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4.1 out of 5 stars
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact SIM-Free Android Smartphone - Lime
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150 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2014
I pre-ordered this phone from the Sony Xperia website, so I've had the phone for about 2 weeks now, and can tell you it is nothing short of amazing.

I was needing a new phone, as my Samsung S2's battery required charging 2-3 times a day, and was looking to have the majority of the latest tech, so the phone would still be good in a few years, however the majority of high tech, Android phones these days all have a screen size of 4.7 inches +, which are a bit to big for my hands. I was actually quite close to buying the Sony Xperia Z1 until the announcement of the Compact, where after reading about it, I knew I had to have it.

The best thing about this phone, unlike other 'mini' versions of flagship smartphones, is that Sony have decided to cut corners only when they needed to and have kept the same specs as it's bigger brother, the original Z1. This means it has a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 20.7MP camera and is just as waterproof, as I'll now explain.

Z1 vs Z1 Compact

There are only three main differences between the Z1 and the Z1 one compact, which are the screen, phone size and battery, due to making the phone smaller. As the screen has dropped from 5 inches to 4.3 inches, the screen has dropped from Full HD to HD, however this is no bad thing. While the Z1's Full HD screen would have more pixels, the Z1 Compacts HD screen still gives 340 ppi which is still more than what the average human eye can see, the Z1 Compact actually bests it's bigger brother when it comes to viewing angles, by using a different kind of screen, making viewing films, photos, playing games etc. more pleasant.

One of the main reasons I went for this phone was the smaller size and I was not disappointed. I found the Z1 Compact to be very comfortable in the hand, making one handed use a breeze, and just the perfect weight between light and having a premium feel, compared to the original Z1, which I found to be a strain to use, and had to use both hands to operate. The design is basically the same as the Z1, with it having the all glass back and front, with the aluminium sides around the edge and all the same waterproofing flaps and headphone slot. It also comes with a handy shutter button for taking pictures, something I fell is overlooked a lot nowadays.

The battery life is the other main reason I went for this phone, reading good things about Sony's Stamina Mode in the Z1, which has a 3000 mAh, giving around 2 days battery life, I though in theory the Z1 compact would give me roughly the same, with a 2300 mAh having to power a smaller screen. I was wrong. I'm getting at least 3 days, which is phenomenal for a smart phone and that is with medium to heavy usage, due to me playing with it all the time at the moment.

Snapdragon 800 & Software

This is the latest in smartphone processors, that are currently available, and it turns the phone into absolute lightening. I tested it out to really see how good it was, by downloading a big 3D game and the phone didn't stutter once. In fact the phone has yet to stutter, lag or freeze, with the only problem I found being it took a second to come out of stand-by mode once, but was fine after turning it off and on again. I'm not the most intense user but I can't imagine there is much this phone couldn't handle.

As for the software, it is running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, which an excellent step up from the 4.1 Jelly Bean I was using on my S2, which was making it quite temperamental, with everything looking very slick, however I was a little disappointed that it did not come running 4.4 KitKat out of the box, although it will be available soon enough. As with most Android phones, Sony has put there own UI over Android to give the phone it's own personal feel, although it appears to be quite close to stock android, in comparison to my Mums Nexus 7. I really like this approach, as I can easily navigate my way through all the menus and have yet to struggle with confusion over how something works. Sony have also added a brilliant little addition to the phone in the shape of small apps, which lets you select an app, out of Chrome, Note, Timer, Screen Capture, Calculator and Voice Recorder, to use while already using another main app, something I have found very useful when trying to work out my UCAS points while on the move.

Sony also give it's phones a lot of it's own application already pre-installed, some that are really good and some that are just useless. The really good ones are the Walkman app, a music player with excellent audio playback, Album, the photo viewer app, which has a neat little trick where you can pinch to zoom in and out of your whole photo album, and the Movie app, for watching films. The really useless ones are the Xperia Privilege app, which since I had the phone just brings up a black screen, and Sony Select, which is just an app that links you to the Google Play Store and is utterly pointless. It also comes with a photo editing app, McAfee Security, File Commander and Facebook, which cannot be uninstalled, due to it's connection to one of the camera apps, which I'll explain soon enough. One other thing I liked is that Sony decided to get rid of the standard android internet browser and just used the Google Chrome app is the default web browser, which is far better in my opinion.


