Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Vs. HTC One mini - Pocket-sized Warriors

After the battle of their larger siblings, it is time for the small-sized flagships to fight it out. This Buzzle article takes a look at the ultimate battle, that of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Vs. HTC One mini.
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Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Vs. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Vs. HTC One mini core comparison
Global Mobile Phone Market Share
Samsung - 32.1%
Sony - 4.5%
HTC - 2.8%
Source: Gartner (November 2013)
The three behemoths of the mobile arena, Samsung, Sony, and HTC have been at each others throats for a while now, trying to establish their dominance in the hotly contested smartphone space. They have each tasted success with their flagship devices, the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and the Sony Xperia Z1 figuring in the list of the best smartphones of 2013. Each of these devices though, aren't exactly the smallest phones out there, and they seem to be straying more into phablet territory. To address this super-sized problem, each of these OEMs have released scaled-down versions of their respective phones. These phones have some mighty big shoes to fill in, and have their task cut out as they try to carve out a niche segment of mini smartphones for themselves. So, how do these phones fare, and are they truly worthy of carrying forward the legacy of their much-acclaimed siblings? Here's finding out.

Image Source:
blogs.sonymobile.com/press_release/
samsungmobilepress.com
htc-press.com


SONY
XPERIA Z1 Compact
xperia z1 compact
Operating System
Android OS, v4.3
(Jelly Bean)
Chipset
Qualcomm
Snapdragon 800
CPU
Quad-core
2.2 GHz Krait 400
GPU
Adreno 330
Memory
2 GB RAM
Storage
16 GB
Micro SD card slot
Screen
4.3"
Triluminos display
Resolution
720 x 1280 pixels
(~342 ppi)
Primary Camera
20.7 MP
Secondary Camera
2 MP
Battery
Li-ion 2,300 mAh
SAMSUNG
GALAXY S4 Mini
samsung galaxy s4 mini
Operating System
Android OS, v4.2.2
(Jelly Bean)
Chipset
Qualcomm
Snapdragon 400
CPU
Dual-core
1.7 GHz Krait 300
GPU
Adreno 305
Memory
1.5 GB RAM
Storage
16 GB
Micro SD card slot
Screen
4.3"
Super AMOLED
Resolution
960 x 540 pixels
(~258 ppi)
Primary Camera
8 MP
Secondary Camera
2 MP
Battery
Li-ion 1,900 mAh
hTC
One mini
htc one mini
Operating System
Android OS, v4..2
(Jelly Bean)
Chipset
Qualcomm
Snapdragon 400
CPU
Dual-core
1.4 GHz Krait 300
GPU
Adreno 305
Memory
1 GB RAM
Storage

16 GB
Screen
4.3"
Super LCD2
Resolution
720 x 1280 pixels
(~341 ppi)
Primary Camera
4 MP
Secondary Camera
1.6 MP
Battery
Li-Po 1,800 mAh



Design and Construction

sony xperia z1 compact vs samsung galaxy s4 mini vs htc one mini dimensions

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

sony xperia z1 compact

Premium all-glass construction.
Sony have stuck with the all-glass body with the Z1 Compact. This time around though, the smaller footprint of the phone (127 x 64.9 x 9.5 mm) ensures a good grip. The phone weighs in at 137 g, which in fact works in favor of the phone as it feels a lot more solid in the hand. The positioning of the hardware keys is identical to the Z1. The bezels around the screen too have slimmed down much to our liking. We also love the premium look of the all glass body, that is, of course, when you manage to clean away all the smudge marks on it.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

samsung galaxy s4 mini

All plastic body.
If you didn't like the plastic used on the S4, you might as well pass on the S4 Mini without a second look. The S4 Mini, in fact, with its rounded corners looks and feels a lot more like a miniature S3. We've never been fond of the plastic construction of the Galaxy phones, and the S4 Mini does little to change that. The choice of materials, though, helps keep the weight down to 107 g. With dimensions of 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.94 mm, the phone is really compact and would easily slip away into your shirt's pocket without complaining.

HTC One mini

htc one mini

Premium metallic body.
What could possibly be more beautiful than the HTC One? A more pocketable (both figuratively and literally) version of it of course! The One mini has the same design elements as its elder sibling, and has dimensions of 132 x 63.2 x 9.25 mm. Weighing in at an acceptable 122 g, the phone feels solid in the hand, not once threatening to slip away. If looks could kill, then this phone, undoubtedly, would be on a killing spree.


Hardware and Storage

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Top-end specs with plenty of storage.
Don't let the name fool you, when it comes to hardware specs, the Compact packs the same powerful punch as its mighty sibling. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset along with its 2 GHz Krait 400 CPU is definitely a force to reckon with, and simply obliterates anyone who dares to stand up to it. Multitasking too, is a breeze with 2 GB of RAM powering the phone on. Just when we were ruing the demise of the expandable storage slots on phones, the Japanese giant gave us plenty of reason to cheer, fitting its Compact phone with a Micro SD card slot to complement the 16 GB of internal storage. Sony's latest baby surely has the looks and the fire power to go with it. Hold on, did we also mention that it comes with the same IP55 and IP58 rating that signifies being dust-resistant and waterproof, like the Z1!

