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Sony's mid-range Xperia X gets a smaller spin-off

This compact phone might be more exciting than the original.
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The new Xperia XZ might be the flagship phone Sony loyalists have been waiting for, but Sony still hasn't given up on making small smartphones. That's where the Xperia X Compact comes in: It's more enticing a package than you might think, given the company's recent batch of love-em-or-hate-em devices, and it's set to land the United States on Sept. 25.

Gallery: Hands-on with the Xperia X Compact | 11 Photos

Now, if you're anything like me, you'll have forgotten what it was like to hold a phone this small. The X Compact packs a 4.6-inch 720p display, and the rounded body that surrounds it is, in a word, charming. Adorable, even. Holding one of these things is sort of like holding a thinner, longer iPod mini, which I'm certainly not complaining about. It even has a satisfying sort of density to it, thanks in part to the 2,700mAh battery tucked inside. The rest of the hardware tour will sound familiar: This pint-sized device has 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot and a USB Type-C port, just like the XZ.

As it turns out, the display is a real pro in bright daylight too: It's bright and vivid without seeming oversaturated, and I never found myself missing the added resolution of a 1080p screen. Performance seemed just as respectable during our brief bit of playtime. The X Compact runs with one of Qualcomm's hexacore Snapdragon 650 chipsets, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 510 GPU. That's the same setup as -- what else? -- the original Xperia X, and for the most part, it seemed as responsive. I was half hoping to see even smoother performance because of Sony's modified software and because the phone doesn't have to drive as many pixels on that smaller display, but we'll see how things pan out when final hardware makes the rounds.

Around the back, you'll find the same 23-megapixel, "triple-sensing" camera Sony built into the high-end XZ. In addition to the predictive autofocus that came as part of each Xperia X series smartphone, the XZ and Compact also have laser autofocus modules and an RGB/IR sensor for more-accurate white balance. I was surprised for a moment to see that Sony didn't skimp on the camera here, but that was silly of me. If nothing else, Sony gets credit for not dramatically watering down its more-compact devices. That dedication to a specific subset of smartphones is part of what I like about Sony's mobile operation so much, and the Xperia X Compact leaves a great first impression.

We're still not sure how much it'll cost when it starts shipping later this month, but stick around -- we'll give this thing the full-review treatment as soon as we can.

We're live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.

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