Years ago there used to be a tiny Olympic champion weightlifter who, pound for pound, was the strongest man on Earth. He shocked the world as he lifted over three times his bodyweight clean above his 4ft 11in frame, rightfully earning him the name Pocket Hercules.

We only mention this because it's a fitting moniker for Sony's Xperia Compact series. The Z3 Compact won over many hearts by offering uncompromising flagship specs on a smaller-screened package, and Sony's new Z5 Compact offers exactly the same thing, with updated specs.

We had a chance to play around with one ahead of its official IFA announcement, so read on for our first impressions ahead of our full review.

Compact by name, compact by nature

The Compact has the same design DNA as its Z5 brothers, with the same gorgeous frosted glass back as the regular-sized Z5.

While it lacks the bigger phone's brushed-metal edges, it still feels incredibly solid and well-built, and will be an absolute joy to hold for those looking for a smaller screen experience. 

Dinky screen

A few years ago, you'd be mocked in the street for carting around a phone with a ridiculous 4.6in display - the iPhone was stuck at 3.5in until 2012 remember - but in this age of 5.5in screens being the norm, that size is an absolute blessing for gadgeteers hankering for a easily manageable, one-handed display.

Your thumbs should be able to merrily dance over every single millimetre of the Z5 Compact's screen without a care in the world, and there's something to be said for having the ability to bash out a quick text with one hand while walking to the station without fear of losing your phone to Mother Gravity.

While its 720p resolution might not look like much on paper, at that smaller screen size we didn’t find ourselves desperately craving more pixels. If anything, the Z5 Compact’s screen seems almost seemed brighter than both the Z5 and Z5 Premium’s displays, and from what we saw of it, we’d say it had the truest whites out of the bunch too.

Same super-specced camera

We didn’t have time to put the Z5 Compact’s camera through its paces, but it matches the Z5 and Z5 Premium, spec-for-spec.

That means enhanced image stabilisation, a bumped-up 23MP resolution (with up to 8MP-equivalent 5x zoom) and the world’s fastest smartphone autofocus, at just 0.03 seconds in ideal conditions.

We were impressed from what little we saw of the camera during our brief hands on, and we can’t wait to put it through its paces to see how it stands up against the mighty LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6’s snappers.

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OS and Power

Snapdragon 810 processor. 3GB of RAM. These are things we expect to see in 5in+ flagships, not in miniature phones such as the Compact.

We wish more manufacturers took this approach, but as it stands, this is the most powerful sub-5in phone from a major manufacturer. Until the iPhone 6s arrives, at least.

We didn’t have time to run in-depth benchmarks, but there was no lagging or stuttering to be seen, and given that the 810 only has to contend with a 720p resolution, we expect the Z5 Compact to fly along in everyday use.

Sony Xperia Z5 compact initial verdict

It’s early days yet, but from what we’ve seen, if you’re after a phone that’s kind to your thumbs, the Z5 Compact is, bar none, the best choice.

Its official price has yet to be revealed, but as long as its camera and battery life deliver, it looks like you’ll be hard-pressed to go wrong if you want a smaller screen.

Stay tuned for our full review and final verdict.