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Sony Xperia X Compact review: Size really does matter

The quick take

The Xperia X Compact gives you everything you need in terms of screen, performance, battery life — plus a few nice additions like stereo speakers, a slick software experience and Sony's latest camera technology. But this isn't simply a flagship-level phone in a smaller size: you're getting a plastic phone that's also missing a fingerprint sensor and waterproofing. So for as great as the X Compact is, it sits in an odd area — offering you less than other phones, but still commanding a $499 price. You really have to want a small phone to spend that much on the X Compact.

The Good

  • Small, but not cheaply made
  • Solid screen, even at 720p
  • Great performance and battery life
  • Strong camera

The Bad

  • No fingerprint sensor
  • Plastic may not appeal to everyone
  • No Quick Charge charger included
  • Expensive for the size

Sony Xperia X Compact

A bit of a throwback

Sony Xperia X Compact Full review

Since roughly 2012, when Android phone screens really started to grow with no sign of stopping, the desire from a vocal group to have a "compact" phone available has strengthened. But not just any small phone, they all want a compact version of a flagship phone; one that doesn't compromise on specs or features in order to fit into a smaller size. This is the holy grail for many.

Sony has been the one manufacturer that consistently offers a range of phone sizes, regularly being the example of how to do this right with its Compact series. The common era of these phones started with the Xperia Z1 Compact, with a small 4.3-inch display. We're now nearly three years past the launch of the Z1 Compact, and we have the Xperia X Compact to carry this tiny torch.

The X Compact has gained a little screen size, now up to 4.6-inches, but it's still working with the same formula. It has nicer components and features than you usually get in a small phone today, with a few standout items like Sony's best available camera setup. At the same time, it sits very awkwardly just underneath the also-compact 5-inch Xperia X, which is moderately larger but with a higher-res screen and now lower price. And this isn't necessarily a full-on flagship phone, either, as it's missing a few high-end features. All while still charging a rather hefty $499.

So many people say they want a compact high-end phone, but few actually end up buying one. Is the Xperia X Compact the one to satisfy that thirst and rack up sales? Read on for our full review.

About this review

I (Andrew Martonik) am writing this review after just shy of a week using an unlocked Xperia X Compact, provided to Android Central for review by Sony. The phone was used on the T-Mobile network in the greater Seattle, WA area. The software was build number 34.1.A.1.198, with the June 1, 2016 security patch, and was not updated over the course of the review.

Sony Xperia X Compact

Little wonder

Sony Xperia X Compact Hardware

Ah, small phones. There's just something refreshing about picking up a phone that you can easily cradle in one hand, reaching your thumb from top to bottom and side to side without any hesitation, shifting or fear of dropping the phone. You just don't find phones this small anymore, especially as the budget segment has increased its screen sizes in order to offer even more perceived value for money. In this case, you have to pay more to get less in the Xperia X compact.

While the X Compact is true to its name in overall size, it is a bit larger than the 4.6-inch screen would lead you to believe. As is the case on most of Sony's phones, the X Compact is adorned with rather large bezels, particularly on the top and bottom of the display. The overall size isn't far off from the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7, and is similar to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, which itself is known for large bezels.

It's okay to dislike plastic, but this is really nice plastic.

Sony has continued its blocky, semi-rounded "loop surface" look from the rest of the Xperia X series, which is immediately distinguishable to phone fans as a Sony design — and I really dig it. Looking at the bottom of the phone you see a cross-section of the design that looks almost identical to the proportions of its USB-C port, with nicely rounded sides coming around to a flat front and back. The back is a single piece of plastic, which feels a bit cheap compared to the metal on the Xperia XZ but matches nicely to the ceramic-like coating around the rest of the phone. (It also means the NFC antenna is on the back, rather than the front, of the phone — I'll take it.)

The phone is a little on the slick side, but the curves are friendly to your hand and the tolerances for the joins between the materials are perfect and worthy of your appreciation. The front glass is sculpted nicely into the edges and has a couple perfect cutouts for the front-facing stereo speakers, while the buttons on the side are easier to press than they look. That recessed home button feels great, but unfortunately doesn't integrate a fingerprint sensor — a head-scratching choice for a phone with a $499 list price.

Sony Xperia X Compact

There's an amazing simplicity and quaintness to the look of the X Compact.

Looking at the spec sheet and seeing a 1280x720 display resolution (coming in at 319 ppi) immediately makes you check to see what year it is, as even low-end phones now ship with 1080p panels, but naturally those numbers don't tell the whole story. Sony has packed a phenomenal display in the X Compact — it's fantastically laminated to the glass, has great viewing angles and superb color reproduction. I never touched the display settings, choosing to leave it at the default "X-Reality for mobile" mode. Though I confess I can see the slightly rough lines on some things, I never felt it detracted from the experience of using the phone. And as I'll get to later, that lower resolution certainly helps in terms of performance and battery life.

More: Complete Xperia X Compact specs

This is decidedly not a screen for those who want to watch video on their phone more than occasionally, and you don't really realize it until you're holding up the X Compact watching YouTube. For some, that's not an issue — but if you're one to watch an episode of your favorite show on your lunch break or jump into Netflix while you're waiting for a train, the X Compact isn't likely to meet your needs.

But if you don't crave a huge screen for consuming media, there's an amazing simplicity and quaintness to the look of the Xperia X Compact, even in white as I have here but particularly in the black color that's also available. It's a simple, pure design without additional flourishes that get in the way, and that's particularly important for a small phone that just doesn't have the extra real estate for shocking design elements. There's something nice and refreshing about holding a small phone that isn't trying to act like it's a massive supercomputer.

Sony Xperia X Compact

Sony keeps it simple

Sony Xperia X Compact Software

Sony can call the likes of Moto and OnePlus company when it comes to offering clean, simple and fast software. What you're greeted by on the Xperia X Compact is not unlike a Nexus phone running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with a few subtle changes to iconography and of course the default apps. Perhaps the biggest visual change comes with the launcher and lock screen, which I quite enjoy — and importantly, none of the changes detract from or alter the core Android experience.

