Friday, June 30, 2017

Honor Holly 3 Plus Smartphone With 5.5″ HD Display & 3GB RAM Launched In India

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Honor, the sub-brand of Huawei has launched a new smartphone in India, called the Holly 3 Plus. This is more like an upgraded version of the Honor Holly 3 smartphone which the company had launched previously. The new Holly 3 Plus packs slightly better specs than the Holly 3 and it is priced slightly higher as well in comparison to the same. The company didn’t have an official launch event for the same and it was rather a silent launch, however, Honor team has confirmed the launch of the smartphone with us.

Talking about the specs of this smartphone, it sports a 5.5-inch HD IPS display on the front, meaning it has a resolution of 1280 x 720. Internally, it is powered by a 1.2GHz Kirin 620 octa-core CPU which is coupled with 3GB of RAM. It also has 32GB of internal storage, which can be further expanded via a microSD card upto 128GB for adding more storage. This is one of the main difference between the Honor Holly 3 and the Holly 3 Plus. The Holly 3 has 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage only. however, sadly, this one is also running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow based EMUI 4.1 and Nougat.

In terms of the optics, we are looking at a 13MP rear-facing shooter whereas, on the front, there is an 8MP selfie snapper. The entire package is kept powered by a 3100mAh battery which should be good enough to keep it powered for at least a day. Other connectivity options include 4G VoLTE support, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Micro-USB, and Bluetooth v4.0. It measures 154×77.1×8.45mm in dimensions and weighs 168 grams. This smartphone is priced at 12,999 INR and you can get it in offline retail stores unlike the Holly 3 which retails online i.e. on Amazon India website.

To give you some perspective, the Holly 3 also packs the same size display with similar resolution. In fact, it is powered by the same SoC as well. In fact, the only which has changed now is the RAM and storage configurations. The Holly 3 is priced at around 8,000 INR. If you are fine with having 2GB RAM, then Holly 3 is still a great option. Let us know your thoughts on this.

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WhatsApp to Get Night Mode Button for Enhancing Photos Captured in Low-Light

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WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging app, has got a lot of new features in the past one year. Facebook even added the Snapchat Stories like feature called Status to WhatsApp. The company also introduced video calling and end-to-end encryption along with sharing of all the file formats. According to the latest numbers, WhatsApp has more than 1.2 billion users while Facebook just crosses a whopping 2 billion mark. Talking about the upcoming WhatsApp features, the company might soon introduce the pinned chats feature where the user can see the pinned messages on the top of that specific chat.

Now, the translation page of Whatsapp requests the translation for the Night Mode. Unlike the Night Mode in other apps where the UI is turned dark to reduce the strain on the eyes at nights, the Night Mode in WhatsApp is for the Camera. With this new feature, the camera UI gets a new button for enhancing camera functionality while capturing photos in the low light conditions. We know that the quality of the output from the camera of the 3rd party apps is much worse the stock camera app and few apps also miss the basic features like auto focus.

Apart from the switching to the front or rear camera, the app has only two other options – zoom in/out and turn on/off LED flash. As of now, we aren’t sure whether this new Night Mode will also be added to the video calling screen or not. WhatsApp also misses the video filters which are already added to the Facebook and Instagram apps. Since the translation is requested for iPhone, we might first see this new feature on WhatsApp for iPhone instead of the Android version. The voice calling was first added to the iOS app, whereas the video calling is debuted first on the Android beta app.

Also Read: Indian Court accepts WhatsApp Blue Tick as Proof of Receipt for Legal Notices

Though we don’t have any other details, the new Night Mode can be introduced with the coming beta updates. Stay tuned on PhoneRadar for more information about this new features in WhatsApp.

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HTC U11 Smartphone Crowned As Antutu’s Best Performing Smartphone Of May 2017

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The year 2017 has been great so far in terms of the smartphone launches. So far, we have seen some of the most powerful smartphones ever and in fact some of the most beautiful looking devices as well. However, if you are a benchmark nerd and you go only by benchmark results of the smartphones, then the HTC U11 would really impress you as it has now been crowned as the best performing smartphone of May 2017. Yes, according to Antutu’s top ten best-performing smartphones of May 2017, the HTC U11 takes the cake for getting the highest average score.

The HTC U11 smartphone has i fact surpassed iPhone 7 Plus as well and this is the first time that a smartphone has passed the Apple’s last year’s flagship. The HTC U11 gets an average score of 180,079, which is well above the average scores of the iPhone 7 Plus i.e. 174,299. Do make a note that this is an average score all the tests run on Antutu’s benchmarking app. And this particular list was compiled during the entire month of May.

Now, on paper, this is a really good score. This score is in fact, far better than what you would get out of other flagships like the Galaxy S8, etc. On the third spot, we have the Xiaomi Mi 6 scoring 172,400 points and then the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus takes the fourth and fifth spot. However, considering the fact that we have a lot of new devices after May like OnePlus 5, etc. this is likely to change very soon. Prior to this, the iPhone 7 was in the third position, however, now it has been pushed back the sixth position by the Mi 6 and the Galaxy flagships.

