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8 min read 144 Shares 7 comments

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): small, cute and tough?

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a high-quality device that’s smaller than five inches. Few manufacturers venture into this area as users generally want a smartphone that is a minimum of 5.2-inches. Luckily, Samsung and Sony are an exception to this rule. What’s the Sony Xperia X Compact like compared to Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)?

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): design

Here we have two different styles. On the one hand, there is Sony and their monolithic smartphones with sharp angles and, on the other, we have Samsung with their curved design with more curves on the back of the device. Other than these visual differences, the main difference is the choice of material: while the Galaxy A3 (2017), like most flagships, opts for metal and glass, the Xperia X Compact simply opts for plastic which is elegant but, for some people, it’s not a top-range material.

Sony tends to offer waterproof smartphones but it has changed its strategy with the Xperia X Compact: the waterproof feature has disappeared. It’s a shame because it has lost one of its biggest features, and allows the Galaxy A3 to have an advantage over it, as the A3 has an IP68 certification that its predecessor lacked.

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A small screen for a typical Sony design. / © AndroidPIT

Both devices have fingerprint readers. On the Samsung device it's located, as usual, on the Home button at the bottom of the screen, between the two smart keys. On the Sony device, it is located on the side, on the power button. Another similarity: both phones allow you to use a microSD card with a maximum capacity of 256 GB. On the Sony device, the card slot is found on the side while Samsung have placed it on the right-hand side for the first time.

With its 129 x 65 x 9.5 mm dimensions, the Sony Xperia X Compact is slightly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) which has dimensions of 135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm. As you can see by the figures, the A3 is thinner. Both devices are exactly the same weight: 135 grams. The difference can’t really be felt when handling.

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A small screen for a typical Samsung S7 design. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung based their device’s design on their flagship, and the excellent brushed finishes and the premium aspects are undeniable. Sony offers a smartphone made of plastic which follows the brand’s design rules which will thrill Sony fans but it won’t please other users. While appearance is a matter of taste, I would have a preference for Samsung due to its waterproofing.

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): display

The X Compact is slightly smaller and this is reflected in the screen size. It measures 4.6-inches diagonally, whilst its Korean competitor measures 4.7-inches diagonally. This could be a deciding factor for some, but another element forces the issue: the Sony smartphone occupies more space with 69.9 % against 67.9 % on the Samsung.

Both devices have the same definition, 720 x 1,280 (HD definition). The screen technology isn’t the same. Samsung uses, as usual, AMOLED while Sony uses IPS LCD but, in practice, both screens are high quality. Each has its advantages, the Sony Triluminos technology is good for color rendition while the AMOLED technology allows you to use the Always-On-Display mode.

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Despite its HD definition, the X Compact’s screen performs well. / © AndroidPIT

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): software

Both phones run with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow although they were marketed several months apart. With that said, the Nougat update is available for the Xperia X Compact while the A3 is still limited to Marshmallow for the moment. It’s hardly surprising that both devices use their manufacturer's overlays: Xperia UI for Sony and TouchWiz for Samsung. Xperia UI is slightly closer to Stock which will thrill the purists, but TouchWiz has become rather elegant, especially if you compare it to the appearance that it made on previous models.

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TouchWiz will be familiar to Samsung users. / © AndroidPIT

In both cases the use is fluid and intuitive. That said, both devices have the same default feature: preinstalled applications. It’s true that the amount of bloatware has decreased but it’s still annoying to have applications on your phone that you never wanted to use and you can’t delete them (unless you're willing to play around with it, of course). This is really a question of preference and habit.

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): performance

We’re talking about mid-range devices so you wouldn’t expect poor performance. Although they are far from able to rival current flagships, they don’t lack potential. The Sony smartphone has 3 GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 650 hexa-core processor running at a maximum frequency of 1.8 GHz with two Cortex A72 cores. The A3 has 2 GB of RAM and uses a Samsung octa-core processor, the Exynos 7870 running at a frequency of 1.6 GHz.

In practice, you won’t notice many differences. In normal, daily usage, both devices are fast, neither suffer from bugs or delays, and they can handle more or less any game without issue and without the phone overheating. Whatever your choice, you won’t be disappointed.

