufacturers with smaller versions of their flagships following the announcement of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact at CES 2014.
Those with a keen eye will notice that Sony has avoided calling the Z1’s baby brother the Z1 Mini (and there’s no sign of the rumoured Z1S name), as the smaller stature of its new handset is almost merely a shrink in size, rather than adopting a raft of less powerful innards like the HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
In essence, the Sony Xperia Z1 compact may have more in common with the iPhone 5C then. Sony has kept on what made the Xperia Z1 its flagship handset, including the 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and that 20.7MP camera.
So how does the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact stand up against its cut-down rivals? Let’s find out.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: OS
All bar the iPhone 5C come rocking a skinned version of Android Jelly Bean, with the Sony beating its rivals on 4.2 as it comes with Android 4.3.
Each manufacturer has added its own skin, with Sony putting on the latest version of its UI. Unsurprisingly, HTC has kept the same Sense 5.0 Blinkfeed UI that first graced the HTC One, with Samsung overlaying Android with its TouchWiz UI.
Obviously, the iPhone 5C isn’t Android, coming instead with Apple’s new, redesigned and proprietary iOS 7 software.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Processor and RAM
One of the biggest advantages of being a ‘Compact’ rather than a ‘Mini’ is that the Sony keeps the same 2GB RAM and 2.2GHz quad-core combination that was found in the larger Xperia Z1.
This puts it leagues ahead of the other three, with their dual-cores seeming diminutive in comparison. The other Android handsets both come equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 CPU, with the HTC clocked at 1.4GHz and the Samsung at 1.7Ghz.
Each also comes with less RAM than the Sony, with 1GB and 1.5GB respectively.
Apple has fitted the iPhone 5C with its A6 chip (the same as in the iPhone 5), which has been clocked at 1.3GHz and comes with 1GB RAM.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Camera
Another area that Sony has focussed on keeping with the Z1 Compact is the impressive 20.7MP Exmor RS sensor that is found on the Z1. A 2MP sensor is found on the front, and both are able to record full HD, 1080p video.
We were really impressed with the camera in our full Sony Xperia Z1 review, with its ability to take 61 images in 2 seconds leading to "some of the finest photos we’ve seen come off a phone camera."
You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to see what we think of the camera in our upcoming Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review.
As for the other OEMs, HTC also managed to keep in the same camera that graced the 5 star HTC One. Although measured at only 4MP, each of the pixels on the HTC One Mini is larger, allowing more light in. A 1.6MP sensor is fitted to the front, able to record 720p images with the rear sensor managing 1080p.
Samsung fitted the Galaxy S4 Mini with a standard 8MP camera, able to record at 1080p, and the front of the phone houses a 1.9MP sensor. Apple has also fitted an 8MP iSight sensor to its iPhone 5C, with a 1.2MP sensor adorning the front for FaceTime calls.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Screen
The name Z1 Compact is a massive clue that Sony’s newest handset does not match the 5-inch Full HD screen that adorns the Sony Xperia Z1. That isn’t to say it’s not impressive.
Both the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and HTC One Mini storm ahead of the Galaxy S4 Mini and iPhone 5C with 4.3-inches of HD goodness and 720 x 1280 resolutions giving around 342ppi.
The Galaxy S4 Mini comes with a qHD screen, also measuring 4.3 inches, but its 540 x 960 screen gives only 256ppi.
Apple’s iPhone 5C comes with the smallest screen of the lot, measuring in at only 4 inches. Its Retina display does come with a 640 x 1136 resolution, giving it a still decent 326ppi.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Dimensions and Weight
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is ever so slightly larger than its rivals, being both the widest and deepest handset at 127 x 64.9 x 9.5mm, as well as being the heaviest at 137g.
This puts the Z1 Compact at 15g heavier than the 122g HTC One Mini, which in turn is 15g heavier than the 107g Galaxy S4 Mini. It is only marginally heavier than the iPhone 5C however, with the Apple handset weighing 132g.
HTC’s One Mini measures 5mm taller than the Sony at 132 x 63.2 x 9.3mm, but the Galaxy S4 Mini and iPhone 5C are both smaller all round at 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9mm and 124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97mm respectively.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Battery
Battery life of all handsets will be heavily scrutinised, so those looking at the Xperia Z1 Compact will be pleased to know that the Japanese firm has included a 2300mAh power pack.
This is the largest of the four on offer, although the added cores and high resolution screen will help the Xperia Z1 Compact get through that added size a little faster.
The HTC and Samsung have 1800mAh and 1900mAh packs respectively, although the Korean manufacturer does allow for the battery to be swapped out for another with its removable back.
The smallest of the four is the iPhone 5C, although remains competitive at 1510mAh.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Storage and Connectivity
In terms of storage, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini come out ahead with expandable storage via microSD (up to 64GB), although the Sony comes with double the internal space – 16GB rather than 8GB.
This means that the Xperia Z1 Compact comes with up to 80GB of storage, and the Galaxy S4 Mini with a not so paltry 72GB. This leaves the 16GB HTC One Mini and the 16 or 32GB iPhone 5C standing.
The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, like the HTC, Samsung and iPhone all come 4G LTE enabled. All handsets also come with Bluetooth 4.0, although NFC is reserved for the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and Galaxy S4 Mini only. All four handsets also come with GPS and GLONASS to help you if you get lost.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Colours and Extras
For those looking for a new phone, colour can often play an important part. Sony has chosen to offer the Xperia Z1 Compact in four colours, the obligatory black and white, as well as pink, and lime.
The HTC One Mini also comes in four colours, available in silver, black, blue, and red. Samsung offers the Galaxy S4 Mini in both black and white, with orange, pink, and purple variants available. Famed for its coloured plastic casing, the iPhone 5C comes in green, blue, yellow, pink, and white variants.
Just like its bigger brother, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is the only one with the ability to swim. That is to say it is IP55 and IP58 certified rather than grows arms and does laps of your sink.
It also works seamlessly with the Sony Smartwatch 2, as do both the HTC and Samsung. The latter of these also works with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch following a recent update.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5C: Early Verdict
The Sony Xperia Z1 is a handset that we were really impressed with, so it is nice to see the Japanese manufacturer follow it up with a smaller version of the 5-inch beast that we were treated to in 2013.
Although there is no word on price, we would expect it to come in slightly more expensive than the current baby flagships and about the same price as the iPhone 5C, and rightly so. Where the HTC One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini both took some drastic spec cuts, the Xperia Z1 Compact beats them with the same heart as the Z1.
Quite what effect that will have on sales is unknown, but Sony looks to have put together a pretty decent device, carrying the same technology as the Z1 but in much more finger friendly frame.
- Why not check out the HTC One Mini, Galaxy S4 Mini or iPhone 5C too?