I picked up the X Compact and installed my typical Google Now Launcher and Google Keyboard combination, and didn't touch a single thing in the software thereafter. Everything works as I expect it to, and it didn't take a bunch of tweaking or configuration to do so. Sony still includes a handful of pre-installed apps that I didn't really care to use, but most of them can be disabled and the group is nowhere near the size I see in the app drawer on Samsung phones. Sony's styling of the dialer, photo gallery and other apps feel very native to the platform as well, keeping a consistent look and feel across the phone.

In a very nice departure from the past two Sony phones I used, the Xperia X Performance and Xperia XZ, the X Compact is ridiculously fast. Whereas those two phones were mostly quick but still chugged along slowly at times, the X Compact hasn't had a single slowdown or even as much as a stutter in a week of my typical use.

Of course this isn't that surprising considering the very capable Snapdragon 650 processor and 3GB of RAM pushing just a 720p display, but as I noted above this kind of performance isn't always a given on recent Sony phones. The X Compact performs just as well as any other high-end phone you've used recently with a late-model Snapdragon processor, and I wasn't able to do anything that made it slow down. This is what you expect to get for this kind of money, and the X Compact absolutely delivers.

Sony Xperia X Compact

Getting there

Sony Xperia X Compact Cameras

Sony's tried-and-true 23MP Exmor RS sensor is once again the core of the Sony camera experience on the X Compact, but like the Xperia XZ it was announced alongside we actually have something to get excited about here: new 5-axis image stabilization. Sony seemed pained to add OIS (optical image stabilization) to its cameras up to this point, and I'm glad it finally made the jump.

Sony's camera interface is simple enough, though its "Superior Auto" isn't all that superior anymore and still requires hopping over to Manual in order to toggle HDR or tweak even the simplest things. This wouldn't be a problem if its Auto mode were truly "superior." The X Compact's overall software performance has extended to the camera, thankfully, and is amazingly quick to open, capture and process photos — considerably faster, in fact, than the Xperia XZ and X Performance. Puzzling.

The camera shoots 8MP downsampled (4:3 or 16:9, your choice) photos by default, mostly for file size reasons, but you can quickly jump up to 23MP full-res photos if you'd like. Unless you plan on cropping in after the fact I recommend just leaving the camera to its default 8MP resolution, which saves you storage space and a little bit of processing time.

The camera is no longer a clear weak spot, but it's squarely average.

Photos are incredibly sharp, even when you zoom in to pixel peep a bit, and the colors tend to be accurate rather than over-saturated like some phones (though the look is a personal preference). When shooting in Superior Auto and using tap-to-focus the camera tended to over-expose photos and wash them out, leading me far too often to hop into Manual and just use HDR for a more balanced shot.

For low-light photos, the 5-axis stabilization is clearly in play to help the X Compact take solid and much improved, but just average photos. In dimly lit rooms it tended to go with longer-than-necessary shutter speeds (sometimes up to 1/8 second), often introducing blur, and still couldn't take crisp well-balanced photos like you get from other cameras. Low-light photos sometimes took a couple of attempts, which was a departure from the "point, click, review awesome photo" experience of daytime shots.

I'm impressed by the Xperia X Compact's camera in terms of stepping up its game considerably from Sony's previous phones. As I mentioned in my musings about the Xperia XZ, Sony's new camera setup is firmly in the "good" camp, still a few steps behind the "great" arena where Samsung plays. The camera is no longer a main downside or deal breaker here, and that's a great thing — it just isn't so great that it'll sell phones all on its own.

Sony Xperia X Compact

All day, every day

Sony Xperia X Compact Battery life

Any time you see a spec sheet that lists less than a 3000 mAh battery in a modern phone, you get a little worried about longevity. With 2700 mAh under the hood in the X Compact — a full 200 mAh less than the Xperia XZ, which itself didn't have stellar battery life — the X Compact has been a battery champion, though. The combination of just a 720p screen and a lower-powered Snapdragon 650 processor meant I never thought out battery life on the X Compact.

A battery that lasts all day, every single day.

My typical day out of the house, with three hours of "screen on" time, using LTE, keeping up with notifications, social networking, photography and listening to podcasts I would end the day with at least 25% battery left. On a lighter weekend day where the phone spent good chunks of time on a table or in my pocket, I would end the day with well over 50% battery. Unlike the Xperia XZ, I never had to enable Stamina Mode to extend the battery — in fact, I never once touched the 10% battery level on the X Compact.

For charging back up, the X Compact supports Quick Charge 3.0, letting you quickly replenish that 2700 mAh battery. The charger that ships in the box is a standard non-Quick Charge 5V/1.5A wall plug, though, which is a bit odd. Because battery life has been so great for me on the X Compact I'm not so worried about the charging times of the relatively small battery, but considering the price you're paying for this phone I would've expected a Quick Charge charger in the box with a phone that supports the tech.

Sony Xperia X Compact

Little wonder

Sony Xperia X Compact Bottom line

Going into reviewing the Xperia X Compact, I was excited to use a "small" phone again primarily from the perspective of nostalgia; watching phones get bigger and bigger, I just wanted something more compact that didn't make compromises in experience. Over a week using it, my view shifted entirely to real, legitimate enjoyment of this phone based on its merits. It's amazingly quick with fantastic battery life, has a great screen, is built very well and has a solid camera. There are even a few extra perks like stereo speakers, 32GB base storage with an SD card slot, and Quick Charge 3.0 support.

The Xperia X Compact is great for fans of small phones.

Though I have a strong desire to just recommend the Xperia X Compact outright, I have some trepidation simply because the phone isn't all roses. It commands a high price, yet lacks waterproofing, a fingerprint sensor and metal construction found in the (admittedly larger) competition; it also has a smaller, lower-resolution screen, as well as a technically slower processor and "just" 3GB of RAM. So it's missing a few line items and features that keep it from truly being a "flagship in a smaller size" — it is instead a smaller phone that does indeed have shortcomings.

