Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact review: A safe bet for flagship chasers

 

Overview

First announced at IFA 2017, the Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are up against the second wave of flagship phones launching around this time of the year.

The new phones aren't replacing the premium flagship, 4K HDR display Xperia XZ Premium (S$1,098) though. Instead, the 5.2-inch XZ1 (S$898) now rests as its current-gen flagship option, while the smaller, 4.6-inch XZ1 Compact (S$668) gets the ‘compact flagship’ tag. The trinity's positioning is distinctively different between each phone, because of their sizes and display resolutions.

Positioning side, the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are similar in other aspects: both phones use a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, have IP-rated water resistance, along with hybrid SIM trays and microSD card support. Both phones also come with the Xperia XZ Premium’s Motion Eye feature (slow motion moments at 960FPS in videos) and Predictive Capture.

While most of the key features in this duo are borrowed from Sony’s premium flagship model, their headlining software is a new take on Sony’s existing augmented reality (AR) attempts: 3D Creator. This AR ecosystem is designed as a communication tool, allowing the user to convert real-world objects into 3D models, which in turn are sent to other recipients. 3D Creator goes beyond text, image, and typical videos by adding AR depth into existing interactions. As with all AR developments, practicality in the real world is one of our concerns – even if it uses impressive tech.

While it’s not immediately apparent, Sony has a fair bit going on with their latest phones. Given their unlikely asking prices, the similarities with the premium flagship model, and the decision to go with AR as a unique selling point, how will the two hold up in an already crazy competitive 'flagship' market?

  Sony Xperia XZ1 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
  Sony Xperia XZ1 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
Launch SRP
  • From S$898
  • From S$668
Operating system
  • Android 8.0 (Oreo)
  • Android 8.0 (Oreo)
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
Display
  • 5.2-inch / Full HD HDR (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution) / TRILUMINOS for Mobile / X-Reality / Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
  • 4.6-inch / HD (1,280 x 720 pixels resolution) / TRILUMINOS for Mobile / X-Reality / Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
Camera
  • Rear: 19-megapixel 1/2.3-inch f/2.0, Memory-stacked Exmor RS, Triple Image Sensing, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), 25mm G Lens
  • Front: 13MP 1/3.06-inch f/2.0 Exmor RS, Quick Launch and Capture, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
  • Rear: 19-megapixel 1/2.3-inch f/2.0, Memory-stacked Exmor RS, Triple Image Sensing, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), 25mm G Lens
  • Front: 8-megapixel 1/4.0-inch f/2.0 Exmor R, 18mm super-wide angle, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
Connectivity
  • USB Type-C Gen 3.1
  • A-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS)
  • WiFi Miracast
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • DNLA
  • Google Cast
  • USB Type-C Gen 2.0
  • A-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS)
  • WiFi Miracast
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • DNLA
  • Google Cast
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
  • 32GB internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
Battery
  • 2,700mAh, non-removable
  • Qnovo Adaptive Charging
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • 2,700mAh, non-removable
  • Qnovo Adaptive Charging
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Dimensions
  • 148 x 73 x 7.4 mm
  • 129 x 65 x 9.3 mm
Weight
  • 156g
  • 143g

 

Design & Handling

Sony has stuck to the same design formula for their latest releases. There’s virtually no aesthetic dissimilarity if you were to compare across various Sony flagship devices. The front panel of the XZ1, XZ1 Compact, and the older XZ Premium and XZs are one of the same, save for the orientation of the XZ1 Compact's front-facing flash.

As a whole, going back to the same monolithic Loop Design and aluminum frame is a good thing for Sony - it’s a practical look that’s appropriate for both work and play, and it’s well put together. Most importantly, it’s a hallmark of Sony’s brand, as people can now recognize a Xperia handset in a single glance.

The only problem is when a user wants to show off exactly which Xperia model he/she’s waving about. Sticking to a tried-and-tested look wouldn't work out for folks who like to make their upgrades known, and a physical redesign is one of the fastest ways to communicate that concept.

The XZ1 is a regular-sized smartphone, at 148 x 73 x 7.4mm. That’s almost the same size as a Xiaomi Mi 6, although it’s taller and wider by a few millimeters. The handling isn’t varied from operating a typical Xperia device, with the same button placements (i.e., the fingerprint-sensing power/lock button and volume rockers on the right). It’s also well balanced for one-handed use.

The onslaught of big, broad displays on phones I’ve reviewed of late indeed adjusted some expectations I have for the Xperia XZ1 Compact. Going back to small screen changes things up, since phones with larger displays offered luxury for viewing mindless content (social media and YouTube videos).

The XZ1 Compact is still pleasant to use for day-to-day interactions – there’s no tangible interface difference when messaging people. The phone’s 129 x 65 x 9.3mm form factor also did not impact navigation when I was e-shopping or my news-reading experiences. Typing in itself is identical to typing with the larger XZ1, but choosing suggested words by the smart keyboard can be a challenge. Filling out my e-mail address, for example, would auto-suggest three options on the smart keyboard, and I had to draw the phone nearer while squinting to make sure that I picked the correct one. 

In essence, productivity won't take a nosedive when you move to a smaller phone screen like the XZ1 Compact, but it also doesn't measure up when you’re trying to derive pleasure from watching silly videos and playing P2W games. A bigger device simply feels less claustrophobic for those tasks.

Both phones have an IP65/68-rated build, making them resistant against specific liquid sources like running taps.

 

Display & Audio

The Sony Xperia XZ1 comes with a 5.2-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) HDR display, while the XZ1 Compact uses a 4.6-inch HD (1,280 x 720 pixels) display with no HDR support. Both phones use the same set of display software: Triluminos Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile, and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer.

The Xperia XZ1’s display is noticeably warmer than Sony’s usual color calibration. Details are well-preserved, with attention paid to outlines and shading. Because of the color temperature, the color accuracy isn’t at its best – you can fix that by heading into the settings and trying out different presets.

On the other hand, XZ1 Compact has the better color balance and temperature out of the box, but it also has a lower resolution display that resulted in less clarity than the XZ1. While it renders the test image just fine, it’s just not as sharp as the Xperia XZ1’s interpretation. Even so, both phones make full use of their display as they fill out the edges neatly.

Besides their front-facing stereo speakers with “S-Force Front Surround” sound, both the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact have a 3.5mm headphone jack at the ‘head’ of the device. Wireless audio support comes in the form of Bluetooth 5.0.

You get the typical Sony spread of audio support on both devices: Hi-Res Audio (LPCM, FLAC, ALAC, DSD), DSEE HX, LDAC, Digital Noise Canceling, Clear Audio+, and wireless Qualcomm aptX HD audio.

 

Features & UI

 

Android 8.0 OS (Oreo)

The Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact are among the first handsets in Singapore to ship with Android 8.0 OS (Oreo). The new operating system could be felt more strongly if Sony wasn't using their proprietary UI. Even then, Xperia UI is pleasant to use, even if it means having to stare at pre-loaded apps that complement the Sony ecosystem.

Despite Oreo hiding under all that fluff, you can still do neat, power-user tricks like Notification Channels (pictured). Instead of a blanket option where you turn off or turn on all notifications from a single app, you can tell the device to only show notifications for specific processes. As seen above, you can turn off notifications for tweets that are "related to you", yet enable notifications only for direct messages that come sliding into your inbox.

Each app’s Notification Channel depends on the support provided by the third-party app maker, so don’t fret if some apps are more customizable than others.

Another Oreo feature is Notification Dots. From the same menu, you can choose to enable Notification Dots for your preferred apps. It allows quick actions for certain apps (like our Twitter example above), and it also allows the user to interact with the latest notifications (if there are any). Notification Dots can also be customized from app to app, under Apps & Notifications in your Settings app.

 

3D Creator

3D Creator is Sony’s attempt at implementing augmented reality as a useful tool into our everyday lives, ranging from communication through interactive models, to creating unique model-like images. Implementing and using the 3D Creator for content comes in two steps: creating your scans, and applying them for real-world use.

 

Scanning 3D models

3D Creator offers four Scan modes – Face Scan (where it only scans the visage of a person, up to 180°), Head Scan (for the whole head in 360°), Food Scan (because why not) and Freeform Scan (ideal for figurine-sized objects, with maximum dimensions capping off at a puppy). To scan any of the above, you need to choose the correct mode before letting the rear camera do its work around your chosen subject. Simply point the rear camera, and move in a manner specified by 3D Creator. It takes approximately four to five minutes to get a proper Head Scan.

