Sony Xperia L review

Is Sony's baby Xperia one L of a good phone, or one L of a letdown?

Sony Xperia L review
The Xperia L is promising on paper, but doesn't quite live up to the hype

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Sony have left the Xperia L to compete at the bottom end of the market and the 8MP camera on the back is clearly the phone's biggest asset, so it's easy to see why Sony have made a bit of a song and dance about it.

Aiming at the bottom of the market does mean that the Sony Xperia L does have to fight it out against some of the ageing handsets that might have once been called flagships, check out the Samsung Galaxy S3 to see just how low these prices really can be.

The Xperia L will also have to prove that it can offer a lot more than the likes of the cheaper handsets, the ZTE Blade V and the likes of the Nokia Lumia 520 and Moto G are already well established.

We liked

We're going to give Sony its due here, it really does seem to know what it is doing when it comes to making a decent camera.

It certainly doesn't come with the prowess that the upcoming Sony Xperia Z1 does, but the 8MP sensor on the back produces some really clear results, and yes, it is clearly the stand out feature of the Xperia L.

The battery life is also rather decent. We can't say that it totally blew us away, but with the STAMINA mode disabled, we were able to get a day's use out of the Xperia L. Having STAMINA enabled did also push the battery life further by disabling the most power consuming features, although we remain slightly sceptical over some of the figures quoted.

We were also fans of the screen. It was never going to pack in the same pixel levels that we see on the highest end phones, it was never going to have HD capabilities, but what it does produce is a screen with impressive viewing angles, that was always bright enough to use, even outside.

We disliked

When it comes to typing messages on the Xperia L, we have to say that the keyboard will probably suffice. If all you're doing is updating Twitter, with its 140 character limit for instance, the keyboard will do just fine. For those that do a lot of typing, sending lots of emails, texts or instant messages, the keyboard starts to feel very fiddly. We didn't end up downloading a third party app, but we sure came close.

Looking at the design, we gave it 3.5 stars which might seem a little harsh. The Xperia L is a good looking enough phone, but the back plate can be hard to remove and does feel a little flimsy at times. However, what really gets us is that we've seen it before. Put it in a line up of the Xperia J and Xperia T and you'll soon see what we mean.

We also thought that the front facing camera was nothing short of atrocious. Normally we might gloss over this, but given that the Xperia L was touted for its camera capabilities, we thought that Sony might have thrown a little love in its direction.

Final verdict

We are left a little confused at the end of this review, mainly because we really wanted to like the Xperia L. We're always fans of a phone that you can show off to your friends and have them say "yeah, that's a nice phone", only for you to be able to say "but wait, did you see this?" and hear them gasp as you show off the neat party trick.

That neat party trick is clearly the camera, and as we have said, we feel that the camera is really something special. For those that want a decent camera phone, but don't want to pay loads, you might want to look at the Xperia L.

The rest of the Xperia L can feel a little disappointing, however. It certainly moves along okay, but throw anything too heavy at it and the whole phone seems to stutter. Having access to Sony's Playstation store made us hopeful of some gaming prowess, but those dreams were soon put to bed.

In all, we can see the Sony shifting a few Xperia Ls based on that camera, but for those that just want a cheap nippy handset, especially for those that have just started back at school, the likes of the Nokia Lumia 520 and Moto G provide better value for money.

First reviewed: October 2013