The Z1 Compacts camera is again nothing short of brilliant, however it is a little too much talk and not enough action at the moment, however software updates may fix this. The main mode is Superior Auto, which will automatically find the best settings before you take a photo and is stuck on being 8MP only. If you want to use the full 20.7MP you have to go into Manual Mode, and here is the catch, you can only shoot 20.7MP in 4:3 format. If you want 16:9 you have to go 8MP. Not a deal breaker by any means, in my eyes anyway, but it is a bit of a let down. The rest of the camera is excellent though, with the use of Smart Camera Apps, which are;

Social Live - Stream live video straight on to your Facebook page.
Timeshift Burst - Takes lots of pictures in 2 seconds and lets you pick the best one
AR Effect - Adds things like 3D dinosaurs or plant life to your photo
Info Eye - Take a picture, then it tells you information on what is nearby, about buildings etc.
Picture Effect - Take photos with a filter on, like Fish Eye, Sketch or Kaleidoscope

You can also download more from the app store, personal favourites being Motion Shot, where you can express moving objects in a photo, and Motiongraph, where you take a picture and can then animate a part of it.

As for the photo quality itself, I have yet to take a bad picture, each one coming out looking really well in daylight, indoors or night-time, with the LED flash doing its job well in those situations. It also has video recording capabilities, being able to record at Full HD at 30fps, which, quality wise, is very good, however a problem with the software is that the auto focus while recording is quite twitchy and will constant keep correcting the focus, which sounds good in theory, but in reality, does more harm than good.

Other Things I Should Mention

Other stuff I should mention this phone has is a Micro SD Card Slot, which is excellent is you listen to a lot of music or take a lot of pictures, like myself. The fact that the phone is waterproof, I feel is an excellent feature, never having to worry about answering your phone in the rain or if you accidently drop it in to water. This waterproofing may be the reason for the Z1 Compacts biggest problem, the speaker, as while the quality of the speaker itself is good, the placement of where it is on the phone that is an annoying issue. Since the speaker is located on the bottom of the phone, when you hold the phone in landscape, your hand tends to block the sound coming from the speakers, which becomes increasingly annoying when watching YouTube videos. The last thing I would like to mention is the price, which I feel is a little too much for the product, since you can now purchase the original Z1 for around £400, I feel the phone should maybe be around £30-£40 cheaper due to the slightly lowered spec screen and battery.

Summary - Pros & Cons of the Z1 Compact

- Can be used with one hand
- Battery life lasts at least 3 days with medium usage
- Camera takes excellent photos
- Micro SD Slot
- Software runs at a blistering rate
- Screen has great viewing angles
- Audio is excellent when using headphones
- Smart Camera Apps are fun and useful
- Can handle anything from the Google Play Store

- Speaker placement means sound gets muffled when using the phone landscape
- 20.7MP can only be used in 4:3 ratio
- Auto focus when video recording is temperamental
- Bloatware, half of which you cannot uninstall
- Price could be a little cheaper

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the phone, with the incredible battery lasting me three days, it having the additional Micro SD Slot and being able to use the phone, comfortably, with one hand. I would thoroughly recommend this phone to, not only those who feel flagship phones are just to big but, anyone who really wants a good phone. If your into watching a lot of films on your device this may not be the choice for you with the speaker placement issue and it being a 4.3 inch screen, but If you want a phone that is capable of surfing the web at speed, playing powerful games, has excellent call quality, a fabulous camera, is fantastic for productivity and has a battery life of 3 days, then this phone is for you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2014
I spent a lot of time deciding before finally purchasing the Z1 compact. it is an excellent phone and am so glad to back with and Android phone after having an iPhone 4s. The Sony phone has a great screen, probably not as good as the Z1 but I needed a more pocket size friendly phone and this is the business. SD card expansion of the memory is something I missed with the iPhone, another reason to get the Sony. The battery life is very good, don't have to charge it every night and usually get about a day and a half on one full charge, even with heavy use. Overall I would highly recommend this phone and a decent price as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2014
I bought this to replace an ailing Samsung Galaxy S3 which had stopped working smoothly despite factory resets. After hours of research I decided that the Z1 Compact was the best blend of power, size and price. It's been worth every penny so far, 2 months after I bought it.

First, the build - very high quality indeed. The glass front and back feels classy and the phone has a solid feel to it. The port covers are well anchored and it'd take a real pull to get them off. The lock button (right hand side) is in a convenient place, and the dedicated camera button is useful, although I tend to access the camera from the lock button on screen. I keep the phone in a Terrapin case which does the job nicely, although it's no Otterbox. My only gripe is that the volume buttons are too close to the Lock button, especially when it's in a case and I'm a user with thick fingers! The 720p screen is very good and easy to see even in bright light. Sony harp on about Bravia technology but the fact is, whatever it is works very well, with good definition and contrast. Sound from the speaker at the bottom of the phone is very good, but not as good as phones with speakers on the front panel like the HTC One M8. Finally, the magnetic charging point is very good - the phone serves as an excellent bedside clock if you download a suitable app and the magnetic dock saves having to undo the USB port cover every time you charge it.

