On the one hand, though Sony’s marketing department was much craftier than Samsung’s or HTC’s by evading the meager-sounding “mini” moniker, the Compact is for all intents and purposes a diminutive version of the 5-inch Z1. Hence, the 4.3-incher belongs with the GS4 mini and One mini in the mid-sized, mid-range section of the smartphone totem pole, right?
Not so fast. Because while it’s small (by 2014 standards), the Z1 Compact packs quite the punch. In fact, if early benchmarks are to be trusted, it’s about as zippy as the Z1. Besides, it’s much too pricey to start a battle against fellow Mini contenders on even ground.
So where does that leave prospective Z1 Compact buyers who’d like to make the most informed choice possible? Ultimately, I’d assume size and portability will play the key part in your decision, so fair or unfair, here’s how the Compact stacks up against the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, HTC One mini and… Motorola Moto G. You didn’t really think we’d forget about the best budget option, did you?
Z1 Compact vs. Moto G vs. S4 mini vs. One mini – design comparison
A tough nut right off the bat. All four have their aesthetical flaws and strong points, though in the end eclipsing HTC’s iconic aluminum unibody layout proves too much for the three other featherweights. The One mini is just too darn elegant and robust to suffer defeat, albeit its extreme tallness (132 mm at a 4.3-inch diagonal) certainly makes the victory bittersweet.
Meanwhile, the bulky figure (11.6 mm profile and 143 grams weight) costs the Moto G dearly, the thick bezels don’t do the Z1 Compact any favors, and the S4 mini is, well, overall lackluster, with no wow elements and a “healthy” plasticky vibe.
The four-way battle is quickly narrowed down to a three-way duel, as the S4 mini is the sole competitor to boast sub-720p resolution: 960 x 540 pixels.
But it’s downright impossible to pick a victor from the HD triad, as the Z1 Compact and One mini basically tout identical screens (4.3-inch with 1,280 x 720 pixels), while the Moto G keeps the res intact, going a little higher on the real estate (4.5 inches) and thus slightly lowering the ppi bar (326 vs. 342). Decisions, decisions…
Processing speed, RAM and camera smackdown
It’s a no contest. Actually, “no contest” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The Z1 Compact is so far ahead of its rivals here that I don’t know why I’m still bothering to go ahead with this masquerade of a comparison. Oh, right, there’s a huge pricing gap that eventually balances things out.
Back to the bout on hand, let’s let numbers do all the talking: quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2 GB RAM, 20.7 MP rear-facing camera, 2 MP front snapper. Mmkay?
Software and battery life
In theory, packing such a beast of a CPU like the S800 should take quite a toll on autonomy. Only Sony thought of everything and equipped its 4.3-inch flagship with a monster of a battery, tipping the scales at 2,300 mAh.
That’s 230 mAh more than Moto G’s ticker, and 400 mAh and 500 mAh leads respectively on S4 mini and One mini’s cells. On paper therefore, Sony has the upper hand, thanks to a hypothetical 18-hour continuous battery life in 3G talk time. Moto G’s numbers are pretty much in the same ballpark, with the One mini and S4 mini coming in behind, at roughly 13 and 12 hours.
As for software, despite Sony’s big little guy breaking cover the most recently, it’s actually the G that wins, thanks to an unusual and almost unbelievably swift Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade. The next best thing, 4.3 Jelly Bean, is found on both the Z1 Compact and S4 mini, whereas the One mini is dead last, with on-board 4.2.
No commentary is really needed here, as the cold numbers do a splendid job in painting a complete and unequivocal picture:
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – 20,500 points in Quadrant, 33,000+ in AnTuTu, 54 fps in GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 Onscreen, 1,200 Vellamo Metal, 740 Sunspider
Moto G – 8,000 in Quadrant, 16,000 AnTuTu, 27 fps GFXBench, 540 Vellamo Metal, 1,400 Sunspider
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini – 7,000 in Quadrant, 14,500 AnTuTu, 33 fps GFXBench, 600 Vellamo Metal, 1,200 Sunspider
HTC One mini – 6,000 in Quadrant, 11,000 AnTuTu, 24 fps GFXBench, 600 Vellamo Metal, 1,200 Sunspider
Note: All tests work on a higher is better principle, save for Sunspider, where the lower scores signal faster devices.
Pricing, connectivity and others
We can’t stress enough there’s a big, big price difference between the Z1 Compact and One mini and S4 mini, and another one between the three and the Moto G. Don’t ignore it, take it in, think things through carefully and meticulously and then and only then make your final decision.
Starting from bottom to top, the G goes for $180 off-contract (with 8 GB built-in storage and no microSD card slot, mind you), the GS4 mini is $350 give or take, the One mini $430, and the Z1 Compact, which is technically not up for grabs yet, should cost around $500.
Something else to consider? Maybe that the G doesn’t support 4G LTE connectivity. Or that the Z1 Compact is water and dust-protected. You get NFC only on Sony and Samsung’s contenders, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 across the board, and storage expansion again on just the S4 mini and Z1 Compact.
Hoping I haven’t made your call even more complicated, I bid you farewell for the day and pass the mic to anyone pondering the purchase of one of these beauties. The comments section is open, don’t be shy.