While most of the smartphones released today come with large displays and dual-lens cameras, Sony is still the only one that makes small sized smartphones with flagship specifications. While every Xperia Compact smartphone released yearly came with the latest processor, RAM, and Android OS, however, there were some things that remained the same, such as the display size, screen resolution and especially the design. Sony Mobile has decided to take a step forward with a larger display and an all-new design with lesser screen bezels. Let’s take a look at the new device.
Display and Design
I must admit that I'm a fan of the Xperia Compact series and currently using the Xperia XZ1 Compact smartphone, a model that wasn't released in the UAE. And as compared to my earlier smartphones such as the Xperia Z5 Compact and the Xperia X Compact, the design is almost the same rectangular form-factor that surprisingly is comfortable to hold and use always. The design was simple and straightforward, however, the screen size was still the same 4.6-inch display with a modest 720p screen resolution, which by the way, wasn't bad at all, and for a small screen, that resolution was more than enough. Now with the new Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, the screen size has been increased, thanks to the reduced screen bezels on the top and bottom. The Xperia XZ2 Compact is the first in Sony's compact line-up to feature a 5-inch IPS display with 1080 x 2160 resolution and also the first to feature an 18:9 screen ratio. This means without increasing the body size that may sacrifice the compactness of the device, users will be able to get more screen estate with higher image sharpness within the palm of your hand.
This change by Sony is definitely a great one in the history of Xperia Compact smartphones. However, Sony also changed the backside of the device by adding a new curved rear side. And interestingly, the fingerprint scanner, which used to be on the right side, is now located on the rear side. The smartphone literally looks like a mini version of the HTC U11. While most of the smartphones do come with rear-facing fingerprint scanners, Sony's Xperia flagship smartphones used to have the fingerprint scanner (doubled as a power button) mounted on the right side. Unlocking those smartphones with your thumb, while you wake the device from sleep, was much easier for me to turn on or off the device, as compared to devices with rear-mounted scanners. However, the Xperia XZ2 Compact's rear-facing fingerprint scanner doesn't serve as a power button, as there is another separate power button on the left side. Luckily, you don't need to press the power button first and then use the fingerprint scanner, as the scanner seems to be always on and unlocks the device when you place your finger.
The volume rocker and the dedicated camera button is on the right side and the MicroSD card slot with the SIM slot is on the left. Speaking of which, the Xperia XZ2 Compact is the first in the Compact series to feature Dual-SIM functionality, which is something many users have longed for. While there are a lot of new feature additions on the device, there are some traditional features that have been removed and we aren't really that happy about it. For a company like Sony that believes in stellar audio technology and also makes a vast variety of pro-level wired headphones, the XZ2C doesn't come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. I get the point that most companies are trying to follow what Apple is doing but they should see that most of the users still use the traditional way of using headphones, and a USB Type-C adaptor is not something they are always comfortable to use. Samsung tried doing that once with one of their flagship devices and they learned the hard way that users actually want the good old headphone jack, and for the last two years, they have it enabled with their very best devices. Despite that, companies still try to go for a no-3.5mm headphone jack model and users may not get the device just for that one reason. Here's the kicker though. While the omission of the 3.5mm jack on the Apple iPhones was intended to make the smartphone slimmer, the Xperia XZ2C is thicker and heavier than the previous Compact models. The weight can be excused because of the larger display and the extra curvature on the rear, but the thickness is 12.1mm, which is may more than my Xperia XZ1 Compact (which has a 3.5mm jack).
That being said, let's talk about how comfortable is the smartphone to use, and that opinion will sound much better for someone who loves to use smartphones to type messages with one hand. At first, when I heard about the increase in screen size, I thought that the user experience may feel like using a large display. But after using the smartphone for some days, I must say that the device is very comfortable to use while using social media applications and browsing through the web pages. The extra screen size definitely helped to see more content. It kind off took some time in getting used to, and when I went back to my Xperia XZ1 Compact, the large screen bezels felt like an outdated design. That said, the Xperia XZ2 Compact features IP68 certification for dust and water resistance.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is all powered by the latest, fastest ever, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform and is supported with 4GB of RAM. The phone packs 64 GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 400 GB via a microSD card. The best part is the device comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. It was the same case when I had bought the Xperia XZ1 Compact last year and it was one of the very few that came loaded with that version of Android back then. The user interface is mostly stock, as usual, so you don't need to worry about bloatware, and the UI is snappy enough for any extreme use. Gaming on the new compact smartphone now gives you the advantage of a larger screen size and higher resolution on a smaller form factor. We did get a firmware update while reviewing the product, which must have been related to stability improvements. I've honestly never seen my Xperia XZ1 Compact slow down and it's the same case with the Xperia XZ2 Compact. Without any doubt, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact is the most powerful smartphone on the planet now of its size and there is no competitor model that exists in today's market. Apple's iPhone SE or anything of that size sports older hardware and it's been years since Samsung even made a mini version of their flagship devices. Technically, none of the Samsung mini models ever had the same specification as their larger counterparts. Sony always made sure that their flagship model and its Compact variant featured the same processor and RAM capacity. Our Antutu tests showed that the Xperia XZ2 Compact pulled a score of 264,240 points.
