Xperia ZL review roundup

by XB on 18th June 2013

in Featured Content, Reviews, Videos, Xperia Z and Xperia ZL

Xperia ZL ReviewWe’re a bit late with this review roundup, but thought it was worth posting regardless. The Sony Xperia ZL (C650X) was only launched in certain regions and is a sibling device to the Xperia Z (C660X). It doesn’t have the water resistant qualities of the latter but it is the most compact 5-inch smartphone out there and offers some features the Xperia Z doesn’t have such as the infra-red sensor and dedicated camera button.

Most of the reviews ultimately end up discussing the ZL’s place in Sony’s line-up, knowing that the flagship device is the Z. However, there are some mixed opinions as to which phone people prefer. The likes of Engadget says they prefer the ZL given the better ergonomics, however others say it is average compared to other flagships out there. Anyway, you can glance over the reviews we’ve gathered below.

Xperia ZL review roundup

Android Authority: “When you draw the line, the Sony Xperia ZL is a great Android smartphone that delivers the best performance on the market, the most compact form factor on a smartphone with a 5-inch display, and a decent camera. Moreover, the design and build quality could prove superior to the Xperia Z, even though the ZL doens’t offer protection against water and dust. The display however, while still a decent one, is not the best around, and that may turn off some potential customers.”

Android Central: “Aside from a few minor gripes, Sony has put together a great device with the Xperia ZL. The phone looks great and feels good in the hand even with the large display. If you’re in the U.S. and have the money to spend on an unlocked device (the ZL runs $629 direct from Sony), you’ll be rewarded with a phone that’s top of the line in design, specs and software. Best of all this may be one of the few unlocked phones this year that supports both AT&T and T-Mobile fully on LTE and HSPA+ 42.”

Android Police: “As much potential as I see in the Xperia ZL, it’s difficult to recommend it outright. The screen isn’t very good. The camera is very difficult to use effectively. Battery life is far from great. Even the construction materials make me question this phone a little (that said, the Z would almost definitely not have that concern). And as far as Sony’s come on the software front, it’s still very apparent they’re behind the likes of HTC, Samsung, and even LG in creating a consistently smooth, cohesive experience. The ZL is not a bad phone, but it’s not the phone Sony needs to stand up to the Galaxy S4, or the HTC One. Even LG’s Optimus G Pro seems like a more attractive option at this point. This is unfortunate for Sony, because try as they might, the competition is moving forward so rapidly that they can’t seem to catch up.”

Area Mobile (translated): “The Xperia ZL is slightly thicker, but shorter and narrower. The large display and quad-core processor has it anyway and to top it all, it is better because of the stronger curves and the rubberized back of the hand. It also has, in contrast to the Xperia Z via an infrared transmitter, which can be controlled via the technical equipment. There is not protected against water and dust, and does not have the distinctive design of Z. Which device is better, which will sell better? That would depend primarily on the personal taste – and the fact that Z is to get all network providers to contract and not to ZL. Sony would not easily integrate the IR port in the Z and the device can shrink a few millimeters at the same time?”

Ars Technica: “When you get right down to it, the Xperia ZL isn’t a very remarkable phone. It’s certainly not bad, though the screen’s viewing angles would probably keep me from choosing it for myself; it’s just that, once again, Sony has been beaten to the punch by other vendors. Sony isn’t first to market in the US with many of the features you’ll find on this phone, and nothing the ZL offers is head-and-shoulders above the high-end offerings from the likes of Samsung, HTC, and LG. Even if these shortcomings don’t matter to you, the imminent Xperia Z puts all of the ZL’s virtues—the camera, the software, the high-resolution screen—into a thinner, lighter, and waterproof package. As a preview for that phone, the ZL is encouraging, but by itself it has trouble standing out from the crowd.”

The Cellular Guru: “All-in-all the Sony Xperia ZL is a pretty fantastic Android phone, and I have very few complaints about it. The hardware is great, the screen is gorgeous, and the software is fast and responsive. That’s all well and good, but I still don’t feel particularly excited about the Xperia ZL. There’s nothing over-the-top or innovative about the hardware or the software, and there’s no killer feature that will really make this phone stand out in stores. If you’re eyeing a new Android phone, the key differentiators with the Xperia ZL are the elegant design, stunning BRAVIA display for watching videos, killer battery life, and a large screen in a small package. If those sound like features you’re interested in, than you’ll absolutely love the Sony Xperia ZL.”