Software is obviously very good - standard Android features, with Sony's own software in places. The Walkman music player is good once you turn off the Sony streaming service - sound quality is excellent through headphones - and the camera is generally very good indeed. The whole phone functions quickly and with no lag for any of my usual apps, and plays games very well.

Battery life - ah, this is easily the big selling point. Leave everything in default setting with moderate use and you'll easily get a day's use - this thing puts the Samsungs to shame. BUT THEN - activate the power saving software and it does wonders. The Stamina feature in particular is superb - it shuts down data connections when the phone's on standby (i.e. locked with the screen off). This has a huge effect - I used it all day (light/moderate use), forgot to charge it over night, but still had 54% battery to start on the next morning. It then lasted the whole of that day, with 25% still remaining when I went to bed. I love the battery life on this thing - never had it so good since my Nokia 3210!

All in all, it's hard not to recommend this phone. Now it's been succeeded by the Z3 Compact, so I doubt you'll be able to buy it for much longer - but I know I'll be sticking with this series of phones in the future.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2014
I think like many people, I was getting frustrated with the ever-growing sizes of Android devices. Up until now, the smaller versions have been cheaper with reduced specs but hopefully this phone sets a new trend.

I previously had the Xperia Z, went to take a look at the Z1 in a shop and decided it was just too big.

This Z1 Compact has the same 2.2ghz Krait processor, 2GB RAM, 20.7MP camera, OS, and all the additional features as the Z1 just with a smaller 4.3" 720p screen instead of the 5" 1080p. Even with 720p though, because of the smaller screen, you will struggle to resolve a pixel with the naked eye.

It also has a smaller 2300mAh battery compared with the beastly 3000mAh in the Z1. However as the screen is smaller and a lower resolution, the battery life is exceptional, certainly compared to the Xperia Z which had the same 2300mAh battery for a 5" 1080p screen. It is also still higher than the 1900 and 1800 of the S4 mini and HTC one mini respectively.

This phone blows the other "minis" out of the water with it's specs. The only serious competitor for a sub 5" screen is the iPhone 5s.

In summary, if you after an Android device and are put off by the size of newer devices like the Galaxy S5 and Z1, in my opinion this one is the best option.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2014
Best Android phone I've owned..... Fast, reliable, and 2+ days battery life using "stamina mode".

Could have got it a Tenner cheaper on the high street though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2014
Upgraded from a Samsung S2

Great camera and battery life lasting about a day of normal use, also with the official Sony upgrade to Andoid 4.4.4 means that the whole of the phone memory can be used for apps.

I have added a 64GB memory card which works very well to store photos and videos on.

Screen is clear and sound quality is good, although it only comes from the bottom (not the end with 'SONY') when playing videos.

Phone is unlocked so can be used with any UK network.

I have had this for 8 months and I still don't have the urge to upgrade to the Z3 Compact.

Phone size is just right for me, I use it in a case and often have it in the inside jacket pocket.

It can be paired with a Playstation Dual Shock 3 Controller to play some games - best to check online lists if this is what you want to use it for.

Overall, very happy with the phone, the next models up will be part of the front runners again when the time comes to get something better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2014
Purchased this via amazon in march 2014. In may 2014 I had to replace the phone as the volume down key stopped working. This was due to me trying to many under water shots and been deeper then the recommended one meter depth under water.

Amazons customer service was excellent and replaced the phone in a matter of days.

Since receiving the new phone it has worked as good as the day I got it.

Excellent phone, super fast, manages anything that I throw at it. Battery is great, lasts a full day on very heavy usage and almost goes two days on normal usage.

Using it under water is a great feature remember just to stay within the limits it recommends. The touch screen doesn't work under water so just load the camera and then use the hard keys, works perfect then.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2014
Update on my original review as of Aug 28th. Phone screen has cracked in my pocket 2 cracks right across the screen so now the top half of the phone won't respond to touch. Apparently if you look at the forums, this seems to be a common problem. So basically don't touch with a barge pole.

There is already a good comprehensive review by Peter Roo. I will just add my take on the phone. I have had the phone just over 2 weeks having preordered it from carphone wharehouse. The phone has a premium feel to it and is easily small enough to use one handed. Its superfast as you would expect with the top end quadcore processor. I downloaded the 300 game which looks graphically intensive and there was no lag at all. I used the panasonic pc companion app to transfer my contacts etc from my old phone (htc one s) which was relatively easy.