At a retail price of $499, the X Compact costs $100 more than bigger, more powerful phones with more features like the OnePlus 3 and Honor 8; and at the same time is just $50-100 less than the Galaxy S7 (thanks to recent price drops), which is a better all-around phone. With these market realities, you're faced with having to justify paying more money for physically less phone — that's hard for some people to get over.

The Xperia X Compact is all about the whole package rather than simply chasing line items — though it does have most of what people are looking for in a high-end phone today. It's for those who want a smaller phone with a well-executed design, but don't want to give up on the performance, battery life, camera or base level features they've grown accustomed to in other expensive offerings. And you're going to pay a bit extra for the privilege. Those who simply look at their phone buying decision as "getting the most features and size for my money" won't see value here. But if you're immediately drawn to the smaller size of the Xperia X Compact, you'll get a fantastic phone.

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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

138 Comments
  • Sony is dead. Too expensive for what they offer anyway
  • I would rather have a Sony device than one of those Chinese pseudo flagships and their abhorrent software choices. Case in point, Honor 8, folks are having headaches with their Fitbits and Android Wear-ables disconnecting too frequently because the Honor is very antsy with persistent notifications. Also, all the tweaks they put in - significantly better Bluetooth audio (with LDAC support,) and well, audio in general, only comparable to Viper4Android but that one's too laborious to set up if you aren't rooted yet; the Triluminos LCD and accurate colours, playing nice with Playstation 4(whatever variant,)...
  • Last I checked their LCD was far from accurate. And it still isn't as good as amoled on anything else either. Ldac audio only counts for the very obscure people that care about audio quality, but not enough to use wired headphones, and are willing to pay big money for Sony's proprietary wireless headphones that are still much worse than wired. So there isn't anything good about Sony's tweaks, and Chinese flagships like one plus 3 or axon 7 offer a near-stock experience. Sony doesn't even offer a fingerprint scanner, a long time staple that even finds itself in midrange phones, who the hell cares about ldac in the face of that? This phone in particular only appeals to people desperate for a phone that's slightly smaller, and are willing to pay for it as well as accept concessions in hardware, and aren't willing to use iOS.
  • The Oneplus 3 is not the most stable phone out there. I mean, Oxygen OS 3.2.4 fixed a few things, but broke the goddamn LTE connectivity, sure it was fixed eventually but WTF was that? The software choices of Axon 7 is questionable, particularly with its buttons. And granted they "look near stock," but that's about it. And don't get me started with how functionally awful Honor 8 is, don't take my word for it, ask anyone with a Fitbit or Android Wear-able and ask them how frequently do their devices disconnect when connected to a Huawei or Honor. Also, thank you for dismissing the audio improvements as "only a minute group of audiophiles will care or know the difference. Your pseudo flagship with no proper DAC or audio enhancement is much better." Because while I'm the farthest thing away from an audiophile, I CAN tell there's a difference when I compared the sound of my Z2 to a Nexus 5X, the sound is just better across the board on the Z2. Granted the fingerprint sensor omission is insane, but while the Nextbit Robin also has a side mounted fingerprint sensor, Sony must be utilising some tech that violates a patent that the Nextbit doesn't and the latter was able to get away with it...
  • This is a $300 phone at best.
  • With the iPhone SE at $400, this is an appealing alternative at $300. Any more than that, you're better off with an Honor 8, a OnePlus 3. Hell, you can get a used Galaxy S7 for like $450. If you MUST have a small phone... well, you're just screwed if you want that phone to run Android. 5" is as small as they come unless you want to buy this CLEARLY overpriced Sony.
  • This right here!
    And, yeah I have an iPhone SE and a Honor 8. I do wish that the Honor was smaller but not enough to pay $100 more for.
  • If the 5.2" screen on the Honor were just 5" I think it would be perfect. I really wish ANYONE made a phone as small as the iPhone SE or even the iPhone 6/7. I understand the appeal of big phones, but I wish someone were still making small phones.
  • You should stop listening to the tools that write this review garbage. What moron writes "Expensive for the size". Clearly too ****** dumb to work out small phones cost more to design and manufacture than big phones.
  • Tell that to Apple.
  • Amazing simplicity and quaintness seems to cost a lot these days.
  • "Expensive for the size" A tiny 4.6" screen at 1280x720 for $500. Gee, you think so?
  • I've seen worse, MUCH worse. I'd direct you to the direction to where there's a Fruit logo.
  • The difference is that the fruit logo is able to sell overpriced crap to their sheep because they have an amazingly effective marketing plan. The fruit logo managed to create sheep out of their customers an trap them inside their steel cage. Sony isn't the fruit company. They THINK they are, but they aren't. That's the problem.
  • Absolute and utter balls.
  • iPhone SE starts at $400. You'd be crazy to pay iPhone-prices for a Sony phone.
  • And the funny thing about this is that now the 64gb iPhone SE is now $450. To pay more for a phone that doesn't have a fingerprint scanner is just...silly.
  • The fingerprint scanner on the se sucks...I have one
  • Better than nothing! Apple really should have bumped the fingerprint scanner up to 6s level, but the SE is really just there so Apple can squeeze as much money as they can out of that 4-year-old design. The typical SE buyer has never used a phone with a good fingerprint scanner, so they don't mind the speed at all. The Honor 8 has an amazing fingerprint scanner and it's $100 less than the X Compact. The price that Sony is asking here is just ridiculous.
  • But should a phone's dimensions be the determining factor for the price? Just because it has a smaller screen doesn't immediately mean smaller price. Also, larger screen doesn't always mean top end specs and price point either. On the iOS side, the iPhone has just about the same size screen and starts at $650, though perhaps with arguably better hardware specs...
  • iPhone SE starts at $400 and iPhone 6s at $550. This is an Android phone, and you can get a great Android phone like the Honor 8 or the OnePlus 3 for $400. You'd be crazy to buy this for $500, especially when it doesn't even have a fingerprint reader.
  • Seriously? I will break it down for you... Hardware costs money.
    Displays are one of the more expensive pieces of hardware in a phone.
    The bigger and higher resolution the display the more cost for the OEM.