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Specs of a budget phone with ample space.
Do not expect any octa core magic here, or even the goodness of a quad-core processor; the S4 Mini comes with a 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor. While this might be a far cry from the raw processing power of the Snapdragon 800 processor, it still handles pretty well. The 1.5 GB of RAM should suffice for most multitasking activities, but you certainly don't want to push your luck here. Storage, though, wouldn't be a problem on this device which comes with 8 GB of internal storage with a Micro SD card slot (up to 64 GB) to go with it. The hardware is not really all that bad, but we just expected a lot more from the Korean giant.

HTC One mini

Mini-mum specs.
Our expectations soared after HTC decided to use an identical scaled-down chassis of the One for its younger sibling. We were quickly brought crashing down to the ground with the hardware on board the One mini. The 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual-core processor can only manage a muffled yelp in comparison to the mighty roar of the Snapdragon 600 CPU on the One. We felt further let down by the company's choice to leave out the Micro SD card slot, and leave the user with 16 GB of internal storage instead. Another area where the company cut some serious corners was with the RAM (1 GB), which just about manages to see you through basic multitasking.


Graphics and Display

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

X-treme goodness!
The Xperia Z1 Compact packs a gorgeous 4.3-inch Triluminous display. The trade off is an IPS display instead of a TFT screen, and the resolution too, has gone down from 1080p to 720p. This translates to 342 ppi pixel density of goodness, further enhanced by Sony's mighty X-Reality engine. And, of course, there's the usual Adreno 330 GPU that handles graphics like an absolute pro. Graphics surely falls squarely in Sony's back alley, and regarding display on the Compact, the company hits the ball right out of the park.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Oversaturation of Super AMOLED.
The S4 Mini comes with a 4.3-inch screen with qHD resolution. The display is hardly anything to write home about, the only saving grace being the high saturation levels offered by Super AMOLED technology, and there's also Corning Gorilla Glass 2 on top. In terms of pixel density (258 ppi) too, the S4 Mini looks like the poor sibling of the pixel-rich (441 ppi) S4. The Adreno 305 GPU handles basic graphics without a hitch, although, expecting to view anything that is graphic intensive on this screen is simply wishful thinking.

HTC One mini

One good-looking display.
The One mini has a very pixel-rich 341 ppi 4.3-inch display with HD (720p) resolution. The Super LCD2 screen is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass, which helps keep those nasty scratches away. We loved the high contrasts on the One, and the One mini retains the same charm of its predecessor. The Adreno 305 GPU on the phone, however, just doesn't do justice to this otherwise beautiful display.


Camera and Optics

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

The best point-and-shoot in the business.
The company touted the Z1 to feature the best of Sony in a smartphone, and this was especially true when it came to the imaging prowess of the phone. The good news here is that the very same camera assembly squeezes into the smaller frame of the Compact without compromising on any of its features. The 20.7 MP camera with G lens is, by far, one of the best cameras to have featured on an Android device. The fantastic camera is ably supported by some real cool apps and features that make the most of the on-board optics. There's also a capable 2 MP shooter up front to take care of all your 'selfies' and video calling needs.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Not too bad, not too good.
Samsung chose to go in for an 8 MP shooter on the Mini, as opposed to the 13 MP camera on the S4. The camera on board the phone is real good, although we must admit that we've simply been spoiled by the phenomenal camera on the Z1 Compact. In true Samsung style, the camera app is overloaded with features, which range from the useful to the eccentric. All-in-all, though, the camera has all the bells and whistles to satisfy most average camera phone users. The 1.9 MP front-facing camera too comes in handy to make video calls and for self-portraits.

HTC One mini

Ultra disappointment.
The HTC One mini retains the same 4 MP Ultrapixel camera from the original One. Enough has been said about this camera, and we don't intend to get dragged into all the 'ultra-bashing'. Yes the camera has glimpses of brilliance, especially in low-light conditions, but seems to completely lose the plot when it's time for it to shine in the sun! Some real cool camera features, like HTC Zoe, try hard to save the day for the One mini, but it just seems to be a lost cause. The 1.3 MP front-facing camera gets the job done, but don't expect it to wow you.


Software and Customizations

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

New phone, same old story.
This pint-sized gladiator finally runs out of steam when it comes to software features. Yes, it does come with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box with a planned upgrade to v4.4.2 (although we would have really liked a taste of KitKat). The outdated Xperia UI, however, just doesn't do justice to such a capable phone. In fact, a lot of feature phones have a cleaner UI than this one.