I like the option for expandable memory (i put a 64 gb sony micro sd card in (£35)). The quality of the screen is excellent, i know its 720p compared to the z1 1020p but its a smaller screen. The camera takes great pictures though i haven't tried it in low light conditions where apparently it can struggle on automatic mode.

The battery life for a smartphone this powerful is amazing. It has a stamina mode which turns off apps when the phone in sleep mode. You can customise it to suit yourself so certain apps will remain active if you so choose. I had 3 full days with low to medium usage and it had 20% left when I recharged it. When I have put in some heavy usage i will update the review.

The NFC connectivity is great, just place your phone next to a compatible device and it will automatically connect it. I have some wireless headphones and it was a breeze.

The phone has scratch resistant glass on the front but they have decided to put an anti shatter film (ASF) over it that isn't very scratch resistant. When i first received my phone, i had to wait a few days for the case to arrive so i took really good care of it but the back scatches like you won't believe (the back is plastic). I would highly recommend that you put on a case and a screen protector the moment you unbox it. You can take the ASF off but for some apparent reason the sony logo is ingrained into the film so you will lose it if you do and the it will also more importantly void the warranty.

I purchased the sony charging dock so I wouldn't have to open and close the micro usb flap but this does not work with a case on ie. won't fit and i have 2 cases that are quite thin.

Fantastic phone for which I would have given 4.5 stars because of the ASF issue. Make sure you get a case for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is one of several Sony's I have owned and despite really liking is not as watertight as the adverts may lead you to believe. If you go to Sony's own homepage, you'll see a great deal made of the IP ratings, with photos of the phone underwater and articles about taking photos underwater. Don't try it! In the small print, you'll see that it is only watertight against freshwater....and who takes photos in freshwater? Surely you take underwater photos in pools or in the sea - two types of water that the phone is NOT guranteed against. Apparently, it can't handle washing up water either as mine was dropped in a washing up bowl of water just before starting and the screen now only intermittently works hence why I have sent it back. All in all, a great phone with a simple Sony UI overlay...just don't go getting it wet than a splash of is not waterproof...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2014
In theory, the phone should be a winner - high spec, good looks, and the latest android update as well. In practice, it is, but has a critical flaw / quality control issue with the case/water-proofing. So five stars for almost everything if you're never going to get the phone wet, brought down to one star if you want to use it as advertised. Read on for the details.
In short, it's the right size (for me), the fastest, smoothest android experience I've had with a phone. The Samsung S3 is my current business phone for comparison, and blows it out of the water. It's got lots of memory, the screen is very good as is the call quality, and Sony's version of Android is very unobtrusive. Media handling with music and video is very good, and it's easy to share to your smart tv or social media. The latest updates really improve the camera app, and the "time burst" mode captures ~30 frames a second, letting you get really good action shots - great for when you have fast moving kids. Five stars for this premium package.

A big feature promoted for the phone is it's water-proof to about 1.5m, in non-salt water. Great for outdoors in all weathers, or the pool with the kids. And so it was for me for a couple of days. Being careful to keep the side flaps sealed, it produced some great photos and videos. Until day number three, and the phone turned itself off. Checked it carefully, flaps still sealed. Went home, open flaps and water came out. Dried phone carefully, and no change. Worse, the memory card was reported as not working, so I lost photos and videos. Examining the phone carefully, I could see that the back panel was slightly coming away from the edge, and that I think was the source of the water getting in.

Call to Amazon, they couldn't be more helpful, and immediately sent a replacement. When I received it, I examined it carefully, and unfortunately, it too has a slight separation on the back panel. No option but to call amazon again. No immediate replacement, as it's no longer in stock, but a full refund. So not great news, but well done Amazon again for great customer service.

Looking on-line, there are at least a half a dozen other reports of the same issue, on Sony's own forum, with identical stories. Owners claiming they've never dropped the phone, the flaps were closed, yet the phone has let in water and stopped working. Sony's response has been mixed according to those reports, with some getting a replacement, and some not - so I'm grateful to Amazon. I could almost understand this quality issue if I'd bought the very first model, but (1) Sony have been waterproofing previous versions, and (2) this model has been out for more than six months, so any issues should be resolved.

I've enjoyed a lot of classic Sony-Ericsson /Sony phones - K800i, W950, Ray, Arc S and thought the Z1C was the next one in a distinguished line of robust, usable phones. So close yet so far.
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