Sony Xperia L1 review

A big screen budget blower that falls short elsewhere

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Battery life

  • 2,620mAh battery
  • Easily lasts a day

The 2,620mAh battery is hardly massive for a handset with a 5.5-inch display, but we were surprised at the stamina of the Sony Xperia L1.

It easily got us through a typical day of usage, which included web browsing, email, Twitter, photography, a little bit of streamed video and some 3D gaming.

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During our in-house video test, where a HD clip is run for 90 minutes with the screen on full brightness and the volume turned up, the Xperia L1 lost around 15% of its battery total.

That's a solid result, topping for example the Moto G5 and Nokia 6, both of which lost 22%, 

Camera

  • 13MP rear-facing camera, 5MP front-facing camera
  • Can work well with good light but struggles in low light
  • Sluggish autofocus

Most budget phones come with quite poor photographic capabilities, and while the 13MP snapper on the Xperia L1 is certainly capable of capturing some lovely shots when conditions are right, it's not a top-tier experience by any means.

On the plus side, if you get the right amount of lighting and the auto-focus plays ball, you can get some excellent images with good color replication, excellent detail levels and great contrast.

On the negative side, the autofocus isn't as quick as we'd like and there's no optical image stabilization; we ended up with quite a few blurry photos as a result.

In low light, the Xperia L1 really struggles; images are grainy and lack detail, and the already sluggish focus takes even longer to lock onto your subject, even when combined with the LED flash.

HDR is supported, but unlike the iPhone 8 or OnePlus 5T, it's not deployed automatically – you have to switch to manual mode to enable it. Even when you've done that, there's another issue: processing time is greatly increased, so it's not really suitable for when you want fast snaps.

The 5MP front-facing camera is workmanlike at best, but performs well enough in apps such as Snapchat and Skype. Video-wise, the rear camera can record 1080p video at 30fps, but the quality isn't amazing and the lack of stabilization means footage looks shaky.

Sound is also disappointing, making this a phone for occasionally grabbing video clips to send to friends but not one for recording your family holiday with.

Camera samples

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Give the Sony Xperia L1 enough light and it can produce a decent shot.

Give the Sony Xperia L1 enough light and it can produce a decent shot.

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Darker shots will need the LED flash, and incur quite a long focus time.

Darker shots will need the LED flash, and incur quite a long focus time.

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Macro shots are generally decent, assuming the subject is well lit.

Macro shots are generally decent, assuming the subject is well lit.

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Color replication is good, but some shots can suffer from overexposure.

Color replication is good, but some shots can suffer from overexposure.

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Low-light shooting results in grainy pictures and a long focus time.

Low-light shooting results in grainy pictures and a long focus time.

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