    Sony picked a part that has less cost so...
    That should be reflected in the price. I am sure small phones are a fetish for some people but that shouldn't effect the price of this product much.
  • Size VS Cost theoretical is not a direct correlation to product price. Therefor, companies like Sony that MSRP their products higher then average out the gate, will tend to lower as time goes on. Your break down is correct, and seems logical. But thats not how a product achieves a sale price, there are many more factors then materials alone to take into consideration.
  • Yes, theoretically small phones could be premium priced if it was a popular size but small devices aren't so that's not much of a factor. Hell... Theoretically, phones that are blue colored could be priced at a premium. The price of ALL phones lower over time. Sure there are other factors that can be taken in consideration beyond materials... In the case of Sony phones, it is the word "Sony" on it which is not a very good consideration at all.
  • The thing is that phones in the popular size, i.e. 5"-5.5", are made by *everyone* and there's lots of competition to carve out every segment of that market. There are expensive flagships and competitively priced Chinese challengers. Meanwhile, there is *no* competition in the sub-5" size if you want a half-decent Android phone. None. Nobody cares enough about those I don't know, 20% or so of users who think that phones got way too large already but don't feel like downgrading to less RAM, horribly broken Android mods and terrible cameras. I don't know how large that market actually is, maybe it's only 10% and not 20%. Whatever the number, Sony is the only vendor catering to that market at all. As the best product in a class, even just because it's the only product in that class, Sony will be able to demand a premium as long as there are people shopping for a phone in that class. They'd be stupid not to charge extra for making that premium product with a feature set that no one else has - a compact, performant, non-crappy Android phone.
  • double post
  • 1. You don't need a bigger screen resolution for that size of the screen unless you are a spec warrior
    2. Small factor requires more clever engineering to cram latest specs inside and avoid interruption of optimal performance of components.
    ------------------------------------------
    3. Not saying this is worth $500 but it takes skills to make something like this especially knowing that Android is ultra resource hungry right now for some optimal user experience
  • I always wanted a Sony compact device but they were always either too expensive or just a little behind in the technology offered. I loved my OG moto X, which is the same size and 720p screen as this X Compact. But that was 2013. This day and age companies are on their 2nd or 3rd gen fingerprint sensor, or waterproofness. And I hate huge phones, but after using the S6 and S7 for a while, I think the compact could use a bump to maybe 4.8" and 1080p to keep with the times, especially since it seems that Sony knows how to control it's bezel size.
  • They should have reduced the Xperia X bezels a little, and keep the screen size. It's awesome that the Compact performs like a flagship, though. Even then, $500 is ridiculous. My Z3 Compact, aside for the lack of Nougat, is every bit as competitive for less than half the price.
  • So, what you're saying is that they should have launched it at half the price so you can buy it in 2 years at 1/4 the price and ***** about whatever phone has just launched then at 4x the price?
  • Yeah, no. What I'm saying is that you're paying $500 for a phone that is arguably comparable to another that was released two years ago, both with roughly the same launch price. Try to compare the Galaxy S5 with the S7 and you'll understand.
  • I remember the Z3C was more expensive, but whatever, anyway, where exactly can I get it now at $250? :)
  • Not sure, I was making an educated guess. I bought mine in Italy at €270 last year, just after the Z5 was released. Searching through Amazon right now, I see that you can get it new for as low as $200, though most are around $270.
  • Bull. The Xc is miles better than the z3c and still faster than the z5c
  • I think he means in daily use
  • Miles better than the Z3C? Where exactly? The camera is slightly better but still a disaster compared with the competition (the Z3 camera was good when it came out).
    The phone is not waterproof (the Z3C is).
    Sure the X has 3GB of RAM and a 2016 mid-range processor. But then again the Z3C is 2 years old. Yet it still has the same 720p screen the X Compact, the same battery, and it's actually smaller and thinner despite having the same 4.6" display. The X Compact has nothing compelling to offer a Z3C owner. Nothing. Apart from 7.0 Nougat. But then again, the Z3C on KitKat is far superior than the Z5C on Marshmallow, specially where battery life is concerned. The Z3C ACTUALLY lasts 2 days. Something no Sony phone has been able to do since Lollipop came out.
  • The X compact like the Z5 and Z5 compact does have a fingerprint sensor. It's built into the power button which is the most used button on a handset no need for a separate one. Why can't these review articles be accurate.
  • It's been noted that it doesn't have one in the US Variant which is correct.
  • Because Americans keep thinking they are the only people on Earth and nothing exists beyond their borders but wasteland and Mexicans.
  • Great review Andrew. I'm personally one of those people who wants an amazing smaller sized phone. I currently have the Honor 8 and it's a star but a good amount of the time, I wish that it was smaller. That's my only personal thing that I would change. I also have an iPhone SE that is a star too, maybe this is attempting to be equal? As much as I would love to have this phone (in a general sense), that price is hard to swallow. Very hard, especially considering that it doesn't have a fingerprint scanner. Now if it was $350-400, I would possibly consider it.
  • Very overpriced.
  • It's probably the only choice in the Android world if you want a very solid, capable SMALL (we're talking smaller than 5-inches) device with capable hardware and smooth software without too much extras in 2016. A lot of Androids have moved up to 5+ inches. However, I feel a little conflicted with the X Compact. In the past, the XPERIA Compact was always about being the small flagship. Sure, there were some compromises, but for the most part, you're pretty much getting flagship hardware in a smaller form factor, with the same processor, camera package, build and even water-resistance. With the X Compact, it's a bit of a 50/50 mix in my eyes. It certainly got a nice RAM bump from 2GB to 3GB, and has a pretty substantial improvement when it comes to the camera along with other nice improvements. However, when you tally up the fact that it has a midrange chipset (albeit a very capable one), the lack of water-resistance, difference in build and other stuff does make me feel a little conflicted over this Compact. Is it a successor to the old Compacts which were about being a compact flagship, or is the X Compact a departure from those old days? I still maintain that in this day and age, when it comes to daily use, a top-of-the-line processor is not needed, and the X Compact performs very well in daily tasks with that hardware package. I haven't really cared too much about specs these days, as they've all pretty much matured and the focus is on software this time around. However, I just thought I'd let my thoughts out on this. I'm not really going to talk about price as we already know what to expect from Sony at this point.
