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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review

ByDuncan Heaney
Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

The Xperia XZ2 Compact is the latest small flagship level phone from Sony. It packs a ton of power and features into a tiny frame - is it a mini-marvel or trying to punch above its weight? Read our review to find out.

There's a prevailing theory behind top-tier smartphones that bigger is better. Just look at the ample girth of the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus for example - big phones with big sales. But now here's Sony, upending conventional wisdom by launching the Xperia XZ2 Compact.

It's a small phone with significant specs. But does it prove that good things come in small packages, or is it as disappointing as a fun-size Mars Bar? Let's find out…

Review phone provided by fonehouse

Price, plans and availability

Bought outright, the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact will run you £529. That's more than £150 less than the full-size Xperia XZ2, but it's still a long way from cheap. Small it may be, but this is still a premium phone with the price tag to match.

Of course, most people won't buy it outright - they'll spread the cost with a mobile contract. You can get Xperia XZ2 Compact plans on networks including Vodafone, O2 and EE, though bear in mind that it's typically cheaper to look at resellers like fonehouse (full disclosure: they're the ones who provided this review handset) rather than going through networks directly.

Even then, you may have to pay a bit upfront to keep the monthly cost down. There are loads of deals available - too many to list here - so I'd recommend using a comparison tool to see a full list of current prices:

Compare Sony XZ2 Compact deals

 

Design

The Sony Xperia XZ2 may be small, but it certainly ain't thin. In fact, this is one of the chunkiest mobile phones I've seen for a long time. At a hefty 12.11mm thick, this feels like something of an anachronism these days - a throwback to the old Lumia-esque brick-style phones of a few years ago. It's not ruinous, but it does make the handset feel less premium than it really is.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

The visual design is also pretty unremarkable. While Sony has launched handsets with full-width screens, the Xperia XZ2's display has noticeable bezels at the side, top and bottom. It looks fine, but again, it's missing the slickness that we'd expect from a premium handset.

Visually then, the Xperia XZ2 Compact isn't going to turn any heads, and nor is it lightweight.  This is a phone with a surprising amount ofheft- and one you'll definitely feel in your pocket.

It's clear that Sony's had to make some sacrifices to get the XZ2 Compact to live up to its name. A small size was clearly the priority, and in this respect the phone absolutely nails it. As someone who typically uses one of those gargantuan 'what is he compensating for' handsets, it's a genuine treat to be able to browse the web and send texts messages with just one hand.

That feeling of pleasure is only heightened by the smooth comfortable design of the casing. It fits incredibly comfortably into the hand, with no slippery edges or awkward angles to deal with - at no point do I worry about dropping it, even when walking and texting at the same time.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

All said, It's a very well-built phone. Scratch-resistant polycarbonate replaces the glass back of the standard Xperia XZ2, which is less pretty, but more resistant to fingerprints - I actually prefer it for that reason. The handset's fully dust and water-resistant too, though like many phones that means that there's no headphone jack to be found.

 

Screen

Now this is where the Sony Xperia XZ2 shines - and it shinesbrightly.

The handsets sports a full HD display at 1080 x 2160 pixels. That may pale next to quad-HD screens on larger handsets, but due to the small size and high pixel density (483ppi), it looks absolutely fantastic. It's bright and it's vibrant - the colours really pop.

Because the display supports high dynamic range (HDR), colours are brighter and more defined than standard screens, and blacks are a much richer darkness. It's impressive for such a diddy device.

For all its quality, however, there is one minor annoyance with the XZ2's screen - the aspect ratio. It's longer and thinner than most handsets - 18:9 compared to the 16:9 ratio you normally see. That means that a number of video apps we tested, including YouTube and BBC iPlayer, didn't fill the whole screen. And considering it's already quite small, that's a shame.

 

Specs and performance

The Xperia XZ2 packs a lot of muscle into its small chunky frame. It's powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, common to many of the current top Android handsets, with 4GB RAM.

In practical terms, that means using the phone is utterly smooth. Switching between apps is seamless, and we noticed no performance issues at all - this is every bit as capable as the full fat Xperia XZ2.

As for storage, the XZ2 offers 64GB, expandable via micro-SD card. Honestly, it's not often you see specs like this in such a diminutive device, and it's great to see a top of the line option for those who don't want to wrestle a massive slab.

 

Camera

If you're looking for the best possible photography options… look elsewhere. The XZ2 Compact is capable, but not outstanding when it comes to snaps.

Sony Xperia XZ2 camera shot of cheese

On paper, the rear-mounted camera is fantastic - a 19 megapixel (MP) lens, with all the bells and whistles, including image stabilisation, HDR and 4K video recording. In practice, we managed to take some decent shots, with tons of detail and realistic colours, but not quite up there with the quality photos we've seen from other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9.

There are at least some fun camera apps, including the 3D Creator tool. This lets you create a 3D models of various things, including food on a plate and your own face via the 5MP selfie cam. It's good for a laugh, but we have to say, the results were… questionable at times.

 

Battery

As a small phone, the XZ2 Compact has a small battery. Despite that, we managed to get a day of regular use out of it easily, and leaving it on standby in a desk drawer in the office one weekend (whoops), it only lost around a quarter of its charge. That's pretty good.

 

Final verdict

The Xperia XZ2 is aimed at a particular type of user - someone who wants all the power and features of a flagship in a smaller frame. All things considered, it hits that target dead-on.

Sony has made remarkably few compromises when shrinking its Xperia XZ2 down. It's a phone that performs well in most categories, with a great screen, good specs, a solid camera and decent battery life.

Other phones may look sexier, sport sharper screens, better cameras, bigger batteries, more storage and so on, but all of them are considerably larger (and slightly more expensive). The size is the draw here, and if that's what you want, and you're willing to accept a certain level of chunkiness to get it, you'll find a lot to love with the Xperia XZ2 Compact.

Compare Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact deals


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