I like sticking it to The Man. In this instance, The Man is all the cell phone manufacturers that decided the populace only wanted phones with 5.5″ screens. So when I saw a need to upgrade from my Galaxy S4 to a phone that would not turn off or reboot without warning, I chose the only sensible device: Sony’s Xperia Z3 Compact.
The Z3 Compact is not just small, but powerful. While Google was releasing a Nexus phone with a stinking 6″ screen that requires two hands, one foot, and a backpack to properly transport and use, Sony did the world a favor and made a compact phone with some actual guts. Yes, Samsung and HTC have smaller phones in their lineups, but they’re under-powered or have pathetic cameras or other grave drawbacks. The Xperia Z3 Compact actually has everything the big boys have, in a device the size of a phone.
Power? Check: a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB RAM and Adreno 330 graphics. Camera? Check: a 20.7 MP Sony shooter with HDR and 4K video modes. Battery life? Check: this thing packs a 2600 mAh battery that can make it over two days of use without recharging. Let’s just throw in expandable memory via microSD, water- and dustproofing, magnetic charging, dual front-facing speakers, and a more-than-acceptable 720P 4.6″ display.
Let’s talk about that last point a bit. Not only are companies driving up the girth of phones unnecessarily, but thanks to the iPhone’s “Retina” display they’re competing against a false perception for the award of “most useless pixel density.” As the resolutions push into the stratosphere, we’ve long surpassed the point where even the most visually acute can distinguish a difference and instead traded off performance and battery life for theoretical one-upmanship. I applaud Sony for realizing that a 720×1280 resolution looks beautiful on a 4.6″ screen.
It’s not all rosy, though. The Z3 Compact lacks a removable battery, and it has a glass back, which is reportedly scratch-prone. The Z3 Compact must be bought unlocked from Sony as it is not tied to any carriers in the U.S., and there is a lack of really nice case options for it at the moment (the Cruzerlite Bugdroid case is probably the best, but it’s not high-class). However, its camera, battery life, and expandable storage make it better than the Motorola X, and its compact size and less-invasive (or gimmicky) software put it atop the Galaxy S5.
(I guess the iPhone 6 is a smaller smartphone too…if you’re counting that.)