Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small and brave

GSMArena team, 17 September 2016.

4.6-inch IPS display of 720p resolution

The Xperia X Compact sports a 4.6-inch 720p display. The Z3 Compact made the jump to 4.6 inches from the Z1's 4.3 inches, and the lineup hasn't grown in screen size since. It doesn't have to - after all, that's the whole point of Compacts. The 720p resolution stretched on that diagonal results in 319ppi - if the iPhone can live with that for 7 generations now, the X Compact will somehow manage without breaking ppi records as well.

Sony Xperia X Compact review

The Xperia X Compact can shine as bright as 534nits, a number virtually identical to the one posted by the Xperia X. It's not as bright as the Z5 Compact (quite a wide margin, actually), but last year's model can't match the X Compact's contrast, achieved in no small part by keeping blacks in check. The minimum brightness of 4.7nits is very good and nighttime reading shouldn't be an issue.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia X 0.44 539 1219
Sony Xperia X Performance (max auto) 0.39 595 1526
Sony Xperia X Performance 0.33 482 1461
Sony Xperia X Compact 0.44 534 1225
Sony Xperia Z5 compact 0.65 680 1053
Apple iPhone 6s 0.36 536 1481
Huawei nova 0.25 385 1540
Samsung Galaxy S6 0.00 363
Samsung Galaxy S6 max auto 0.00 619
Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro 0.49 561 1145

The Sony Xperia X Compact did splendidly in our sunlight legibility test. The score it posted is well into AMOLED territory (okay, not where the very best of AMOLEDs reside, but still) and it's right there with the best of LCDs (iphone 6s, for example).

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

There's inconclusive evidence as to the scratch-resistance of the X Compact's display. The official white paper, detailing all specs and features, doesn't mention any protection. Official Sony Mobile websites state Corning Gorilla Glass, but without specifying the generation. Despite the discrepancy, the phone might as well have such protection. We're trying to get to the bottom of it, and we'll update you on it once we have confirmation.

Beyond the outer layer lie a host of proprietary display technologies. Triluminous is Sony's trademark for what is commonly known as a Quantum dot display, a variation of LCD panels that deliver a wider color gamut. It generates colors in a different way than vanilla LCD's and even if you're used to AMOLED's punch, you won't be left wanting here.

On the software side, Sony does image post-processing in its gallery under the label of X-reality engine. You can turn it off, switch to X-Reality mode or go all in with Super-vivid mode. You can get a side-by-side comparison to help you make your choice too.

You also get a White balance option in the menu, where you can adjust the colors via RGB sliders but you need to have a calibration tool as you likely won't be able to improve anything going by eye alone. Even then you won't get significantly more accurate results as the sliders only allow you to add to the mix of primary colors and not take any away.

X-reality gallery enhancements - Sony Xperia X Compact review X-reality gallery enhancements - Sony Xperia X Compact review Two modes side by side - Sony Xperia X Compact review White balance adjustment - Sony Xperia X Compact review
X-reality gallery enhancements White balance adjustment

Connectivity

The Xperia X Compact doesn't come lacking in connectivity options, though it's not up to the XZ's level - rather it matches the Xperia X due to the same chipset being used.

For mobile data you get LTE Cat. 6 (300Mbps down, 50Mbps up) along with HSPA as a fallback (42.2Mbps/5.76Mbps). Local connectivity includes dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX and Low Energy and NFC. There's an FM Radio receiver with RDS - you can't find that on the flagship.

The Wi-Fi connection can be used for screen casting - be it Miracast, Google Cast, or DLNA. If you connect a DualShock controller, the Xperia XZ can even double as a portable console streaming your Playstation 4 games via PS4 Remote Play. It can also connect to your car's stereo system via MirrorLink.

GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou satellite positioning is supported, unless you're in the US, where it's just GPS and GLONASS.

The USB port is Type-C, but it only conforms to USB 2.0 spec and not 3.0 or 3.1. It lets you hook up USB storage and accessories, but you'll need to select the data transfer mode every time you connect it to a PC, as it defaults to charge only, which is somewhat annoying but we guess it's there for a reason or use case we can quite think of.

Sony has dropped MHL support, so you have no wired way to output an image to a TV. You do get 3.5mm analog output to your choice of headphones.

Sony Xperia X Compact battery life

The Sony Xperia X Compact is powered by a 2,700mAh battery, the same capacity as both the Xperia Z5 Compact and a little more than the Xperia X proper. Seeing as how the X has a larger and higher-res display, but still did a respectable job in the endurance department, we expected the X Compact to truly impress.

Sony Xperia X Compact review

Indeed, it posted very good scores in our tests, perhaps with the exception of talk time. That said, the 14 and a quarter hours that we got on a 3G call match Sony's promise in the X Compact's documentation proving that it can replicate the lab results in real life.

Move from calls to screen-on tasks and the Xperia X Compact does a better job. In Wi-Fi web browsing it's good for 11 and a half hours, with the 9 minutes by which it outlasts the Z5 Compact easily within the margin of error. That's still 2 hours longer than the Xperia X's 9:34h - so our initial logic that a smaller lower-res display would help the X Compact outlast the X holds true here, at least.

Not quite in video playback, where the X Compact posts virtually the same (already good) result as the regular X. The Xperia Z5 Compact could last a good 3 hours longer while playing videos. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that the Z5 Compact was tested before we adopted the standardized 200-nit brightness, and it was instead set at 50% of maximum, which meant 106 nits in its particular case.

The individual scores above (plus the standby draw we test, but don't include in the scorecard) add up to a combined endurance rating of 73 hours.

Sony Xperia X Compact

As all members of the new X series, the Xperia X Compact has the Qnovo adaptive charging built-in. The technology allows the phone to monitor the cell's electrochemical processes in real time and adjust charging parameters accordingly to minimize cell damage and extend the battery unit's lifespan.

Qnovo claims the battery should last hundreds of charge cycles more than a conventionally charged battery. This means a year or so of extra longevity as in theory if the battery ages better, it should hopefully be able to hold charge better in time (an important aspect for a phone that has its battery sealed-in).

Battery Care is another proprietary Sony feature. It won't be universally available though, so if it sounds like something you might be interested in, check back with your local Sony rep.

So what does Battery Care do? Say you charge your phone overnight, and you regularly plug it in at midnight and unplug it at 8 in the morning. In time, the phone will recognize the pattern, charge the battery to 90% and then stop charging. And then at, say, 7:30 in the morning it will pick up where it left off and top it all up to 100% at a slower pace. If it hasn't picked up your routine, it'll do a standard charge.

The handset also supports the Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 (and, of course, 2.0), but we're not sure if it will come bundled with a charger to match. It will most probably be a regional thing.

On the software side of things, there's Sony's Stamina battery saving feature. It has two modes: regular Stamina, and Ultra Stamina. The first disables non-essential features like GPS and vibration, and takes performance down a notch.

Stamina modes - Sony Xperia X Compact review Regular Stamina limitations - Sony Xperia X Compact review Ultra Stamina goes deeper - Sony Xperia X Compact review Ultra Stamina mode's single homescreen - Sony Xperia X Compact review Not much in terms of settings either - Sony Xperia X Compact review
Stamina modes

Ultra Stamina is for absolutely dire occasions when you don't expect to be near a power outlet for a long period of time. Enable that and it's back to basics - meaning a single homescreen with access to the dialer and contacts, text messages, camera and clock. Going out of Ultra Stamina requires a restart.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.