Cnet: “The Sony Xperia ZL has a lot going for it, but its unsubsidized price of $759.99 is high. It sports a sleek and elegant style, if you can forgive the plastic backing, and has both a zippy quad-core processor and support for swift 4G LTE. Those features are compelling, but a better deal in my book is the $649.99 HTC One Developer Edition. For less, the One offers more internal storage, a better screen, and a build quality that can’t be matched. Still, I suggest choosing the Xperia ZL over the HTC One if stunning photos and having a local SD card on which to store them are your priorities. A cheaper unlocked Android option is LG’s Nexus 4, which costs $299, though it lacks 4G LTE support.”

Electronista: “Even though it lags behind the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 in pure performance numbers, there is no denying that the Xperia ZL is a solid Android option. Sony has done a great job of packing a giant display and decent hardware into a relatively compact form. Despite the use of cheaper body materials, the ZL still manages to feel great in your hand with the side-mounted power button falling neatly under your thumb.”

Engadget: “To answer the most obvious question: if a mysterious benefactor showed us both the Xperia Z and ZL while letting us keep only one, we’d choose the ZL. The smarter ergonomics are just too valuable to ignore, as they produce a 5-inch phone without the penalties in size or comfort that sometimes come with supersize dimensions. Waterproofing isn’t all that vital, either. While the Z would be our choice if we regularly lounged by the pool, we have a hunch that the plastic-backed ZL is more likely to stay good-looking throughout its lifetime. Glass isn’t very stylish when it’s shattered, after all.”

GSM Arena: “The Sony Xperia ZL is not as good looking as its glass-clad sibling, or most of the direct rivals for that matter. Nor is it the most powerful device on the market. We’re tempted to call the Xperia Z the better part of the pair and forget about it. The most compact FullHD five-incher is the Xperia ZL’s defining feature – and the emphasis is on compact. But … the Xperia ZL is a FullHD five-incher after all, and for Sony having two horses in the flagship race must feel good. Plus, there’s always people who like to cheer for the dark horse.”

Gadget Verdict: “Finally a phone that pairs the advances of Android with top of the line build quality and craftsmanship. While I appreciate Samsung pushing the envelope with features in the S3 and forthcoming S4, I’ve long waited for someone to match the device quality of Apple’s iPhone line. Sony has finally delivered on this, making a phone that’s every bit as nice to look at and hold as it is to use. Their Android skin does an excellent job of enhancing Android while preserving the core user experience. The screen is simply stunning, and the screen to device ratio is unparalleled. After using it on the Nexus 4, I’m disappointed it doesn’t support wireless charging. The camera is bafflingly mediocre. I remain hopeful a software update can help improve that situation, despite not having any specific knowledge that this is in the works. Maybe I’m just holding it wrong. Camera aside, the phone is a joy to look at and use and should be at the very top of anyone’s phone consideration list.”

Gizmodo: “This is a phone we were ready and even wanting to like, and if Sony had released it at CES rather than merely announce it and then wait five months, we’d probably have liked it a lot more, but that’s how quickly technology is evolving in the mobile space. The HTC One and the Galaxy S4 are simply better than this phone in almost every way, and that’s all there is to it. Sony is moving in the right direction, it’s just too slow in getting there.”

IntoMobile: “From the compact and sleek design, to the software experience across the board, the Xperia ZL is one awesome device. There’s a lot of competition out there, and Sony has certainly brought the fight, challenging the HTC One, Galaxy S 4, and just about any flagship device out there. To make things even sweeter for Sony, the latest Xperia devices come in two different flavors, both unique enough to hold their own. At the end of the day, the Sony Xperia ZL has what it takes to run with the big dogs, and pass a few up in the process.”

Laptop Mag: “The Sony Xperia ZL is a powerful handset with a superior camera, a premium design and excellent audio. However, the price for this unlocked Android phone is pretty high when you consider that the HTC Developer Edition costs $649. (The unlocked One without the bootloader unlocked costs $549.) HTC’s device offers much wider viewing angles and a faster processor, along with more sophisticated software for its built-in TV remote. But the ZL’s 13-MP camera has the One’s 4-MP shooter beat by a mile. Our biggest complaint about the ZL is its below-average battery life, though you can squeeze more juice out of this handset in Stamina Mode.”

