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Sony Xperia ZL Review

Sony Xperia ZL

Posted: , posted by Nick T.

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Interface and functionality:

Android 4.1.2 comes running out of the box on the Sony Xperia ZL. This may not be the most up-to-date version of the operating system, but it's fairly recent so we'll take the handset as it is. Eventually, the ZL will get updated to Android version 4.2, but a specific date has yet to be announced.

As the case is with Sony's other Android handsets, the platform's UI has been heavily modified both in terms of appearance and functionality. And to tell you the truth, we're happy with what Sony has done to it. Unlike most Android devices from other makers, the Xperia ZL comes with several themes pre-loaded, differing by accent color and set of wallpapers used for the lock and home screens. Speaking of wallpapers, it is nice to see that there's over a dozen of them thrown in to match your mood and taste.

The UI of the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
The UI of the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
The UI of the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
The UI of the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review

Overall, the user interface is very pretty, but it's also quite practical. For example, the selection of so-called “small apps” is a handy addition – think of them as simple applications that run in a small window of their own, hovering above the UI. These include a timer, calculator, notes, voice recorder, and an app that lets you use the phone's built-in infrared blaster – not a whole lot, but more of them can be downloaded for free from the Play Store. 

The so called small apps are a handy addition - Sony Xperia ZL Review
The so called small apps are a handy addition - Sony Xperia ZL Review


When it comes to widgets, you get the usual set included with Android 4.1, but a few handy tools by Sony have also been thrown in. Among them is a widget for easy access to contacts you've recently called, a couple of social networking widgets, toggle buttons for a number of the phone's functions, and a notes widget.

The only thing we can't get over is the glitchy lock screen. If your swipe is too slow, then the screen won't even bother to unlock itself, which can be very frustrating.

We have no complaints whatsoever about the on-screen keyboard. In fact, we have to give Sony a thumbs up for adding a keyboard that is so smart and customizable. The user is free to tweak its layout and skin, while the list of additional languages for typing is very long indeed. And yes, with its large, easy to press buttons and built-in word prediction that “speaks” multiple languages, typing on the virtual keyboard is an effortless task.

We have no complaints with about the on-screen keyboard - Sony Xperia ZL Review
We have no complaints with about the on-screen keyboard - Sony Xperia ZL Review
We have no complaints with about the on-screen keyboard - Sony Xperia ZL Review

Software:

Socialife is an app present on the Xperia ZL, provided courtesy of Sony. Think of it as a hub that aggregates your social networking feeds under one roof. Of course, Facebook and Twitter are supported, but you can also add YouTube and Google Reader subscriptions to the list. The app may come in handy for heavy social networking users, but its visual presentation leaves room for improvement.

Sony Car - Sony Xperia ZL Review
Remote control - Sony Xperia ZL Review
With the Remote Control application you can use the built-in IR blaster to control a TV, set-top box, or home theater system. As you might expect, we gave it a try and we were pleased by how easy the app is to set up and use.


Sony Car is the app you'll need if you ever intend to use the Xperia ZL while driving (even though you probably shouldn't). Basically, it serves as an interface with large, easy-to-press buttons, providing shortcuts to apps you might need, such as the GPS navigation or the music player.



Performance and memory:

With a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC running at 1.5GHz, the Sony Xperia ZL sure has the raw processing power to be a flawlessly performing smartphone. And to no surprise, the benchmark scores we got with it were nothing short of impressive. 3D games – even the most demanding available on Android, run smoothly despite the screen's high resolution. Apps launch instantly and switching between them happens in the blink of an eye thanks to the 2GB of RAM that are on board. Choppiness is a very rare event on the Sony Xperia ZL, occurring only if there's something going on in the background or if there are a gazillion widgets loaded on all its home screens, so if perfomance is what you value the most, chances are that you won't be disappointed.


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu GLBenchmark 2.5 (Egypt HD) Vellamo
(HTML5 / Metal)
Sony Xperia ZL 7242 20671 3608 2174 / 635
Samsung Galaxy S 4 12078 24701 4437 1702 / 704
Sony Xperia Z 8221 20835 3382 2198 / 626
HTC One 12481 23308 3551 2395 / 781

There are 11.73GB available to the user out of the phone's 16GB of storage, which is not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary. If you intend to carry a lot of media on your Sony Xperia ZL – photos, videos, music and such, then sooner or later you'll have to expand the phone's storage capacity using a microSD card.


Internet browser and connectivity:

Surfing the web using the Sony Xperia ZL is a pleasure not only because the Chrome browser has no troubles rendering even the heaviest of web sites, but also because there's a large screen to view entire web pages on, and its high resolution means you'll be able to read even the smallest of fonts. Since this is Chrome we're working with, our desktop bookmarks and opened pages are accessible on the phone, and vice versa.

Browsing the web on the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
Browsing the web on the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
Browsing the web on the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review
Browsing the web on the Sony Xperia ZL - Sony Xperia ZL Review


As far as connectivity goes, there seems to be nothing missing. Both LTE and HSPA+ networks are supported, in addition to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC. There's even an FM Radio included – a feature sometimes overlooked on high-end smartphones nowadays.

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Sony Xperia ZL

Sony Xperia ZL

OS: Android 5.1 5.0 4.4.4 4.3 4.2.2 4.1.2
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8Good
Display5.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) TFT
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz, Krait processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.18 x 2.75 x 0.39 inches
(131.6 x 69.8 x 9.8 mm)
5.33 oz  (151 g)
Battery2370 mAh, 10 hours talk time

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