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Compact without the compromise: Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 1:13 pm 06/11/2015

Big phones are everywhere, but what if you prefer something a little more svelte, made for smaller pockets and hands that prefer to carry less weight that still want a premium phone? For that, you turn to something that calls itself a “compact”.

Features

Sony’s next handset for the year isn’t about keeping it large with the other phablets in town, and it’s not even about keeping things ordinary. Rather, it’s about being small, minimal, and made for people who aren’t all that caring for a massive phone.

Believe it or not, these people exist, because in some hands and some pockets, 5 inches and higher is just too big.

Apple still believes that with its 4.7 inch iPhone 6S, though even that can be seen as a big phone, and so for the Xperia Z5 Compact, Sony is bringing it down a notch, grabbing a 4.6 inch display and making a more compact handset, with a shorter footprint than Apple’s own iPhone.

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This 4.6 inch display runs a resolution of 1280×720, delivering around 320 pixels per inch, while the display works off of Sony’s “Triluminos” display technology, referred to by many these days as “quantum dot”.

Under this screen, all the important stuff sits, offering up Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 810 processor paired with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, the latter of which can be upgraded with a microSD card, supporting up to a 256GB card at the moment, though with the possibility that more will be supported as time goes on.

Google’s Android 5.1 “Lollipop” arrives on the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact out of the box.

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Cameras are part and parcel of smartphones these days, and for this phone, you’ll find a 23 megapixel camera with one of Sony’s Exmor RS sensors, allowing up to ISO 12800 used in photos and put to ISO 3200 used in videos, with the video capture supporting up to 4K Ultra HD. Up front, Sony is relying on a 5 megapixel camera with an Exmor R sensor, supporting up to 1080p Full HD video.

Connections are pretty standard for a flagship phone in 2015, and while it’s a small device, it is most definitely still a flagship phone, just a smaller flagship phone.

As such, expect 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, and 4G LTE for mobile broadband, with these the wireless technologies. Wired, however, is handled through the standard 3.5mm headset jack found at the very top of the handset, while the microUSB charge and data transfer port sits at the very bottom.

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Ports are few in number, with the aforementioned microUSB and 3.5mm headset ports on the top and bottom, while a door can be found on the left edge providing full access to a nanoSIM tray and the microSD card slot, a change in configuration from the way it was on the previous Sony Xperia Compact smartphone.

Buttons are, however, mostly kept the same, with a change in the shape of the power button (circle to rectangular), sitting above the volume rocker and camera button, all still located on the right edge. Á fresh change, however, the Xperia Z5 Compact features a fingerprint scanner built into the power button.

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All other Android-specific buttons are software based and found as part of the operating system, sitting at the bottom of the 4.6 inch display and only visible (and usable) when the phone is switched on.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the support for water-resistance, with IP65/8 resistance back for another dance, catering to a fair amount of dust- and water-proofing out of the box.

The battery is rated at 2700mAh and is not removable.

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Performance

This year, Sony is keeping the whole “compact” range going, back from when it started with the Z1 Compact early last year before fixing and making even better in the latter half of the year with the Z3 Compact.

Now it’s back, and with the smartphone game well and truly on fire, Sony has to make a dent with this one in order to show it has the guts to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, which are really playing for keeps.

Does the Z5 Compact have what it takes to throttle the competition?

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Price (RRP)

$849

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Excellent construction; Perfectly and properly small in a world constantly throwing out big devices; Spec'd to perform, which it does; Upgradeable storage; Can play PlayStation 4 over a network (if you have a PS4 in the home); Supports high-res audio; Resistant to water with a capless microUSB charge port;

Product Cons

Screen hasn't changed much, if any; Camera can sometimes take a few seconds to load; MicroUSB drives won't load up;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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