Sony Xperia Z5 Compact Review: A Rare Small Flagship

by Reads (22,596)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service, Warranty & Support
    • 8
    • Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Value
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Good build, it's waterproof
    • Decent camera
    • Capable chipset performance
    • Great battery life
  • Cons

    • Colors can be off
    • It's thick
    • Display bezel too large

Quick Take

Unfortunately, those wanting a small but powerful Android smartphone are stuck with the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. It's the only option on the market. Fortunately, it's a good device, a smaller version of a decent Android flagship.

While other manufacturers have mostly given up on creating compact versions of their flagships, Sony has positioned itself as a leader in this niche by reducing only the size of the handset, but not the hardware specs. Case in point, the Xperia Z5 Compact, which is as powerful as the ‘big’ Sony Xperia Z5, just more “compact.” This makes the Z5 Compact the only sub 5-inch flagship smartphone on the market today.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

To be precise, the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact features a 4.6-inch HD screen, and this detail represents the biggest difference between the Compact and Xperia Z5, which has a 5.2-inch Full HD display. In addition, the smaller phone has 2GB of RAM instead of 3GB, its entire edge is plastic, not plastic and metal, and it comes with a physically smaller battery, 2700 mAh compared to 2900 mAh.

Everything else is the same. The device has a Qualcomm octacore Snapdragon 810 chipset, a very powerful 23-megapixel rear camera, 5.1-megapixel selfie-camera and Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) with the slight Xperia UI. The Z5 Compact is very similar to the full-sized Z5 and therefore shares a lot of the pros and cons, but does all of this in a smaller and cheaper body.

Body & Design

The new Xperia Z5 Compact is not visually that different from its predecessor Xperia Z3 Compact. Sony has not forsaken its square design, but has emphasized the minimalism of its keys. The device almost looks identical from all angles. What Sony has done, just like with the standard Z5, is worked on the handset’s finish, thus it comes with a matte glass cover which offers exceptional protection. In addition to modern design, this results in a premium look, despite its compact dimensions.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact back panel

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact back panel

Interestingly, the entire rim of the Xperia Z5 Compact is made out of plastic. Only the edges are plastic on the larger model, Xperia Z5, while all four sides are metal. It was clearly not necessary to reinforce the body’s construction with metal on the smaller smartphone, which might give users the feeling that this device won’t survive a fall. But this is not the case. A single material build gives the Z5 Compact a cleaner look.  

Of course, such a compact device feels comfortable when held in hand and everything is within a thumb’s reach on the display. It weighs 138 grams (4.97 ounces), which is slightly heavier than the previous model and its dimensions are 127 x 65 x 8.9 mm (5.0 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches). Although it is narrower and shorter than the Xperia Z5, it is evidently thicker, but again, this does not change the feeling of outstanding elegance and modern design.

The display-to-front surface ratio of 68.9 percent is somewhat smaller than on the previous model, but this is not evident unless you focus on the display rims. The front is ‘cleaner’ than on the Xperia Z3 Compact, given that the stereo speaker perforations blend into the upper and bottom parts of the phone. There are no physical keys under the display, while Sony’s logo, the LED signal and the front 5.1-megapixel camera are located above the screen.

There is a neck lanyard loop on the left side, along with a cover which hides the nanoSIM and microSD card slots. The right side holds the power key with the fingerprint scanner, located in the middle, while the exceptionally slim volume rocker and the camera key sit above it. The camera key is particularly useful for taking shots under water (yes, the Z5 Compact is waterproof), when it is not possible to shoot by touching the display. The audio jack is located on the upper side with the secondary microphone for ambient noise reduction, while the lower side holds the primary microphone and a microUSB slot with a waterproof coating. This means that users do not have to open a cover when they wish to recharge their phones, as was the cases with all previous Xperia models.

Xperia Z5 Compact
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact power button

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact power button


Sony Xperia Z5 Compact edge design

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact edge design

Naturally, the display size and resolution are different between the Xperia Z5 Compact and the Xperia Z5, but the craftsmanship technology and the imaging quality these two handsets offer are the same. The Xperia Z5 Compact brings HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels) on a 4.6-inch diagonal, resulting in a 323 pixel per inch, compared to 428 ppi featured on the larger model. The difference is moot, given the human eye finds it difficult to spot the difference in imaging sharpness greater than 300 ppi. Everything looks very sharp on the Xperia Z5 Compact’s display, without any visible pixelization. HD resolution is perfectly suitable for a 4.6-inch screen and it is a good thing that Sony has not chosen a greater resolution just to have impressive figures, because it would only additionally burden the chipset and battery.

However the Compact shares many of the same imaging problems with the Z5, The contrast is very sustainable, but shifts a bit to the dark side. The Xperia Z5 Compact displays exceptionally dark black tones, but not exceptionally bright white tones. The vivacious part of the spectrum looks bright and intense, while colder tones are a bit washed out. In the end, this results in very cheerful imaging of colorful contents, like games, but dimmer imaging of more serious content. Keeping this in mind, Sony has added the option of manual calibration of the red, green, and blue color components through its settings, which no other rival offers.

The IPS display comes with all Sony-patented technologies, like the Mobile BRAVIA 2 Engine, Triluminos and X-Reality Engine, which makes imaging maneuvers rather flexible. These specs give the Z5 Compact wider viewing angles and the display holds up even when exposed to direct sunlight.



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