However, this only goes to say that the performance gap between the iOS and the Android devices is now reducing and in fact, the Android devices are doing far better. However, it is also worth noting that benchmark scores not always tells you how a smartphone performs. The UI has a lot to do with how a smartphone performs and feel on day-to-day usage. In fact, OnePlus was just recently caught cheating with the benchmark scores, which clearly shows that these scores are not reliable, every single time. Let us know your thoughts on this by commenting down below.

Source – Antutu

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Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) Smartphone Explodes While Playing “My Talking Tom” Game

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Samsung is currently working on relaunching the late Galaxy Note 7 smartphone as Note 7 FE, however, it looks like it has some other problem to take care of. According to the new which we have, Samsung’s Galaxy J7 (2016) smartphone has now exploded and this is certainly not a great news for a company which is trying to relaunch a smartphone known for explosions.

According to the source, a Pakistani mother, Naureen Ahsan, had lent a Galaxy J7 (2016) smartphone to her four-year-old nephew. Apparently, the kid was playing “My Talking Tom” game when the explosion happened. It has been reported that while playing the game, the phone got overheated and exploded. It looks like no one got injured due to the explosion, which is always a good thing. Looking at the pictures that Ahsan posted on Facebook, it looks like a terrible incident and the battery appears to be the culprit here. The pictures show an inflated battery and remains of the phone which are useless now.

Ahsan said on Facebook and we quote, “Today my daughter’s mobile Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) blasted due to may be over heating or lagging due to games..we are unable to share this picture with Samsung’s page. My 4-year nephew was playing ‘my talking tom’ game in it when it got over heated and had a blast. Allhumdulliah he is safe. And my daughter too…but this incident was terrifying for all of us.”

As of now, there is no official word from Samsung on this issue and we hope the company takes this issue under consideration and comes up with a proper explanation. Also, this is certainly not the first Samsung smartphone explosion that we are seeing. We had reported about a lot of Note 7 explosions in the past as well. However, we had recently reported about a Lenovo K4 Note explosion as well. It looks like the whole smartphone explosion issue is still a thing and we suggest all our readers to make sure that your device is safe. If you have been using an old smartphone, then it is safe to visit an official retailer and get it checked once to avoid any kind of mishap. Stay tuned to PhoneRadar for more info on this.

Source – Valuewalk

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Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501

Up until now, there have been two classes of gaming laptops: big and powerful or thin and portable. Never the twain shall meet and forget about either of them being quiet while you’re gaming.

Well, now we’re entering a new generation of Max-Q laptops that Nvidia promises will be three-times thinner and faster. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 stands at the forefront of this new class of gaming machine that offers the power of a desktop replacement in an ultra-portable package a little thicker than your average Ultrabook.

As crazy as a concept that might sound, Asus pulled it off in spectacular fashion with the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501. Save for battery life, this gaming laptop comes second to none with a sharp and innovative design, ample gaming performance, a color-rich display and amazing speakers.

Price and availability

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is expensive – really expensive. Priced at $2,699 or AU$3,659 (about £2,105), the configuration we’ve reviewed is highest-end version of the Zephyrus you can get.

It’s far more than we’ve ever conscionably considered spending on a 15-inch gaming laptop, especially considering increasingly more affordable models like the $1,399 (£1,499, AU$2,249) Gigabyte SabrePro 15 and $1,399 (about £1,100, AU$1,840) Acer Predator Helios 300 – though, these two options come with lesser Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics.

Of course, a big part of that price point comes down to the laptop rocking an Nvidia GTX 1080 and quad-core Intel Core i7 processor. In this regard, it’s a few hundred bucks cheaper than the equally capable $2,999 (£2,999, AU$4,029) Acer Predator Triton 700.

Compared to far larger gaming laptops that were once required to achieve the same level of performance, the Zephyrus also proves itself to be a bargain over the $3,999 (£3,799, AU$5,899) Razer Blade Pro and $2,899 or £2,599 (about AU$3,770) MSI GT73VR Titan Pro. That said, these monster machines still have their place in the computing world, if you want an overclockable CPU.

Later this August, Asus plans on releasing a lower-end Zephyrus with half as much storage and an Nvidia GTX 1070 for $2,299 or AU$3,119 (about £1,790). This model would more directly compete with the $2,074 (£1,999, AU$3,499) Alienware 15 R3 and Max-Q designed MSI GS63 Stealth Pro – the latter of which has yet to be priced.

Design

We never thought it would be possible, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 really stuffs an Nvidia GTX 1080 into a 1.79cm-thick (0.7-inch) laptop. That’s not only stunningly thin for a gaming notebook, it’s slimmer than most traditional laptops, including the compact Dell XPS 15.

To efficiently cool such a svelte package, Asus came up with an innovative design, which sees the bottom panel drop down like a ramp for better airflow. The mechanism engages automatically as you open the Zephyrus, creating a 6mm gap. 

That might not sound like a terribly great contribution to airflow, but Asus has engineered a high-air chamber to give this ultra-thin gaming laptop the cooling properties of a much thicker machine.

One downside to this expandable panel is it ends up feeling flimsy. The underside extension bends to the touch and there’s a slightly springy step to the laptop when your place it on a desk. That said, you won’t really notice the issue outside of carrying around the GX501 from beneath while the screen is open.

Gimmicks and accolades aside, the Zephyrus is a damn gorgeous piece of machinery. Asus has gone for a distinctly squared-off design for the metal chassis. Then, the all-black exterior with copper trim adds up to a sharp, futuristic aesthetic. The screen lid of the GX501 draws your eyes in with a uniquely geometric design coupled with a brushed aluminum finish that fans out in two directions.

Branding on gaming laptops is usually something we tend to just ignore, but the use of the prominent ROG logos over text on the exterior and interior of the laptop are nice touches, too.

Between the overall aesthetics of the laptop and its transforming design, the Zephyrus looks like a gaming laptop pulled from the future, and we love the way it looks.

Business in front, party in the back

As part of the Zephyrus design, Asus opted to move all the components and cooling system to the rear of the laptop while migrating all the inputs to the front. It’s an arrangement we’ve seen on the MSI GT83VR Titan and Razer Blade Pro, and like those previous systems, it works well enough but not without some compromises.

The keyboard feels roomy with large keys despite having to share space with the side-oriented trackpad. There’s a decent amount of travel when hitting the keys, and a soft, mechanical note to go with it. However, the Zephyrus lacks the mechanical bite we’ve experienced typing on the Acer Predator Triton 700.

Since there isn’t any room for a palm rest, Asus includes a rubber wrist rest that sits right up against the laptop’s front lip. Unfortunately, this extra accessory gets grimy very quickly – even after just a few minutes of usage.

The extra palm rest also doesn’t make it any more comfortable to type with the laptop on your lap. Due to how close the keyboard is to the end of the notebook, you’ll have orient your hands in a T-Rex-like fashion to type anything.

The right-side touchpad also takes a little bit of getting used to. We still catch ourselves accidentally stumbling over the keyboard instead of the pointing device we intended to use. The touchpad itself is also a little too small for our liking and requires multiple swipes to move the cursor across the screen.

It’s good news, then, that Asus went with a glass-lined Microsoft Precision Touchpad that tracks perfectly and handles multi-touch gestures well despite accommodating no more than  three fingers.

We also much prefer this to the Acer Predator Triton 700’s touchpad, which is planted directly in the center and behind the keyboard. The pointing device on the Zephyrus also comes with the handy feature of converting into a digital number pad with the press of a button.

You might be thinking that there’s no way this lightweight gaming laptop could slug it out with the big hitters – but this plucky 15-inch machine actually trounces the most powerful systems we’ve ever tested.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus wholly dominates the Razer Blade Pro in every test with scores hundreds of points ahead in both processor and graphics benchmarks. Conversely, though, the significantly larger and thicker MSI GT73VR Titan pulls ahead of the GX501 with higher 3DMark scores, but we also see in actual games it hits an average frame rate that’s a few ticks lower.

Although all the systems we’ve compared have an Nvidia GTX 1080 with 8GB of GDDR5X video memory, the Zephyrus’ Max-Q designed GPU differs slightly in that it’s runs at a lower wattage and clock speed. A traditional Nvidia GTX 1080 delivers 150W of graphics power with a base block speed of 1,556MHz, meanwhile, the Max-Q variant runs between 90-110W with clock speeds between 1,101MHz and 1,290MHz.

On paper, the Max-Q designed Zephyrus should theoretically perform worse than a traditional gaming laptop, but Asus has managed to tune its thinnest 15-inch gaming laptop run just as well, if not better.

What’s even more impressive is how much more quietly GX501 runs than most gaming laptops this potent. Instead of sounding like a jet, the Zephyrus only gets as loud as a light breeze, quieter than the fan or AC vent cooling your room right now. With simpler tasks, like web browsing and streaming media, this 15-inch gaming laptop is also practically silent.

Loud and clear

With such a quietly running gaming laptop, you can fully appreciate the solid speakers Asus has incorporated into the Zephyrus. Two speakers sit on the sides of the keyboard, delivering loud and balanced sound great for listening to anything from music and movies to explosions in games.

The screen deserves plenty of notice, too. Although it’s only Full HD, you’ll be able to make full usage of all of the Zephyrus’ overwhelming power to run games at a doubly smooth frame rate of 120fps. Both in games and out, we love the vibrant colors and rich contrast the GX501’s display renders.

Battery life

The only thing that’s not impressive about the Asus ROG Zephyrus is its maximum battery life of 2 hours. Regardless of however few applications we ran at the same time, or turning off the keyboard backlight, we weren’t able to squeeze any more battery life out of the GX501. Best of luck with getting more than an hour while gaming, holding a video call or doing anything strenuous while the laptop is unplugged.

Just two hours of battery life is terribly short for any type of laptop, but honestly, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The laptop features two of the highest-end, most power-demanding mobile components you can fit into a 15-inch chassis. With everything pushed into the rear chamber, that means the only room for batteries at all is just beneath the keyboard and trackpad, only further limited by the thinness of the notebook.

We liked

The Asus ROG Zephyrus is a stunning engineering feat, unequivocally powerful, dramatically quieter and a gorgeous gaming laptop. Thanks to its innovative design, Asus has managed to make an ultra-thin machine that operates better than machines twice to even three times its size. Then, to back up its performance, the GX501 features an excellent screen and speakers.

It is, in a word, the ‘pinnacle’ of Asus' already impressive line of ROG gaming laptops and clearly the culmination of years of design and hardware innovation.

We disliked

As much as we love the Zephyrus, Asus also made a few unforgivable concessions, with a keyboard that practically requires you to carry around a wrist pad that is unusable on your lap. Then, the short battery life also means this extremely portable gaming laptop needs almost constant power connection.

