Smartphone prices are insane right now. Whether you’re smitten by the ₹89,000 iPhone X or similarly costly Samsung Galaxy S9, there’s seemingly no escape from this cavalcade of expense.

Unless you get the new Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, of course.

A shrunken version of the standard Xperia XZ2, the Compact retains most of its big brother’s super-charged internals and ample smarts. That means all manner of HDR video skills, and a camera that promises better photos than ever before. If you’re not minded to spend big on a super-sized handset, this could well be the phone for you.

How does it fare against our current modestly-sized faves in the iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2? We got our hands on the XZ2 Compact ahead of Sony's Mobile World Congress reveal to find out.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Design

Sony’s Compact phones used to be truly shrunken versions of their full-sized brethren. That’s not so with the Compact, which has a different look from the glass-backed Xperia XZ2.

Instead, you get a smart, brushed metal back akin to the Google Pixel 2. Although the rump of the Compact is more curved towards its top and bottom. And do you know what? I actually prefer things this way around.

You won't end with fingerprints smudging the back of your phone, and the actual fingerprint scanner is higher up on the back of the phone so should be a little bit easier to reach. Generally speaking, the Compact is pleasingly lightweight at 168g too, and it tucks into your pocket with no trouble at all. That’s not something you can say about the hulking great Xperia XZ2 and its huge 5.7in screen.

Unfortunately, the differences between the two handsets don’t extend to the Compact retaining its headphone jack. You’ll need a pair of USB-C or Bluetooth cans to get your Google Play Music on, which is gonna annoy anyone who hasn’t already jumped onboard that bandwagon.

On the plus side, if do feel the urge to chuck your XZ2 Compact in the nearest body of water upon realising this fact, its IP68 water-resistance will ensure you have plenty of time to fish it out again and enjoy its HDR smarts.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Screen

Just like the Xperia XZ2, the XZ2 Compact’s 5in display is able to upscale Standard Dynamic Range content into glorious HDR for punchier colours and stronger contrast.

The effect works whatever footage you’re watching, and can make a difference to movie trailers and any Netflix binging you’re catching up on with your commute.

If you’re more into YouTube vlogs or don’t watch a lot of video at all, then you’re not gonna get enough out of this screen though. Especially when the XZ2 Compact doesn’t have the gloriously skinny bezels of a Samsung Galaxy S9, Google Pixel 2 or iPhone X. And its Full HD resolution is below what’s offered by all those QHD phones, as well as the Full HD+ Xperia XZ2.

In fairness, Sony would probably argue the XZ2 Compact’s screen is too small for you to really notice the higher resolution. But then you could say the exact same thing about adding HDR to a phone. Either way, for the money it’ll likely cost, the Compact has a great display. No question.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact Cameras

As for its camera? That’s a whole different ball game. Despite making the image sensors for most smartphones, Sony’s own snappers have never been particularly stellar - so how is the Xperia XZ2 Compact planning to buck this trend? With some added hardware wizardry, of course.

So as well as rocking a 19MP sensor with ISO 12800 sensitivity for low light shots, Sony has integrated an exclusive image signal processor (ISP) into the Snapdragon 845 CPU that powers the Compact. Think of it like the Google Pixel 2’s Pixel Visual Core - extra silicon that should ensure better contrast and detail from your snaps. Well, in theory at least. If the photos are so-so to begin with, then no amount of software-related tinkering will help.

Right now, it feels like the Compact should be Sony’s best camera in ages. At least the test shots I’ve been shown look that way, but of course they do. What I’ve seen properly for myself is the Compact’s newfound ability to capture super- slow motion footage in Full HD at 960fps, which looks extremely cool.

Let’s face it, you probably won’t use all that option but might get a kick out of this phones 4K, HDR recording skills. At least it’ll give you something else to watch on your new telly this summer when your favourite team’s World Cup hopes go up the swanny.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact PERFORMANCE

Of course, photo trickery isn’t all the Snapdragon 845 is good for.

As Qualcomm’s latest chip, it’s basically the fastest, most efficient smartphone processor around and shouldn’t break a sweat when flitting between apps, photo editing or doing pretty much anything. The again, you could say the same about last year’s effort.

Elsewhere, the Snapdragon 845 is supported by 4GB RAM, an ample 64GB of storage, and a 2780mAh battery that should be enough to see you through a day’s use. Aside from a smaller battery to mirror a smaller screen, those are the same internals you’ll find in the Sony Xperia XZ2 too. There’s been no corner-cutting here.

Even the Compact’s sound is 20% louder than its predecessor. So if you love blaring out your ‘Ibiza bangers’ playlist on public transport then you can’t do wrong here.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact initial Verdict

Given the choice between Sony’s Xperia XZ2 and the Compact, I’d plump for the Compact everytime. No question.

Where its bigger brethren struggles in comparison to the very cream of the smartphone crop, the Compact seemingly does its own thing with little in the way of compromise. That makes it a thoroughly tempting proposition when compared to more expensive, but comparatively-sized fare in the iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2.

Can the Sony Xperia XZ2 come good on its considerable promise? You’ve only got a few months to find out. I can’t wait to give it a full review.