  • Well said.
  • Well said. I am a very happy owner of a Z3C and do not rely on the camera. However, I do rely on the battery and the waterproofing/dustproofing. My Z3C can go through the crazy days I have being on the cell a lot and with lots of screen time and finish at 40%. It used to be better but either Android M is slowing it down or the battery has aged. I am looking at this phone and wondering if its a considerable upgrade to my Z3C. I like the small form factor of the X Compact and its plastic case may mean I dont have to wrap it in an additional case. I wish it were the XZ compact with waterproofing.
  • http://www.gsmarena.com/compare.php3?idPhone1=6538&idPhone2=8292
    Scroll down to battery endurance rating. It looks like the X Compact is well behind. Even if your battery has aged (or maybe it's just the Charging Optimization introduce with MM, which you can turn off BTW!), you're still good. I was hoping it would beat the Z3C, considering it doesn't have a flagship processor, but it turns out it doesn't. The plastic case is definitely an upgrade, IMO. I hate that glass back of the Z3C (or any phone for that matter). #bringbacktheplastic :))
  • "Sony seemed pained to add OIS (optical image stabilization) to its cameras up to this point, and I'm glad it finally made the jump." The 5-axis stabilization included with the Xperia X Compact and XZ is not OIS. "For low-light photos, the 5-axis stabilization is clearly in play to help the X Compact take solid and much improved, but just average photos." From what I understand, the 5-axis stabilization is only active when shooting video. The following is noted on Sony's press release for both phones: [iii] 5-axis stabilization feature is only available in Full HD video resolution
    [iv] 5-axis stabilization is activated only when the camera recognizes macro video. Other situations will be recorded as 3-axis(pitch/yaw/roll) only
  • I think you're reading restrictions on the availability of stabilization in some video modes as it being available only in video mode. I can't tear the phone apart and look at the hardware, but I can go off of what Sony has told me. Sony claims it's a physical image stabilization system, and if I had my guess it's that a lot of the reason why it works as it does is heavy software stabilization on top of it.
  • The thing that gets me is this. "5-axis stabilization feature is only available in Full HD video resolution" What does that mean? Does that mean the entire stabilization feature is disabled or it falls to 3-axis? If it's the former, that's not OIS. OIS is usually always-on. In UHD, even though DIS is disabled, OIS is still on. Look for the Jell-O effect. If it's the latter, there may be OIS, but Sony hasn't been too clear on it
  • I think it's the latter, and I agree with you it isn't clear. From what it sounds like to me, two of the axes are software stabilization, which like on most phones isn't possible when doing anything higher than 1080p video. Again it isn't crystal clear, but I have to go off of what Sony says (hardware stabilization is here) and what I see in the camera in terms of solid low light capabilities and minimal blur.
  • I'm confused, really. I've checked other sources and some say it's optical while others say it's software. Most are hesitant to call it either, instead just using "stabilization". That kinda makes me weary as it's so vague and the info I got from said sources contradict each other. That said, nice review. Just don't get the reason for the confusion over stabilization from Sony's marketing material.
  • Sony really could've done a better job explaining it, I agree, and again I can only go off of what Sony says to us ... because yeah we don't have many ways to check. All I know is that you can't just do 5-axis stabilization in software, that's not really how that works. You need a hardware component, and as I note above, my theory is it's 3 axis hardware + 2 axis software layered on top in video.
  • That could be likely, but we won't know for sure until somebody does a teardown. Man, we're discussing whether the phone actually has some form of hardware stabilization or not, and Sony's own marketing materials didn't help make it easier to reach a conclusion. They should've made it clearer, because going on a Googling hunt only makes it more confusing.
  • That's what I thought as well, but Sony's marketing only mentions the 5-axis stabilization when they talk about video. When referring to photo quality, they change the topic to their "triple image sensing technology." This can be seen in the following two links on Sony's site: http://blogs.sonymobile.com/press_release/sonys-first-flagship-xperia-xz... http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/xperia/technologies/camera/ Also, in the following video, Basil from Btekt confirmed that it is still digital image stabilization. He's talking about the Xperia XZ in the video, but seeing as how the topic is the 5-axis stabilization, it applies to the X Compact as well. https://youtu.be/inGxaA85paM?t=274
  • See, that just makes it even more confusing.
  • It is rather confusing. As you stated above, sites are split when it comes to calling it OIS or digital/software stabilization.
  • I'm just waiting for someone to do a teardown so we can see if it's really optically stabilized.
  • There's a very easy way to check it yourself, Andrew. Pick up the phone, look at the eye of the camera and move the phone. It the eye doesn't move, there's no OIS. If you only go by Sony's PR bullsh*t and don't test things to see if they're true, I'm sorry but then you're not providing a good review, you're providing a Sony ad.
  • Well, to make this more confusing, AA's review mentioned that the 5-axis stabilization is only software.... http://www.androidauthority.com/sony-xperia-x-compact-review-718212/
  • And they are correct. It's only software stabilisation. And it's only available when filming and even there, only in macro mode.
    So let's make this clear: - The phones do NOT have OIS;
    - The 5-axis stabilisation is software and ONLY available on the REAR camera and ONLY works on "macro" mode.
  • Doesn't make much sense to release the Xperia X at 5" and then the Compact at 4.6" and the XZ at 5.2". It's a complete mess. They should go with a 4.6" (Compact), 5.2" (regular) and 5.7" (Ultra) with same specs all along the line, except for screen resolution (I think 720p, 1080p and 2160p), and maybe RAM (3GB for Compact and 4GB for the other two). Also, release them all at once as a 1,2,3 punch to everyone. And cut the prices already, FFS.