Final verdict

The Asus ROG Zephyrus sets a high bar for what a Max-Q designed gaming laptop should and could be. Our expectations of a 15-inch gaming notebook have been dramatically widened by the performance, beauty and sound profile of the GX501.

Still, $2,699 or AU$3,659 (about £2,105) is unquestionably a ton of money to drop on a gaming laptop, but if you’re looking for this much performance in a portable package, you should be ready to spend this much anyway. For this reason, the Asus ROG Zephyrus shouldn’t be expected to be your only computer for both work and gaming that can be used anywhere.

Naturally, the Zephyrus makes a lot of sense for those looking for a desktop replacement, since it’s just as capable while being dramatically lighter, smaller and thinner.

Fugoo Style-S

Fugoo seemingly came out of nowhere a couple of years ago and wowed us with its Fugoo Style speaker. It was complete package, featuring great sound, swappable “jackets” to suit your tastes and a whopping 40-hour battery life. 

In a slightly confusing move, Fugoo is now offering the Style-S, which sounds like a follow up to the original Style, but is actually a whole new speaker. 

Unlike the Style, the Style-S is targeted towards those looking for a rugged speaker to take outdoors: Thanks to its unique mounting bracket at the bottom of the speaker, the Fugoo Style-S lets you mount the speaker to just about anything from bikes to backpacks. 

After spending a week with the Fugoo Style-S, we were left impressed with some of the speaker’s features but, like the naming of the speaker itself, confused by others. While the Fugoo Style was an undeniable hit, the Fugoo Style-S may not be the best choice for those looking for a rugged wireless speaker under $150. 

Design

The design of the Fugoo Style-S is nearly identical to the original Fugoo Style. Both speakers share the same bar-like design with buttons on top for controlling volume and playback. The power and pairing buttons are located on the right side, just like the Style. 

The biggest noticeable difference between the Style and Style-S is that the Style-S hides it ports behind a thick rubber flap, helping to keep dirt and water out of the fragile microUSB charging port and 3.5mm aux jack. That's interesting considering both speakers are rated IP67, which means they can be submerged in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. 

Fugoo’s handsome cloth appears on the Style-S too, but users won’t be able to switch it out for a different color jacket like they can with the Style. Bummer.

Another difference between the Fugoo Style and Style-S is the new accessory mount on the bottom of the Style-S which adds a universal mount to the speaker. Though this plate can be removed after undoing four hex screws, you'll need to be careful as the screws are easily stripped. Take it from us: we managed to strip one screw and were stuck using a mount. 

To that end, Fugoo should probably revisit the hardware it uses to ensure these screws don’t strip, leaving users stuck with one mounting accessory. 

Performance

We were blown away by the sound quality of the original Fugoo Style but a lot has changed in the last couple of years and the Style-S shows its age in the sound department. While the Style-S sounds good and gets very loud, thanks to its 20 watts of power, it clearly lacks bass response compared to its competition.

The good news is that the Fugoo Style-S offers a nice soundstage that lets you pinpoint where instruments are coming from. Since the Style-S doesn’t offer 360-degree sound, its directional speakers aid in soundstage representation, which is lost with 360-degree speakers like the UE Wonderboom

It’s interesting that Fugoo decided to get rid of the 360-degree sound that we liked so much in the Fugoo Style, but it's not a complete deal-breaker. 

Speaking of the Wonderboom, we found it provided noticeably more bass response but less resolution than the Fugoo Style-S. The Style-S is better suited for vocal music and offers more vibrant sounding highs than the Wonderboom, though we couldn’t help but like the UE’s added bass response for electronic and dance music. 

Another speaker worth considering is the JBL Charge 3, which offers some of the deepest and most powerful bass response from a wireless speaker. 

While the UE offered a pleasing balance of bass, the JBL Charge 3 offers even more bass, creating the illusion that the Charge 3 is a bigger speaker than it really is. The Charge 3 will also let you charge your phone in a pinch, something neither the Fugoo Style-S nor the UE Wonderboom can do. 

Another area of performance that underwhelmed us was its battery life. Where the Fugoo Style can last up to 40 hours, the Fugoo Style-S offers a middle-of-the-road 15 hours. It’s a bit odd that battery life has been cut so much compared to the Style, but its 20 watt power rating might have something to do with it. 

Final verdict

The Fugoo Style-S is a good speaker for the price ($150, about £116, AU$200) but tough competition makes the speaker difficult to recommend. 

We liked how the Style-S sounded, offering good resolution and a sense of space. It also gets very loud, which is useful outdoors. Its accessories also make it easy to mount just about anywhere. However, the UE Wonderboom is half the size, offers 360-degree sound and more bass for less money (it's $99, £79.99, AU$129). For most users looking for a rugged speaker to use outdoors or near a pool, we still recommend the UE Wonderboom. 

Bass lovers will want to check out the JBL Charge 3, as it offers booming bass at a more affordable price ($150, £149.99, about AU$200). Highs and mids suffer compared to the Style-S, but the bass-heavy sound of the JBL is undeniably fun. 

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Update: It's now quite difficult to find the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact on sale because the company is focusing its small phone attention on the newer Xperia X Compact. If you're after a smaller phone from Sony, be sure to check that more recent device out.

