Compact smartphone shootout: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact vs HTC One Mini vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
At a press conference in 2010 Steve Jobs said that a 3.5-inch screen was a perfect size for consumers and no one was going to buy a big phone, referring to, at the time, new models from Samsung and Motorola that featured larger screens. While Apple has stuck with the mantra of its co-founder and limited the screen size of its latest flagship device, the iPhone 5s, to a very moderate 4 inches, outside the iOS universe smartphone displays have grown larger and larger.
Virtually all current Android flagship smartphones come with at least 5-inch screen diameters, the LG G2 and the brand new Sony Xperia Z2 even feature 5.2-inch variants. Those who want it even bigger can choose from a variety of phablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note III, HTC One Max or the Windows Phone powered Nokia Lumia 1520, which offer displays that range from 5.5 to 6 inches in size.
Thanks to advanced display technologies and ever thinner bezels the overall dimensions of the devices have proportionally grown less than the screens but nevertheless large pockets are required for carrying the latest generation of Android and Windows Phone flagship devices. That said, despite the trend toward almost tablet-sized smartphones there is still a large demand for smaller smartphones from users who are contemplating a switch from iOS and its smaller phones to another mobile OS.
Most manufacturers have realized that, too, and have designed smaller versions of their flagship smartphones to cater to those user who prefer more pocketable devices. In this shootout we pit three of those models against each other: the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, HTC One Mini and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. LG also just announced the G2 Mini but the device is not available yet at this point. We will have a closer look at it once we get our hands on a sample unit.
The manufacturers of the three devices in this shootout have approached the compact smartphone topic in different ways. While Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact is pretty much an Xperia Z1 in a smaller body, including the 20.7MP camera module, HTC and Samsung have not only shrunk the dimensions of the One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini but also downgraded some of the components.
Both come with slower CPUs than their bigger counterparts and the camera modules are less advanced as well. The Galaxy S4 Mini has swapped the 13MP sensor of its larger sibling for an 8MP chip and the HTC One Mini loses the One's optical image stabilization system. The table below provides a more detailed overview of the specifications of our test models:
|Sony Xperia Z1 Compact||HTC One Mini||Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini|
|Image Sensor||1/2.3-inch CMOS, 20.7MP||1/3-inch CMOS, 4MP||1/3-inch CMOS, 8MP|
|Camera Aspect Ratio||4:3 (16:9 in 8MP mode)||16:9||4:3|
|Video||1080p, 30fps||1080p, 30fps||1080p, 30fps|
|Screen||4.3-inch, 720p||4.3-inch, 720p||4.3-inch, 960x540|
|CPU||Snapdragon 800||Snapdragon 400||Snapdragon 400|
|Dimensions||127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm
5.0 x 2.56 x 0.37 in
|132 x 63.2 x 9.3 mm
5.20 x 2.49 x 0.37 in
|124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9 mm
4.91 x 2.41 x 0.35 in
|Weight||137 g / 4.83 oz||122 g / 4.30 oz||107 g / 3.77 oz|
|Current Sim Free Street Price||USD 525
*35mm format equivalent
For the purpose of this shootout we have taken sample images in a variety of light situations and compared the results. All shots were taken handheld from the same position. We took between five and 10 pictures of each scene with each device and picked the best one for the comparison.
In its default Auto mode the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact captures downsampled 8MP images but you can access the full 20.7MP files by switching into the camera's Manual mode. We have included both image versions in our shootout to show you what the Sony's camera is capable of in both modes. Click through to the next page to see how the candidates performed in our test scenarios.
Our technical evaluation of the Panasonic GX9 has included a trip to the studio, where we put its 20MP Four Thirds sensor in front of our standard test scene.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI earned high marks in our recent review, and we've revisited our collection of buying guides to reflect our final conclusions. Click through for links to our updated guides covering the best pocketable and long zoom compacts as well as the best choices for travel and video.
Fujifilm has announced the XF 200mm F2 R LM OIS WR telephoto lens along with a matching 1.4x teleconverter. This weather-sealed lens - 'matte silver' in color with a bold green hood - has a total of 19 elements, a nine-blade aperture and five stops of shake reduction according to Fujifilm. The lens and teleconverter kit will be available in late October for $6000.
