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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Once in a blue moon, a product comes around that inexplicably dazzles me. Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact is one such device. On paper, the slimmed-down, 5-inch version of Sony’s flagship Xperia XZ2 seems like a perfectly fine phone, but not markedly different from other Android handsets.

When I picked up this phone for the first time, however, I fell in love. It’s just so damn cute. Cute isn’t a convincing reason to spend £600-plus on anything, but this pint-size phone has a lot going on under the hood, too.

If you hate the giant notched displays that almost every 2018 flagship sports, the XZ2 Compact is worth considering. It’s basically the iPhone SE of the Android world.

Price and Availability

You can buy the XZ2 Compact unlocked through Amazon and Best Buy. The device debuted at £649, but you can find one for £50 less in certain colors.

The good

  • The Good
  • Refreshing design
  • Smaller size
  • Above-average battery life
  • Excellent performance

The bad

  • Underwhelming selfie cam
  • Small on-screen keyboard

Verdict

Sony’s pint-size Xperia XZ2 Compact is the iPhone SE of Android phones — a beautiful, nostalgic phone that can easily compete when it comes to performance and battery life.

8/10 Totally worth it

Like its bigger sibling, the 5.7-inch XZ2, the Compact is available in only one variant, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, though you can expand that to up to 400GB with a microSD card. You can choose from four colors: Moss Green (which I tested for this review), Black, Coral Pink and White Silver.

The phone is compatible with networks from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, but not Sprint.

Design: An iPhone SE for Android users

In a sea of 6-inch phones, the Xperia XZ2 Compact feels positively tiny, and that’s a huge part of its charm. The back is a comfortable curved plastic that still manages to feel high-end thanks to its frosted sheen. The Moss Green model I tested was more of a soft teal, with a slight gold tint in some lighting.

Compared to the glassy 6-inch slabs that have dominated the market in recent years, the phone feels more comfortable to hold, at least if you have small hands. The Compact actually fits in my jeans pocket, which is a tiny miracle. Every time I picked up the Compact, it reminded me of my very first iPhone, the 3GS.

Sony’s latest device has a bigger display compared to the 3.5-inch screen on that 3GS, and the new phone leaves off the home button, so that the screen real estate can extend closer to the chin of the device. But the curved plastic back and the fit of the phone in my hand remind me of a time when smartphones were fun; no two devices looked the same, and each one felt like an expression of your personality rather than a utilitarian device attached to your hip.

The fit of the XZ2 Compact in my hand reminds me of a time when smartphones were fun.

With the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, Sony finally added functional fingerprint sensors to its U.S. smartphone lineup. On the larger device, the sensor is awkwardly placed, but I didn’t have an issue on the smaller Compact. (People with larger hands may have to curve their pointer fingers to unlock their phones.)

Display: A-OK

Sony isn’t trying to break the mold with the XZ2 Compact display, but the company isn’t following the trends either.

There’s no notch on the screen. Sony is one of the few smartphone makers that still slaps its logo on the bottom bezel, which I could do without, but at least it’s not too obtrusive. And this phone’s 18:9 aspect ratio makes playing games and watching videos a good experience, even on a smaller, 5-inch display.

The Compact has the same LCD panel as the larger XZ2, and this screen is nothing to write home about. It covers 160.2 percent of the sRGB color gamut and earned a Delta-E score of 0.32. (Delta-E numbers closer to zero mean the screen is more accurate.) The iPhone 8, which has a 4.7-inch LCD panel, covered 119.6 percent of the color gamut and notched a color-accuracy rating of 0.89.

The XZ2 Compact has the same LCD panel as the larger XZ2, and this screen is nothing to write home about.=

In terms of brightness, the Compact reached a perfectly fine 520 nits on our light meter, in line with the phone’s LCD-based sibling, the XZ2. But in general, OLED panels are just better: Black levels are perfect, you’ll see a wider range of hues, and some of these screens are even brighter than LCD panels, whose brightness has previously been the main selling point.

Going from a 6-inch display (or even the 5.5-inch screen on my iPhone 7 Plus) to a 5-inch one is a challenge. Video games aren’t quite as immersive, and watching Queen Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, take over the Louvre in their surprise music video wasn’t quite as awe-inspiring as it would be on a larger screen. MORE: Cellphone Insurance: The Best and Worst Plans

The smaller on-screen keyboard also takes some getting used to if you’re accustomed to typing on a larger device. It’s depressing to think that a 5-inch phone is almost too small. How did we manage for so many years?

