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Review Sony Xperia ZL Smartphone

Felix Sold (translated by B Schulisch), 05/10/2013

Product diversity. The Xperia ZL extends Sony's smartphone portfolio at the top of the range, whereby familiar hardware and a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels meet a slightly reworked case, all of which is currently available at a price of around 550 Euros (~$715).

For the original German review, see here.

One flagship smartphone does not seem to be enough for Sony, since the Japanese manufacturer is providing another high-end smartphone in the form of the Xperia ZL that is based on the previously tested Xperia Z and shares the same hardware. At the heart of the device, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro System-on-a-Chip (SoC) with four cores and the Adreno 320 integrated graphics unit carries out the processing tasks, while the 5-inch capacitive Full-HD display has a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels. Additional features include 16 GB of internal memory, 2 GB of RAM, high-resolution cameras and a micro SD card reader.

The design meanwhile is different from the Xperia Z, nevertheless a common philosophy is still recognizable. The structure on the back of the device and the readily accessible interfaces immediately caught our attention, whereby Sony have forgone the dust and water protection. We will take a detailed look at the Xperia ZL in this review, and determine whether the current price of 550 Euros (~$715) makes this device a good choice.

Due to the similarities with the Sony Xperia Z we will omit identical aspects in this review, and refer readers to the review of the Sony Xperia Z.

Case

Sleek chassis for a sharp look
Sleek chassis for a sharp look
Textured back panel is equally stylish
Textured back panel is equally stylish

Upon unpacking the device, the differences in design of the case compared to the Xperia Z are the first things that stand out. While the sides with their reflective inlays are identical, the back of the device has a textured surface and rounded edges helping it to lie better in the hand than its counterpart with its relatively straight edges. Of course, the surface made of plastic does not make as good an impression as the one made of premium glass, but on the bright side, the latter solution is also far more sensitive even with a protective layer. The front of both smartphones is the same, whereby the display is surrounded by a black glass that is covered with a protective layer upon delivery. Along with the black version reviewed by us, the Xperia ZL is also available in the colors red and white.

The manufacturing quality and solidity of the case left a good impression. The back, made of plastic, is less impressive, but the pleasant haptics are another matter. Unfortunately, the cover cannot be removed, which means that access to the battery is not possible. Behind a small panel on the back it is possible to find the micro SIM slot and the micro SD reader. Compared to the Xperia Z the newer Xperia ZL is not protected from dust and water; a small difference that requires a bit more caution during daily use.

With a size of 69.8 x 131.7 x 9.8 millimeters (~2.75 x 5.19 x 0.39 inches/W x H x D) and a weight of 151 grams (~5.3 ounces) the Xperia ZL is somewhat shorter than the Xperia Z, but on the other hand it is also marginally thicker and five grams (~0.2 ounces) heavier. Operating the device with a single hand is not a problem, although people with small hands could encounter some difficulties reaching the outer edges of the display, which is why we would recommend trying it for yourself before making the purchase.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia ZL has 16 GB of flash memory integrated as standard, although only 11.11 GB (69%) are available to users - an acceptable amount. Using the micro SD card reader it is furthermore possible to expand this relatively easily. During our practical test, we did not encounter any problems with using a 64 GB micro SD card.

For the purpose of taking photographs or making videos, the Xperia ZL has a main camera with a resolution of 13 megapixels, as well as a front camera with 2 megapixels. The quality of the images is reasonable. More than good snapshots should not be expected though. Further information regarding the image quality can be found in the review of the Sony Xperia Z.

The sides of the smartphone provide the usual interfaces. Data transfers and the power supply are both facilitated by the Micro USB port (specification 2.0). With a suitable MHL adapter available for less than ten Euros (~$13) it is also possible to drive an external display. Compared to the Sony Xperia Z the ports with this model are directly accessible, which could prove to be an advantage during daily use. A new feature is the dedicated shutter release button for the camera, which makes taking pictures and starting the camera mode an easier task.

Right: Camera shutter, power button, volume rocker
Right: Camera shutter, power button, volume rocker
Left: Micro-USB
Left: Micro-USB
Top: 3.5 mm Stereo
Top: 3.5 mm Stereo

Display

5-inch FullHD touchscreen
5-inch FullHD touchscreen

Sony have also opted for a 5-inch TFT display with this smartphone, which is marketed by the manufacturer as "HD Reality Display". Identically to the Xperia Z the display has a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which results in a pixel density of 443 PPI (Pixels Per Inch). This represents the current standard among high-end smartphones with Google Android, which include the HTC One (4.7-inch) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 (5-inch). The Apple iPhone 5 as well as the Google Nexus 4 meanwhile have a somewhat coarser resolution, although individual pixels are very difficult or hardly possible to recognize upwards from a density of 300 PPI.

