Sony Xperia X Compact is a phone that’s more than good enough
What’s new at a glance:
October release date
23-megapixel triple-sensing camera
2,700mAh batter (that’s good for a small phone)
Snapdragon 650 chipset
4.6in 720p HD screen
Sony’s Compact smartphones have always been massively underrated, and the Sony Xperia X Compact will no different. I got to spend some time with it at a Sony event in London before IFA 2016 and I’m a big fan of this 4.6in phone.
Why is it so good? The answer isn’t specs, which are pretty average. However, Xperia Compact phones do enough in the departments that people care about – screen, camera, and processor – then over deliver in one area people really care about: the battery.
And that’s pretty much Sony’s entire play here. The Xperia Compact is a phone for people who don’t want the very best specs/features, but are happy to compromise a little in other areas to get a still-great smartphone that doesn’t cost as much.
A 4.6in 720p HD screen will be a long way off posting the PPI (pixels per inch) numbers the current generation of flagships are knocking out. The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 5.1in 1440p screen for example. But, when I used the Xperia X Compact, a fuzzy screen wasn’t something I noticed. Perhaps – and the spec-nerds will recoil in horror at this – 720p is actually enough for a 4.6in screen.
Battery and performance
The combination of a 2,700mAh, Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset and 720p screen is exciting. I was only with the Xperia X Compact for less than an hour, so running any sort of significant battery test was impossible. However, unless Sony really butchers the software on this smartphone (it won’t) then I’m predicting a lot of happy customers.
Did I mention the 3GB of RAM? I know, good isn’t it? This is an upgrade from the 2GB of its predecessor, and puts it on a par with its flagship sibling, the Xperia XZ. Itself a simple equation: more RAM = more speed.
The people in the Sony labs have also got another feature for the Xperia X Compact. It’s called intelligent battery charging and it works by keeping your phone at less than 100% for as long as possible. The reason is this: when your phone is kept at 100% for lengthy periods of time it does a disproportionate amount of wear to your phone than it would if your battery was at 90% charge. The new intelligent battery-charging feature learns your charging cycle – for me this would be 11pm to 7am most nights – and adjusts accordingly. Meaning that when I plug in my phone at 11pm at night, the phone would charge to 90% just like any other phone. However it would time the final 10% of charging to reach 100% just before 7am, when my alarm goes off, I wake up and unplug my phone.
Smartphones are too big. I agree with Steve Jobs, it’s annoying having areas of a screen you can’t reach with your thumb. So for me, the Xperia Compact is the perfect-sized phone, measuring 129 x 65 x 9.5 and weighing 135g.
The shape and finish of the Xperia X Compact is very noticeable compared to the Z5 Compact. Just like the Xperia XZ, this phone has a dead flat top and bottom, meaning it can stand when rested on either edge. This probably isn’t the most useful of features, though. It simply looks nice.
So far, so good. However, the new finish, which is “inspired by ceramic” is an area where I think its predecessor has the edge. Greasy fingerprints will be an issue here.
The Xperia X Compact features three sets of physical buttons. The customary volume rocker and power button – which doubles as fingerprint sensor – and also the dedicated camera button. All buttons fit your hand perfectly.
Woof. Sony has really gone to town with the Xperia X’s camera. It’s matched the 23-megapixel triple-sensing camera found in the Xperia X and XZ. But it lacks the laser autofocus and overall sensor size of its XZ teammate.
I took several snaps with the Compact in a light-filled room and the results were encouraging. It’ll be interesting to see how the camera performs in low-light situations, as the Xperia X Compact wasn’t championed for these attributes in the same way the XZ was during our presentation. More to follow when we get the device into our labs.
If you’re not looking to pay for a full priced flagship your options are a mid-range device from one of the big manufacturers, or looking for a bargain device from Nexus of OnePlus. Alternatively, you could choose the Xperia X Compact. Historically these phones are competitively priced and, anecdotally, the owners I have known rave about how good the little phone is. By the looks of the X Compact, I predict this trend to continue.
Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.