The Xperia Z5 Compact stands alone: Sony is the only Android manufacturer making a small high-end phone right now.

Like the Xperia Z3 Compact before it, the Xperia Z5 Compact puts an impressive array of features comfortably into the palm of your hand, and makes you wonder why no other brands are interested in this niche.

Not everyone wants a giant phone, and who could be blamed for wanting to use their whole screen without needing both hands?

The Xperia Z5 Compact sits alongside two other phones from Sony. There's the Sony Xperia Z5, which offers a 5.2-inch 1,080p screen and 3GB of RAM that you don't get here. Then there's the Xperia Z5 Premium, which will be here in November with a 5.5-inch screen and a 4K resolution screen.

These have since been superseded by Sony's new X line of handsets, including the Sony Xperia X Compact - although it fails to hit the same heights as the Z5 Compact.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact price

  • Price has dropped since launch to £350, $400 (around AU$580)

One early problem was the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact price. High-end specs require a high-end price, even if the reduced frame might lead purchasers to expect a bargain.

At launch the Xperia Z5 Compact price was £429 in the UK (about AU$710) – but since launch that's dropped and it can now be picked up SIM-free for as little as £350 (around AU$580).

Meanwhile, in the US the Z5 Compact unlocked now retails for $400 - down from $500 at launch. It's not available via popular US carrier subsidies, which will blunt its success.

It's now quite difficult to find a store selling the Xperia Z5 Compact, but the price may be even lower if you do find a retailer stocking the aging phone. If you can't find this phone, we'd recommend checking out our guide to the best compact phones out right now.

Design

  • Traditional Xperia styling at a palm-friendly size
  • Frosted glass rear provides premium appeal

The Xperia Z5 Compact follows closely the excellent design established by the Xperia Z5. It isn't drastically smaller than the Z5 – the Compact is 127 x 65 x 8.9mm, compared to 146 x 72 x 7.3mm. But it's enough to make a difference.

The Xperia Z5 Compact has lost a lot of the bezel space that felt so redundant on the Z5, and feels a lot more concise than its bigger sibling.

Xperia Z5 Compact

You might have noticed that the Z5 Compact is actually bigger than the Z5 in one dimension: it's a little thicker. 

That's to fit in all those high-end specs and a bigger battery than the larger phone. I barely noticed the difference in thickness until I put them next to each other, and even then it wasn't all that shocking.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact weighs in at 138g, 16g lighter than the Z5. Build wise, it's a similar size and weight to the iPhone 6S.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The back panel is much nicer on this new version of the Compact model. Instead of the clear glass back from previous handsets, it's now a frosted glass that feels good against the palm and looks stylish.

Colour options are white, black, yellow or coral – I was able to use all versions but the white for this review. The black version feels the most stylish, while the yellow and coral are particularly bright. They wouldn't be my choice of phone, but for those who liked the colour-pop aesthetic of the iPhone 5C, they're perfect.

The corners have been rounded off even further on the Xperia Z5 Compact than on the Z3 Compact, making it a much more comfortable fit in the hand.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The anti-break bumpers of the Xperia Z5 aren't included here, so the Compact is more likely to shatter if it falls on one of the four corners. It's unclear why Sony made this decision – they would have been easy to implement, and would make a big difference to the durability of the phone.

At the top of the left hand edge of the phone, there's the indented Xperia logo, which actually looks good this time around. On the bottom of that edge is the only flap on the handset, covering the microSD and nanoSIM slot.

Xperia Z5 Compact

It's easier to open this up than it has been on previous Xperia phones, and as you'll only need to on the rare occasions that you're swapping a SIM or microSD.

In the centre of the bottom edge sits the micro USB port for charging and data transfer. It's a shame that Sony hasn't moved on to USB-C to minimise fumbling when plugging in, but at least the inconvenience of the flap has been removed.

Xperia Z5 Compact

And Sony isn't behind the pack on USB standards, even if it would have been nice for it to get ahead. In a few years, smartphones will have moved on and USB-C will become the norm, but for now most still use micro USB.

The 3.5mm headphone jack sits at the top of the phone on the left hand side, which is the best place for it as it means the phone can sit in your pocket while you use a wired headset

Xperia Z5 Compact

At the bottom of the right hand edge is the camera button, in the perfect position for taking landscape shots. Just above that is the volume rocker, which has been moved since the Xperia Z3 Compact. This relocation is less successful, and some fumbling is required to reach down to it.

Xperia Z5 Compact

It would have been to put the volume rocker just above the power button on the same side, but at least it's not as bad as it is on the Xperia Z5. On the larger phone it's really hard to reach and the handset flips out of the hand easily.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The power button itself sits flush with the design. This is metal with the on/off symbol engraved on it. It looks good, but the exciting part is that this now features the fingerprint scanner – a new addition to the Xperia Z series, except in the hobbled US variant.

On the front of the phone, there are bezels above and below the display to house the front-facing speakers, microphone and front-facing camera. These are thinner on the Xperia Z5 Compact than on the Xperia Z5 and that means a better screen-to-body ratio.

Display

  • 4.6-inch, 720p display falls behind full HD rivals
  • Viewing angles are good

Sony's new phone features a 4.6-inch screen with a pixel resolution of 720 x 1,280. That equals an acceptable 323ppi – but it's not anything on the 428ppi of the Xperia Z5 or the huge 806ppi on the Xperia Z5 Premium.

