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Sony Xperia L Review


Sony Xperia L Review

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The Sony Xperia L is the smartphone to slide in at the bottom end of the Japanese firm's range, launching alongside the mid-range Xperia SP to complete a trio of handsets headlined by the Sony Xperia Z. It's the natural replacement for the Xperia J, which launched at IFA 2012 alongside 007's Sony Xperia T - handsets which bear a strong resemblance to the Xperia L in terms of design.

When we said it borrows design cues from the J and T we weren't kidding, as it's difficult to tell the trio apart. Sony has stuck with the same curved rear made famous by the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc on the Xperia L, instead of cladding it in the straight-edged, glass finish found on the Xperia Z.

A noticeably plastic finish greets you when you pick up the handset, but it feels sturdy and there was little flex in the body - meaning the Xperia L doesn't feel too cheap. The curved, soft touch plastic rear does mean the Xperia L sits comfortably in the hand and offers a good level of grip. It's a well balanced device and although it may look chunky at the ends, it's positively slender in the middle measuring in at 130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98mm.

Something which the Sony Xperia L has borrowed from its high powered brother is the distinctive power/lock key located half way down the right hand side of the handset. Also on the right side is a volume rocker switch and a dedicated camera key, all of which are easy to hit one-handed. Up top there's a 3.5mm headphone jack while on the left is a microUSB port.

The front of the Xperia L is dominated by its 4.3-inch FWVGA display with the standard Android keys appearing onscreen instead of below it. With this is mind we were disappointed about just how much bezel was left under the screen, with the chunky plastic adding what appears to be unnecessary bulk to the phone.

The screen itself is a pretty decent offering, especially if the Xperia L does come in sporting a sub-£200 price tag, with colours appearing vibrant while text and images look pretty sharp. Of course on closer inspection you'll be able to define pixels, but with a decent viewing angle and a bright, 854 x 480 resolution it's difficult to fault it at this price point.

On screen the action is provided by Android Jelly Bean, version 4.1.2, with a 1GHz dual-core processor running the show under the hood. General navigation is snappy and we were able to move swiftly through homescreens, of which you can have up to seven, and dive in and out of the app list without too much hassle.

The responsive touchscreen means the Xperia L doesn't have trouble registering your various pokes and prods, which also helps to enhance the user experience. Sony has applied its own layer of gloss to Jelly Bean, with its a homescreen editor function allowing you to quickly and easily manage your widgets, apps and shortcuts as well as changing the phone's theme and wallpaper - making it that bit more personal. Lovely.

The custom user interface also sees the addition of the handy quick settings toggles in the pull down notification bar, allowing you to control things such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC without having to dive into the full blown menus. Applications aren't quite as speedy though, with most taking a second or two to load up with more demanding apps such as the camera sometimes taking even longer to sort themselves out.

The keyboard is relatively basic but this isn't a bad thing at is allows for well spaced keys and acceptable next word prediction resulting in us typing pretty quickly. In terms of photographic ability Sony has equipped the Xperia L with an impressive 8MP rear facing camera which also boasts a single LED flash, 720p video recording and HDR and panorama modes.

You also get a front facing VGA quality snapper on the front of the Xperia L, but it's the offering round the back which helps the handset stand out from the competition.

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