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SONY XPERIA X COMPACT HANDS-ON REVIEW

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KEY FEATURES
  • 4.6-inch 720p display
  • Snapdragon 650
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • USB-C
  • 2,700mAh battery
  • 23-megapixel camera
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

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SONY XPERIA X COMPACT HANDS-ON – IS THIS MINI-PHONE MAGIC?

Sony had something great with its Compact line. The Z3 Compact remains one of my favourite Android phones, and while the version based on the Xperia Z5 wasn’t as successful, it still brought high-end specs to a device that could easily be used with one hand.

This was the main advantage of the Xperia Compact series: small dimensions, but without compromise. The Z3 Compact had the same specs as the larger phones, but in a device that was a little more manageable.

So it seems strange that Sony has seemingly ditched this mentality with the Xperia X Compact. This is a small phone – the 4.6-inch screen is a rarity these days – but it’s middling in every other department. This isn’t a miniature Sony Xperia XZ; instead, it’s much more mid-range.

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Sony Xperia X Compact (L) and Sony Xperia XZ (R)

The first thing to be said about the Xperia X Compact is that this is an ugly phone. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a phone and genuinely thought it was a dummy version of the real thing. The slimy, shiny plastic body feels like a sub-£150/$225 laptop you’d get from Tesco, not from a brand with the design pedigree of Sony.

It’s thick too, almost comically so. I understand that smaller phones need to be thicker in order to cram in the parts, but Apple has managed to make the iPhone 6S svelte, so that excuse can only go so far.

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It is compact, though: I could operate it with one hand comfortably – and you can’t say that about many other phones. If you simply must have a “tiny” Android phone then the Xperia X Compact is probably the one for you.

The 4.6-inch display is stuck at 720p, which is just about fine for this size of handset. You can spot pixels if you look for them, but the real problem is the lack of oomph in the colours. The bevy of bright wallpapers look washed out, and reds appear pasty and greens overly dark.

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Sony at least tries to impress with the camera. The 23-megapixel sensor matches the Xperia XZ, but it lacks the triple imaging sensor and the laser-assisted autofocus. There’s also no 4K video recording. Still, the camera app actually seemed a little quicker than it’s sibling. The front-facing selfie shooter has been cut back to 5 megapixels.

Under the chunky frame Qualcomm’s 650 CPU powers the show, backed up by 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. I’d like to have seen the higher-end Snapdragon 820 inside; nevertheless, in my short time with the phone it felt fast.

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A fingerprint sensor is tucked inside the home button, which sits on the side of the device – a location that I still find isn’t quite as convenient as the front or back of a handset, but it’s nice to have. Sadly, it isn’t IP68-rated for water-resistance, so it can’t join you in the shower.

Keeping everything going is a 2,700mAh battery that should easily get you through the day, especially when you consider that there aren’t that many pixels to push around. Plus, the Xperia X Compact charges up via USB Type-C – a first for a Sony phone.

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Being someone who’s used each iteration of the Xperia Compact over the years, I’m a little disappointed by the latest version.

By ditching the theme of presenting high-end specs in a small body, Sony has simply ended up with a small mid-range phone that doesn’t really do anything differently. It isn’t water-resistant, it doesn’t have the same specs as the Xperia flagships, and it’s truly ugly to boot.

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