The idea of doing Tai Chi to get a scanned model seems simple. However, it takes practice to have a near-flawless 3D scan. You will only know if the scan is satisfactory after the phone compiles the data, so it’s a good idea to keep trying until you get it right. The scanned models are recorded as an .OBJ file, and they are logged in Sony’s proprietary 3D Gallery and Editor app. You’ll have to do multiple scans of the same person if you want a different permanent facial expression on the model.

Assuming you already mastered 3D scan, you can choose to implement it in the following ways:

 

1.) Upload to social media

3D scans can be uploaded onto social media, such as Facebook. Your masterpiece will be uploaded to Sony’s servers, and Sony will provide a URL for you to share on social media. Folks who click on your URL will be taken to Sony’s page, where they can observe the model by spinning it around. It’s a valid workaround for people who juggle multiple social media platforms that don’t necessarily support AR.

 

2.) Creating AR videos

Once you have sufficient 3D models in your library, you can use them as AR assets to make funny videos or images through your immediate environment. We believe it uses the same software that was first present in Sony’s AR dinosaur app, with 3D Creator’s as a more intimate version since it employs people you have interacted with. The 3D scans populate the screen, and they can be made to strike different poses or act out pre-program routines, which can then be photographed or recorded as a 720p video.

 

3.) Ordering 3D sculptures and figurines

Sony has partnered with 3D-printing firms like Shapeways and Sculpteo to 3D-print and ship the 3D scans as figurines. It takes a minimum of two weeks and about US$50 for these companies to fulfill your orders. Customization, sizing, and other quirks can be adjusted within the 3D Creator app itself.

Admittedly, the 3D Creator and its AR ecosystem don’t nearly excite us as much as the other features listed in this review. In our example, it merely presented an opportunity to create a caricature of my boss for some laughs, and nothing more. To begin with, 3D Creator doesn't have the same level practicality offered in, say, a USB Gen 3.1 port or Notifications Channel. Next, its options are somewhat limited in spite of Sony’s vision (to use AR as a useful mode of communication), since you’re looking at the creation of cheesy clips, or cheesier 3D figurines. Also, the scans have a maximum size of a puppy, so you can forget about getting anything useful – like an accurate 3D model of a nice table you saw at a furniture store. 3D Creator has potential as an AR communication tool, but it’s also impractical for now.

3D Creator is available on both Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact.

 

USB Type-C, 3.1 Gen 1 (XZ1 only)

Not every modern flagship smartphone offers USB 3.1, but the Xperia XZ1 does. Here, you can find file transfers of up to 5Gbps when you plug the device into a compatible USB port.

The XZ1 Compact also has a Type-C port, but its speed profile is USB 2.0 (which is more common across flagship smartphones, with a few exceptions). This rating allows the XZ1 Compact to transfer files at up to 480Mbps instead. That’s approximately a ten-fold difference between the two USB transfer speed profiles, but it only matters if you regularly move files in and out of the device.

 

Dual SIM, or single SIM with microSD card (XZ1 only)

The Xperia XZ1 has two trays for your SIM and microSD cards. You can either insert two nano SIM cards in separate compartments (which means that you wouldn’t lose connection if you merely need to swap out one card), or you can place a microSD card if you don’t need the second SIM option. The independent SIM tray is the phone’s primary SIM slot as well. The Xperia XZ1 Compact has two trays too, but it only supports a single nano SIM and a single microSD card. Sony's Xperia Compact models are traditionally single-SIM-only, and the trend continues on the XZ1 Compact.

Benchmark Performance

Both the Sony Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. That’s the current flagship SoC by Qualcomm, and it’s featured in most signature-tier devices for major phone brands: HTC U11, OnePlus 5, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2, etc. (The Samsung Galaxy Note8 uses a proprietary equivalent chipset instead – Exynos 8895.) Sony’s premium flagship offering - the Xperia XZ Premium – also uses the Snapdragon 835.

