Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review: Pint-sized powerhouse wows us all over again

The smallest member of the Z5 family is a smooth performer, with none of its siblings' panache lost in the downsizing

5
Price when reviewed 
450

Many years ago, when I announced my plans to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, my friends were astonished that I’d go for anything quite so big. I’d look ridiculous, they claimed, holding that to my face.

Well if I did – and there’s no guarantee the phone was to blame for that – then everyone else is looking silly, too. Nowadays, you’re hard-pushed to find a handset under 5in, and with Sony’s latest flagship arriving at 5.2in (or 5.5in for the truly ridiculous 4K premium model), the “compact” version of it is just 0.6in smaller at 4.6in. If this is compact, the iPhone 4s looks positively adorable.

Still, this is clearly the pocket-sized cut-off point now, and that's largely a good thing.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact: First impressions

Out of the box, the Xperia Z5 Compact does indeed look like a cut-down version of the larger handset. Obviously, it’s shorter at 4.6in and, oddly, a touch thicker at 8.9mm compared with the Z5’s slender 7.3mm frame. It’s also quite a bit lighter at 138g to the Z5’s 154g.

Sony’s style hasn’t changed a great deal over the years, and it’s quite a divisive look, with squared-off edges and sharp angles. All smartphones are essentially slabs of electronics, but Sony wears this assessment on its sleeve – and proudly. The Z5 Compact curves its edges off slightly, but it’s still a lot more angular than the iPhone 6s, HTC One M9 or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

As with the Xperia Z5, the back plate is now frosted glass, which looks quite nice, but will probably not survive many encounters with a pocketful of keys. You have been warned. Also, as with the Z5, the power button has changed from Sony’s traditional protruding circle to a flat, metal oval. This is to incorporate a fingerprint scanner, on the right hand side where the thumb naturally sits.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review

The result is a revelation for me. I’m used to fairly unreliable Bluetooth unlocking with Android Wear, but being able to quickly get to the homescreen with a light touch of the thumb is something I’m going to find very difficult to give up. On the other hand, I’ll certainly not miss the positioning of the volume rocker on this phone: it’s at the bottom right-hand side, which is just weird for the sake of being weird.

One of the major selling points of Xperia phones in recent years has been their waterproofing, with Sony boasting of the ability to shoot video underwater with previous models.

That suggestion has been quietly withdrawn from all Sony’s marketing materials this time around, but the phone retains its IP56/IP68 rating, which means that it’ll withstand a dunking or two.

Price when reviewed 
450inc VAT

 

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact specifications

Processor

Octacore (quad 2GHz and quad 1.5GHz), Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 

RAM

2GB

Screen size

4.6in

Screen resolution

720 x 1,280, 323ppi

Screen type

IPS

Front camera

5.1MP

Rear camera

23MP (f/2, phase detect autofocus, OIS)

Flash

LED

GPS

Yes

Compass

Yes

Storage

32GB

Memory card slot 

MicroSD

Wi-Fi

802.11ac

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, apt-X

NFC

Yes

Wireless data

4G

Size (WDH)

76 x 7.8 x 154mm

Weight

138g

Operating system

Android 5.1.1 Lollipop

Battery size

2,700mAh

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