Camera: Decent, though selfies need work

The Compact has the same camera system as the larger XZ2, with all the benefits and drawbacks those lenses offer. (Read more in our XZ2 review.)

I compared the Compact to a similarly priced phone, the OnePlus 6, to see which midprice handset gives you better images for your buck. The Compact won in a landslide, even though the OnePlus sports a dual-lens system. You won’t get Portrait mode with the XZ2, but you will get richer, clearer, more true-to-life photos.

I took both devices out on a floating bar near Brooklyn Bridge Park to capture the downtown Manhattan skyline. Not only does the XZ2 get more buildings in the frame, but also, the lights in each skyscraper are brighter than in the OnePlus 6’s photo and the colors of the sky are more dramatic. Both cameras fare better in daylight.

In side-by-side captures of yellow lilies in my garden, the XZ2 brought the tallest stem into focus, and the greenery of the surrounding leaves was richer than in the OnePlus shot. Neither camera excels at selfies, but the OnePlus’ front-facing lens gave my face a blue tint. The XZ2’s 5-megapixel shooter is underwhelming, but the late-afternoon light streaming in through my office window was more accurate in that shot.

Like other Sony handsets, the Compact has a dedicated button for opening the Camera app when you long press it with the phone unlocked. While it’s not entirely necessary, the dedicated camera button is more useful than an AI assistant button that we will probably never use (looking at you, LG G7 ThinQ). MORE: Best Smartphones on the Market Now

Sony put its super-slow-motion video feature in the Compact model, which is more of a novelty than a useful way to capture clips. If Sony improved its phones’ front-facing lenses and maybe added a dual-lens system, we would love these phones a whole lot more.

Performance: Snapdragon wins again

Sony put the same cutting-edge Snapdragon 845 processor in the XZ2 Compact as it did in the larger XZ2, placing the Compact on par with some of the premium Android devices currently available. That CPU, combined with 4GB of RAM, allows the XZ2 Compact to run multiple apps and switch between them with ease.

Playing PUBG Mobile was a breeze, even as I accidentally parachuted into a river and had to frantically swim to shore. As I procured weapons in abandoned homes and tried to figure out who was shooting at me, I noticed that the XZ2 Compact doesn’t grow uncomfortably warm when you’re playing this graphically intensive game, like other phones do (even flagships such as HTC’s U12+).

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 CPU, combined with 4GB of RAM, allows the XZ2 Compact to run multiple apps and switch between them with ease.

On the Geekbench 4 test of overall system performance, the Compact’s score of 8,485 can easily go toe to toe with Sony’s flagship XZ2 (8,449). The Compact is light years ahead of Google’s Pixel 2, which scored 6,282 in our benchmarking tests thanks to an older Snapdragon 835 processor.

The £579 OnePlus 6 with 8GB of RAM scored 9,098 on Geekbench. (We didn’t test the 6GB model, but it’s even more affordable, at £529.) On 3DMark’s Sling Shot Extreme graphics benchmark, the Compact edged out the bigger XZ2 on the OpenGL ES 3.1 segment of the test, with a score of 4,699 versus 4,672. It couldn’t quite match the cheaper OnePlus 6, which reached 5,124.

MORE: The Best Cellphone Plans for Families and Individuals The Compact sailed through our real-world video-editing test, exporting a 2-minute 4K clip in Adobe Premiere in 2:35. That’s faster than the Pixel 2 (2:55) and the OnePlus 6 (3:45), though the A11 Bionic-powered iPhone 8 remains the champ here, with a 42-second result.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Specs

Price
£599-£649
OS
Android Oreo 8.0
Screen Size (Resolution)
5-inch LCD (2160 x 1080)
CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM
4GB
Storage
64GB
microSD Slot
Yes
Rear Camera 19-MP, f/2.0
Front Camera 5-MP, f/2.2
Battery Size 2,870 mAh
Battery Life (Hrs:Mins) 10:39
Colors Black, White Silver, Moss Green, Coral Pink
Size 5.3 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches
Weight
5.9 ounces

Battery: Better than average

Where many phones fall short is battery life, but Sony’s XZ2 Compact easily outlasts more-expensive handsets.

In the Tom’s Guide Battery Test, which involves continuous web-surfing over T-Mobile’s LTE network, the Compact lasted 10 hours and 39 minutes. Compared to the smartphone average of 9:48, that’s a respectable performance.

Where many phones fall short is battery life, but Sony’s XZ2 Compact easily outlasts more-expensive handsets.

The Compact’s battery isn’t quite impressive enough for this device to finish among the longest-lasting smartphones. Other handsets, including the larger XZ2 (11:47) and Google’s Pixel 2 (11:07), can last longer on a charge, but the Compact can almost match Samsung’s Galaxy S9 (10:59).

Like the XZ2, the Compact helps helps your battery last longer with two software features: Qnovo Adaptive Charging and Battery Care. The former monitors your phone’s battery health when you plug the device in, and the latter learns your charging habits and tops off your battery only when it knows you’re about to unplug the phone. The device also supports quick charging, but not wireless charging.

Software: None of the XZ2’s annoyances

What we didn’t love about the XZ2 were its gimmicky software features, specifically the Dynamic Vibration system that makes haptic feedback extra strong.

The Compact model doesn’t have that, and it’s better for lacking the feature. MORE: Cellphone Carriers: Best and Worst Customer Service The phone ships with Android Oreo 8.0 layered under Sony’s skin.

This OS is a little dated — OK, a lot dated — but rumor has it that Sony has a UI redesign planned for Android P’s launch later this year. The XZ2 is slated to be upgraded to the latest version of Android, and we expect the Compact model will be, too.

Bottom Line

It’s hard to pinpoint why I’m smitten with the XZ2 Compact. Sure, it offers great performance and solid battery life, and it takes nice photos.

But that’s not unusual for a premium phone. What really appeals to me is the way it feels. Today, too many smartphones are glassy slabs you couldn’t pick out of a lineup.

The XZ2 Compact isn’t trying to be bold with an edge-to-edge display, a crazy lineup of colors or gimmicky software. Sony isn’t buying in to the AI and AR hype or trying to compete with other phone makers. Instead, the XZ2 Compact stands out — not just in its size, but also in its simplicity.

Objectively, there are better phones you can buy, but this is my favorite phone of the year so far.

Credit: Tom’s Guide

MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide

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If you need a portable Mac, you buy a MacBook. If you want the most powerful Mac experience, you buy an iMac–right? Deciding between a desktop and a laptop isn’t quite as simple as you might think.

We have to balance our expectations, real-world requirements, and a realistic budget before taking the plunge. So we’ve done the agonizing for you. Here’s how two of Apple’s flagship machines stack up and a guide to deciding whether a MacBook or an iMac would be better suited to your needs.

Comparing MacBook vs. iMac

For the purpose of this comparison, we’ll look at the top-end 27-inch iMac model and its closest competitor, the fastest 15-inch MacBook Pro.

You’ll likely have your own wishlist, but this comparison is fairly representative of the differences between the models whatever your budget. Even at this stage, it’s worth thinking about the lifespan of the product. Of the many reasons why people buy Macs, hardware reliability and longevity is perhaps the most important.

Make sure whatever you choose will fit the bill for a few years. This is especially true when it comes to storage capacity, since Apple’s machines are less upgradeable than ever before.

Now let’s take a look at each aspect of Apple’s computers by directly comparing hardware, and ultimately value for money.

MacBook vs. iMac: CPU and RAM

There once was a time when the desktop variants would run away with the show here. But thanks to the ever-shrinking silicon chip, it’s far less clear-cut than it once was. Mobile chips need to be efficient, which means you’re unlikely to see comparable clock speeds.

This doesn’t necessarily translate into a black and white performance deficit, though. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide The top-tier 27-inch iMac comes with a 3.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor.

You can upgrade this to an i7 4.2GHz processor for an extra £200. The MacBook Pro has an Intel Core i7 processor that tops out at 2.9GHz, with an upgrade to the 3.1GHz model available for another £200. In terms of processing power, while the iMac has the advantage due to higher clock speeds, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in daily use.

When it comes to RAM, it’s a similar state of affairs. The top-tier MacBook Pro comes with 16GB of RAM onboard, compared to the iMac’s 8GB. You can upgrade the iMac to 16GB (£200), 32GB (£400), or 64GB (£1,200).

However, you can’t upgrade a MacBook Pro beyond 16GB. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide But the iMac has another trick up its sleeve: a slot at the back of the unit which allows you to upgrade the RAM yourself.

This is not possible on the MacBook Pro, but it’s a nice option for iMac users who want to save some money today and upgrade in the future. Conclusion: Processing power is comparable, though the iMac just tips it which makes the MacBook Pro even more impressive. User-expandable memory and more options at checkout further give the iMac the edge here.