Both devices are fast and neither suffer from bugs or delays.

The Sony device offers a better internal memory. With 32 GB, it allows users to take/store more photos and videos than the A3 which only has 16 GB. On the other hand, the X Compact isn’t great for its SAR: with 1.08 W/kg for the head and 1.25 W/kg for the body, it’s poor. Samsung offers 0.349 W/kg for the head but 1.38 W/kg for the body.

If you had to choose, which one would you take?

Choose Xperia X Compact or Galaxy A3 (2017).

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Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): camera

Since these devices are mid-range, you can’t expect great photography services. Sony has an advantage: it built its own lenses and mastered the subject. Unfortunately, the X Compact doesn’t showcase this skill: the 23 MP lens and the f/2.0 aperture allows you to take beautiful photos, but that’s it as the autofocus isn’t very accurate. The Samsung device offers a different configuration: 13 MP lens and f/1.9 aperture. On the whole, images taken with the Galaxy A3 seem to be more successful but both devices struggle with poor lighting.

At the front, the X Compact offers a 5 MP resolution with a f/2.4 aperture while Samsung offers 8 MP with a f/1.9 aperture. In practice, both devices take good selfies but the Galaxy A3 is slightly better despite the small problem with lighting.

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): battery life

Some say ‘small device, small battery’, but we can also say ‘small device, small screen’ and with a minimum definition, consumption is limited. That’s what both manufacturers did by using an HD definition in order to preserve the battery.

That said, the X Compact offers a larger battery than its Korean competitor: 2700 mAh for Sony and ‘only’ 2350 for Samsung. Additionally, one big advantage for the Japanese model is that it offers a quick charge system which allows you to charge your smartphone from 0 to 100% in 1.5 hours.

The Sony device offers a quick charge system.

Despite its poor battery capacity, the Samsung device has a good battery life. In both devices, you can get a day and a half of usage, perhaps even more with moderate usage.

Sony Xperia X Compact vs. Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) technical specifications

  Sony Xperia X Compact Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Dimensions: 129 x 65 x 9.5 mm 135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
Weight: 135 g 138 g
Battery size: 2700 mAh 2350 mAh
Screen size: 4.6 in 4.7 in
Display technology: LCD AMOLED
Screen: 1280 x 720 pixels (319 ppi) 1280 x 720 pixels (312 ppi)
Front camera: 23 megapixels 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 5 megapixels 13 megapixels
Flashlight: LED LED
User interface: Xperia UI TouchWiz
RAM: 3 GB 2 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB 16 GB
Removable storage: microSD microSD
Chipset: Sorry, not yet available! Samsung Exynos 7870
Number of cores: 6 8
Max. clock speed: 1.8 GHz 1.6 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2

Sony Xperia X Compact vs Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): the verdict

Although the Xperia X Compact offers several interesting features, to me, it seems better to opt for a Samsung if I had to choose between the two. It offers more functions, especially the waterproof feature, and it costs less than the Xperia X Compact which has been on the market for more than 3 months. The Galaxy A3 can be purchased for around $289, the Xperia X Compact can be found for $299 but usually it costs around $499. Sony fans appreciate the Japanese firm’s typical design and can’t fathom a system without Xperia UI, but those that see past these two elements will perhaps prefer to opt for the Korean competitor.

It's a hard choice, but which one would you choose? Would you prefer to go with the Xperia X Compact or is the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) more to your liking? Let us know in the comments below.

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7 comments

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  • Dont compare crap vs gold.
    X compact could be compared with s7 and people who like reliable phone, all round performance and cheaper gear will still think x compact is better


  • I have bought x compact but after one week returned it back too hot surface of the telephone during charge


  • Spidey637 7 months ago Link to comment

    I created an account just so I could leave this comment. This article is terrible. You mention Sony having the advantage at every turn, but in the end, you recommend the Samsung? Your reasons are not even good. TouchWiz alone makes this an easy win for the Xperia Compact X, but you mention several factors that give Sony the edge. This seems like a Samsung fanboy article to me.


  • Please update your article. For Sony X Compact - Rear camera is 23MP and Front cam is 5MP.

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