I bought this phone today and have some feedback for any one on the fence...
I got this phone because I've been waiting for a smaller Android device that doesn't treat you like a second class citizen. This is really the first one out there that does this, I found it for £360 on sale which is only £30 more than the 32gb Nexus 5 and tbh since it has a micro SD slot, I think it is a really great deal,, especially seeing as the specs are like a main flagship device.
So some thoughts...
- Really well made, feels like an iPhone 5/5s for Android.
- I've been with my Mum today and she had a go on it and said it is the first Android mobile she'd ever think about upgrading to because of the small size.
- When I put it side by side with the iPhone 5, it really isn't much bigger, just a tad wider which is better since my biggest complaint with the 5 is the screen is so narrow
- I can easily use the phone one handed and use the whole screen, I've got average sized hands and I've found all these 5inch Android phones to have just gotten too big, especially my old HTC One, I hand to slide the phone up and down my hand to use the power button.
- Power button is great, the volume rocker is slightly too small as is the camera button, but they're minor flaws.
- The Sim tray and Micro SD slot I found to be really tricky to use, the Sim especially seems rather fiddly and I doubt the average user would work it out without possibly breaking the tray.
- I love the led charging light by the top speaker, I'm not sure if it doubles up as a notification light, but I hope it does.
- The loud speaker is not great, it's serviceable, will get you by, but you wont want to be listening to music or video out of it. That said I never wanted to do that from my HTC One and always used an external speaker or headphones any ways as no small speaker is that good in a phone. However if you walk the dog up the fields like me and don't like using headphones as you want to hear what is going on around you, the loud speaker isn't going to cut it, I struggled to hear it sometimes.
- The Magnetic charging is a cool touch, it really is needed as having to open that flap all the time would be so annoying. I mean I bought a Micro USB to Magnetic charge adapter for a few quid on Amazon, I'd suggest you all do the same as it is pretty necessary, I don't understand why one isn't sold with it as standard.
- Comes with a nice usb adapter so you can do stuff like plugging in your PS3 controller to play games. Maybe this would compliment screen mirroring or Chromecast gaming? I dunno, I haven't tried it, but just a nice little bonus.
- The X reality engine is ****, it just ruins the picture, usually just makes a picture too bright like it has been over exposed. The phone comes with it on by default... turn it off.
- The screen is a mixed bag for me, resolution and pixel density wise, I cannot fault it, looks as crisp as an iPhone and tbh I don't get why people care about having 440PPI when I cannot see a pixel at 340PPI, you never look at a screen under a magnifying glass. Again it is 720p, but for the size screen I just turn browse text to large and everything looks crisp and great, I really do not miss having the 1080p screen of my HTC One. Maybe if I was using a 4.7 inch+ screen again I'd want 1080p, but for this small screen 720p works, Apple have proved this as no one cares abut the iPhones resolution, which is like 640?
That said though I can see the digitizer when the sun glances off the phone, it is a downer as I never saw it on my last phone (Nokia 1020) or my HTC One before that. Though screens are a lottery it seems as they're all made from different companies, my friend got a HTC One and could see his badly.
The black levels aren't that great, neither are the viewing angles, I'm being picky here as they're totally fine, just I'm used to an OLED screen now and it is hard to go back. Black levels on OLED screens aren't perfect, they do have light bleed and a weird effect as the pixels go from colour to black, but... it is hard to adjust back to seeing more of a grey if you're in a dark room.
The colours seem fine to me, the white seems fine, I don't notice any tints, though maybe if I compared it side by side to other phones I would. However I wouldn't let this bother you as you'll never do that in real life, as long as the whites aren't so far off they're obvious.
I'm am struggling however with brightness levels, there doesn't seem to be much control like other phones. I wish there were more brightness presets, I can turn it down to the lowest on the slider and it still seems too bright, I could really make my other phones go quite dark. I dunno if it is brightness or if it is just washing out light colours in particular, but the x reality engine makes it worse... like way worse!
Overall though the screen is good, it isn't the best, but it is still a great screen that I've personally been picky on as I've owned a lot of different phones.
- The software is good, Sony don't mess around with it too much, it is a non offensive Android Skin. My only problem is I'm on 4.3 and that seems a bit weird, you'd have thought it would have a newer version by now. Some things are nice with the software as well, Sony have added some good apps of theirs and the battery stuff is cool. Everything is so fast, faster than any other phone I've used, including HTC One, iPhone 5 and Nokia 1020, omg just SO FAST! The 720p screen also probably helps it too over 1080p screens.
- On to battery, it is amazing, I don't get how they can cram so much life into such a small phone, I can say it is definitely a major step up from the 1020 and the horrible life I seemed to get from Windows Phone. It seems a step up from my HTC One as well and it performs better than my Mum's iPhone 5, though that is a year old now so the battery is probably less efficient at this point. I find it amazing how fast it charges over USB alone on my PC and through the magnetic charge, way faster than anything I've used before. Also though I was playing some games on it earlier and the battery didn't seem to go down much at all.
- The phone doesn't heat up that much, I was expecting worse since it is so small and light, but while I noticed it get hot, it wasn't bad like my Nokia 1020 and obviously since it is a plastic back it doesn't act like the HTC One, which got hot like a radiator... series that was the worst! Never get a mobile with a metal back and that isn't made by Apple, not a good idea.
- I find the speaker position just fine, I kept hearing how it was easy to cover up... with my usage, I haven't experienced that, even when gaming and most likely you'll get a case any ways.
- The camera is a mixed bag and sadly a bit of a downer I'm afraid, I was expecting better from a phone with a larger sensor than the Nokia 1520. Auto mode seems worse than useless, every picture just looks plain bad and I have a feeling it is restricting the pictures to 8mp and there is no way to increase it. Manual mode is really the only viable way to take pictures, sadly though there is no higher res 16:9 option. Every picture though seemed to be different, I could never take the same picture twice and I ended up taking several just so I would get a good one. The good news is when the software did it's job the quality did look good, not as good as I was expecting, but I have been using a 1020 until recently, so maybe that is why it is such a shock.
My main problem with the camera though was the screen never really reflected on what the final picture would look like. Your screen would be out of focus and blurred, yet when the picture comes from, it looks fine, also all the colours and lighting would change, I could never get it to accurately display what I was going to take.
The good news though is the camera is fast and I think it uses oversampling like Nokia's Pureview when it is in 8mp auto mode. Though I'm sick of smart phones today and how they all over saturate everything, the Z1 compact is no different, even the 1020 did this, but at least with the 1020 I could use a .DNG file and open it in lightroom to get natural colours, no such raw files on this phone exist, so you have to live with it.
The Mic performance on recording video is great, unlike with most Android Phones I've had in the past (including the S4) you're able to record loud noises like a concert. I turned up my sound system pretty high with the sub woofer going and it coped as well as Nokia which was amazing for concerts.
The video quality is fine too, the software stabilization works fine, I'm not a fan of OIS is mobiles, I never thought it worked well in the 1020 or HTC One, it always made the image into a watery or dreamy effect and recording on my bicycle was impossible as a result. Yes it is a bit less stable, but tbh so was my 1020, OIS worked poorly on it, though the HTC One it actually worked ok. I'm not missing OIS, all I'm saying, yes it works on dedicated cameras, you can shake them all you like and they cope, but no mobile has managed to perfect it yet.
So the camera is a mixed bag, I'm sure it can all be fixed with software, but I dunno how well Sony do on updates?
My only question really goes out to how well the screen protector Sony put on as designed hold up. It is THE major flaw really and I can see it frustrating a lot of people who do not know it comes with it as it scratches so easily. That reason alone is why I couldn't recommend it to women who shove their phone in their handbag, the phone wouldn't hold up. If you put a screen protector over it (one comes free with in the box) then it is fine, but I just think it is stupid to put a screen protector over a screen protector. There is no protective coating on the glass under either... which means you cannot simply just take it off.
I love it, looks so premium, feels so premium, has the functionality of a 5inch + screened Android phone, it is the fastest phone I've ever used, Sony's software isn't bad or intrusive like TouchWiz or some other Android skins and the camera is potentially really good but needs a firmware update to fix auto mode.
I have pointed out bad points, but I could do that with any phone, I mean I couldn't stand Windows Phone and how it has no apps and no functionality. With this Z1 Compact I've mirror'd my phone to my TV effortlessly and without chromecast, I can just screen mirror and it works every time. This hasn't happened with any other phone I've used, I could never get it to work with my HTC which had it built in either.
I really think it is THE best iPhone alternative for people who don't want IOS and I think it is finally THE handset to buy for Android if you want a smaller device without all the internals being downgraded.
My favourite Android mobile ever!
I love the colour I chose too, it reminds me of the colour of an old Adidas watch I had in the 90s...
The Yellowing Green one.
+ I've never liked Sony before, it is my first Sony experience when it comes to mobiles.