Full HD 1,080p has become the standard now, with some phones even stretching over into the 2K and 4K spectrum, so it's a bit of a shame Sony has been so conservative with the display here.

Out of the big manufacturer recent releases, the only flagship device still stuck on a 720p display is the Moto G, which costs about a third of the price of the Xperia Z5 Compact.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Calling the Xperia Z5 Compact a premium phone in 2015 without upping the screen to Full HD or more is a big claim. It doesn't look awful though: it's just fine, and fine isn't enough.

Not be able to watch the average YouTube video at its intended resolution is a disappointment, especially when you've spent this much money. And while it's not a disaster, it does make me think twice before recommending this phone.

Sony's own screen tech makes sure it's bright, but there are times when you can pick out the pixels in a way you can't on the Xperia Z5.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Viewing angles on the phone have improved though – I can look at the phone from odd angles and still see the picture a lot clearer than I could on the Xperia Z3 Compact.

The screen is the optimum size for the handset. A lot of the available front is being used for the 4.6-inches of screen, and you have to respect Sony for the elegance and efficiency here.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Key features

  • Super fingerprint scanner on right side
  • Water and dust proof body

Fingerprint sensors have come to the Xperia series for the very first time. On the Xperia Z5 Compact it's sat on the right hand edge of the phone inside the power button and sits flush to the side of the phone.

It's about time Sony went for a more secure way to unlock your phone. With the launch of Android Pay coming soon, it's no surprise Sony has pushed it through for this iteration of the Compact. We just wish it was also a part of the US Sony Xperia Z5 model.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Considering this is the first attempt from the company at making a fingerprint sensor, it's surprisingly good. After I'd registered five fingers, I didn't encounter any problems with how quickly it unlocked.

I didn't register all my digits to start with though. I found it easy to fill the three fail attempts and put the phone into lock down after just getting the phone out and accidentally holding the button with the wrong finger.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The position also makes it a pain to unlock when the phone is lying down on a table. But it is quick once you get in: without any booting or loading animations, it means you're into the phone in record time and it's more efficient than entering a PIN or passcode.

Sony phones have a major USP that the company seems to have forgotten about: they're durable. The Xperia Z5 Compact is water and dust proof meaning, you can wash off your phone whenever it gets dirty.

There's no reason to worry about rain, dropping it in the sink or, as I found out, surprise foam parties. Being able to take your phone to the beach and not having to worry about sand getting stuck in it is particularly useful.

Xperia Z5 Compact

And this time the feature hasn't come at the expense of the design. The Xperia Z5 Compact only has one flap, and the rest of the ports are water-resistant.

The Xperia Z5 Compact also supports PS4 Remote Play, which means that PlayStation 4 owners can play games on their phone as long as they're on the right Wi-Fi network. (Eventually, this feature will be extended to 4G so you'll be able to play your PS4 games when on a train or on holiday.)

The problem here is the size of the screen. On the Xperia Z4 Tablet with a 2K 10.1-inch display, PS4 Remote Play looks beautiful; trying to play Rocket League on a 4.6-inch 720p screen is just impossible. I had a controller connected up so I wasn't blocking the screen with my fingers on the virtual controls, but it was still very difficult to keep control of the action.

I also tried out The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on the Xperia Z5 Compact, and if anything that was even worse. As soon as I got into a fight, the menu made it impossible to see what I was doing, and I had to give up pretty quickly.

Performance

  • Solid, if unspectacular performance
  • Doesn't suffer from overheating issues

Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact had some impressive performance, but the Xperia Z3+ sullied the name with some horrendous overheating issues.

The surprising thing is that Sony kept the same processor from the Xperia Z3+ (a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with 3GB of RAM) inside the Xperia Z5 Compact.

Consequently, my expectations were low. I went into this review with trepidation that the phone would crash out at the simplest tasks – but I've been rather surprised. 

I've not had any issues with the Xperia Z5 Compact, and it doesn't get anywhere near as warm as the Xperia Z5.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Jumping in and out, from app to app mostly proved fine. The camera took a while to boot up, and switching over to the gallery app within the camera was also slow.

Despite this, there haven't been any truly infuriating issues with Z5 Compact's performance, and overall I'm impressed, especially compared to the Xperia Z3+.

When gaming, the phone handled itself rather well, booting up quickly and not heating up much even after over an hour of playing.

And while the Xperia Z3+ would heat up considerably just from web browsing, the Xperia Z5 Compact was cool even after half an hour of use.

I ran the phone through the GeekBench 3 software and it came out with an average single core score of 1,374 and a multi-core score of 3,881. Compared to the Xperia Z3 Compact that's a staggering score – the previous phone only scored 949 on single core and the multi-core test brought out 2,760.

That's an impressive upgrade considering the Z3 Compact phone only came out a year ago. However, it's difficult to rank the Z5 Compact against the competition because there isn't really anything else in the "premium compact" niche. The Xperia Z5 is a little faster itself, coming in with scores of 1,312 single core and 4,015 multi-core.