Fujifilm has updated its X-mount lens roadmap with three intriguing new models, which include 33mm F1.0 and 16mm F2.8 primes and a 16-80 F4 zoom.
Fujifilm's widest X-series zoom lens to-date, the XF 8-16mm F2.8 R LM WR, will hit the market in late November for $2000. The weather-sealed lens features ED, Super ED and aspherical elements along with a Nano GI coating.
We've seen different flavors of 360° cameras over the past couple of years, but the Vuze XR may be the first one that's designed to shoot both 360° spherical and 180° stereoscopic video in a single unit.
Huawei has launched the world's first photography contest with both AI and human judges. The contest began on July 12 and will run for 8 weeks. During this time, photographers can submit their images via a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
Fujifilm has announced the XF10, a premium compact camera with a fast 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens and 24MP APS-C sensor. This replacement for the X70 will ship in August for $500.
It won't come as a surprise to anyone that there are some unpleasant, predatory men within the photography industry. However, a long-form, extensively researched special report in the Columbia Journalism Review about sexual harassment is still a depressing, eye-opening read.
Is this the end? Nikon's UK and Japanese websites now list some of its KeyMission action cameras as discontinued.
Leica Camera AG is now an investor in Light, the makers of the innovative L16 camera. According to the company, the funding will allow Light to 'expand the reach of its imaging platform beyond consumer photography'
YouTuber ZY Productions has a video wherein he provides a succinct summary of how phase detection autofocus systems work, their benefits and their shortcomings.
The X-U is Leica's first ruggedized compact camera and is still the only waterproof camera on the market with a large APS-C sensor. That sensor sits behind a 35mm-equivalent, F1.7 lens, and we've taken it to the mountains and back to see just what it's capable of.
Gitzo and Sony have teamed up to launch a new tripod and L-bracket designed specifically for Sony α-series cameras.
There have now been seven variants of the Sony RX100 series, and at least six of them are still current models. Confused? Here's an updated look at their differences, and our recommendations among them now that we've tested the Mark VI.
The Kodak-branded 'Kashminer' Bitcoin mining scheme announced at CES has apparently collapsed, with Eastman Kodak distancing itself from the company behind it.
The software uses computational imaging techniques to boost detail and dynamic range in your images, and reduce noise levels.
As part of a promotional giveaway, Fujifilm Korea has released kimchi-flavored instant noodles wrapped in branding inspired by Fujifilm Provia 100 color reversal film.
The Leica Noctilux-M 75mm F1.25 ASPH is a fast, high-quality and decidedly heavyweight short telephoto prime lens, designed for use with Leica's digital M-series rangefinders. We've been grappling with it for a little while - take a look at our sample images.
70-200mm F4 zoom lenses may not get as much attention as their faster F2.8 siblings, but for many photographers these lenses hit the perfect sweet spot of price, performance, and weight. This week, we shoot the new Tamron 70-210mm F4 alongside the equivalent Canon and Nikon models to see how they stack up.
Blackmagic recently worked with Apple to develop Blackmagic eGPU, an external GPU that brings "desktop-class graphics performance" to the new MacBook Pro laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Lightroom alternative Luminar has received numerous updates across both its Mac and Windows versions, primarily improvements to existing features, as well as support for additional cameras from Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, and Pentax.
Sony has quietly updated its RX100 V, bringing a couple of the goodies from the RX100 VI travel zoom. The updated RX100 VA gains a new processor and various firmware tweaks but misses out on the VI's other hardware improvements.
Apple has updated its MacBook Pro series of notebooks with 15in and 13in models that are claimed to be better for intense image and video editing. The company says the new models are the most advanced ever, and that they feature 8th generation Intel Core processors for faster performance.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Adobe will announce a full-fledged Photoshop version for the iPad at its annual conference in October.
The last day to place an order for Apple photo prints and related products is September 30th.
Manfrotto has launched its new Noreg camera bag series with the Backpack-30 and Messenger-30 models. Both bags are designed for premium mirrorless camera systems, each featuring internal camera units that can be removed and used independently of the larger bags.
Industrial designer Thomas Müller has created a concept device that attempts to democratize film development using an all-in-one device that sits on your countertop.
Mastin Labs has released its latest set of presets titled 'Kodak Everyday.' The pack includes film emulation presets for iconic Kodak films, including Ektar, Gold and Tri-X.