We may be in the height of the dry season in Cape Town but you probably wouldn’t have guessed by looking at the dam…
The Sony Xperia L is the latest smartphone to slide in at the bottom end of the Japanese firm’s range, launching alongside the mid-range Xperia SP to complete a trio of handsets headlined by the Sony Xperia Z.
There’s no exact Sony Xperia L release date for now, all we’ve been told is that it will arrive during the second quarter of the year. The price is also still a mystery but we expect it to land around the £200 (around $300/AU$290) mark.
Sony has stuck with the same curved rear made famous by the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc on the Xperia L, instead of cladding it in the straight-edged, glass finish found on the Xperia Z.
The curved, soft touch plastic rear does mean the Xperia L sits comfortably in the hand and offers a good level grip.
It’s a well-balanced device and although it may look chunky at the ends, it’s positively slender in the middle measuring in at 130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98mm.
Also on the right side is a volume rocker switch and a dedicated camera key, all of which are easy to hit one-handed.
Up top there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack while on the left is a microUSB port.
With this is mind we were disappointed about just how much bezel was left under the screen, with the chunky plastic adding what appears to be unnecessary bulk to the phone.
Of course on closer inspection you’ll be able to define pixels, but with a decent viewing angle and a bright, 854 x 480 resolution it’s difficult to fault it at this price point.
General navigation is snappy and we were able to move swiftly through homescreens, of which you can have up to seven, and dive in and out of the app list without too much hassle.
Sony has applied its own layer of gloss to Jelly Bean, with its homescreen editor function allowing you to quickly and easily manage your widgets, apps and shortcuts as well as changing the phone’s theme and wallpaper – making it that bit more personal. Lovely.
Applications aren’t quite as speedy though, with most taking a second or two to load up with more demanding apps such as the camera sometimes taking even longer to sort themselves out.
We never encountered a drastic delay, but it is a contrast to the relatively fluid app list and homescreens.
In terms of photographic ability Sony has equipped the Xperia L with an impressive 8MP rear facing camera which also boasts a single LED flash, 720p video recording and HDR and panorama modes.
As we’ve mentioned the camera app isn’t the quickest which can be a little frustrating, especially if you’re trying to nab a quick pic – with a tardy auto-focus not helping either.
Pictures were acceptable but we weren’t blown away with the quality, although to be fair the Sony Xperia L we were in an oddly lit location which probably didn’t help things.
The rear cover is available in three colours; black, white and red, with the white version of the handset also sporting the same coloured finish on the front.
Sony has squeezed 8GB of internal storage into the Xperia L, although only 5.5GB is free, so you may be grateful for the microSD option.
As this is a Sony handset it also comes with the firm’s various bells and whistle in terms of pre-installed apps (or bloatware, depending on your views).
If you’re a fan of gaming then you’ll be pleased to learn the Xperia L also supports PlayStation games via the PlayStation Mobile app.
We also lacked a web connection which meant we couldn’t surf the internet, but we did note the Xperia L only has the Chrome browser – no stock Android offering in sight.
The early signs are positive for the Sony Xperia L which brings a decent set of features to the bottom end of the market and although it won’t be as cheap as the likes of the ZTE Blade 3, Huawei Ascend G330 and Nokia Lumia 520, it will still register as affordable for a lot of people.
Generally it copes with everything pretty well and while there is a hint of slow down every now and then that’s expected from cheaper handsets.
We look forward to getting the Sony Xperia L in for a full review to see how well it handles media and the world-wide web – we’re keeping our fingers crossed.