Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact or Apple iPhone 5s: Which is best?

Japanese Phone Maker Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact smartphone might be a miniature alternative to the flagship Xperia Z1, but it features the same top-end specifications as its larger sibling. With a 4.3in display and top-end features, this handset sees Sony challenging Apple's iPhone 5S in the smartphone market.


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and iPhone 5S are worlds apart in design, but both devices have a premium look.

Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact measures 127x65x9.5mm and is crafted predominantly from plastic. But much like the flagship Xperia Z1, this is coated in glass and edged with aluminium, giving the handset an all around high-end feel.

The iPhone 5S measures 124x59x7.6mm and features the same boxy, angular design as the Xperia Z1 Compact. But Apple's handset differs from Sony's plastic and glass casing with a fully aluminium chassis, which both looks and feels premium. However, we have found the handset's metal casing is prone to picking up scuffs and scratches, much like the Xperia Z1 Compact is prone to picking up fingerprints.


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a 4.3 inch 1280 x 720 display with a pixel density of 342 pixels per inch. It’s a high quality, high definition screen and it uses Triluminos technology which does a good job of replicating natural colour shades.

The Apple iPhone 5S has a 4 inch 640 x 1136 display with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. It’s both smaller and marginally lower resolution than the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact’s screen, but not enough to be an issue. The overall quality of images on the iPhone 5S’s display is every bit as good in fact and the only major difference between the two is that the iPhone 5S is true widescreen 16:9, which is great for watching videos on but takes a little getting used to for everything else.


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 32 bit processor and 2GB of RAM. It’s an enormously powerful phone, right up there with the likes of the LG G2 and the Sony Xperia Z1.

The Apple iPhone 5S uses a 1.3 GHz dual-core Apple A7 64 bit processor and 1GB of RAM. While that may sound worse it’s actually one of the most powerful handsets on the planet and should easily be able to match the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact for performance.

Operating system

Despite their similar performance, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and iPhone 5S mobile operating systems couldn't be more different, with the handsets running Google's Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and Apple's iOS 7, respectively.

It's always hard to compare Android with iOS, because most smartphone users already have their favourite, with some favouring Android's openness and ability to customise, and others preferring the simplicity of Apple's iOS.

On the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is coated with Sony's custom skin that overlays the stock user interface with the firm's custom apps and widgets. Saying that, Sony's custom user interface is much less obtrusive than Samsung's and HTC's skins, but it still has more of a learning curve than Apple's iOS 7 mobile operating system.


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a 20.7 megapixel main camera, complete with a number of shooting options, such as HDR and burst mode. The combination of an Exmor RS sensor and wide angle G lens ensure that it lets in more light than most other phones and at the same time reduces noise, allowing it to capture sharp, detailed images.

The Xperia Z1 Compact also has a 2 megapixel front facing camera and can shoot 1080p video.

The Apple iPhone 5S only has an 8 megapixel camera. However it has a large active sensor area and uses a ‘True Tone’ flash, which ensures that pictures have natural colours. It also has a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera and can shoot video in 1080p.

Both phones are great for photo fanatics, but the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is the better of the two.

Battery life and storage

Sony claims that the 2,300mAh battery battery on the Xperia Z1 Compact will last for 18 hours of constant talk-time, while Apple claims up to 10 hours.

We found that the battery on Sony's pint-sized smartphone way outlasted that of the iPhone 5S. We used both smartphones over the weekend, with both seeing average to heavy use, and while the iPhone 5S needed to be recharged towards the evening, the Xperia Z1 Compact easily breezed through into a second day.

The Xperia Z1 Compact storage trumps that of the iPhone 5S too. While it's only available with 16GB of internal storage, it boasts a microSD card slot, which means users can expand this by an additional 64GB. The iPhone 5S, on the other hand, is available with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of internal storage, but has no way to expand this further.


The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact is available in the UK SIM free from £449, while the cheapest iPhone 5S is priced at £529. It's pretty clear which one is the winner in this category.