Xperia ZL hands-on: Mammoth roundup [Video]

by XB on 11th January 2013

in Featured Content, Hands On, Videos, Xperia Z and Xperia ZL

Following on from our Sony Xperia Z roundup yesterday, we’ve done the same for its sibling, the Xperia ZL. The Xperia ZL (C650X) didn’t get as much sole coverage as its water-resistant cousin, the Xperia Z (C660X), but we still managed to unearth plenty of hands-on impressions from CES.

The Xperia ZL was just as well-received as the Xperia Z. Many liked its relatively compact form-factor over the Xperia Z, fitting better in the hand. However, despite this, they conceded that the Xperia Z felt like a more premium device with its glass back over the plastic Xperia ZL. Once again, there was some nit-picking with screen viewing angles, but apart from that, most seemed to like the phone. Click through for the full roundup of hands-on impressions for the Xperia ZL.

Xperia ZL hands-on roundup

Android Authority: “The Xperia ZL is essentially the little brother of the Xperia Z. It’s pretty much the same in terms of hardware, but comes in a smaller, slightly differently shaped case. Both are 5” screen, quad-core smartphones, aimed at competing with the likes of the Galaxy Note 2. As you can see in the video, the Xperia ZL does a pretty good job of maximising the size of the screen, whilst still keeping it accessible using only one hand.”


Android Central: “In some alternate universe, the Xperia ZL might have been Sony’s early 2013 flagship, and if that were the case, we wouldn’t be terribly disappointed. It’s a perfectly nice phone, though on the international stage it’s destined to live in the shadow of its big brother.”


Android Police: “On the software side, both phones (Xperia Z and Xperia ZL) felt markedly faster than the last high-end Sony device I used, the Xperia TX (similar to the Xperia T). While the bump to a quad-core processor has sped things up a bit, Sony’s Z and ZL simply felt sluggish when put up against the competition. Compared to HTC’s most recent hardware, they’re probably on about the same level. Compared to Samsung’s, it’s no contest: Sony’s software is very obviously behind the curve, and it’s a critical blow to the splendid hardware they’ve paired it with. HTC is supposedly remedying this in Sense 5 (expected this year, possibly at MWC), but for Sony, there appears to be no rescue in sight. Sony’s been using the same tired-looking skin since Gingerbread, and it absolutely has to go, and so does its lacklustre performance.”


Droid-Life: “I spent a couple of minutes with the Xperia ZL, the slightly smaller of the two, but came away more impressed because of that lesser bulk. The frame and body are small enough that the entire front of the phone is almost all display – gorgeous 443ppi display. It flies thanks to the Snapdragon S4 Pro and 2GB RAM. The custom UI that Sony has been tweaking over the years is actually pretty fluid and fine-tuned. And the camera at 13MP with an Exmor RS sensor is insanely good.”


Engadget: “To our minds, the Xperia ZL’s chassis may actually be the better of the two, what with its soft touch contoured back and gently curved edges that make for an incredibly pleasing in-hand fit. In our brief time touring the UI, we didn’t notice any damning hiccups that would point towards a lack of software optimization. In fact, the ZL was quite literally snappy — unsurprising, considering the 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro lying beneath its exterior.

Unfortunately, there is one minor flaw that we couldn’t overlook and a surprising one at that. Despite the 1080p TFT Reality Display employed, there’s a noticeable washout that occurs when you tilt the device about 15-degrees in any direction. Thankfully, it only reduces the screen’s brilliance by a very slight amount and doesn’t worsen as you continue to move the device around. We’d have hoped this particular gripe would’ve been one that Sony could’ve remedied considering how badly it marred the user experience of the Xperia TL.”

Gizmodo: “The Xperia ZL may be 0.08 inches thicker than the Z, but despite having the same-sized screen, it actually has a smaller footprint (5.19 x 2.75 inches vs. 5.47 x 2.80 inches on the Z). That’s because there is virtually no bezel at all—the front is basically all screen. That gives it a really nice look. The back is a curved, matte plastic similar to the HTC One or Droid DNA. Unfortunately the ZL is not waterproof, but it does gain two other features we love. 1. It has a physical camera button, which we wish every phone had, and 2. It has an IR blaster, so you can use your phone as a universal remote for your home entertainment center. It might sound weird, but there are some terrific apps that take advantage of that technology, and we wish more devices had it.”

