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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs. Xperia Z1

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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs. Xperia Z1

Has Sony Designed Flagship-Worthy “Mini” Handset?

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs. Xperia Z1
Credit: @frikicity via Twitter

Throughout the years, Android smartphones have become more powerful – but they’ve also become larger. It seems like there’s no middle ground, and prospective customers can either buy a flagship phone which features a large screen, or a smaller device that compromises on hardware specifications. During the last several years, manufacturers have attempted to close the gap by launching “mini” versions of their flagship devices. The list includes the Galaxy S3/S4 mini, the HTC One mini, and so on. However, the main issue hasn’t been addressed, and aside from a similar design language and nametag, these mini variants have little in common with their top-tier siblings in terms of hardware.

Luckily, Sony seems to have broken the ice, as it has recently unveiled a compact smartphone that makes almost no compromises. Previously known as the Xperia Z1 f in Japan, the Xperia Z1 Compact was recently unveiled at CES. The Compact targets western markets and it’s already available for pre-order in certain regions. The question on everyone’s mind, however, is how does the Z1 Compact compare with the full-sized Xperia Z? Find out below.


As most of you know, the Sony Xperia Z1 was launched last year and served as the company’s flagship phone ever since. As its name suggests, the Z1 Compact is a “mini” spin-off on the 5-inch Z1. But, as mentioned before, mini versions usually don’t have a lot in common with the handsets they’re based on.

That, however, is not the case with the Compact. The device boasts roughly the same hardware specifications as the Z1, with a few key exceptions that we’ll touch on later.

Both smartphones feature a MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage expandable by up to an additional 64 GB via microSD. Both the Z1 and the Compact feature the same 20.7 MP main camera with LED flash and a 1/2.3 inch sensor size, complemented by a 2 MP front-facing sensor.

Furthermore, the two smartphones are dust and water resistant (IP55/58 rating), they feature Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, and both offer MHL, DLNA, NFC, Miracast, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0 and compatibility with Sony CyberShot Lenses.

So far, the Xperia Z1 Compact sounds like a regular 5-inch Z1 flagship, but the similarities end here. Let’s have a look at the key differences between these two devices.

Display, Battery, Size and Weight

First things first, the Xperia Z1 Compact is equipped with a 4.3-inch LCD IPS display as opposed to a 5-inch panel. This also means that Sony had to tone-down the Compact’s screen resolution, which is set at 1280 x 720, as opposed to 1920 x 1080. In an age where full HD screens define most flagship smartphones, you’d think that 720p isn’t enough. But, in this particular case you’d be wrong. Due to the Compact’s smaller dimensions, the 4.3-inch display offers a pixel density of 342 ppi, which is enough to deliver a crisp, jagged-edge-free image.

The story doesn’t end here, as the discrepancy between these phones’ overall dimensions has other ramifications. For starters, the Z1 Compact has a smaller battery of 2,300 mAh, whereas the full-sized Xperia Z1 is powered by a 3,000 mAh unit. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that the Compact has poorer battery life. Since the Compact’s display is smaller, it doesn’t need as much energy as the 5-inch gadget in order to function. Sony estimates that both devices offer similar battery performance, with the Z1 having the upper hand in movie playback time (400 minutes vs. 360 min.)

The most noticeable difference between these two smartphones is their size and weight. The Xperia Z1 measures 144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm, and weighs 170 grams. The Compact measures only 127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm. Yes, the latter is 1 millimeter thicker than the Z1, mainly because Sony wanted to fit as large a battery as possible. Despite that, the Z1 Compact weighs only 137 grams, making it the more comfortable device for one-handed use.

Color Choices, Price and Release

A smartphone’s range of colors can be a main factor in deciding whether or not you should buy it. If that’s the case, then you should be glad to know that the Xperia Z1 Compact is being offered in black, white, pink and lime. In contrast, the Xperia Z1 comes in black white, and purple.

As far as pricing goes, the Compact’s dimensions have allowed Sony to retail the device at a lower price than the Xperia Z1. In the UK, the former is expected to be released alongside a price tag of roughly £430 including VAT, whereas the Z1 would set you back £480.

However, if you’re interested in buying the Compact then you’ll have to wait until mid-February before you’ll be able to make your purchase.

Which One Should You Buy?

If you’re a Sony enthusiast and you’re wondering which one of these smartphones you should buy, then you need to answer yourself a few simple questions before reaching a conclusion. In the end, both devices offer the same high-end specifications, and ultimately, the deciding factor is the size. Appearances can be deceiving, as the Xperia Z1 Compact truly is a flagship phone wrapped in a smaller case. If that’s what you’ve been looking for, then no other Android smartphone can offer flagship performance in such a small package at this point in time.

On the other hand, the Xperia Z1 delivers a much larger screen that can offer a more enjoyable experience when watching videos, photos, playing games or browsing the internet. It all comes down to your personal preferences, and as long as you can identify them, then you can’t go wrong with either one of these smartphones.

So which one of these gadgets would you be more interested in? Would you go for the 5-inch beast? Or would you rather stand out with the Z1 Compact? Share your thoughts below.

Vlad Andrici is editor for and writes about technology issues. Follow Vlad on Google Plus.