In this era of near billboard-huge phablets, it is still pretty disconcerting to see ‘small’ and skinny devices wandering around and posing glamorously in store front windows. Which shows just how fast and far we have become used to and addicted to bigger and the biggest screen real estate. Don’t know about you, but if you do like your mobile devices elf-tiny and packing very respectable specs, then the Sony Xperia X Compact is just the stuff of your photographic dreams. Or rather nightmare, considering that it costs an arm and a leg more than most competing rivals.
Xperia smartphones have invariably sported rather excellent cameras, but this particular model pushes the boundaries way farther. It is a really camera and photography focused -others might say obsessed- mobile device with a hugely capable 23 MP main camera sensor. This outputs footage almost good enough to make angels, elfs, and goblins teary-eyed out of wonder. We managed to scrimp and save to get a black -but almost blue- model to review. So, here is our one and only Sony Xperia X Compact review, read it and weep.
Design and Build Quality
Overall build quality is good enough, and the device feels well crafted. But that definitely is not the first thing you notice about this Sony phone. To start with, it is tiny. While this might be perfectly OK with the iPhone crowd, but for the rest of us normal fellas it feels barely bigger than a pocket mirror. But at least you don’t have to tear a hole in your trousers trying to cram it in, which is something to be thankful for, right? Both sides of the sides of the device are additionally totally flat and level, with no protuberances whatsoever. Thereby enabling excellent and surreptitious use by yours truly while lying on restaurant tables on forced dates with friends.
The phone is a delight to use one-handed, if you have small hands that is. If otherwise, expect your paws to block the screen and interfere much with the on-screen and hardware controls, which is frustrating to put it mildly. Bezels at the bottom and top ends are thick, while the whole phone feels solid, if as thick as a side of beef. The body is made of glossy plastic, which isn’t really noticeable as the device feels and looks premium. Still, considering that the rest of the Xperia offerings are of metal and glass, this is rather disappointing with the king’s ransom we shelled out to buy it. Also, unlike its other Xperia siblings, waterproofing/dust proofing is not present.
The Sony Xperia X Compact has a torrid love affair with fingerprints, scratches, and smudges, which require that the screen be wiped clean frequently and showcase so-so future durability issues. On the right of the puny fella are the power, volume, and quick-start camera buttons. While on the left lurks the slots for its nano-SIM and the SD card. Charging and data transfer are accomplished via a newfangled USB Type-C port on the bottom end, complemented by a headphone jack at the top. The front is also where you get the two front-facing speakers, which deliver good enough audio.
Overall dimensions are 5.0 x 2.56 x 0.37-inches, while weight is a hefty but manageable 135g.
This is a 4.6-inch 720p IPS screen that is colorful, bright, vivid and pin-sharp, while being comfortingly armored in Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Outdoor usability is excellent even with the sun overhead balefully glaring at you like a wicked mother-in-law.
The meager screen resolution might be disappointing, but is barely noticeable in everyday use as the device judiciously utilizes every available pixel to deliver great usability everywhere and anywhere.
The big boss at the back is a 23 MP monster with a wide angled lens that churns out excellent footage effortlessly and consistently. This is due to its having a predictive autofocus, five-axis stabilization, and an infrared sensor. All these are marvelously integrated to truly awesome effect in a way, and with the panache only Sony is capable of.
The front shooter is 5.1 MP, and just like its elder bros packs a wide angled lens, which is awesome for group selfies. And oh, if you do feel the need to look supermodel-perfect and positively Venusian, it has a slew of beautification modes available just for that. But, with a lower megapixel count, the front shooter is not definitely not as capable as the main camera, especially in low-light conditions. But for selfies and other tasks under bright lightning, it is still more than adequate.
Auto mode feature is available for best user convenience for the inexperienced. But for the inveterate tinkerer or a professional who knows just what he/she is doing, a manual mode comes provided where you can adjust settings till you get just the utopia you are looking for. Neither camera though is capable of 4K video recording, which is a letdown, but not really a huge one.
Performance and Connectivity
OS on the device is the Android 6.0.1 with Sony skin overlaid on top, and it ships with some pretty useless bloatware which is mostly Google Play store ripoffs. Lifting power is courtesy of a six-core Snapdragon 650 chipset that blitzes along at 1.8 GHZ. This is skillfully mated to 3 GB of RAM, while an Adreno 510 GPU ably handles the graphical performance. 32 GB of internal storage is available, expandable to 256 GB when necessary via the SD card slot.
Connectivity options include all the expected usual bad boys and comprise: Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/c. In use, the Sony Xperia X compact handles itself like a champ. Multitasking is excellent, though with occasional stuttering as the little fella struggles to catch its breath over the workload you are mercilessly loading on its back. Gaming performance too was great, with my favorite and graphics-loving FPS games generally playing smoothly like melted butter. Most of the time that is. Overall, the performance is excellent, but with stuttering and lagging present now and then, making for an unpredictable if somewhat capable performance.
Audio performance through the frontal loudspeakers are loud and decent, but definitely not an earth-shaking, body-swaying, sense-numbing experience. A good headset is definitely recommended if you plan on doing much music listening with your device.
This is a 2,700 mAh fella that enables all day usage before you need to frantically start looking for a charging point. Sony should’ve taken a little more care in producing better battery devices to provide seamless usability on its devices.
At $500 a piece, this is truly one expensive little bugger that costs even more than the phenomenal iPhone SE. Also, apart from its camera, it boasts inferior specs to its cheaper and bigger Xperia Z5 Compact brethren. And for the same price point, you can practically take your pick of other bigger, better, faster, and badder devices from the Android Galaxy/ecosystem. It is thus rather difficult to recommend the device to anyone, even to my despised mother-in-law. Still, if you do want an outstanding camera, got money to burn and desire an Android device any precocious tot can handle one-handedly, then go knock yourself out. Preferably permanently.