Sony Xperia L Review

June 8, 2013
25 8 73

sony-xperia-l-in-hand

There are a lot of mid-range phones out there, and most of them are fairly average looking. Yes, they work and they don’t look awful, but they aren’t particularly eye catching, either. Enter the Sony Xperia L.

Though their phones aren’t proving to be as popular as we’re sure they’d like, Sony has a knack for making a phone pretty, well, pretty. Luckily for those who don’t enjoy dropping a ton of cash on a new phone, they’re bringing that same aesthetic sensibility to their mid-rangers. That’s nice, but how does the rest of the phone hold up? Find out in our review.

In a hurry? Check out our video review, or jump to the conclusion at the end of the article.

Specs

  • 4.3-inch display (480 x 854, 228 ppi)
  • 1 Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal storage (expandable via microSD)
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • 720p video capture
  • 1750 mAh battery

Build Quality & Design

As we noted at the top of the article, the Sony Xperia L is nice looking phone. My review unit was white, and though I generally prefer darker colors personally, the white Xperia L is fairly striking. One of the most visually interesting features of the phone is the concave curve of the back of the device. Though the front is flat, this gives the impression that the entire phone is curved, which is very cool.

sony-xperia-l-right

All of the Xperia L’s buttons are on the right side of the device. The volume rocker is at the very top, while the power button is lower down, almost in the middle of the device. Down at the bottom of the device is the hardware camera button. Generally feelings are mixed on these, but with the Xperia L, I found it quite handy. They’re all the buttons you get, as the L uses software buttons for everything else. On the left side you’ll find the USB port while the headphone jack sits square in the middle of the top of the device.

The Xperia L feels solidly built, and in the case of the battery cover on the back, almost too much so. Taking the cover off felt like I was in danger of breaking the phone, and this was after carefully reading the manual to make sure I was doing it right. Despite the small-ish screen, the Xperia L’s hefty bezel makes the phone feel fairly large, something that those of you with smaller hands may want to keep in mind.

Display

Always a sore spot with these mid-rangers, I definitely found myself wishing that the Xperia L had come with a higher screen resolution. At just 480 x 854 spread across a 4.3-inch screen, we’re left with a pixel density of around 228 ppi. While that pales in comparison to high end phones, I was actually surprised at how fairly nice the screen looked. While it was far from the sharpest display I’ve ever seen, the Xperia L’s display clearly displayed text and icons with few signs of pixelation.

sony-xperia-l-screen-closeup

Colors are fairly well represented, with deep blacks and bright whites at low to middle brightness settings. As you turn the brightness up, colors begin to get a little washed out, but leaving the Xperia L at it’s default with auto-brightness turned on made this a fairly uncommon occurrence. Viewing angles are good as well; by the time the screen looks dark, you’re looking at the L from an unnatural angle I can’t imagine most people even considering using.

Performance

With a 1 Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset, Adreno 305 GPU and 1 GB of RAM, the hardware inside the Sony Xperia L is nothing we haven’t seen before, so we had a fairly good idea of what to expect. Luckily we weren’t disappointed, and the Xperia L even made a fairly good showing in some cases.

We kicked off testing with our usual test suite and, as always, AnTuTu Benchmark was up first. We ran the benchmark 10 times in situations ranging from right after boot to after hours of use, then averaged the results. Performance was fairly consistent, with scores ranging from 8,255 at the low end to 10,931 at the top end. Our final score was 10,053, which is definitely right up with some of the best scores we’ve seen on similar hardware.

sony-xperia-l-benchmark

Next we moved on to Epic Citadel, which now has three different settings: Ultra High Quality, High Quality and High Performance. We started with Ultra High and ended up with an average framerate of 41.0 FPS. High Quality delivered a marked increase in framerate at 51.7, while High Performance only increased the framerate to 52.4

Real world performance was good, just as we expected. The always popular “scroll through home screens quickly” test produced excellent results, apps launched quickly, and we didn’t really encounter any hitches in performance during testing. For gaming, we tried Fast & Furious 6 and though it isn’t the most demanding game, it did perform well, though it’s worth keeping in mind that the low-res display meant that it wasn’t pushing a lot of pixels.

Software

The Sony Xperia L runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, skinned with Sony’s own user interface. Though it definitely isn’t stock Android, the UI feels lighter than other manufacturer UIs like HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz. The interface is themeable, though this mainly involves changing the color scheme. Still, a ton of colors are available, and since these also change the color used in the illumination bar, it is pretty cool.

sony-xperia-l-apps

Alongside the stock Google apps, Sony has included a few of its own, mainly focused on entertainment. WALKMAN for music, Album for photos and videos, Movies for, well, movies and Sony Select, which is Sony’s own app store. When it comes to other apps, we have Facebook, which seems to be par for the course these days, a Notes app, NeoReader, a backup app, the very cool File Commander and, strangely, AASTOCKS.

It’s worth noting here that the Xperia L is PlayStation certified which opens the door to a few games unavailable to other devices, at least through conventional means.

Camera

Looking purely at the specs, it seems impressive that a mid-ranger would have an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, but unfortunately there isn’t too much of a reason to get excited here. While Sony is known for making excellent image sensors for mobile phones, results from the Xperia L just aren’t that impressive.

sony-xperia-l-from-camera

While colors are decently captured, they can tend to lean a little toward the warmer side of the spectrum. I was surprised to find that even images I took on a cool, cloudy day had a hot, summery look to them. That can be nice if that’s what you’re going for, but it wasn’t exactly accurate. Getting a nicely focused shot isn’t easy either. No matter what I did, images seemed a little fuzzy, and this was at the highest resolution. As expected, low light performance wasn’t great and while the Xperia L does have a built in flash, it did nothing but help create blown-out images.

The 720p video capture suffers from the same issues, although not quite as much as still photos do. The auto-brightness is very aggressive, so expect some very noticeable shifting in your brightness, especially if the subject is backlit. That said, movement was fairly smooth.

Battery

Sony claims a talk time of around 8.5 hours with the Xperia L and in our experience, this can often predict how long a phone can stand up to moderately heavy use. This turned out to be fairly accurate in this case. 5 hours of heavy testing brought the battery down to about 33 percent capacity. On a different day, a few hours of shooting for our video review and additional testing brought the battery to 61 percent.

sony-xperia-l-battery

In normal conditions (ie. not reviewing the phone) it’s battery life should get you through a full day, as long as you’re not using it too heavily. Should you need to use your phone for more demanding tasks, the battery is removable, so carrying a spare or using an extended battery (if one is available) is a possibility.

Video

Conclusion

In the end, the Sony Xperia L is a solid but not exactly remarkable phone when it comes to performance. What should help it stand out in its fairly crowded category are its looks and design. Whether or not this is enough to sway you from the countless other similar phones available is a matter of personal taste.

Have you used the Xperia L? Are you planning on buying it? Feel free to share your thoughts or ask any questions you may have in the comments below!

Comments

  • Jitendra

    which is better to buy sony xperia L or Samsung grand

    • http://www.isharearena.com/ M.Aswad Mehtab

      Experia L !!
      Grand has a big screen with low resolution …

      • Ripam Paul

        Appreciative but please DONT call it Experia.. its Xperia

      • Aditya Rathi

        grand is not good.. even nokia lumina 520 can beat Grand

    • kirk

      htc desire x, you’ll love s-lcd display, lol :)

      but battery life is horrible.. and 768mb ram :(

      • Amolak chandel

        no front camera, vga video recording, low ram, no future upgrades for htc desire x

        • Aditya Rathi

          htc not worth below 25000INR

  • raj

    obviousyl Xperia L

  • min

    also stuck between sony xperia L and samsung galaxy grand duos, however, i’m not interested in gaming – calls, messaging, surfing, gps and maps (therefore, the bigger the display, the better) are important to me. i don’t use my phone to listen to music, and good photos are a nice extra, but not that important. based on that, which one do you think would be better for me? or do you have any other suggestions, in the same price range?

    • Aditya Rathi

      go for Sony Without next thought

    • Raghu

      Then go for nokia 1100

  • MAZNOR

    Hi android authority. I am using the xperia l but i realise that the battery is the weakest point on this phone. Please help me.i love this phone. Now I know why the xperia l has a removable back and why the xperia sp isn’t. Thank you

  • Julia Ishak

    Am using Xperia L. Very happy with it, because it is the only phone that has what I need (4.3″ screen, 8 MP camera & stylish build) & fits my budget (In Malaysia, it costs RM899. that’s equivalent to $290). I find the performance just fine, perhaps because I do not have the luxury of having a high-end phone to compare it with. The battery can last me the whole day, as long as I switch the STAMINA mode on and limit my Internet usage. Avoiding power-intensive apps also helps. I only download & play games at home, where I can easily charge the phone afterwards.

    The only problem I have is there’s no way to transfer apps into the SD card (without rooting it). The Internal storage is only 5.5 GB usable.

    How much is the Xperia L in the US? I heard that it is more expensive.

    • DEL@XPERIA L

      Have U got any problem in using the Lock screen widget? Like missing the calls as it prevents ringing.

    • DEL@XPERIA L

      Have U got any problem in using the Lock screen widget? Like missing the calls as it prevents ringing.

      • Julia Ishak

        I don’t have any issues like that.

        • DEL@XPERIA L

          I uninstalled the Lock Screen and all the problems are resolved. The Touch Lock screen widget blocks the first ring and vibration after the locking. after the first call missing and next call will ring.

          • Aditya Rathi

            no such problem with me.

      • Julia Ishak

        I don’t have any issues like that.

    • Azad

      I bought it yesterday!!! It is really nice phone!!! U can easily fall in love with this phone!!! It tempted me :)
      Sony is vest brand in Market for me.

  • nishantsirohi123

    i have noted this from a past few devices reviews that sony devices produce disappointing results i camera

  • DEL@XPERIA L

    BASIC FEATURE NOT WORKING………The first incoming call is getting missed due to the not ringing issue of the phone. Thus the basic feature is not working . I am not satisfied with the phone. I don’t know what is the issue.

  • DEL@XPERIA L

    BASIC FEATURE NOT WORKING………The first incoming call is getting missed due to the not ringing issue of the phone. Thus the basic feature is not working . I am not satisfied with the phone. I don’t know what is the issue.

  • Luka Mlinar

    The only real problem with this phone is the Android update. This is how Sony brakes it down: If you bought a low end phone (like the Tipo) you will get no Android upgrades. If you bought a mid range phone (like the xperia U) you will get one upgrade and if you buy a high end phone you will get 2 android upgrades. Considering the the logical step up for this phone is 4.3. Keep in mind that you will never get to see Android 5 with this phone.

  • vish

    am thinking of buying an xperia L.. shall i go for A116 HD instead??

  • Phil Chantal

    I will buy it, has a good overall quality and is affordable. I think it’s all I want: having a good smartphone with nice display, powerful precessor, enough RAM & ROM memory and an useful camera.

  • Suman Mahapatra

    I want to buy the Xperia L its 4.1 android is it further expandable or updateble?

  • jai

    can u guys help me with d color . . . ? which looks grt white or black . . ?

    • Suman

      Black one

    • reubenster

      Red

    • CHROMEWARRIOR

      RED !!!!!!!!

  • suresh

    this phone has very very poor battery back up and its not working properly if we send for service center they will resolve the issue in just 25-30 day. Sony provide that worst service provider for this mobile

  • Parveen

    I dont like the camera quality, as compare to 8MP. and battery drain fastly. any trick for better camera clearity????

  • Neha

    I am confused btw the color..
    which one should i go for…red, black or white..which looks better ?

  • saket

    xperia or grand plz tel me…..

  • Nikhil Sharma

    What is battery life of experia L and will the phone have a long life?

  • Sasha

    Just got the Xperia L 2 days ago.
    I’ve read and watched many reviews about this phone and the most frequent cons are: processor, camera, display.
    The reviewers use a different phone each week (or day) and a lot of those phones are flagships. I use the same phone for more then 2 years. The things they consider cons actually amaze me.
    This phone has a 1GHz dual-core processor. The first phone to have a dual-core processor was LG Optimus 2x launched just 2 years ago. Everything works smooth, there’s no lag. You may not be able to play a 4GB game on it, but in my opinion phone gaming is for killing time and “Angry birds” or “Cut the rope” are perfect for that.
    The camera is also very good. I have to say that the photos taken in low light without flash are impressive for a phone camera. If you use the flash the image is clearer, but the colours are destroyed. I do have a problem with the dedicated camera button. You have to press it a bit to hard to take a photo and the hands tend to shake, but you get used to that.
    No complaints about the display either. It’s true that the resolution isn’t great if you downgrade from a 1080p or retina display, but it is good enough to do most things you would do on a phone without seeing individual pixels. As for the colours, I have no comparison, so I’m happy in my ignorance.

    I am a bit disappointed with some of the software.
    From what I understand, Android 4.1 is a massive improvement in 4.0, and I’m happy with the OS. But the new Google Maps is worst then the previous version. I miss the offline maps. You can still save maps, but the functionality is much worst. Also, on my old HTC, when you zoomed in in the browser the text would rearrange to fit the screen, and this doesn’t happen on Xperia. It may be because of chrome, I’m not sure.

    In conclusion, I think this is a great phone for people who don’t change their phone very often and aren’t looking for the best specs just to say that their phone has the best specs, without ever intending to use it at full potential.

    P.S. The Xperia L also has NFC. I don’t use it yet, but it seems that technology is moving in that direction and it might come in very handy soon.

  • Soniac

    My previous 2 Xperias were the Mini X10 and the Mini Sti15. Since I’m a loyal Sony customer, mobiles and laptops, when I cracked the display on my Sti15 it was time for a new Xperia. I’ve had the Xperia L now for about a week and the camera is a huge disappointment to me. I’m absolutely shocked how Sony could release such a good phone with a low quality camera. The only advantage I’ve found is how rapid it records image when you use the touch screen. I guess if the image quality is not that great a lot of time isn’t needed to save it. I’ll keep using Sti 15 for photos.

  • shruti

    can any body tell me for Xperia L which colour looks gr8..black or red???

    • sweeet

      definitely red..black is too common nowadays

    • Prakyath

      White looks the best.!!…I have the black one and it looks very comon…

    • ajk

      which color u like is better

  • Spineshock

    Guys can you help me out please..? I’m thinking to buy this phone but i’m scared that it might not be that good..the main purpose of me buying a phone is gaming and apps..so is this phone good..?

    • Aditya Rathi

      not for gaming at least. for apps its good to go.
      High end games will lag.

      • saurabh

        Common, it (xperia l)con play all high end 3d games very easily like modern combat 4,asphalt 8,etc

  • filip

    which is better sony Xperia L or Samsung Galaxy S3 mini ?

    • Aditya Rathi

      xperia

    • Stefan

      I recently bought xperia l, and although I can t be very subjective since this is my first smartphone I have to say that right now there is nothing more I ask from a phone. Entry smartphone or not, I don t care, I pretty much love it. Futhermore, comparing to my gf ‘s galaxy s advance… there is no comparison. Therefore, galaxy s advance being similar to s3 mini and all, Xperia L has to be MUCH superior.

  • Roy

    Hey, I need help. Which one is better? Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini or this Sony Xperia L? Cause in my country the price is relatively the same. But what bother me is the resolution of these two devices. The samsung with 480×800 pixels super Amoled screen and xperia with 480×854 pixels TFT screen. Screen quality is somehow a major point for me. Thanks.

    • filip

      i have the same dilema :D

      • ImmortalWind

        Yeah me too. I prefer Xperia’s design over s3 mini (or ANY galaxy for that matter), but I’m a little concerned about the corrners of the Xperia feeling a little uncomfortable on my hands.

        Any thoughts?

        PS. I’m also thinking of waiting for HTC Desire 300 to come out. It looks very nice.

  • Ksh

    Is it support all 3-D Games like
    gta,
    nfs most wanted and many more…..
    What about gaming performance…….
    How fastly battery gets drained while playing games….
    Also tell me about the sound quality.. Is it GOOD, EXCELLENT OR AWESOME????

  • George Visan

    Very nice phone

  • adam

    What about flash player it is can play flash videos and games..does it installed in the device?please reply soon.

  • bnjmn

    The battery cover was a barrier when I first got mine and flexing the whole device just to get it off using that small cutout is not a good idea & now find it comes off simply gripping the top part of the phone to snap it off with ease.

  • Ronnieta

    confused between xperia L and canvas 4..which one is the best? suggest me asap..

  • Allen

    How is this phone???
    May i know about its camera pic quality,audio performance and battery life??

    • Prakyath

      Audio and battery performance r good…nothing to worry about. ..but the camera really sucks…nothing special even though Sony says it has xmor sensor…coz of its low ppi resolution the pics r real bad…

  • abubakar

    I have sony xperia L. Its all perfect, no hanging but its front camera is too worst that you cant even do a good video call.

  • Sahil

    Which one of these is the best…worth buying…
    Sony xperia L or Htc desire x (dual sim)
    Please also tell me about the battery bkup of these phones…..
    Is xperia L has a very bad battery bkup???

  • sandeep

    Hi friends can any one help me how to transfer the data from internal storage to SD card in sony xperia L model plz help me friends

    • L

      You need to root it first

  • Earl Diaz

    Very nice review here. Good job. I was just searching the net because I’m stuck on deciding between Samsung’s Galaxy S Advance and this, Sony’s Xperia L. Can I get your thoughts on this? which one is better between the two. Hoping for a quick reply. Thanks. :)

    • Earl Diaz

      By the way, I am a bit of a power user. Maybe it could help your answers.

      • ImmortalWind

        My gf has S advance, I have the Xperia L.

        XPERIA L IS DEFINETELY BETTER!!!

        There is no comparison really! It’s faster, MUCH beter looking screen, no lags (advance is so laggy), better camera, bigger screen, better UI, better android software etc. There is really no comparison.

  • Sony user

    YUks Phone. So so difficult to open the back cover.

    • sam

      Haha it happened to me first time bt there is trick to open the back cover don’t follow the instructions that is given by the manual to open the back cover instead start pulling out the cover from the top that to the right of 3.5jack at the top…when facing the back of the phone…..

  • Aman deep

    hi, plz help me , I,m not be able to download game data of any game like NFS or Batman Dark Night Rises bcoz der is only 1.57gb for applications…

  • Miki

    hi everyone, im confused about xperia L and M.. Which has a better camera? it is okay for me to have 4gb of internal storage and a smaller screen, but i’ve been seeing mixed reviews regarding both cams.. so which is better when it comes to picture quality? L or M?? :)

  • raj

    is there video calling facility in sony experia l…. i’m not able to use it……

    • sam

      No, can’t do normal video calls only possible with apps like skype…..

  • srikanth

    xperia l white one not having update while compair with black is this true or fake………….

  • Jamie Mad

    Which is better xperia l or m?