GSM Arena: “The Xperia ZL is almost the same phone as the Z, almost. Most notably it’s not dust-protected and water-resistant. The Xperia ZL is shorter (131.6mm vs. 139mm), but also thicker (9.8mm vs. 7.9mm) than the Z, and slightly heavier too, at 151g (vs. 146g). Note that the Xperia ZL is smaller (shorter and narrower) than the Samsung Galaxy S III, but packs a bigger screen! The ZL drops the glossy back for nice patterned plastic (which we like as it’s a lot more resistant to fingerprints).”


Phandroid: “All-in-all, the device felt solid, but we couldn’t hep notice the materials felt noticeably “cheaper” than its larger sibling with a lighter, more plasticy feel. Still, the device is able to match the Z pound-for-pound spec-wise (that’s all that really matters, right?) and there are some who will find the ZL’s slimmer bezels more becoming.”


Phone Arena: “Frankly, it might be rather difficult for some people to notice the slightly more compact size of the Xperia ZL while holding it in the hand. However, instead of sporting the glossy finish of its sibling, the Xperia ZL opts for a cleaner appearance with its all-white matte paint job, which of course, maintains the more cleanly looking appearance between the two – then again, it misses out on the dustproof and waterproof characteristics of the Xperia Z. Some of the other notable differences with this include a dedicated shutter key for quick photo snaps, a small plastic cover in the rear that provides access to a microSD card slot, and a front-facing camera that’s positioned in an unfamiliar spot in the lower right corner of the screen.”


Phonedog: “One thing I’m a little iffy about on the Xperia ZL is that the front-facing camera is located on the bottom right hand corner of the device. I’m used to front-facing cameras being on the top near the earpiece, and I feel that it’s an appropriate place.”


Pocket-Lint: “It’s a very different statement from the Xperia Z, and one with which the many who feel unready to take any big risks will be more comfortable. Losing the waterproofing reduces the size dramatically while still using the same 5-inch 443ppi screen. The smaller form factor means it’s only fractionally bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S III, while being a lot smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note II. In the hand and its actually very manageable, with the rubberised textured backing giving plenty of grip on which to hold.”

Pocketnow: “The ZL’s substantial plastic construction, rather than making the phone seem cheap, instead manages to give the handset the appearance of being just a tad more rugged than the Xperia Z. The smart design continues to the phone’s bezel, which we found to be quite minimal and attractive. Then again, not all the ZL’s changes are for the best, and some seem just outright odd. To that end, we’re left scratching our heads as to Sony’s decision to put the ZL’s front-facing camera down on its bottom edge, where it seems like it’s just asking for your hand to obscure it.”


Recombu: “Sony claims that the ZL is the most compact 5-inch smartphone around, but that’s virtually the only thing that justifies its existence. It is a few millimetres thicker, but what’s immediately noticeable about the Xperia ZL is the sheer size of the screen’s real estate. As well as going almost from edge to edge, it’s shorter than the Xperia Z despite having exactly the same screen size, though it does have a mottled plastic panel on the rear that makes it look a touch less classy than the Xperia Z.”


Sony Blog: “Stephen from the Sony Mobile Team stopped by SGNL to debut the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL smartphones.”


Trusted Reviews: “There is an unusual hardware bit on the Sony Xperia ZL, though. There’s a flip-out plastic hatch on the rear that hides the microSD memory card and SIM slot, and the user-facing camera is in a very unusual position. It’s near the bottom-right of the screen, in the bezel. Sony couldn’t tell us why it was there – we assume it’s to allow the super-slim bezel of the phone. But it doesn’t half show off your double chins while you’re video chatting.

The Sony Xperia ZL’s hardware doesn’t quite make the same impression as the Xperia Z, but if it sells for significantly less than its glass-bodied bro, it could prove to be Sony’s Android hit of the year. However, as it doesn’t do anything remarkable to mark itself out from the new 5-inch smartphone pack, the Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn’t have too much to worry about from the Xperia ZL.”

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