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Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: A compact contest

By Simon Thomas on 23rd September 2015

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Sony has a history of making small but mighty smartphones and the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is its latest. With high-end specs, a top flight camera and long battery life it should impress anyone looking for a more pocket sized handset.

But the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is still worth considering. It does many of the same things as its newer sibling and arguably even beats it in one or two ways. Here’s how they compare.

Build

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (127 x 65 x 8.9mm 138g glass and plastic) vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (127.3 x 64.9 x 8.6mm 129g glass and plastic)

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and Xperia Z3 Compact are obviously both small phones, that’s among their main selling points. The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is 127 x 65 x 8.9mm and 138g, while the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is 127.3 x 64.9 x 8.6mm and 129g, so their dimensions are almost identical but the Z3 Compact is actually marginally slimmer and lighter.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: A compact contest

The design of the two phones is similar as well, as both have plastic sides and a glass back, but here too the Xperia Z3 Compact arguably looks the best, with translucent plastic edging, where the Z5 Compact’s is plainer.

Both handsets are also IP68 certified dust and water resistant, so there’s no difference there, but it is worth mentioning that the Xperia Z5 Compact has a larger, redesigned power button with a built in fingerprint scanner. The Z3 Compact’s power key is more minimalist, but as it doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner it loses out there.

Display

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (4.6-inch 720*1280 323ppi) vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (4.6-inch 720*1280 319ppi)

There really is nothing to choose here. Both the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact have 4.6-inch 720 x 1280 IPS LCD screens. There is a minute difference in pixel density, with the Xperia Z5 Compact coming in at 323 pixels per inch while the Xperia Z3 Compact is 319 pixels per inch, but that’s a difference that’s completely unnoticeable.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: A compact contest

While it’s a shame they’re not 1080p both phones have good screens. They’re almost as sharp as the iPhone 6S and they’re impressively bright.

Power

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (2GHz octa-core 2GB RAM) vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (2.5GHz quad-core 2GB RAM)

Sony has given the Xperia Z5 Compact a massive power boost, with an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor which has four cores running at 2.0GHz and four clocked at 1.5GHz.

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact uses an older Snapdragon 801 chip, which is a 2.5GHz quad-core one. The two phones both have 2GB of RAM though.

What that translates to is that the Xperia Z5 Compact just about has flagship specs, though its RAM is a little lacking, while the Xperia Z3 Compact at this point is more of an upper mid-range performer.

Camera

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (23MP rear 5.1MP front-facing) vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (20.7MP rear 2.2MP front-facing)

The camera is another significant difference between these two phones, as Sony has upgraded the snapper in the Xperia Z5 Compact to a 23 megapixel one. It sports incredibly fast autofocus and various software tweaks and improvements, for smoother shooting, plus it can even shoot 4K video and has an improved 5.1 megapixel front-facing camera.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: A compact contest

The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is no camera slouch either with a 20.7 megapixel rear snapper. That’s enough for some impressively sharp shots and it too is packed full of modes and options, but the end results aren’t quite as good as what the Xperia Z5 Compact can deliver. The Z3 Compact is capable of 4K video but it only has a 2.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (2700 mAh 32GB 4G) vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact (2600 mAh 16GB 4G)

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact has had a battery bump to 2700 mAh, up from 2600 mAh on the Xperia Z3 Compact. That’s definitely a good thing but the Xperia Z3 Compact was one of the few phones which didn’t desperately feel in need of better battery life as it can already keep on going for around two days and you can expect at least as much life from the Z5 Compact, so that’s seriously impressive.

Storage isn’t quite so impressive on either phone, the Xperia Z5 Compact has a reasonable 32GB built in while the Xperia Z3 Compact has just 16GB on board, but both phones can be expanded with a microSD card of up to 200GB in the Z5 Compact’s case or 128GB with the Z3 Compact.

The two handsets also have very similar connectivity options, with both offering Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth and NFC.

Conclusion

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact vs Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: A compact contest

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is a significant but not quite vital upgrade on the Xperia Z3 Compact. The three main areas in which it betters the previous model are power, camera and the addition of a fingerprint scanner.

All nice to see, but the Z3 Compact didn’t feel especially underpowered and it still has a pretty great camera. It also arguably looks slightly better than the Z5 Compact, plus it’s a fair bit cheaper, as you can now find it from around £320 SIM free, while the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact will set you back roughly £450.

So the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is a bit of a bargain at this point, but all that said if you just want the best compact Android smartphone around the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is clearly it.

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