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No obvious bad points.
By Erin Bennett
Reminding me of a candy bar phone from the early 2010s, the Sony Xperia X Compact has a retro look. With its flat top and bottom, you can stand the phone upright on flat surfaces for steady portrait photos, but the rounded sides meant my finger kept slipping off the edge bringing an abrupt stop to any scrolling. The back cover’s smooth, slippery plastic is a fingerprint magnet and can cause the phone to slide off couches or cushions.
The X Compact is a small phone with a 4.6-inch screen, though the resolution is low compared to similar phones. It has all the usual buttons: volume rocker, power and camera. The power button is recessed, so it’s easy to distinguish from the other buttons on the side of the phone when not looking. This is important as the fingerprint sensor is built into it. However, I found it regularly failed to recognise my fingerprint on the first unlock attempt, so I would have to press harder so enough of my fingerprint could be scanned. The volume rocker is small and had no raised markings to tell me whether I was turning the volume up or down.
The rear camera is this phone’s shining feature. At 23MP, it takes great pictures in all lighting conditions. It’s easy to use, has an automatic laser focus, good image stabilisation, and is pre-packaged with a cool app – AR effect (augmented reality effect). This lets you superimpose objects, such as funny hats, on to the picture you’re taking. My only gripe was aligning any overlaid image with the picture I was taking (to make sure my sombrero was sitting just right) was easiest using the lower-resolution (5MP) front-facing camera.
With a capable processor and 3GB of RAM, the X Compact had no trouble with daily tasks. I also had no problems with battery life: I could get to the end of the day on a single charge. It has a reversible USB-C port, which means no fumbling when charging but it’s harder to borrow a charger as most other phones still have micro-USB or Lightning ports.
I like a phone with realistic sound. So I was disappointed to find the X Compact’s sound was tinny when on speakerphone. According to the people I was calling, it wasn’t much better on their end, suggesting a poor microphone as well.
The X Compact lives up to its name: it’s 129mm tall and easy to hold and tuck into even my smallest pocket. While I generally didn’t have trouble with it, I found the sound a let-down and its OK screen quality didn’t wow me. Considering the price, I think Sony could have done better.
Overall score includes:
Functionality (18%) is based on reception, battery life, connections, memory and sound quality.
Ergonomics (12%) includes ease of use, portability, durability and display quality.
Camera quality (20%) including video quality
Music player (10%)
Internet and email (10%)
GPS Navigation (5%)
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