  • Sony still has a bit of a scattered approach when it comes to phone sizes and release schedules. It doesn't make much sense, and I'm not sure how much they plan to scale it back or make it make sense.
  • I love my Z3 Compact, and I really want Sony to get their act together and start making consistent devices as they had before (even if they were expensive). But it's really hard to vouch for them right now. Forgot to mention, excellent review, Andrew.
  • Wifi calling on T-mobile? I might consider this phone if they can make it happen like HTC, Google and Apple have with their unlocked phones. I don't care about a fingerprint scanner so that seemingly major oversight doesn't bother me.
  • Most likely not, considering that none of the Sony phones released this year have it.
  • Nope.
  • Excellent well balanced review.
  • Thanks!
  • Well it doesn't seem that expensive in the UK - £370 inc tax from a couple of reputable suppliers (the same price as an Honor 8). For comparison an iPhone 7 retails at £600 over here. We also get the fingerprint scanner. However losing the water resistance is a big mistake IMO, and limits the appeal somewhat. The Z3 Compact was a superhero phone in a small chassis, the X Compact is just a sidekick, albeit a very competent one.
  • "Well it doesn't seem that expensive in the UK - £370 inc tax" Except I paid £349 for the Z3 Compact on launch day. So £370 for a phone that is inferior to what the Z3 Compact was, is overpriced.
  • "Except I paid £349 for the Z3 Compact on launch day"
    Me too!. The only negative I can think of with the Z3C was 16Gb of storage. Still, just a minor annoyance seeing as you could add an SD card. It looked much nicer than the Z5C and this XC too. It was a great phone.
    All I was pointing out was that in relative terms the X Compact is priced nearer a mid range than a flagship phone in the UK - and I expect the price will drop fairly rapidly too.
  • Ah yes in that sense yes, it's priced lower than flagships.
    However the iPhone isn't a good example...That thing is overpriced everywhere. In Euros the cheaper 32GB iPhone 7 costs 780€. The S7 was 730€ on launch.
    So the X Compact for 450€ is not flagship price indeed. However it's also overpriced for a mid-ranger lol
  • The review is nice, Andrew. However, there are a couple of very significant flaws in it which I think I should point out, constructively: - Camera
    Unlike what Sony lead us all to believe with their masterful PR bullsh*t, the new XZ and X Compact DO NOT HAVE OIS.
    They talked as if it had, talked about 5-axis-stabilisation but the truth it, OIS isn't present. All of that talk was about their (very crappy) DIGITAL Image Stabilisation which they have been trying for years to make happen and convince everybody that software trickery is better than hardware components. So, you might want to take a second look at the camera portion of your review. Also, Manual mode got some extra settings HOWEVER, in typical Sony fashion, they f*cked up again. We can now control shutter speed...but NOT at the same time we control ISO values. Which pretty much renders it pointless since the advantage of controlling both independently is to, for example, get better low light photos without grain or sharper day light photos without blur. ____ - Fingerprint scanner
    The other critique is about the "american-ness" of the review. You more than once pointed out the lack of a fingerprint scanner. While that's true for the American market, it's NOT true for the rest of the World. The X Compact DOES have a fingerprint scanner. Just not in the USA.
    Now, I get it you're American and live in America, HOWEVER, I think you should consider the potential readership of this review. Android Central has an international audience and if we're realistic, the likelihood of a SONY REVIEW being read by a non-American is greater than by an American. Therefore, focusing so many times on something that isn't true for anyone but Americans seems counter-productive and not a really fair judgement of the phone as it exists worldwide.
    ____ As for my opinion on the X Compact, I've said it before. It's not a Compact, it's a Mini.
    It still includes a mediocre camera, it runs a mid-range processor, it lacks waterproofing, it still uses a 720p display (worse than that, an IPS display)...and it costs 450€. Even for people like me who hate big phones, the X Compact isn't a good buy. Mainly because it doesn't really significantly improves anything over the Z5 Compact (and that was a terrible phone coming from a Z3C which is why I kept the Z3C and resold the Z5C).
    And one can get the Z5 Compact currently for less than 400€.
    If we look at them, we see the Z5 Compact has pretty much the same as the X Compact. The only big difference is It has 1GB less of RAM, but has waterproofing. And it doesn't have the triple sensors on the camera, but in the end it will probably not make much of a difference (I haven't tested the X Compact yet but I think it's a pretty safe bet to make since the software processing is still the same). And then, it's actually bigger than the previous Compacts and, as you pointed out, it's now around the size of the S7 already.
    And the S7 is a vastly vastly superior phone...which, as you also pointed out, can now be found for 525€. The X "Compact" is a completely missed opportunity for Sony. A concoction of stupid decisions which is only paralleled by Sony's PS4 "Pro".
  • So, it's 5-axis Digital SS, then...... So, it only works during video, and not on photos..... And I looked at the camera app, and the whole layout doesn't seem to have changed. Sony, what on earth are you doing? I still think it has improved over the Z5C and X, but why Sony? Maybe just get the guys over from the mirrorless division to help.
  • It's 5-axis digital stabilisation on video AND ONLY on a certain type of video. Again, like the PS4 "Pro", Sony's propaganda machine crafted a message so deceitful that it was only deconstructed after the phones were made available. And yeah, the layout of the camera is the same. There are a couple of extra manual controls (shutter speed, manual focus) but just like before, when you pick a setting a bunch of others gets shut down etc. In other words, the camera will still fight any decision you try to make. Juan's real camera review of the X Performance on PocketNow says it all pretty well. And the exact same can be applied here.
  • What baffles me is that Sony packs a nice sensor into the phone, but smeared it with seriously unintuitive software and bad decisions. I actually wished the team in charge of Sony's mirrorless cameras would one day take over the operations of the photography section of the mobile division and show them how it's really done. Sony is surely capable of making a superb camera that can compete very well with the likes of Samsung, Apple and several others in that top-tier. It's just that from the way I see it, they're just not bothered to. Oh, and the PS4 Pro. Basically an overclocked PS4 with a beefier GPU and some other stuff. A lot of people don't or refuse to get this, but the reason why Sony is criticized for their decisions with the XPERIA phones is not due to blind hate. It's because time and time again, it's clear that Sony IS capable of making wonderful things, but for whatever reason, the actual thing just exudes a sense of "meh".