  Sony Xperia XZ1 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact HTC U11 OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) Samsung Galaxy Note8 Xiaomi Mi MIX 2
  Sony Xperia XZ1 Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact HTC U11 OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) Samsung Galaxy Note8 Xiaomi Mi MIX 2
Launch SRP
  • From S$898
  • From S$668
  • From S$998
  • From S$799
  • From S$1398
  • From S$
Latest Price
  • From S$668
  • From S$720
  • From S$110
  • From S$345
Operating system
  • Android 8.0 (Oreo)
  • Android 8.0 (Oreo)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with HTC Sense
  • Android 7.0.1 (Nougat) with Oxygen OS 4.5
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Dream UX
  • Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with MIUI 8
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Octa-core (4 x 2.45GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core (4x2.3 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz), 10nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
Display
  • 5.2-inch / Full HD HDR (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution) / TRILUMINOS for Mobile / X-Reality / Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
  • 4.6-inch / HD (1,280 x 720 pixels resolution) / TRILUMINOS for Mobile / X-Reality / Dynamic Contrast Enhancer
  • 5.5-inch Main / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (~550 ppi) / Super LCD 5
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / AMOLED
  • 6.3-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (522 ppi) / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.99-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi) / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 19-megapixel 1/2.3-inch f/2.0, Memory-stacked Exmor RS, Triple Image Sensing, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), 25mm G Lens
  • Front: 13MP 1/3.06-inch f/2.0 Exmor RS, Quick Launch and Capture, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
  • Rear: 19-megapixel 1/2.3-inch f/2.0, Memory-stacked Exmor RS, Triple Image Sensing, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization), 25mm G Lens
  • Front: 8-megapixel 1/4.0-inch f/2.0 Exmor R, 18mm super-wide angle, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stabilization)
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/1.7, phase detection autofocus, OIS, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Primary Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7, contrast detection autofocus, EIS, LED flash, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Secondary Rear: 20-megapixel, f/2.6, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.00 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel telephoto f/2.4 and 12-megapixel wide-angle f/1.7, OIS, 2x optical zoom
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/2.0, PDAF, two-tone flash, 4-axis OIS, 1.25µm pixel size
  • Front: 5-megapixel
Connectivity
  • USB Type-C Gen 3.1
  • A-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS)
  • WiFi Miracast
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • DNLA
  • Google Cast
  • USB Type-C Gen 2.0
  • A-GNSS (GPS + GLONASS)
  • WiFi Miracast
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • NFC
  • DNLA
  • Google Cast
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 16 (up to 1Gbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, USB Type-C 2.0
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
  • 32GB internal storage (expandable via microSD up to 256GB)
  • 128GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 256GB
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 2,700mAh, non-removable
  • Qnovo Adaptive Charging
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • 2,700mAh, non-removable
  • Qnovo Adaptive Charging
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3.0
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 3,300mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 3,400mAh
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Dimensions
  • 148 x 73 x 7.4 mm
  • 129 x 65 x 9.3 mm
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm
  • 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
  • 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm
  • 150.5 x 74.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight
  • 156g
  • 143g
  • 169g
  • 153g
  • 195g
  • 187g

Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. As you can see here, the two Sony phones have a middling performance, more like the Mi MIX 2 than the HTC U11 or Galaxy Note8.

 

Quadrant

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes dramatic volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

As far as Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 performance goes, both Sony phones aren't out of place. The phones are relatively swift in day-to-day use, although we can’t shake the feeling that the chipset feels overpowered on the smaller XZ1 Compact.

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes dramatic volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

Good news for folks who are holding out on the XZ Premium while they wait for the XZ1 – despite having the same chipset, the XZ1 outstrips the XZ Premium in this benchmark. However, it’s still a little short from the other Snapdragon 835 devices, with Mi MIX 2 leading at the top of the pack. In real-world use, the Xperia XZ1 is still as zippy as its competitors.

 

Imaging

The Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact come with a single 19-megapixel rear camera that’s supported by a 1/2.3-inch memory-stacked sensor with a 1.22µm pixel pitch, and a 25mm G Lens at f/2.0. Judging from the hardware specs, it’s safe to assume that they use a rear camera system that’s identical to the XZ Premium. Even the software features like Predictive Capture and Motion Eye are included in all three handsets. That’s great because you don’t necessarily have to pay more for the XZ Premium to enjoy these features.

Here’s what Motion Eye is about in a nutshell.

It’s worth noting that Predictive Capture now comes with Smile Detection, which makes its smart-snapping abilities more sensible since it now seeks out the best smile out of your four shots.

The XZ1 uses a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, while the smaller XZ1 Compact has an 8-megapixel front shooter instead. Both devices retain the iconic button that Sony dedicates to photo-taking.

Sony Xperia XZ1, click for full-resolution.
100% crop of above image.

