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Review #MWC18 5 min read 2 comments

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact hands-on review: Good things in a small package

Along with the Xperia XZ2, Sony is also introducing its little brother, the Xperia XZ2 Compact. In our preliminary hands-on review, we'll see whether smallest member of the Xperia XZ2 family can once again take the title of the best compact Android smartphone, or whether Sony has held it back from this in some way.

Design and build quality

Smartphones, regardless of operating system, have grown in size over the last few years and supposedly mini versions of top smartphones have generally turned out to be somewhat weak machines, flagships in name only.

Except when it comes to Sony. The Japanese company has consistently managed to pack a lot of power into a small package. The exception to this was the Xperia X Compact, which instead of high-end hardware in compact dimensions had mid-range technology to offer. Fortunately, Sony has learned from this mistake and last year, with the XZ1 Compact, returned to its familiar and established pattern.

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Change comes to the compact class: Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact (left) and Xperia XZ2 Compact (right) / © AndroidPIT

The Ambient Flow Effect: Fewer edges and a bigger booty

A Sony smartphone from 2018 no longer looks like a Sony smartphone from 2013 to 2017, as OmniBalance and Loop Surface are a thing of the past. With Ambient Flow, an 18:9 display and a bulbous back panel with the fingerprint sensor on it, you have to look closely to identify the lineage of the Xperia XZ2 Compact. Sony fans will have to get used to the new design language, while the new look will definitely attract new fans. 

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Longer with narrow bezels: Sony throws the old familiar design overboard. / © AndroidPIT

The new Ambient Flow Design fits very well into the new 5-inch 18:9 display. As a result, the XZ2 Compact has become taller and, above all, thicker. Not only has the display increased to 5 inches, but the resolution has been adapted to modern times. With a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, the 18:9 display of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is just as high as its non-Compact sister model.

Advances in step with the XZ2

As mentioned earlier, Sony has almost always equipped the latest Compact with the best hardware available on the market and been able to integrate it into such a tiny smartphone. Only a close look at past technical specifications reveals the differences. With the new Xperia XZ2 Compact, Sony has advanced all the of technical features in a uniform way. The cameras and their feature set, as well as CPU, RAM and internal memory all correspond to those of the Xperia XZ2. In the case of the last two, the Compact has often been upgraded for better gradation between the models of the series. This no longer applies to the two Xperia XZ2 models in 2018. 

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The Xperia XZ2 Compact is the performance best-of-breed among compact smartphones up to 5 inches in size, thanks to its almost identical features to the XZ2.  / © AndroidPIT

One could almost say that Sony uses the same circuit boards and components for both models and only adapts the battery, antennae and housing. This would help in production and reduce costs. Unfortunately there was not enough space in the case, like the XZ2 frame, this is made of aluminium, to accommodate the Dynamic Vibration System. In addition, behind the hardened polycarbonate rear panel of the Xperia XZ2 Compact, there are three instead of four antennas, so that the smaller XZ2 "only" achieves Cat 15 with up to 800 MB/s download rates.

When it comes to batteries, there is a small increase in capacity, now packing 2,870 mAh, but Sony will not include a QuickCharge 3.0-capable power supply unit. For space reasons there is also no wireless charging according to Qi standard. 

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The fingerprint sensor on the back of the XZ2 Compact is well located. / © AndroidPIT  

It is questionable whether the higher resolution, the larger display including HDR Scale Up and the Motion Eye camera with 4K HDR video recording won't eat up the increased energy efficiency of the hardware and the slightly larger battery of the Xperia XZ2 Compact faster than with the XZ1 Compact. To find out we have to wait for a final review sample and monitor the battery life.

Early Verdict

Unless another manufacturer in the Android cosmos is thinking about building a compact top-range smartphone, the Xperia XZ2 Compact will be the best smartphone of its size range in 2018. 

At the moment, we are awaiting information about the US price and availability of the Xperia XZ2 Compact. For now, we can take a hint from the European prices. Unlike changing from Xperia XZ1 to XZ2, Sony will not raise the price of the Xperia XZ2 Compact. From the beginning of May, Sony plans to launch the Xperia XZ2 Compact on the market for 599 euros (about $736) and in four colors.

What do you think? Is the Xperia XZ2 Compact with all its features, compact dimensions and reduced price a good alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S9? Let us know in the comments!



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