Saturday 16 January 2016

The only small-screened Android phone worth buying is coming to the US

If you long for the days of 2011, when 5.3-inch smartphones were enormous outliers rather than the norm, Sony has some news that may interest you: its flagship Xperia Z5 smartphone and its smaller-but-still-high-end sibling the Xperia Z5 Compact are coming to the US on February 7, 2016.
As usual, Sony's small footprint in the US smartphone market means that it doesn't have any distribution deals with major carriers. You won't be able to buy these phones on an installment plan from AT&T or T-Mobile—you'll have to get them at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, or another retailer, and you'll pay the full unlocked price of $599.99 for the Z5 or $499.99 for the Z5 Compact. Both phones support GSM networks, so Verizon and Sprint customers need not apply.
The Z5 looks like a competent but unexceptional flagship smartphone. It has a 5.3-inch 1080p IPS display, a Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 23MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, and a 2,900 mAh battery that Sony says is good for "up to two days" on a charge. Like most of Sony's recent phones, it's also dust- and waterproof.
The 4.6-inch Z5 Compact is the more compelling phone, if solely because the only small-screened phones you can buy in 2016 are either old or cheap or both. Its IPS display is 720p instead of 1080p and it has 2GB of RAM instead of 3GB, but otherwise it manages to fit in all the most important features of its larger counterpart: the Snapdragon 810 SoC, the 32GB of internal storage expandable via microSD, the 23MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, the dust- and waterproofing, and an "up to" two-day battery (2,700 mAh in this case).
Both phones ship with Android 5.1.1 installed, and Sony has committed to providing Marshmallow updates for both handsets. Sony says it's providing review units to US press this year, something it doesn't always do—when it does, we plan to take a closer look at the Z5 Compact in particular.

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