In the XZ1 test image, the partial detail loss was caused by noise. That said, the XZ1’s camera has passable color handling (good in most areas, except at the color chart). It’s also able to capture other intricate details like the block-lines in within the polar bear figurine. Given Sony’s strong history in imaging, it’s natural to expect more from their mobile imaging techniques. However, the phone’s price tag makes this acceptable.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, click for full-resolution.
100% crop of above image.

In the XZ1 Compact, the camera performance seems mostly similar (as it should – it’s the same make as the XZ1’s after all).

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

Both Xperia XZ1 and Xperia XZ1 Compact pack a 2,700mAh battery. Yes, these volumes are smaller than the typical 3,000mAh in flagship devices, but Sony employs several battery-saving techniques that can be enabled by the user. Smart Stamina provides a rough estimate for the phone’s remaining uptime, and there’s stuff like Stamina Mode and Ultra Stamina Mode if you need to stretch the battery a little further.

Sony phones tend not to fare very well in our demanding battery benchmarks since the focus is on screen uptime via a non-stop video at full volume - having two speakers on each phone certainly contributed to these scores. Depending on your usage, your mileage may vary, especially when you factor in the battery-saving options.

The new Xperia devices also come with Qnovo Adaptive Charging for battery longevity, and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 for fast-charging support. ‘Power users’ may already know this, but Sony’s default in-the-box adapter is rated at 5V/1.5A, while the default UCB20 charging cable can handle up to 12.0V/3.0A. If you want to take advantage of the fast-charging fully, you’ll need to grab a Quick Charge 3.0 adapter or wall plug for the device.

 

Conclusion

We feel that “Why fix things that aren’t broken?” was probably Sony’s line of thought when they brought the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact to the market. On their own, they’re excellent workhorses with great display quality, handling that’s familiar and easy to use, with key features like Motion Eye and Predictive Capture that are practical enough for daily use. It uses a current-gen flagship processor, and they have acceptable imaging capabilities.

Coupled with an up-to-date Android operating system and a UI that’s straightforward, the sum of the two phones make them viable contenders in a fiercely competitive smartphone space. For folks who care, the 3.5mm port and the microSD card support are still available on these devices, too. Also, they are IP65/68-certified (for dust and water-resistance), which is not common for phones below S$1,000.

Of course, no phone is perfect. The AR-powered 3D Creator feels advanced, and it’s cute enough for parents and handy enough for pranksters, but it doesn’t have the same level of practicality offered in Predictive Capture and Motion Eye (unless you intend to order a self-made 3D figurine every single week until the next Xperia release). Sony’s battery uptime has always been a pain point in our reviews, and it’s no different this time around. Other titanic phone makers like Samsung, LG, Apple, Xiaomi, and Google have already moved on to developing 18:9, edge-to-edge devices as well; this makes the current Sony phones less attractive for new users, and they are further hampered by their constant recycling of their outward appearance.

Also, it’s hard for these two phones to one-up the XZ Premium, since it has an equal processor, but a higher quality display with the same Motion Eye and Predictive Capture features months before these two came along. What the Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact lack in novelty, however, is made up with their competitive price tag.

With an official retail price of S$898 for the Xperia XZ1 and S$668 (!) for the Xperia XZ1 Compact, we'll say that Sony has got the pricing right. By including all the basics along with practical camera features, these two phones leave little room for other phones in the sub-S$1,000 price range.

At this level, the Xperia XZ1 is up against the OnePlus 5 and HTC U11, while the XZ1 Compact is up against the Xiaomi Mi 6, the Nokia 8, Mate10, and perhaps the Mi MIX 2. While the Xperia duo doesn't offer excitement or longer battery uptimes, the slew of core functionalities like 3.5mm support, microSD support, and water resistance help to sweeten the deal.

Of course, if a 4.6-inch display is too small to your liking, then the XZ1 Compact doesn't stand a chance. If you’re not a size queen, the XZ1 Compact is easily Sony’s most ambitious attempt thus far – after all, it’s not about the size, but how you use it. If you like small flagship phones with modern specs and features, it’s your best bet.

The flagship Sony Xperia XZ1 (64GB) will be available at S$898 in four colors – Moonlit Blue, Venus Pink, Warm Silver, and Classic Black. This phone is available at official Sony stores, Sony Centre, and telcos M1, Singtel, and StarHub, along with other authorized resellers.

The compact-flagship Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact (32GB) will be available at S$668 in two colors – White Silver, and Black. This phone is only available through official Sony stores and Sony Centre.