The Mobile Bravia Engine 2 improves the color representation of the display. One disadvantage however is the long load times as a result of quick picture changes in the gallery. What stands out are the options for the system settings, where it is now also possible to manually adjust the white balance. Hue and saturation are easy to configure with a slide controller. Sony themselves do not provide any presets in this regard, contrary to many other smartphones from Samsung.

Using the X-Rite i1Pro 2 the first thing we determined was the brightness of the display. On average, the display reached a convincing value of 578 cd/m², which is substantially better than that of the Xperia Z at 428 cd/m². The illumination distribution of the Xperia ZL is also somewhat better at 90%; and following our initial measurements, we were left with an altogether very positive impression.

546
cd/m²
591
cd/m²
590
cd/m²
543
cd/m²
601
cd/m²
597
cd/m²
556
cd/m²
584
cd/m²
591
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 601 cd/m²
Average: 577.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 601 cd/m²
Black: 0.45 cd/m²
Contrast: 1336:1

Further measurement results also did not give us any cause for criticism, although the black level is slightly high at 0.45 cd/m², resulting in a faint gray tint with dark backgrounds. Due to the high brightness, the display nevertheless still manages to provide a decent contrast ratio.

In addition to the tests performed with the Xperia Z, we also took a detailed look at the TFT display with Calman 5. The RGB balance and grayscale show visible divergences, while the color saturation and fidelity are quite good.

Color fidelity.
Color fidelity.
Color saturation.
Color saturation.
Greyscale.
Greyscale.

During outdoor use, the high brightness combined with the good contrast ratio pay off. The contents of the display remain clearly visible even under direct sunlight. The reflective surface of the display meanwhile represents a disadvantage. Along with clearly noticeable reflections, fingerprints and dust can also be a cause of distraction. A matte protective foil for the display could be a suitable solution to this, whereby a high quality option should be sought since these generally cause less image noise.

Outdoor use with sunshine.
Outdoor use with sunshine.
TFT with narrow viewing angles.
TFT with narrow viewing angles.

The limited viewing angles remain a significant drawback. Even small deviations from the center lead to an inversion of the displayed images along with changes of the colors and a considerable reduction in brightness. Comparable high-end smartphones fair substantially better in this respect.

Performance

System performance Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro.
System performance Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro.

At the heart of the Xperia ZL lies the familiar Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC (APQ8064A) with four cores operating at a clock speed of 1.5 GHz and an integrated Adreno 320 GPU. Sony have therewith opted for powerful hardware, which can be found in several high-end smartphones to date. Current novelties in this market segment are however equipped with Qualcomm's more recent Snapdragon 600 SoC. This quad-core processor can for example be found in the Asus Padfone Infinity, the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Further hardware in our reviewed device includes 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal flash memory. A model with 32 or 64 GB of storage capacity is not provided by Sony at present. Using the card reader is nonetheless possible to expand the storage capacity relatively cheaply.

Version 3 of the AnTuTu benchmark ascribes the Xperia ZL an overall score of 19942 points. This represents an approximately 30% better result than the almost identical Xperia Z, where only a small variation in the results should be expected. This benchmark also shows the performance difference compared to the HTC One with its Snapdragon 600 SoC. With 23500 points it outperforms the Xperia ZL by 18%. Using the NenaMark2 benchmark the performance of the two smartphones is more or less equal since the difference varies in the single digit range.

Basemark 2.0 delivers more reliable results than AnTuTu, whereby both smartphones from Sony operate on more or less the same level. The winner in this instance is the Google Nexus 4 with a result of 53.54 fps (difference: 40%), while the HTC One finishes with 41.08 fps in this test - a result that represents a performance advantage of 7%. Contrary to this, the smartphone from the Taiwanese manufacturer significantly outperforms our reviewed candidate in the Linpack multi-thread test with 733 MFLOPS, while the Sony Xperia ZL has to admit defeat with a result of 587 MFLOPS (difference: 25%).