We have no such complaints about the Walkman music player on the phone, which is amongst the better music players out there. Audio output too is good, although do not expect to be blown away by it. The phone also supports some real nice accessories, our favorite of the lot being the detachable camera lenses Sony QX-100.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

Samsung's wizardry at its best.
Samsung's TouchWiz UI has always left a bitter-sweet taste in our mouth, and the experience, for better or for worse, is the same on the S4 Mini. We definitely cannot complain about the interface being too old or boring. In fact, more often than not, we are overwhelmed by the many things happening on screen.

There are some real nice features like Samsung Adapt Sound, Screen Mirroring, and the much-touted security feature Samsung KNOX hidden deep below the many fancy layers of animation, which truly enhance the user experience. The rich music player on the phone does a good job of organizing all your tracks, but is let down by the mediocre audio output of the device. The most useful amongst all accessories available for the S4 Mini has got to be the S View Flip Case.

HTC One mini

Clean and refined sensibility all around.
Powered by Android v4.2 Jelly Bean, the One mini might not quite have the latest software so to speak, but HTC's Sense UI definitely saves the day. We've always been big fans of HTC's UI, and how clean and uncluttered it is. The Taiwanese company doesn't disappoint with the software on the phone, and brings in BlinkFeed to take over your device's home screen.

The One mini is every audiophile's dream phone, and it comes with front-mounted stereo speakers with BoomSound. To make the deal even sweeter, the phone comes with Beats Audio, for unmatched sound quality. The optional HTC Fetch accessory ensures that you never misplace your keys again, and makes tracing your phone just a matter of a click.


Battery Life

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Good all day and more.
Have a long day ahead, and don't want to carry your charger along? Don't worry, the Z1 Compact has you covered. The 2,300 mAh battery should easily see you through a day of rigorous use on a single charge. On the downside, the battery itself is non user-removable.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini

One day stand.
The low-res screen and the low-demanding processor should help the 1,900 mAh battery on the S4 Mini survive the day on a single charge. You could also replace the battery with a spare one just in case it dies out before the end of day.

HTC One mini

Here today gone tomorrow.
The 1,800 mAh non-removable battery on the One mini, most definitely, does promise to see you through thick and thin. It does, however, promise to see you through a day of moderate to miserly usage on a single charge. You might not want to venture too far away from the charging point though, especially if you want to access the Internet through the day.


Final Words

sony xperia z1 compact vs samsung galaxy s4 mini vs htc one mini

Samsung's phone is a device built for the masses.
Considering the huge amount of money the company pumps into advertising and marketing, it is little surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is, by far, the most popular among the phones in comparison here. It would also, in all probability, far outsell the other two phones. We are, however, unswayed by Samsung's juggernaut. In fact, the phone makes it at the last position in our comparison, mainly due to the cheap plastics used in its construction and the subpar processor on board. The phone tries to save face with its many software tweaks and an above-average camera, but these just don't make up for its other hardware misses. This in no way means that this is a bad phone, but just that it simply does not stand up to the rest of the competition.

HTC sure knows how to show off its met(a)tle.
The HTC One is a complete mix bag. On one hand, it is hands down the most premium-looking device of the lot, and shows a lot of promise. It also boasts of having the most advanced audio system on any mobile phone in the market today. On the other hand, its camera has come in for some serious criticism, and has become the center of ridicule. Its most serious crime, however, is the abysmal battery life on offer, especially for a phone which is touted to be such a multimedia powerhouse. The phone's impeccable build quality and superb sound output help it secure the second position in our comparison.

The best of Sony and all other worlds too.
No prizes for guessing who emerges victorious from this mini showdown. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact was definitely the underdog here, but with its classy yet extremely durable construction, hardware muscle, and KitKat just a bite away, easily decimates the competition without a sweat. Sony have truly played a masterstroke here, by retaining all the goodness of the much-acclaimed Z1, and simply scaling it down to a more manageable size. It remains to be seen though, if this translates into a commercial success story for the Japanese giant. Clever pricing and some aggressive marketing might well see the tide change in favor of the company. You can read more about this incredible phone here.

We remember not long ago, where we pitted the over-sized cousins of these very phones against each other in a battle which triggered the paradigm shift that we witnessed today. LG too, is gathering up its forces, with a mini G2, believed to be right around the corner. For now, the battle might be over, but undoubtedly, the war for ultimate smartphone glory has only just begun. Cheers.
Which of these is your favorite pocket-size warrior?
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
HTC One Mini
By
Published: January 14, 2014
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Comments
What people don't get is this. Sense 5 is a very refined and professional user interface.
The Z1c camera in superior auto mode fails it to just a mere 8mp
And the gs4 mini... Forget about it
- Abdul [March 19, 2014]
Sony FTW! - Avi [January 22, 2014]
The pointers in red for each phone make life really easy for us readers for drawing comparisons. Thank you. - Clifford [January 19, 2014]