The Good The Sony Xperia ZL is thin, with a big, bright screen, a zippy processor, great call quality, and a camera that takes excellent pictures.
The Bad The Xperia ZL is more expensive than competing unlocked handsets. The phone’s battery life is short and its camera is sluggish.
The Bottom Line The Xperia ZL is more expensive than competing unlocked phones. The phone’s battery life is short and the camera’s very low.
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The less sophisticated cousin of the modern flagship Sony phone Xperia Z The Xperia ZL offers many, including the same powerful components and a stunning 13MP image system. Priced at a whopping $ 759.99, however, this Android phone is not an impulse purchase. That said, as it works with Jelly Bean out of the box, has a large 5-inch screen and supports 4G LTE, it’s well intended. If you are going to spend so much on your phone, however, there are other such amazing unlocked options such as HTC One Developer Edition .
Sony usually used its modern design language to create the dark and thin black plate that is the Xperia ZL. ZL’s clean lines, sophisticated rectangular shape and glossy edges will fit right in when installed near TVs and home theater equipment.
If you expect a luxurious build quality equal to the quality of the Xperia Z, you won’t find it in the ZL. Unlike the Z, the Xperia ZL has no water and dust resistant chassis. The phone also has a more mundane plastic backrest rather than premium glass material for the Xperia Z sports. However, the ZL’s textured back cover is nice to the touch, repels fingerprints and provides a secure grip.
Measuring only 0.39 inches thick, the device is also versatile and easily slides into tight pockets. Thanks to its large 5-inch screen and 5.18-inch by 2.7-inch-wide, ZL’s placement with other objects is a squeeze. The phone also has a certain tilt, which tilts at 5.33 ounces.
The well-appointed Sony Xperia ZL (pictures)
The physical controls on the Xperia ZL are rare, and the right side of the phone has only a thin volume rocker, a power key and a dedicated shutter button. In a unique design, Sony has placed a power key in the center of the right side of the phone. I found it to be within reach of my thumb, but to be honest, I prefer to set it slightly higher up the spine for added comfort.
On the left is a Micro-USB port, and at the top is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Another cool design choice is the placement of a 2MP front camera. It is located below the screen in the bottom right corner, not the traditional place above the phone display. I like the slim shiny Xperia ZL indicator, also beneath the display, which pulses in different colors when notifications are turned on.
You’ll find a 13-megapixel main camera on the back of the ZL along with an LED flash. There is also a small speaker and doors that provide access to SIM and microSD slots. However, the battery of the phone is 2370 mAh, so it is officially transmitted manually – it cannot be replaced.
With a Sony Xperia ZL 5-inch screen, the full HD resolution of 1 920×180 pixels certainly has many visual effects. The colors were bright and the details were sharp, whether I was browsing photos or reading ebooks and web pages. However, this means that the screen is not the most impressive I’ve seen. For example, I noticed that the viewing angles are very small.
The color quality and brightness quickly deteriorated as I looked at the ZL display in any direction other than direct. In addition, although the Xperia ZL’s screen is actually brighter than the HTC One’s (1,920×1,880-pixel, 4.7-inch) viewing angles, the One’s viewing angles are much wider, making for more stunning images and videos. On the contrary, in addition to simply killing the brightness, the tilt of the display at an angle of the Xperia display led to a distracting greenish tint to white.
Software, user interface and features
Past Sony phones like Xperia Ion and Xperia P were far beyond the curve. In fact, the Xperia TL was the first Sony phone to feature features and components along with its peers for smartphones. The company has certainly improved its game with Xperia ZL. The phone runs the Android Jelly Bean operating system from Google (version 4.1.2), which supports all your modern mobile communication needs. Of course, Google can prepare not the latest iteration of Android (currently version 4.2), but very few devices except LG Nexus 4 and upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 , can boast that.
Although the Xperia ZL offers all the power and flexibility of today’s Android plus, it has built-in support for Google services, including enhanced Google Now search capabilities. The phone does not run pure Android, but instead is rooted in the Sony interface. For example, thanks to its own lock screen, for example, Xperia ZL offers its own special sauce company.
Highlights are a handy weather widget and a nice remote control app so you can use your phone as a second click for TVs and AV receivers. With Remote software, I could easily manage the test units of Samsung and Panasonic HDTV, powering them, switching inputs, and more. You will have to use the application in landscape mode, which, in my opinion, is an inconvenient way to hold the remote.