Interface

  • Sony's Android interface isn't the slickest around
  • Can upgrade to Android 7 Nougat

Out of all the Android overlays, I find Sony's the most out of date and ugly. Personally I prefer a stock Android approach, but Sony is too keen to place its own software over the top to leave a good thing alone.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The Xperia Z5 Compact arrived with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop software - but that can now be upgraded all the way to Android 7 Nougat software. That's the latest in Android software available, but the upgrade is only available in some markets at the moment.

Android looks very different to the stock version seen on Nexus phones or Motorola devices. Instead, it's overlaid with Sony's own design and chock-full of bloatware apps.

This time there's even more bloatware apps. All the usual culprits are here taking up space – TrackID, Xperia Lounge, What's New – as well as third-party apps such as Dropbox, Amazon, AVG and even Kobo.

Xperia Z5 Compact

I'd much prefer if Sony took a leaf out of Samsung's book and left these out. If I want the Amazon app, I'll go into the Google Play Store and download it.

You can uninstall the apps to reclaim the space, but it's a pain to go through and remove them one by one. I'd just rather they weren't even there in the first place.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony has improved the Xperia keyboard significantly in the last few years, bringing in elements from third party developers like Swype. Even previously unique features such as swiping to make words have been adopted by Sony.

The comma button is still in an awkward position here, and I frequently end up opening the emoji menu instead. It doesn't add a space in automatically like dedicated keyboards do either, so I often find myself editing messages to put in all the omitted spaces.

Xperia Z5 Compact

A nice touch is the addition of emoticons while typing. If you're writing the word "phone," for example, you'll get the suggestion of a little mobile phone. I rarely found myself using the feature, but it highlighted how many emoticons are out there.

Sony has improved the look of stock applications a lot in recent years, but most still look old-fashioned within the app drawer. Inside the applications, there's a lot of the Android Lollipop influence, and I like that.

Xperia Z5 Compact

But on the outside it's a different story. Take the PlayStation app for example: while most stock apps are adopting flat and simple icons, this still has an overworked 3D effect. It differs quite some way from the rest of your Material Design influenced app icons.

It's certainly not to my taste but it may not be as much of a pain to others. I just wish Sony would drop the Xperia overlay for a more natural Google look that you can see it display within the apps themselves.

Battery life

  • Impressive whole day battery life, even for heavy users
  • Will last a day and a half with careful usage

While Sony has dropped the battery size on the Xperia Z5, for the Xperia Z5 Compact it has increased it from 2,600mAh on the Z3 Compact to 2,700mAh. The Z3 Compact had an impressive battery life already, and its successor doesn't disappoint.

I'm a heavy user – watching video, messaging over 4G and streaming music – but I was still often going to bed with charge left on the phone. Most flagship phones this year have died before the end of the day (including the Xperia Z5), so this is impressive.

Xperia Z5 Compact

A two day charge isn't possible though. With connectivity on but minimal use, it only made it until about 1pm the next day.

In our video test (where we run a 90 minute video with full connectivity options switched on and the screen at full brightness) it came out with 79% leftover. That's exactly the same score as the Xperia Z3 Compact, which is slightly mystifying given the larger cell. I'd expect it to be capable of more.

But compare it to other flagship devices this year and you'll find that nothing approaches it. The Xperia Z5 went through the same test and came out with 75% of its battery left, although it does have a 1080p 5.2-inch screen to power.

I ran the video again with 50% screen brightness on and the Z5 Compact came out with 84% battery. That's much closer to the Xperia Z5's score of 82% on that test.

Xperia Z5 Compact

When gaming, the phone has impressive stamina. After an hour of playing with the screen on full brightness and all connectivity options going, it came out the with 72% battery.

That's better than the Xperia Z5 by some way, which lost 41% of its charge in an hour of gaming. However, no Sony phone can match what Samsung is offering with the Galaxy S6, which can manage up to five hours of play time.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony hasn't included any wireless charging features in the Xperia Z5 range. As with the omission of USB-C, this isn't an essential feature, but it is one more way in which Sony could have set the future standard and hasn't.

Qi wireless charging technology features a lot in the big handsets this year, and Ikea has even made a desk incorporating the technology, so full mainstream acceptance must be imminent.

Camera

  • Powerful 23MP rear camera offers a host of features
  • Camera app can be sluggish, but results are good

Sony phones have a bad reputation for photography, but this time Sony has upgraded the cameras across the entire Xperia Z range. 

At 23MP, the Xperia Z Compact has one of the highest pixel counts on the market next to the Moto X Style. It also gets a new autofocus feature and stronger zoom, plus all the other features we've seen on previous Xperia cameras.

And it's paid off, although the Xperia Z5 Compact is an improvement for Sony rather than a market-leading photography device: during testing, some of the low-light shots I took in the British Museum would definitely have come out better with another handset.

If you still have issues with the camera, you can make manual adjustments, although that's as likely to make your pictures overexposed as it is to improve them.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Autofocus on the Xperia Z5 Compact is the big selling point of the camera. According to Sony it reacts within 0.03 seconds, meaning it'll come out with the shot you wanted anyway even if you're having an attack of shaky hands.

It worked well with still subjects: I could whip my phone out of my pocket, boot up the camera app and start taking the picture while still moving.

