Sony Xperia SL Review

Sony did with the Xperia SL what it did with the Xperia arc and arc S last year – a new version with more colors, newer Android version, and souped-up processor speed. The only notable difference between the specs of the Xperia S and the SL, is that the dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor went up from 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz.

Other than that, ICS and the few fun new colors, like the pink SL unit we have here, it carries the same 12MP camera with Exmor R sensor, and is shipping with the same generous 32GB of internal memory, as the Xperia S. Is there anything new in the performance aspect? Read on to find out...

In the box:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Warranty and information leaflets
  • Sony in-ear headset


The phone looks like a boxy slab, and weighs more than usual for a 4.3-incher, yet when picked provides a firm grip precisely because of the sharp edges. It still offers the slightly curved back of the former Xperias for added grip comfort, but its matte plastic is a bit slippery, so the phone not being overly thin as some other anorexic handsets helps to grip it tight. The boxy phone has this rugged good looks, which the girly pink version we got tries to balance out.

You can compare the Sony Xperia SL with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Sony has gone with the narrower but more elongated design that first appeared in the Xperia arc, and which we very much appreciate, as it allows your thumb to reach more places on the screen. Even if your hands are not as large, you’ll still be able to navigate fairly comfortably the interface with one hand, compared to other big-screen phones that come wider.

Speaking of one-handed operation, the Xperia S offers good weight distribution, not most of it concentrated in the upper part around the camera module, as is so often the case. Thus we weren’t worried that it might tip over when we push it up a bit to press the three capacitive Android buttons under the display.

We had a ho-hum experience with these buttons - the transparent strip that is a trademark of Xperia's NXT design line lights up with the Android navigation symbols like a back arrow or home, but the keys are three teeny-tiny dots above the respective icon lit up in the strip, and are very easy to miss. You have to tap precisely on the miniature dot, and they are not very responsive to boot, making us tap two or three times to register an action very often.

There is no arguing that the transparent illuminated strip is a thing of beauty, though, and the contrast with the edgy black slab when it lights up leaves a very futuristic impression, which Sony has been aiming for with the “Iconic Identity” design. The firm says that this strip, which also houses the antenna parts for improved reception, is meant to emphasize the screen part above it.

Looking around the sides we barely notice any buttons and ports, we notice the microUSB and microHDMI ports covered with protective flaps in the chassis paint too. The flaps are a bit hard to pry open, especially if you are the nail-biting type, and even harder to push back in, but they should break in with time.

The volume rocker and the two-stage camera key on the right, as well as the lock/power button at the top are painted silver, distinct to find and tactile. The rocker in the middle of the right side, however, sits too low, and tends to get operated with the thumb joint instead of the tip.


We have a 4.3” HD display with 720x1280 pixels of resolution on the Xperia SL, the same one we have on the S; we have 342 ppi pixel density, one of the highest of all HD mobile screens, since most others are bigger. We get crisp small text, no icon jaggies, and readability even for zoomed-out websites.

The LCD screen is bright, with popping colors, but the horizontal viewing angles degrade the image more than they should on a high-end screen. Sony has included its Mobile BRAVIA engine that boosts colors and contrast while watching media, which can be turned off. Brightness and screen reflectance are decent, so outside visibility will only be an issue if the sun shines directly onto it. The touch layer is very responsive and registers even the slightest finger tap.



1. wendygarett unregistered

Lets make this phones to James bond's girl :p

2. shandesilva

Posts: 105; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

surely this deserves more than 7!!....PA has been bought by apple or what?? this is much for a fair review.

6. eisenbricher

Posts: 973; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

I think they got lost in the alphabet jungle of Sony.. t,j,s,sl,tx,p,u,v ~

10. sats.mine2k4

Posts: 208; Member since: Aug 10, 2012

Actually no 7 is perhaps right SL pros 1. The best display in the market. 2. A very good camera. 3. Beautiful design. 4. Andorid ICS Cons 1. 18 month old processor which when combined with Sony's custom UI makes for a horrible experience. You will need to root and install an AOSP build to bring it to usable. 2. Made of plastic... so build quality is not great. 3. Non-replaceable battery + no sd card slot...

26. spikie

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 01, 2012

don't iphones have Non-replaceable battery + no sd card slot...