MacBook vs. iMac: GPU and Display

Both the MacBook Pro and iMac have comparable displays.

Each is Retina quality, which means the pixel density is high enough that you can’t make out individual pixels. Both have a brightness of 500 nits, and both use the P3 wide color gamut offering 25 percent more colors compared to standard RGB. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide

The most obvious difference is size, with a top-end iMac coming in at 27-inch compared to the MacBook Pro at 15-inch. And while the MacBook Pro manages a native resolution of 2880×1800, the iMac has a native 5K display at a jaw-dropping resolution of 5120×2880. Both will make your videos and photos pop and the hours you spend staring at your screen more pleasant.

There really is something to be said for the iMac’s massive 5K screen, though you’ll need to sacrifice portability for the privilege. Powering those displays is no small feat, which is why Apple opted for dedicated Radeon Pro graphics chips from AMD for both models. The MacBook Pro puts up a good fight with its Radeon Pro 560 and 4GB of dedicated VRAM, but it comes up short against the Radeon Pro 580 and its 8GB of VRAM.

MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide You’re certainly not going to see double the performance on the iMac, but there’s no mistaking the fact that the best visual performance is found on the desktop. This is further compounded by the heat generated by GPUs under load, which is far more noticeable on a laptop than it is on a desktop.

That added heat might limit your use of the MacBook under extreme load. If you’re going to stress the GPU regularly with lengthy video editing or gaming sessions, the iMac will provide a more pleasant base of operation. You’ll also have a lot more screen real estate at your disposal.

Conclusion: The MacBook Pro’s top-tier discrete graphics chips are a force to be reckoned with, but the iMac is still faster (and cooler).

MacBook vs. iMac: Storage, SSDs, and Fusion Drive

Here’s where the comparison starts to get really interesting, since the MacBook range led the SSD revolution many years ago with the arrival of the MacBook Air. SSDs (solid-state drives) are storage devices that use memory chips rather than moving parts to store data. This results in much faster read and write times, and they’re a lot tougher.

MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide Every MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro Which MacBook Is Best for You? MacBook vs.

Pro vs. Air Comparison Which MacBook Is Best for You? MacBook vs.

Pro vs. Air Comparison Wondering how the MacBook models compare to each other? Here’s our guide on deciding whether a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or MacBook is best for you. Read More comes with an SSD.

Most start at 256GB, but you can still find the odd 128GB option around. By comparison, all iMac models come with a Fusion Drive. Apple’s Fusion Drive is two drives–an SSD and a standard spinning HDD–that appear as a single volume.

Core system files and often-used resources reside on the SSD for speed, while documents, media, and long-term storage defaults to the slower HDD. The SSD is faster than the Fusion Drive, but SSDs are also more limited in space. This is why the top-tier MacBook Pro comes with 512GB, and the top-tier iMac comes with 2TB.

You can upgrade that MacBook to a 1TB SSD for an additional £400, and you can make the same swap in your iMac for £600. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide Conclusion: You’ll get more space for your money in an iMac, but it won’t be as fast as the MacBook’s all-SSD approach.

If money is no object, you can upgrade both models to a 2TB SSD and laugh all the way home. It comes down to performance, and the tradeoff you make between convenience and speed. One word of advice: always buy more storage than you think you need Why You Shouldn’t Buy a MacBook With Only 256GB Storage Why You Shouldn’t Buy a MacBook With Only 256GB Storage Thinking about buying a MacBook?

It’s smart to avoid the 256GB model and upgrade your storage. Read More .

MacBook vs. iMac: Ports and Portability

If you’ve followed Apple’s hardware decisions of late, you’ll know that the current generation MacBook has fewer ports than any that came before it. Apple decided to strip all but a stereo output and four USB-C ports (capable of USB 3.1 gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3) from the MacBook Pro. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide

This means you’ll need to rely on adapters and docks if you want to use regular USB type-A connectors, drive an HDMI monitor, plug in a memory card, or connect to a wired network. The new MacBook Pro is even powered via USB-C, with an 87W USB-C power adapter included in the box. Conversely, the iMac has a port for almost anything.

You’ll get two of those fancy USB-C ports that can handle USB 3.1 gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3. You’ll also get four regular USB 3.0 type-A connectors, for all your old hard drives and peripherals. Then there’s an SDXC card slot on the back, for connecting SD, SDHC, SDXC and microSD (via adapters) directly to your Mac.

The iMac even delivers a gigabit Ethernet port, something the MacBook range dropped years ago. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide The iMac is also compatible with the same adapters and docks, enabling HDMI and DVI out, or compatibility with Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 2 devices with an adapter.

You won’t have to carry this adapter with you either, since your iMac lives on a desk. Conclusion: The MacBook drops the ball in this department, with its stubborn USB-C approach. As for the iMac, we’re shocked Apple still builds a computer with an Ethernet port!

MacBook vs. iMac: Everything Else

There are a few other areas you might not consider when shopping, and though they’re not deal-breakers (to us), they’re still worth highlighting.

Keyboard

While the MacBook Pro has a built-in keyboard, the iMac comes with Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

You can also opt to ditch these and plug in any keyboard you want, something that makes more sense on the iMac. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide Some users have reported issues with Apple’s “butterfly” key mechanism on the latest MacBook models.

There have been reports of broken keys that have prompted several class-action lawsuits, as well as the keyboard having a different “feel” to previous Apple keyboards. You’ll probably want to try out the MacBook before you buy if you plan to do a lot of typing (and even if you’re not, since a dud key compromises the entire laptop’s purpose).

Mice, Trackpads, and Touch Gestures

Apple has designed macOS with a number of touch-based gestures in mind. These include two-finger scrolling, swipes from left to right to change between desktop spaces, and quick reveal gestures for running apps and the desktop. macOS is better with a trackpad than it is with a mouse.

MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide The MacBook Pro has a giant trackpad front and center. Force Touch means you can press harder to access a third context-dependent input, just like 3D Touch on the iPhone.

The iMac comes with a Magic Mouse 2, probably because Apple has a big dusty warehouse full of them. If you want the best macOS experience, you’ll need to upgrade to a Magic Trackpad 2 for £50 at checkout.

Touch Bar and Touch ID

The Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint scanner are both present (and non-negotiable) on the top-tier MacBook Pro models. This replaces the function keys with a touch-sensitive OLED panel.

The panel adapts to whatever you’re doing and shows you relevant app controls, emoji, and traditional media key functions. MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide Touch ID is a fingerprint scanner that works just like Touch ID on iOS.

You can use your fingerprint to store login credentials, unlock your Mac, and generally speed up daily authorization events. It’s a great convenience, but probably won’t tip your decision either way. Some users have complained that the Touch Bar is a gimmick that doesn’t really solve any problems.

If you feel the same you can disable the Touch Bar entirely The MacBook Pro Touch Bar Sucks, So I Disabled It The MacBook Pro Touch Bar Sucks, So I Disabled It In June 2017 I finally took the plunge and purchased a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Months later, I did the unthinkable and disabled Touch Bar functionality. Read More , though you’ll have to live with touch-based function keys.

MacBook vs. iMac: Which One Should You Get?

A top-of-the-line iMac is cheaper than a comparable MacBook Pro. It packs a marginally faster processor, better graphics capabilities, a bigger screen, more storage space, and an array of ports a MacBook owner could only dream of.

It lacks the 16GB of RAM, but it’s got a port that you can use to upgrade it yourself. But the top-end MacBook Pro isn’t a weak option. You’ve got a strong Core i7 processor, a powerful GPU that can handle 4K video editing, a blisteringly fast SSD on every model, and that all-important portable form factor.

Ultimately though, you’ll pay more for a less capable machine compared to the iMac. For pricing, Apple’s best base MacBook Pro (without any upgrades) costs £2,799 compared to £2,299 for a top-end base iMac. When you’re paying £500 more for a less capable machine, you might want to ask yourself: do you really need all that power in a portable machine?

Or is portability worth the premium to you? MacBook vs. iMac: A Comparison Guide to Help You Decide If you need as much power in the field as possible, then the MacBook Pro is your best bet at this stage.

Just make sure you opt for a large enough SSD to see you through to your next upgrade. But if like me, you’re replacing an old MacBook, you might want to opt for the iMac. You can make your old Mac feel like new How to Make an Old Mac Feel Like New Again How to Make an Old Mac Feel Like New Again Your Mac might be several years old, but with some love and upgrades, you can make it feel like new. Read More , then use it as a light mobile office of sorts.

Offload your resource-intensive tasks to the iMac at home, and you’ve got the best of both worlds.

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