One oft-cited benefit of the Android ecosystem is its diversity. If you don’t like something that Samsung did to its flagship this year, you can go to another company whose phone you like better without leaving all your Google Play purchases behind.
But a confluence of factors—a slowed rate of hardware improvement, limits on what you can physically fit into a smartphone, general lack of imagination and risk-averseness from OEMs who are making razor-thin profits if they’re making profits at all—means that most flagship phones are frustratingly homogenous. Take a 5-point-something-inch screen and whatever Qualcomm’s latest chip is and squeeze it into a rectangle with the best battery and camera that will fit, and you’ve got yourself a flagship smartphone.
This is perhaps the worst deal for people who want a smaller smartphone that isn’t an older or slower smartphone. Flagships at or near 4.5-inches are essentially nonexistent. This brings us to Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact, which is finally coming to the US after a few months of availability overseas. While that release approach means it’s not the freshest phone around, it’s still pretty much your only option if you want a phone that is simultaneously fast, small, and modern (at least until that “iPhone 5SE” comes out).