You can also download and play a small selection of exclusive Xperia games on ZL. Don’t worry too much; these titles are not true for PlayStation Vita or PSP games. They are simply an advanced fare in the style of smartphones or third-party headlines created on Xperia mobile phones.
Although the look of the Xperia ZL is slightly different from the look of the Xperia Z, the internal components of the phone are the same. Under the hood are a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.
This helped ZL get a respectable Linpack 569.8 MFLOP (multithreaded) rating. The Quadrant’s 770 phone benchmark, a test that evaluates overall system performance, was also high. These numbers were enough for ZL to keep up with HTC Droid DNA (401.6 MFLOP, 8.165) and Oppo Find 5 (573.6 MFLOP, 7.233), but not enough to reflect HTC One (696.97 IFLOP, 12.194).
I tested the unlocked Xperia ZL on AT&T’s GSM network in New York and was impressed with its call quality. Callers described my voice as crystal-clear with no background noise or audio artifacts to speak of. In fact they had difficulty telling that I was speaking to them on a cellular connection. Voices came through loud and clear through the earpiece on my end as well, and callers’ vocal tones were surprisingly rich and warm.
Sony Xperia ZL call quality sampleListen now:
Through the loudspeaker, the people I spoke with definitely noticed a drop in call quality. They reported the distracting background of hissing and said that my voice was muffled. The ZL speaker has a lot of volume, though enough to fill a small office meeting room.
Though the Sony Xperia ZL is an unlocked device, it is compatible with a wide range of LTE bands. Specifically it will support LTE bands 1, 2, 4, 5, and 17. As a result I was able to slide in an AT&T SIM card and immediately jump onto the carrier’s 4G LTE network in New York.
This is a good thing, since I was able to enjoy a fast data rate, average uploads reached a high of 30.4 Mbps. The average download speed was much slower, running at 4.3 Mbps.
This may be due to its large, bright, vibrant screen, but I found the battery life of the Xperia ZL less satisfying. I would definitely have to plug in my phone for charging overnight or risk getting dry by late evening. Battery testing supported this, the Xperia ZL did not last long 5 hours and 42 minutes on the CNET Labs Video Battery benchmark. It can’t hold a candle to HTC One’s longevity for 9 hours and 37 minutes on the same test. However, this result is better than Sony’s own rating of ZL for 5 hours and 30 minutes. The phone also has a battery standby mode that you can turn on to increase battery life.
If you are familiar with Sony Cyber-shot cameras and shoot, you will do well with the Xperia ZL renderer. The software has a wide range of functions, scene modes and settings, all built into an interface pulled straight from the company’s compact cameras. With a 13MP sensor and a resolution ranging from VGA to 12 megapixels, the Xperia ZL camera captures outstanding image quality for a smartphone.
In the room, the studio footage was clear, with realistic colors and clear details. The white balance in the phone was also spotty and the images were properly exposed.
Moving on the street, Xperia ZL continued to demonstrate their mastery of images. The details were sharp and the colors in the pedestrian clothes and leaves were bright, but not yet oversaturated. Heavy image processing Sony usually draws pictures with an almost cartoonish plane, especially if you clearly process the images.
However, many features of the camera program, including panorama and HDR modes, are desirable inclusions. Where the camera really shines is when to bring the macro worlds closer together. If you are going to make great plans for nature, this is the device for you. My dense flower snapshots were colors that sang and detailed along with what you would get from more reliable cameras.
There were a few things that gave me pause. The Xperia ZL uses what Sony defaults to “Superior auto” mode. Although it is smart enough to automatically detect and select the appropriate scene modes depending on the environmental conditions, it requires a lot of processing power. As a result, if Superior auto chooses HDR or other scene themes that feature multiple frames in a row, you will most likely get dual images of moving subjects. I found that choosing a normal phone mode would help solve the problem.
Another downside of the camera is the slow shooting time. Usually I had to wait about a second between each shot I shot.
The Sony Xperia ZL has a lot going for it, but its price tag is $ 759.99 high. It has an elegant and elegant style if you can forgive the plastic backing, and has both a quad-core zipper processor and support for fast 4G LTE. These features are compelling, but the best deal in my book is the $ 649.99 HTC One Developer Edition. Least of all, One offers more internal storage, a better screen, and unmatched build quality. However, I suggest choosing the Xperia ZL over the HTC One, if the stunning photos and the availability of a local SD card that can store them are your priorities. A cheaper version of the unlocked Android is LG’s Nexus 4, which costs $ 299, though it lacks 4G LTE support.