Sony Xperia X Compact review
The best priced compact smartphone on the market
Sony has finally delivered upon our request for a mini-edition to compliment its Xperia X Series range of phones. When we requested a Sony Xperia X Compact back in March, we never dreamed that it would take 6 months for Sony to deliver, but we are glad that they finally have.
Throughout this Sony mobile phone review, we will occasionally make comparisons with the Sony Xperia XZ, because it is the flagship model of the X Series, and the Apple iPhone 7, because it is one of the few phones that is as small.
In our first comparison, we find the Sony Xperia X Compact priced from £20 per month on a 2-year contract or from £360 SIM free. The Sony Xperia XZ is half as expensive again from £30 per month and from £360 SIM free. The Apple iPhone 7 it twice as expensive from £40 per month.
Design - Loop Surface
The Sony Xperia X Compact stands out from past Sony mobile phones through its new soft rounded shape and Loop Surface. The Loop Surface is basically created through a continuous chamfered, and highly polished, edge that circles around the edges of the phone, in a continuous and unbroken loop.
The body is made from polycarbonate, in comparison to the ALKALEIDO metal used on the Xperia XZ. Even so, the Xperia X Compact feels very solid and the flat top contrasts well with the symmetrically curved body.
The high-gloss finish gives the appearance that the Xperia X Compact is made from finely crafted ceramic and three colour choices are on offer; Universe Black, White and Mist Blue.
This Sony smartphone weighs very little at 135g (Xperia XZ 161g / iPhone 7 138g) and to avoid cable-tangle we find the charging port on the bottom edge and the headphone jack on the top.
There is one chink in the armour however, the Sony Xperia X Compact is not IP certified for water and dust resistance. This is unusual for Sony, with almost every other Sony phone being waterproof, but if you want a compact phone that is half the price of the iPhone 7, then it is probably an acceptable sacrifice.
Display - One-handed use
The 4.6” HD 720p IPS display is protected behind curved Corning Gorilla Glass and a number of Sony technologies are used to give the colours a punch in the vibrancy department.
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The display is just slightly smaller than the 4.7” display on the iPhone 7 and the extra girth of 9.5mm (iPhone 7 8.1mm) gives a much firmer grip for one-handed use.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Xperia Transfer Mobile
The Sony Xperia X Compact uses Sony’s Xperia Transfer Mobile to move content over from an old smartphone or iPhone. Of the 32GB internal memory, 20GB is free for the user to store music, videos, files, apps and games.
The memory can be expanded further with the insertion of a microSD card of any value up to 256GB.
Security - Fingerprint sensor
The fingerprint sensor is one of Sony’s triumphs and it has been integrated into the power/wake button, so that the Xperia X Compact can be woken and unlocked in one motion.
Putting the Sony Xperia X Compact back to sleep is just as easy with the double tap to sleep function.
Learning the basics - Xperia Tips
The Sony Xperia X Compact comes with an Xperia Tips feature and this provides non-intrusive contextual tips to help you get more from the phone. Camera tips, display tips and the smart alarm are all covered by Xperia Tips.
Xperia Tips is a pre-loaded app and if you open the app on first use, you will find it empty. However, as you use the phone a little more, tips begin to appear in the app, based upon what you tend to do with the phone.
Performance - Self learning interface
The Sony Xperia X Compact has a self learning interface that adapts to you, based upon how you use the phone. The phone learns which apps you use the most and when, in order to prioritise their order. In addition to this, the phone deactivates unused apps and clears the cache, so that optimum speeds are always experienced.
Even though the Xperia X Compact is considerably more affordable, compared to the Xperia XZ and iPhone 7, it still has a very good Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 64-bit 1.8GHz Hexa-core processor with 3GB RAM.
Entertainment - Hi-Res Audio
The Sony Xperia X Compact has Hi-Res Audio with Clear Audio+, S-Force Front Surround and dual front facing speakers. The sound produced by these is slightly better than that produced by the Xperia XZ. This is an unexpected bonus and a result of Sony not having to use IP certified water and dust protected speakers.
Apps - Android and Sony app suite
The Xperia X Compact runs on Google’s Android Marshmallow operating system and in addition to the pre-loaded Google apps, users get access to the Google Now screen, by swiping inwards from the left.
The Google Now screen is well worth exploring and is fully customisable. The information shown on the Google Now screen can include a local weather report, reminders and news Now cards based upon your interests and news stories that you have previously shown an interest in.
The Google apps are complimented by Sony’s app suite that includes Music, Album, Video, Movie Creator, Spotify, News, What’s New, Sound Photo, AR Effect and PS4 Remote Play.
Owners of a Sony Xperia X Compact will also get access to the Xperia Lounge, which gives exclusive access to new and upcoming movies, games and music.
Camera & Video
Photography - Triple image sensing technology
The 23MP camera is quite special as it uses Sony’s triple image sensing technology to capture true to life colours, without any tweaking. The three sensors includes:
- Laser Autofocus Sensor - This measures the distance to a subjects in low light
- Advanced Infrared Sensor - This measures the colour temperature for automatically adjusting the white balance
- Predictive Hybrid Autofocus - This predicts where moving objects will move to next so that when the shutter key is released, the image is always in focus
In the spur of the moment, the dedicated camera shutter button can take the phone from standby to capture in 0.6 seconds. Further camera tech includes a 24mm G Lens, 5x Clear Image Zoom, manual shutter speed controls, fast image processing and a 5MP selfie camera that has a 25mm wide angle lens..
Videography - SteadyShot
SteadyShot ensures good video results with 5-axis stabilisation. Full HD video recording is possible at a quality of 1080p at 60 frames per second. If 4K video recording is desired, then consumers should choose the Xperia XZ instead.
Power - Quick Charge
The 2,700mAh battery has a capacity that isn’t a great deal less than the battery in the Xperia XZ (2,900mAh) and is significantly higher than the battery used in the iPhone 7 (1,960mAh).
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The Sony Xperia X Compact can be switched into STAMINA mode in order to achieve extreme standby times and the USB Type-C cable, with Quick Charge, makes it extremely fast to recharge.
Battery life - Intelligent adaptive charging
Battery life used to be no big issue but since the new era of 24-month contracts, it has become much more of one.
To tackle this issue, Sony has integrated Qnovo Adaptive Charging and a Battery Care feature. These work together to preserves the life of the battery by learning and adapting to your charging patterns.
A good example of this is overnight charging. This is one of the worst things that phone owners can do as constant trickle charging, once the battery reaches 100% charge, causes extreme battery stress.
With the Sony Xperia X Compact, Battery Care stops charging the phone at 90% and it only completes the last 10% charge just before you wake up. The result is a battery lifespan that is double that of phones using standard charging technology.
Final thoughts: Unlike the Xperia Z Compact models, the Xperia X Compact does not have the same spec as its larger companions. For some this will be a deal breaker, pushing them towards an Xperia XZ or iPhone 7 purchase. But for others, our Sony Xperia X Compact review seals the deal by uncovering the best priced compact smartphone on the market.
Written by: Michael Brown