Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review
|Review: October 2015
Last updated November 2015
In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact offers a superphone experience in a compact form factor. With a 4.6-inch HD screen and a premium, lightweight build, the Z5 Compact is easy to handle, but delivers the power of an 8-core processor, a 23 megapixel camera with 4K video capability, and a two-day battery.
Not everyone wants a super-sized smartphone, but these days it's hard to find a compact phone with flagship specs - apart from the iPhone 6/6s, of course. So there's definitely space in the market for a premium Android smartphone that will fit into your pocket with ease. So far, Sony is the only company that seems to want to fill that space, and the Z5 Compact is the company's latest offering.
Design & looks
The Z5 Compact looks and feels just like a compact version of the Sony Z5. Constructed from a strong and lightweight metal frame, with glass panels front and back, it's almost the perfect size for anyone who wants a phone that's easy to handle. It's slightly thicker than the Z5, measuring almost 9mm thick, and since it's completely flat, it feels a bit chunkier than we're used to when handling premium phones. But to counter that, it's light in weight, making it very easy to handle.
Although the back panel is made of glass, it has a frosted matte finish, giving it a different look from previous phones like the Z3 Compact, which had a glossy polished finish. The new matte finish avoids fingerprints, but misses out on the old sparkle and glamour. The Z5 Compact feels like a more grown-up version of the Z3 Compact. It looks especially good in White, but is also available in Black, Yellow and Coral. Of course, this is just personal taste. Some say that the phone looks toylike in anything other than Black.
Like the previous Z3 Compact, the new Z5 Compact is waterproof and dust tight, certified to the IP68 standard.
The button layout has been updated, with the iconic circular power button replaced by a larger button that acts as a fingerprint sensor. It's a good idea putting a sensor into the power button, as this makes it very convenient to use. Less convenient is the shifting of the volume rocker button to a lower location along the right hand edge. We're pleased that Sony has decided to retain a dedicated camera button however.
The screen is unchanged since the Z3 Compact. It measures 4.6 inches diagonally - compared with 5.2 inches for the full-size Xperia Z5 - and has a moderate HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The display is fairly sharp (323ppi) and bright, and is a match for the iPhone 6s, but it doesn't quite match up to the screen quality we've come to expect from the biggest and best flagship Android phones.
The Z5 Compact misses out on the very latest Android Marshmallow, and instead runs Android Lollipop 5.1. Sony has added a few apps, including an excellent camera app, but also some annoying bloatware.
The Z5 Compact comes with the same high-end cameras as the Z5 and is a very capable camera phone.
The main rear-facing camera comes with a new 23 megapixel sensor and uses a hybrid autofocus system, making it incredibly fast to focus. Low-light photography is good, especially in HDR mode, although images still seem to have more grain than a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6s. And although focussing is fast, the camera takes longer to process the image than these rival phones, making it less responsive overall. You may want to use the 8 megapixel setting rather than 23 megapixels unless you really need the extra detail.
The camera can also record UHD (4K) video, with HDR and video stabilisation.
The front camera has also been upgraded compared with the Z3 Compact, and has 5 megapixels plus the ability to capture 1080p video.
8-core Snapdragon processor
Like its big brother, the Z5, the Z5 Compact has the powerhouse Snapdragon 810 processor with Adreno 430 GPU as its heart. This octacore monster is the beast responsible for overheating problems in the Z3+, but here its heat production has been mostly tamed. The phone still gets quite warm, but not to an excessive degree, except perhaps during prolonged 4K video recording. Instead of heat, it generates speed, with 4 cores running at 2GHz and 4 at 1.5GHz, putting the Z5 Compact in the superphone league. There's slightly less RAM available - 2GB - which will potentially cause lag if you like to run a lot of apps, but 2GB is still a fairly beefy amount.
We're really pleased to see that the permanent storage has been doubled from 16GB to 32GB, and in addition you can add a microSD card for a massive 200GB of additional storage.
The Z5 Compact is a 4G phone, with 3G and 2G support, and comes with Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, DLNA and ANT+ connectivity too. It also has built in aGPS positioning.
The battery of the Z5 Compact is a moderate 2700mAh. That's not too bad considering the smaller size and resolution of the screen compared with the full-sized model. A full day of usage should certainly be possible, even for heavy users, and if necessary, Stamina Mode can be switched on, which disables Wi-Fi and data traffic when the phone is in standby, while still keeping calls and text notifications active. With Stamina Mode and moderate use, you'll get two days before reaching for the charger.
Conclusion - the perfect compact phone
The Z5 Compact is the perfect phone for someone who wants a fast, capable phone with a top camera and premium build quality, but doesn't want to carry a huge slate around with them. The Z5 Compact does all this with finesse.
At launch, the Z5 Compact was over-priced and we gave it a 4-star rating to reflect this. But already the price has dropped, and we're now happy to award it a full 5 stars.
The excellent Sony Z3 Compact is now selling for much less, and is a good choice if the price of the Z5 Compact is still too high.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact features include:
- Operating system: Android 5.1 Lollipop
- 23 megapixel Exmor RS camera with 8x digital zoom, hybrid autofocus, HDR, face recognition, smile detection and pulsed LED flash
- 4K UHD video capture with HDR and video light
- 5 megapixel front-facing 1080p Exmor RS video camera
- Display: 4.6 inches, 1280 x 720 pixels, X-Reality engine and Triluminos colour
- FM Radio with RDS
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit 8-core processor, 2GB RAM
- Memory: 16GB flash memory plus 200GB memory card slot
- Connectivity: WiFi SISO, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, DLNA, NFC, WiFi hotspot support, ANT+, MHL 3.0, aGPS
- LTE 4G, UMTS HSPA+, GSM GPRS/EDGE
- Size: 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm
- Weight: 138g
- Battery: 2700mAh
Sorry - questions and comments on this page are now closed.
Where can I buy one I've tried everywhere?
Asked by Danny
on 20th Jan 2017
Have they fixed the cracking screen problem?
Asked by Andrew
on 10th May 2016
Whether the glass back is matt or gloss is pretty irrelevant unless they changed the material too and got rid of the old crack-o-matic rubbish they used on the Z3. Does anyone know if that's the case?
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact user reviews
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