11. jan25

Posts: 470; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

4.3, S3 chipset, abysmal viewing angles and still on ICS. 7 is about right. i don't know why would someone not consider the G Nexus or the HTC One S over this.

18. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

i dont know about the garbage nexus but maybe the one s for sure lolz

21. jan25

Posts: 470; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

garbage Nexus? how deluded are you.

22. ilriz08

Posts: 9; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

dude the only reason the nexus is more powerful in performance than the SL is because it offers updates straight from google. but the nexus has only 1 Ghz single-core processor

23. ilriz08

Posts: 9; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

oops sorry wrong info it's dual 1.2 ghz as for sl's dual 1.7

3. brock8687

Posts: 10; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

deserves a better rating thats for sure.... for what I have experienced, Sony phones are one of the most stable androids out there...... pity their marketing division sucks....

19. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

7.5 - 8 at the most i can understand this coming from PA....... i guess knowing that they are usually wayy off its "ok"...............long as they dont try and give the TX and V something like this im good


Posts: 63; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

is it me or is PA kinda anti-sony??? :(

5. ryq24

Posts: 876; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

another sony phone failing to pass the 4 stars mark.

7. camohan

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

"In that sub-$450 price range you can't find many phones with the Xperia SL specs, so Sony is doing the right thing to attract customer attention towards what would otherwise be considered a lame upgrade." Than too just 7....not done!!!

20. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered

dude i love sony but with 450 dollars you can get a One X, One S, an Evo 4g lte or if you're a tablet guy then you can get two nexuses with that kind of money............on ebay

8. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1284; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Let us hope the upcoming Nexus from SONY will get more than four stars (out of five)... SONY please bring an android phone with Xenon flash... There is very less competition for great camera phones in whole of the Android world...

9. oktopod3

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

i like the XS very much, but this pink one makes me wanna puke.

12. ruchi

Posts: 8; Member since: Apr 17, 2012

It is so much better than even galaxy s2. The display quality is amazing. It has 720p screen resolution. It's CPU is also faster than samsung galaxy s2. See the main three points here:

13. joaolx

Posts: 364; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Those negatives points make this phone a 7? What the hell?

14. javorr

Posts: 14; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Daniel hates sony , now I know it .

17. Zenith_95

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Absolutely Agreed, and his Accent seriously P*ssed me off, seriously please, Change a reviewer like John V or someone else

15. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Why is Sony making all it's Xperia phones look so much alike? People are going to have a hard time figuring out which is which! Agree that it's a beautiful line, but still it don't feel so right.

16. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Do these "star" ratings really matter when the "bias" is so evident ?

24. SonyXperiaNexus

Posts: 374; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

that thing looks horrible in pink.

25. jenna_23

Posts: 145; Member since: Apr 02, 2010

I just ordered mine black of course no pink for this girl lol ;)

27. X-Box

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 01, 2013

Xperia SL, ION, or acro S ??

28. umarfarooqkhan

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 16, 2013

Just bought SL and I MUST SAY .... AWESOME CELL PHONE. PROS 1. Outstandingly attractive , I hear ppl saying check out the cell it so expensive you know 2. Super camera , but you need to know how to use the features apart from selecting the AUTO scene , if you can set your own req by changing the snap feature it can give you more then excellent results. 3. SOLID body 4. 32 GB is more then ENOUGH , so stop winning if it does not have an external SD card, i mean who needs more then 5. Great hands free which lots of Manufacturers like SAMSUNG Iphone SUCK at , come one you buy a 4-5 grand cell phone and you get those lame ass hands free ?? 6. HD dsiplay 7. Perfect Video recording 8. Super Fast Conns 1. Viewing angle is not that great 2. Battery not that good One thing I love after buying a Sony is not everyone has it so you stand out in the crowd with your device and make other jealous, I dont know why ppl dont like the invisible strip, to me that was the main reason for buying SL, it makes it very Unique.

30. Blacklisted unregistered

hey :) can you answer my question ....can we change the color of the led lights in the transparent bars like the other xperia S , U

32. umarfarooqkhan

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 16, 2013

Nopes I dont believe it can, Maybe if you install a custom ROM then it would be possible
Xperia SL
  • Display 4.3" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 12.1 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S3, Dual-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 26 GB

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless