Xperia ZL. Sony gets it right
I am not a fan of big screen phones so when the 5″ Sony Xperia ZL arrived in my mailbox, I was expecting to find yet another good phone that was too big to hold comfortably in my hand. Well, colour me pleasantly surprised. Not only has Sony put together a good phone but somehow crammed the 5″ screen into a surprisingly compact and comfortable to hold package.
This is one elegant looking phone measuring 131.6 x 69.3 x 9.8 mm (5.18 x 2.73 x 0.39 in) and tipping the scales at 151 g (5.33 oz) the front is all glass with just a whisper of a bezel, the sides are decorated with a slash of shiny plastic and the back is a grippy rubberized plastic with nice curves that makes this big phone comfortable to hold even in my small hands even thought it is not the thinnest phone out there.
The top of the phone has the audio port and down the right side you will see the volume control rocker, Power Switch..an unusual location that I really like and wonder of wonders a camera button. There is nothing on the bottom and the micro USB port.
Turn the power on and prepare to be impressed by the 5-inch 1080p display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch. It is bright and sharp with great colours, provided you are looking at it straight on. Viewing angles on the Xperia ZL are the narrowest I have seen in a long time. If for example you are used to leaving your phone on a table in a restaurant and being able to read messages at a glance, you won’t be able to do that with this phone the viewing angles are that bad. Some, on the other hand will consider this a nice privacy feature.
Under the hood is the Qualcomm APQ8064 quad-core SoC along with a generous 2GB of RAM. The chipset consists of four Krait CPUs running at 1.5GHz each along with Adreno 320 for graphics. There is 16GB of onboard storage, out of which 11.7GB is usable. You can also add up to 32Gb of storage via the Micro SD card slot. Running Android v 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Sony’s minimalist interface the Xperia ZL performs really well, everything is snappy and apps open quickly and perform well.
Audio quality is very good using the supplied earbuds and the speaker was surprisingly good at the low and middle but showed noticeable tearing at higher frequencies. You can improve the quality with ClearAudio+, which automatically amplifies and equalizes the sound or you could fine tune the settings through a 5-band graphic equalizer along with features such as Clear Stereo, Clear phase, xLOUD and Dynamic equalizer. Overall, audio is a pretty satisfying experience and Video playback is excellent on the full HD screen.
Now to the cameras. First the front 2MP facing camera can shoot 1080P video but is in a really unusual location at the bottom right. Sony says this is to save space but, the result is less than satisfying, the camera angle is bad for self portraits and video callers get a good look up your nose. It is way too easy to block the lens with your finger and if it weren’t for the camera button it would be unusable because you would have to reach across the lens to press the shutter button on the screen. As a workaround for self portraits I just turned the phone upside down.
The rear camera despite its 13MP sensor takes very good pictures under good lighting condition and is equal to its 8MP competitors but, I found it struggles a bit under poor lighting conditions indoors.
The camer shoots good to very good video at 1080p using a cool HDR video feature which seems to product more vibrant colours especially under extreme conditions such as bright sunlight or deep shadow.
This is a very good performing phone, audio is excellent in both directions and the speaker works well with good volume. Data performance is also excellent from my location on the fringe of Rogers’ LTE network.
The Sony Xperia ZL is an elegant well built phone that is almost perfect; a good choice for those who want a big screen phone but have small hands or those who just feel a phone of any size should be comfortable to hold in the hand. The only turnoff with this phone is the viewing angles. Try it out before you buy and if the angles don’t bother you you can’t go wrong with this phone.
The Xperia ZL is available on Bell’s LTE Network for $99.95 and Rogers LTE for $124.99 both with select three year plans . Also on Videotron for $149.95 with certain 3 year plans and on Mobilicity for $599.99