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Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review

 Review: October 2015  
 

Last updated November 2015

Rating: 5 stars

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.

Best buy: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact from Gameseek (£438.61)



 

Introduction

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.

Android Lollipop

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.

Uprated camera

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.

Connectivity

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.

Battery life

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:

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User questions

Got a question? This is the place to ask it!


Please don't ask a question that has already been asked. Duplicates will be removed.

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Where can I buy one I've tried everywhere?

Asked by Danny from England on 20th Jan 2017

Have they fixed the cracking screen problem?

Asked by Andrew from UK 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

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 4 reviews:

Reviewed by Mark from Uk on 21st May 2016
I love the Sony compact range and have had all the of the models to date.

I think this one is a bit of a let down with a few key problems;

- overheating 🔥 - it doesn't take much 30 mins in the sun playing on candy crush and the thing goes Pete tong. Even in everyday use it can get really hot and make the applications go a little funny.

-Battery 🔋 - after charging overnight I wake up and in the 30 mins I take to get ready and drive to the train station without making any calls the battery is usually already down to 80%. In fact it hasn't lasted a day since I have had it. I have now resorted to plugging in my phone at work to charge just to get me through the day. The worse battery I have ever had.

-camera speed 🎥 - I have a 5 month old baby and I can't tell you how many shots I have missed from the camera being super slow. In fact it crashes most of the time when trying to take pics or videos. I have now given up and use the wife's iPhone 6s when I want to take a pic of the little man. The pic file size is also quite big so I have to change the setting to 8mp if I want to use for expenses or any online forms etc as the files always breach the limits.

Applications speed - it seems like a lot of things crash. Its quite difficult to run multiple apps despite the high spec things are really slow.

I hate following the sheep so refuse to get an iPhone. I also like the smaller phone ranges and I don't see the point in having a phone that's too big for your hand or pocket.
Hence I don't really have an option if I want a high spec small phone the Sony compact range are really the only option you have.

Having to rethink my purchasing given that high spec is great but with the above problems it hardly seems worth it. You might as well get a lower spec that works.

Sorry Sony love the range but this phone doesn't cut the mustard I am afraid.
Rating:

Reviewed by Les from U/k on 29th Mar 2016
Simply the best phone I've had, had iPhones, samsungs, htc's and this phone is just amazing, great camera, great battery, fast 4 g and wifi, and just the perfect size, not to big like most of the top end smart phones where size seems to be the main issue, the bigger the better.
Large phones that bust your pockets might be some peoples cup of tea but I'm all done with phones that require 2 hands to use, the Sony Expedia 5 compact has all the features of the super phones (even better than some, especially the camera) but in a perfect manageable size.
I've had no problems at all with my handset unlike Simons review below, all I can say is he must have been very unfortunate in receiving a faulty unit, hopefully he should have got it exchanged.
Rating:

Reviewed by Simon from England on 6th Mar 2016
Appalling, I would have given zero stars if it had been an option.
Almost immediately my 14 day cancellation period was at an end the handset began to do strange things. Initially it was deleting just widgets from the home screen all by itself for no apparent reason, annoying but no big problem. Then the phone locked up completely after ending a phone call. By that I mean the screen was fully illuminated but unresponsive to touch, none of the buttons worked and the 'hard reset' button inside the sim panel didn't work either!
Circumstances prevented me form returning to the retailer for help so I just had to allow it to run the battery flat, on charging and rebooting the phone the same widgets were missing from the home screen again but the rest of it worked so I carried on to see if it was a one off glitch.
Whilst the phone hasn't completely locked since it does delete the widgets from the home screen EVERY time the phone is powered down and restarted, I have always fully flattened my handsets every week to full cycle the battery.
Now the handset is unbelievably slow to carry out commands from my finger touching the screen, just as slow loading pages, particularly from the internet and then temporarily reloads old and closed down pages / apps when backing out of those just used. I am on a 4G contract and have 100Mbps fibre optic broadband for wifi too so that is disappointing to say the least.
One other thing I noticed a couple of days ago too, even though my display is set to 'auto rotate' it will not do that leaving it constantly in portrait view.
I figured it best to connect it to my computer to check for updates etc but the handset isn't recognised by Sonys own Bridge for Mac (which has been glitchy too historically but still works with my old Z1).
My next port of call was to contact Sony Customer Services directly and explain the sequence of issues. Their responses cannot be read on the phone even though my email account is set up as it shows that I have email, gives the subject and header but the email body will not load. Each time I have had to start up my computer to read their useless replies.
If I were you I wouldn't bother with the phone or if you have a Sony mobile forget receiving any suitable help from their customer service team who are clueless and seem incapable of doing anything than 'copy and pasting' pre defined guides instructing on the proper connection of usb cables.
That was the response that I received though the Bridge for Mac issue was the final matter mentioned in my communication, none of the more pressing issues were even referenced by the staff member.
I have been a loyal Sony customer for years, having had other issues recently with other products, I will be spending my hard earned money elsewhere from now on.
I know how to insert a cable, I do every time the phone is charged!
Rating:

Reviewed by lee from NW England on 30th Nov 2015
This also has a barometric sensor which is very handy, as is Ant+. Seals are better than the z3c which is a BONUS. The flatter on the sides shape is really better than the previous model and will get Marshmallow 6.0. The size is also VERY nicely just right unless you love big 5" + sized phablets.
Rating:


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