  • Come on man. It's no where near as big as the s7. It's 2mm taller than the z5c with all other dimensions the same. It's smaller than the iPhone 6s and that it significantly smaller than the s7 itself!!
  • The 6s isn't THAT much smaller than the S7. It's slightly shorter and narrower, but it's not much smaller.
  • https://youtu.be/Gn1TvBES4j8 Again.. It's much smaller than the s7 man.
  • I thought you meant the iPhone 6s -__-
  • The Z5C is itself bigger than the Z3C.
    The X Mini is not AS tall as the S7 but it's almost. The S7 is 1.3cm taller than the X Compact. Except the S7 has a 5.1" 2K screen. If you're buying a phone that big overall, you might as well just get the one with the bigger and immensely better screen.
    The idea of the Compact was to be small. Sony has been increasing its size phone after phone despite keeping the screen the same size.
  • I don't understand this phone. I really don't. I have the Z5 compact, which is waterproof, and is otherwise as fast as this phone. The only diff is the 3 gb of ram....but I've never had a problem with RAM management on my Z5 compact. So I really don't understand Sony's strategy here.
  • https://youtu.be/8jvi3Om1zA4 Not quite as fast there buddy
  • Yeah, you're right, but it's so so small and negligible. IRL you're never loading game after game after game like that. For day to day tasks, unless you're holding both in your hands at all times...you wouldn't notice. I still feel like this phone might as well have not been made. And at the very least they should've put the 3gb ram and snapdragon 650 in a Z5C body so that we could have gotten waterproofing. That's been one of the biggest draws to Sony phones for years now.
  • disappointing in terms of bang for the buck.. always wanted smaller phone.. unfortunately no flagship level option... s7 comes pretty close. would have loved a mini flagship version of it!
  • Who cares about this Xperia nonsense!!!!......I wanna soda!!!!
  • Finally, an actual review!! This site has become nothing but How To articles and advertisements for other products or the MN store. It went from great to complete ***** in two months. I get the whiff of Kevin Michaluk behind it all. No wonder Phil bailed.
  • I'm confused. There have been various reviews over the past few weeks.
  • "No Fingerprint Sensor" as a negative is kind of BS. Because it does have one. Indeed, it's not available in the US due to patent issues, but it's available in the REST OF THE WORLD.
  • Am I the only one that doesn't give a **** about a finger print reader?
  • Nop. I also couldn't care less about it. In fact, if Samsung would put double tap to wake back on the S7 I'd ditch the fingerprint sensor unlocking for the double tap to wake functionality.
  • You're not, but it's dumb to pay $500 for a phone that doesn't have one in 2016. If it was lower in price, I think it wouldn't be a big issue.
  • Nope, there are indeed people who don't care about having a fingerprint sensor. Unfortunately that's the minority position, and when so many phones offer it for the same or lower prices, it's definitely worth highlighting.
  • I'm pretty sure you're confusing the average consumer with tech bloggers. Tech bloggers care a lot for it. Real consumers? Meh... Not so much. Consumers main focus on phones is battery life and camera. Not fingerprint scanners.
  • While battery life and cameras are important, consumers also like "cool shiny new things" and a fingerprint sensor is exactly that. Especially at this price. And many people do use PINs/Patterns to protect their phones and a fingerprint sensor makes it more convenient.
  • I preordered this phone in Germany for €335 or about US$370 (didn't have pay VAT, also known as taxes in the US). I don't know why the US is selling it for $500, and that's excluding taxes. This is ridiculous!
  • Unless you provide a link to where you did that to prove it, I'm calling bullsh*t. The phone costs 450€ in Germany. Also you'll have to explain how didn't you have to pay VAT (which in case you don't know stands for Value Added Tax. In America it's called sales tax). Unless you're not European or an enterprise, VAT is mandatory.
    And if you're not European, you'll have to pay import duties when you go back home.
  • US will not charge you custom duties and sales tax on one off especially if marked as a sample so its quite possible he got it for that price. But in order to get the price without VAT you have to buy it with VAT and than claim the money back unless you have a company within EU who has purchased the phone form another EU company without VAT and then sold it to you without VAT under the table.
  • First of all, great detailed review. Second thing, for the fingerprint, i think only X compact in US will have No Fingerprint Sensor. I read some news that X compact will have Fingerprint outside US ,, is it right ?? correct me if am wrong.
  • That's correct. The XZ doesn't have the fingerprint sensor though either.
  • The fingerprint sensor is present in the hardware but not the software. Loading the UK firmware onto it allows the sensor to be activated; I've done it personally and it works great.
  • How about LTE band 12 support on T-Mobile US?
  • I have a better phone. It's called the Nexus 5.
  • Haha that is funny.
  • Let's not get too carried away there.
  • Remember when the 4.5" Samsung Infuse screen made it a Goliath oversized phone? The last compact phone that I thought was really compact was the HP Veer and almost no one bought that (for a variety of reasons like no 3.5" headphone jack without an adaptor that prevented charging).
  • S4 mini was pretty cool.
  • I have to honest, this might sell more Z3 compact's than it does X compacts.
    Same screen, only 1G less ram, an 801 (not bad) , water resistant and now ~$300 pricetag
  • The X compact like the Xperia X, Z5, Z5 Premium and Z5 compact does have a fingerprint sensor. It's built into the power button which is the most used button on a handset no need for a separate one. Why can't these review articles be accurate.
  • Not in the USA unfortunately. Does anyone know why Sony is doing this? It has to be more work to make a special non-fingerprint sensor version just for the USA, so there must be some reason (legal?).
  • Licensing issues, apparently
  • It's just the software that has it disabled. By installing firmware from, say, the UK, I have fingerprint access. I do say it's great, too.
  • My Z5 still rocks without a problem but I'd definitely get this one if I didn't have my Z5 with me. Such an amazing phone. I really missed the "compact" phone experience.
  • Disappointing on many levels compared to my Z3 Compact. Guess I'm still waiting for my next Sony phone.
  • No waterproofing? No fingerprint? So I guess Z5 Compact is better? Except maybe for the smaller RAM and lack of camera stabilization.
  • You have to import a global variant to get the fingerprint sensor. The US versions have the hardware, but it's disabled.