Mobile Syrup: “Sony’s Xperia ZL is an excellent smartphone. For a 5-inch smartphone, the Xperia ZL is extremely compact and comfortable to use with one hand. Its integration with Sony’s ecosystem will be emphasized in its marketing, but at the end of the day you’ll derive little advantage from the Walkman or PlayStation branding over a competing OEM. Rather, Sony should focus on its strengths: a superb camera experience, a remarkably sharp display and Android experience with substantive advantages over its competitors. Whether these inclusions will be enough to spur sales remains to be seen, but barring an HTC-like re-imagining of its smartphone portfolio, the Xperia ZL appears to be the best Sony can offer.”

Phone Arena: “If the Sony Xperia Z was Batman, then the Sony Xperia ZL would be Robin – a less exciting sidekick, yet a superhero nonetheless. At first we were a bit underwhelmed by the latter’s lack of visual appeal, but the more we used it, the more we got used to its peculiarities, so we eventually grew quite fond of Sony’s new device. Note that the Sony Xperia ZL is not a smartphone for those who value fashion over functionality. Rather, it is a capable multimedia device meant to be used extensively, not admired behind a glass window. It delivers nearly flawless performance with its powerful, quad-core processor, while its 13MP will capture those precious moments in great clarity.”

Pocketnow: “Bottom line, Sony has made a solid hit with the Xperia ZL. It’s a gorgeous phone that doesn’t seem like if it’s going to break with normal use. It provides a solid user experience from day-to-day use, to the most intense tests we gave it. It also provides a very delightful experience when holding it and using it, proving that you don’t need a huge device to get a 5-inch display. Now, in all fairness, if I were to not compare this phone against anything else, I’ll admit I loved my experience testing it. I feel Sony thought it out well, and if all the buzz surrounding competing devices isn’t a problem to you, I can assure you this device is a very good buy.”

Slashgear: “The Sony XPERIA ZL takes what the Sony XPERIA Z was good at – and remains good at – and puts it in a slightly more hand-friendly form factor. If you’d like your handset to have a massive amount of glass, you’ll want the Z. If instead you want a slightly less pretty machine that’s better for an accident here or there, go ZL. Both the Sony XPERIA Z and the Sony XPERIA ZL are available in the United States today, though you’ll not find them attached to any one unique carrier. This unit works with AT&T and T-Mobile microSIM cards: you’ll also not find any Verizon 4G LTE attaching itself to this set. Consider that, but consider this too: here Sony puts forth its greatest effort to date. If you’ve enjoyed Sony smartphones in the past, you’ll certainly have an impressive time here.”

Tech 2: “It’s feature rich and has the performance to back it up. Moreover, it isn’t plagued by the little niggling issues we found with the Xperia Z (earpiece problem, poor loud speaker, overheating, non-ergonomic design). It’s also a lot more comfortable to hold due to its relatively smaller size. We recommend the Xperia ZL over the Z despite the lack of the water and dust-proofing capabilities.” (translated): “The unit is beautifully finished, has a nice big screen, has good hardware on board, gives no hickups in applications, working fast applications, games, benchmarks and the browser, the Sony UI is a beautiful clean skin. GPS has quick fixes that are well maintained. For now this is really becoming a device where you have to tell you, but there are some downsides to as the Xperia ZL. The viewing angles of the screen are very poor and in the year 2013, that is just not at such high-end and expensive devices in my opinion.”

Yugatech: “For what it’s worth, the Sony Xperia ZL is every bit a flagship handset as the Xperia Z. If anything, the only significant difference between the two is the lack of water/dust proof feature, as well as the classy design of the Z. In exchange for that, the ZL boasts a compact frame that enables a comfortable one-hand operation; a feat that’s unusual for 5-inch and up smartphones. As far the other aspects are concerned, it fared no different from the one we got from the Xperia Z. What caught us off guard, however, is how efficient the Xperia ZL is in consuming its limited battery resources. Add all of these characteristics, plus the price difference makes this a handset a very viable option for those who wouldn’t mind forgoing the elegant body of the Xperia Z.”

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