Xperia Z5 Camera

It's a great new development, but it doesn't work as well when the subject is moving. Take this photo of the London Underground: I'd estimate that the train was moving at about 10mph, but the Xperia Z5 Compact didn't manage to get the quick shutter shot I was hoping for – although this is still the kind of feature you'd look for in a proper camera rather than the average cameraphone.

The camera app itself didn't prove particularly fast either. Jumping into the features section took a while to boot up, and that's not ideal when the difference between catching or missing the perfect shot is a split second.

Xperia Z5 Compact

Then trying to go back to the gallery using the shortcut on the right hand side was also slow. I just want it boot up quickly so I can look at the last photo I took, make sure it's all OK, and move along.

On the front of the phone is a 5.1MP selfie shooter to make your face snaps all the more spectacular – it's quite an upgrade on the 2.1MP sensor on last year's Xperia Z3 Compact.

Xperia Z5 Compact

The selfie camera is similar to what the rest of the market is offering – it's not remarkable but you're not going to have any complaints either.

I personally find the selfie camera brings in a lot more light than the back camera on the Xperia series and the same goes here.

Camera samples

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact is a phone alone in its premium compact niche, but there are still some rivals worth considering.

iPhone 6S

iPhone 6S

Apple's latest update of the iPhone comes with the same 4.7-inch screen seen on the iPhone 6 – a similar size to the Xperia Z5 Compact. But the phone itself is bigger, thanks to the big bezels surrounding its screen, so if you're looking for small, this isn't for you.

It does feature a Full HD display, which the Xperia Z5 Compact lacks. It's also your only choice if you're looking for iOS software in a moderately sized premium handset – the iPhone 6S Plus is phablet-sized, and the iPhone 5C is specced for mid-range. It comes with the new 3D Touch technology that offers extra functionality depending on how hard you press the screen.

Sony Xperia Z5

Sony Xperia Z5

The Xperia Z5 is larger than the Z5 Compact without being unruly. It has a 5.2-inch screen with Full HD resolution. Under the hood, it's much the same as the Compact, apart from an extra 1GB of RAM to bring it up to 3GB and a slightly larger battery. But these additions make it more expensive than the Xperia Z5 Compact, as well as less palm-friendly.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Xperia Z3 Compact

Sony updates its phones so often that the previous iterations are still quite recent. The Xperia Z3 Compact is only just over a year older than the Xperia Z5 Compact and features a similar design with a 720p screen.

The camera isn't as high spec with a 20.7MP sensor and there's only a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. The real bonus is that the Xperia Z3 Compact is much cheaper – about two thirds of the price of an Xperia Z5 Compact. If you don't need top-of-the-line, this is for you.

In early 2015 there were rumours that Sony was considering giving up on smartphones altogether, so the Xperia Z5 range needs to succeed. It deserves to do so and the Z5 Compact is a gem in the series.

Many will be distracted by the standard Xperia Z5 and the shining lights of the Xperia Z5 Premium and its 4K display, but for design, performance and well-conceived detail, it's the Compact that stands out.

Xperia Z5 Compact

We liked

If you're looking for strong battery life without compromising on design, this is your choice. The Xperia Z5 Compact offers a far better battery life than the rest of the competition right now, and that it manages this without bulking out its frame is fantastic.

The fingerprint sensor could be seen as an easy upgrade, but to do this so well is unheard of. The Galaxy S6 has an amazing fingerprint sensor on the front now, but the Galaxy S5 came before it and that scanner was atrocious.

The positioning is perfect and it reacts so quickly to the touch it'll make contactless payments a breeze when Android Pay finally comes to the phone. Just don't look for it in the Sony Xperia Z5 in the US.

The design deserves particular mention. Considering it's a smaller phone, Sony has packed it with key features. It's slightly thicker than the Xperia Z5, but you only notice the difference when you put them next to each other, and the Compact feels much more comfortable in the hand.

The lack of flaps this time is great, and Sony has achieved this without sacrificing on the water resistence that is a key selling point of the Xperia range.

Plus on top of that Sony has decided to future proof its device a little further by including 200GB microSD support. There might not be many 200GB cards out there but in the lifetime of this phone it's sure to grow.

We disliked

Screen resolution is a big let-down. It doesn't match what we'd expect from a phone in 2015, and I wish Sony had made this a Full HD screen.

If it had, this could have been a five star review – but I understand why it's kept at 720p. Saving on pixels has meant a better battery life, and many picking up this phone would prefer that to a clearer view of YouTube.

The fact Sony hasn't upped the price this year is good as well, although the Z5 Compact is still on the expensive end of the spectrum. If Sony had decided to go under the £350 mark there would be no reason not to recommend this phone to anyone.

I do feel like a broken record when talking about Sony devices, but I'd love to see the company adopt stock Android. The Xperia UI isn't good looking and it'd be nice to see it retired before the next Sony phone.

While most of the big competitors look to fast charging and wireless charging technologies, Sony has left them out. It's not a deal breaker, but it's a shame it was overlooked.

Final verdict

Xperia Z5 Compact

If you're looking for a small Android phone right now, this is it. No other phone manufacturer is making high-end devices in this form factor, which is a shame, because the Xperia Z5 Compact is beautifully proportioned.

With an incredible battery life, a new high-end processor and some impressive camera upgrades, it's also worth getting this over last year's Xperia Z3 Compact. The screen is much the same, which is regrettable but does save on your battery. There's much more to like here than to criticize.

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