  • This doesn't have OIS either. The 5-axis stabilisation is software stabilisation which the Z5 also has.
  • Any drawback to buying the international version besides warranty? I mean, you can get it WITH the fingerprint scanner for slightly over $400 shipped. It seems to have all the bands, including 12 for Tmobile.
  • Apart from you not getting an American wall plug and likely having to pay import duties, no other problem. You might want to check the American warranty laws though.
  • Obviously a month late, but you can either buy that version. Or you can get the US version and put the UK firmware on it. Fingerprint sensor works great either way!
  • I'm glad I was able to sell the Z5C back to Amazon for a full refund. Other than the design and camera, I didn't like the phone. The fingerprint sensor was 66% accurate at best. The 720P display sucked even for a 4.6" display. I can watch a YouTube video in 480P on my 5.7" 6P and it'll still look clearer. That whole Sony Triluminos X-Realty Engine display is nothing but meaningless fancy words.
  • I don't know about the Z5C, but I've used both the XC and Honor 8 and both are fantastic phones in their own rights. I prefer the XC across the board, though.
  • Very expensive compared to Features
  • honor x2 baby..all the way across the sky ...
  • Yes, size matters! I hate tiny screened phones!
  • This is all wrong...
    X Compact has a Fingerprint sensor and ot asks you to set it up 1st boot.
    I m just pissed how they obv dont have a review sample considering the performance is on par with Snapdragon 810
  • The US model doesn't have a fingerprint sensor. The hardware is there, but it's disabled.
  • Took me a bit to figure it out, but getting the UK firmware onto it addresses that issue.
  • For everyone saying this phone is expensive, what other 5" or less Android phone has strong specs and camera like this, fully works with US carriers, and is not incredibly heavily skinned like most non Google phones are?
  • Well this has a pretty crappy camera so...
    Otherwise, the S7 is miles better and is actually not THAT much bigger. But has a killer camera, Qi charging, waterproofing, a QHD AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM, a flagship processor, a far better themeing engine...and costs just 60€ more.
  • I have to politely disagree on the size difference. While the S7 is smaller than most 5.5" Android phones, the compact is more on a level with the iPhone SE but for those who want Android phones, there is almost nothing at this very small level for us that truly want a one handed micro phone. I am coming from a Moto E (2015) and that phone is tiny, incredibly under powered but tiny. We want a small company Android flagship that is the size of the iPhone SE and this Sony was supposed to be that phone but it doesn't seem it meets the flagship title and there is no other Android phone out there this small that does either :-/
  • Have you even seen the size of the X Compact? It's definitely NOT small anymore. The Z3C was 12.7cm tall. The X Compact was bumped to 12.9cm. The S7 is 14.2cm. There's just 1.3cm (0.5") of difference between the X Compact and the S7. Except the S7 has a 5.1" screen whilst the X Compact has a 4.6" screen. If one wants a truly one handed phone on Android, the Z5 Compact (at the same 12.7cm) is the last of the truly one handed devices. The X Compact, even due to its design, is less one handed friendly than the previous Compacts or the S7. The X Compact should actually - and I've said it before - be called X Mini.
    It's a mid-ranger. If you want a smaller Android, again, you'll be better served with the Z5 Compact which is smaller than the X Compact, performs the same way, and at least it's waterproof. Yes, I too wanted a small flagship phone on Android. But I've accepted that it won't happen until Apple releases the numbers of the SE sales. Only once Apple proves that the smaller SE was a great seller (and it was) will Android OEMs start copying them, as usual.
    At this point I'm refusing to go above 5".
    I've spend 4 months with a G4 and it was a relief when I got rid of that monster of a phone. If one day Android OEMs only offer 5.5" and above phones, that day I'll likely have to swallow my hate for anything Apple and go for an iPhone. Or I'll just return to a dumb phone because, if I have to carry around a cumbersome massive device, I might as well carry a tablet.
  • You are seriously complaining that 2 mm is a huge difference and yet infer that 13 mm isn't that large? What the hell...
  • How good is a 1.1 cm camera sensor? When I bought a Z ultra I had great expectations from the camera-Exmor sensor and all. But the pics are plain and very damaged in low light.
  • I recently bought a new Z5C for £299. Its waterproof, has a fingerprint sensor, and crucially, can record video in 4k (which on play back is so much better). So this new phone is a backwards step (1080p only on the compact) and more expensive. I don't get why they would remove some key features.
  • Man you all be sleeping then this is the greatest phone of all time I'm sitting here right now looking at my phone and thinking to myself what a wonderful phone you are. Very fast great camera it's like being in the horse race and you are the winner all day long go racing stripes go to Seabiscuit go to jail because you are the greatest with this phone. I absolutely loved it 400 hundred bucks you can't get no better than this you can't tell me you can screw a fingerprint scanner take that finger and stick it up your booty is this is the greatest thing on earth if it was a circus it would be Barnum & Bailey in Bartle and James sitting on a porch
  • I'm looking at getting this phone, but the discussion about the camera is disconcerting. Would a third-party camera app improve things much? I do like the size and other factors. Otherwise I'm looking at the S7, which is that bit bigger and more dosh...
  • I'm so confused about the camera performance. Some websites say it's great, others that it sucks. I just bought mine about a week ago and so far I'm rather disappointed with the camera. The pictures look nice on the phone screen, but on pc (or if you simply zoom a little bit) they look incredibly grainy. Maybe I'm spoiled because I'm coming from a Lumia 930 (and I had hoped the Xperia X Compact would make the jump back to Android easier on the camera front). It looks like even in daylight the edges of the objects are very grainy and blurry, as if the software processing was trying to make up for lack of optical stabilization by oversharpening the objects via some processing algorithm... I'm battling with myself to decide if I should return it, which is a shame because I love the phone in literally every other aspect (could it be my device is defective?). On one hand the camera is for me very important on my smartphone, on the other hand (in all fairness) I feel I have no better option at this size and price point. Even on the 5'' I'm struggling to find a viable alternative with OIS (I'm not so fond of LG phones)...
  • I don't get it, it's written no fingerprint sensor but in the image of the phone I see one LOL. Anyways, would had liked a more premium design.