Camera and Battery
With most smartphones in the market boasting Sony-made image sensors, it's quite obvious that they would use their very best on their flagship models. We wouldn't say it's the very best of all the smartphone cameras, but it's very good. While the 19MP main camera is technically the same as the one used on the Xperia XZ1 Compact, and with the same F2.0 aperture, I found that the XZ2C's camera was able to capture better and sharper quality images than my Xperia XZ1C. I had tried macro shots, night shots, and day shots, and I could see a good amount of difference. Macro shots are clearly sharper on the XZ2C and the night shots showed a great reduction of image noise. Sony did really work hard in optimizing the software and camera algorithms here but left out the Compact smartphones. I really wish Sony had released some software update that improves the Xperia XZ1 Compact's camera performance. Image quality isn't the only thing that came with an upgrade, as the smartphone is now capable of recording HDR videos for both 4K and FHD videos. But here's the thing. It seems I wasn't able to activate HDR when the resolution was set at FHD 60fps. HDR only works when the resolution was at 4K or FHD at 30fps. Another weird fact was that when the HDR was turned on, the video looked quite dim and warm in color tone, as opposed to when HDR is not on. This was the same case when I had turned on HDR while capturing images. This is indeed bizarre, as turning on HDR should have brought in more life-like solid colors and brightness to the display. We instead decided to take pictures without HDR. It may be a temporary issue since we had a review test unit.
That being said, the main camera is supported by phase detection and laser autofocus as well. There is another interesting upgrade though, and if you are a previous Xperia XZ1 user, you should be aware of the 960fps super slow motion video feature that was fun to use. Those videos could only be recorded at 720p resolution. Now with the Xperia XZ2 Compact, you can record them at 1080p resolution. The front 5MP camera on the Xperia XZ2 Compact is also a change from the Xperia XZ1 Compact. On technical terms, the Xperia XZ1C's 8MP front camera had a slightly larger image sensor and came with a wide-angle lens mode. But the Xperia XZ2C's 5MP front camera produced better image sharpness and did much better during the night, despite the sensor size being slightly small. And I'm not talking abt the megapixels here. While comparing selfies at night between the two devices, the images from my Xperia XZ1 Compact look so horrible, it looked like a shot out from a phone made years ago. However, you lose the advantage of taking wide-angle selfies on the Xperia XZ2 Compact. I've used most of the Xperia Compact smartphones, and out of all of them, the XZ2C's front camera did a very good job.
The Xperia XZ2 Compact holds a battery of 2870 mAh and brings support for fast charging via the USB Type-C port. While the battery capacity isn't much of an upgrade as compared to the Xperia XZ1 Compact's 2700 mAh battery, the processor on the new device offers better efficiency, which means it takes lesser battery consumption. In my opinion, the XZ2C could have come with a larger battery, considering that it has a curved rear side with more space. That said, the battery life of the device is amazing and the standby time last for almost a week. Upon usage, the device is able to last an entire day while making calls, taking images, surfing the web and so on. And it can last until the next day on certain occasions.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact marks as Sony's giant leap in modernizing the compact line-up with features that are seen on other flagship models and any compact series fan would love to get their hands on it. You get a bigger screen that even features a higher resolution with 18:9 aspect ratio, something that has never been seen on the previous Compact devices, and the camera is clearly the best of the best that Sony has to offer from their portfolio. However, the shifting of the fingerprint scanner from the right side to the rear may not keep some happy, even me, and the lack of a headphone jack seriously can disappoint many. But if those aren't a big concern for you and if your looking for the fastest compact smartphone, then look no further than the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact.