Anyway, thought I'd cross-post it here in case anyone finds it interesting. Cheers.
For a couple of years now, since the big Android manufacturers decided we all wanted big 4.7+ inch slabs as premium phones, the "minority" of us who were calling out for a high-end device that can be operated one-handed were ignored. Until now...
Sony say with the Z1 Compact they have "invented our own market segment", but really it is re-inventing the market segment that existed 24 months ago. Either way, somebody finally listened and we now have a device that is a good size to hold in addition to being around the fastest and most capable on the market.
In short, Sony took the larger Z1 and shrunk it down to a 4.3" screen, reducing only the screen resolution (to 720p, which is higher PPI than the human eye can discern) and the battery capacity (but not the battery life, as the smaller screen draws less power). You can easily get a day and a half out of this device even with 4 or so hours screen on time. As a bonus, they also upgraded the screen to a lovely IPS display with better viewing angles than the Z1.
This phone feels very premium in the hand and in operation, and being my first Sony device I am stunned by its elegance every time I pick the thing up. Having used it in the rain a few times this week already I'm also wondering what I ever did without a waterproof phone before! Why do all manufacturers not do this? It would save a lot of phones that seem to get dropped in toilets (seriously, how do people manage this?!), and also the futile wastage of rice afterwards.
Software-wise, it comes with Android 4.3 but 4.4 should be out for it in a month or so. I would say Sony are probably among the best for not annoying you with over-the-top customisation of Android or bloatware so I don't immediately feel the need to root it and start tinkering. This is a very good thing. They do use their own apps for phone, SMS, etc etc of course but they all tend to do their job nicely without getting in your way.
Now that I've done the glowing sale pitch - and I do mean every word of it as it is a fantastic phone - I do need to point out some flaws that are quite frankly unforgivable in my opinion:
(*) Poor software backing up the magnificent camera. The "Superior Auto" mode is very ironically named as it completely ruins especially low-light photos by cranking the ISO up far too high and then trying to correct the noise in a very ham-fisted way. The solution until Sony (hopefully) fix it in an update is to use Manual mode instead.
(*) Flash bleeding into the camera. While this doesn't happen for me so much, others have noticed the flash reflecting in the back cover it is supposed to shine through and hitting the edge of the camera lens, making some dark pictures have a coloured fog effect. It is less marked in Manual mode again.
(*) Why, oh why Sony, do you still insist on putting a scratch-prone "anti-shatter film" over the top of perfectly good scratch resistant glass?!? Customers have been complaining about this since at least the Xperia Z but they are being very pig-headed about it. I have no idea why they decide they need to be the only manufacturer to put it on top of the glass instead of the underside of it like everybody else does. It can be removed but then you risk the screen warranty if you do so. Still, I will probably remove the ASF from mine at some point as glass feels more premium to me and I HATE scratches.
But don't let the negative points I have made dissuade you from this phone as they absolutely do not outweigh the positives by a long shot. I would give 5-stars to all categories except reliability due to the camera and scratch-prone ASF.
This is a magnificent technological achievement Sony have pulled off meaning I have a device that I am very proud to own and show off to big slab owners and iPhone users alike!