AnTuTu Benchmark v3 - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
19942 Points ∼56%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
14244 Points ∼40% -29%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
17555 Points ∼49% -12%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
23500 Points ∼66% +18%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
16276 Points ∼45% -18%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
15395 Points ∼43% -23%
NenaMark2 - --- (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
59.7 fps ∼89%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
60 fps ∼89% +1%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
59 fps ∼88% -1%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
60.4 fps ∼90% +1%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
56.5 fps ∼84% -5%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
58.8 fps ∼87% -2%
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit - Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
2036 Points ∼14%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1918 Points ∼13% -6%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
1648 Points ∼12% -19%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
2054 Points ∼14% +1%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
2332 Points ∼16% +15%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
1566 Points ∼11% -23%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
1816 Points ∼13% -11%
Basemark ES 2.0 - Taiji Free (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
38.23 fps ∼63%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
38.14 fps ∼63% 0%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
53.54 fps ∼88% +40%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
41.08 fps ∼68% +7%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
15.53 fps ∼26% -59%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
37.1 fps ∼61% -3%
Linpack Android / IOS - Multi Thread (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
587.689 MFLOPS ∼24%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
569.82 MFLOPS ∼23% -3%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
574.95 MFLOPS ∼24% -2%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
221.638 MFLOPS ∼9% -62%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
733.333 MFLOPS ∼30% +25%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
166.667 MFLOPS ∼7% -72%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
137 MFLOPS ∼6% -77%

Upon delivery, the Xperia ZL has the browser Google Chrome installed. Using the Peacekeeper browser benchmark the smartphone scores 386 points, which allocates it a position in the upper mid-range. Apple's iPhone 5 with mobile Safari dominates in this test (difference: 124%), while the worst performance is provided by smartphones with Windows 8 and Internet Explorer. With a score of 338 points the Samsung Ativ S is clearly the loser in the case of this benchmark (difference: 12%). Browsermark 2.0 and Google V8 deliver comparable results with marginal discrepancies.

The JavaScript benchmark Sunspider asigns better results a lower score, and in this case, the Apple iPhone 5 is also the winner with only 935 milliseconds. Our reviewed device on the other hand delivers an average result with 1854 milliseconds, while the HTC One result is 1138 milliseconds (difference: 39%) and the performance of the Samsung Ativ S with WP8 is also average.

Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
386 Points ∼6%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
388 Points ∼6% +1%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
863 Points ∼14% +124%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD (Chrome 27)
236 Points ∼4% -39%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
683 Points ∼11% +77%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
667 Points ∼11% +73%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
664 Points ∼11% +72%
Samsung ATIV S
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 16 GB SSD
338 Points ∼5% -12%
Browsermark - --- (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1814 points ∼25%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1773 points ∼25% -2%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
2383 points ∼33% +31%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1839 points ∼26% +1%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
2152 points ∼30% +19%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
1723 points ∼24% -5%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
1898 points ∼26% +5%
Samsung ATIV S
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 16 GB SSD
1494 points ∼21% -18%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1271 Points ∼7%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1279 Points ∼7% +1%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
1457 Points ∼8% +15%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1381 Points ∼8% +9%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1899 Points ∼10% +49%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
2136 Points ∼12% +68%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
1978 Points ∼11% +56%
Samsung ATIV S
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 16 GB SSD
792 Points ∼4% -38%
Sunspider - 0.9.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1854.7 ms * ∼18%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1795.1 ms * ∼17% +3%
Apple iPhone 5
SGX543MP3, A6, 32 GB SSD
935.4 ms * ∼9% +50%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1894.7 ms * ∼18% -2%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1138.1 ms * ∼11% +39%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
1028.2 ms * ∼10% +45%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
1477.8 ms * ∼14% +20%
Samsung ATIV S
Adreno 225, S4 Plus MSM8960, 16 GB SSD
1737.4 ms * ∼16% +6%

* ... smaller is better

AndroBench 3 ascribes a good performance to the integrated flash memory. In the case of sequential reading the data rate can reach up to 48.71 MB/s, while the write rate reaches up to 13.55 MB/s. Taking into account the 4KB measurement results, the Xperia ZL delivers a convincing performance that places it among the top third of the devices in our test database. The HTC One meanwhile achieved slightly better results in all our measurements.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
48.71 MB/s ∼17%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
48.79 MB/s ∼17% 0%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
49.7 MB/s ∼18% +2%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
58.75 MB/s ∼21% +21%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
36.88 MB/s ∼13% -24%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
38.08 MB/s ∼14% -22%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
13.55 MB/s ∼18%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
14.49 MB/s ∼19% +7%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
13.97 MB/s ∼19% +3%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
16.37 MB/s ∼22% +21%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
13.45 MB/s ∼18% -1%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
7.44 MB/s ∼10% -45%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
11.65 MB/s ∼32%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
12.84 MB/s ∼35% +10%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
12.14 MB/s ∼34% +4%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
11.83 MB/s ∼33% +2%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
9.99 MB/s ∼28% -14%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
7.13 MB/s ∼20% -39%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Sony Xperia ZL
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1.12 MB/s ∼8%
Sony Xperia Z
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1.15 MB/s ∼8% +3%
Google Nexus 4
Adreno 320, S4 Pro APQ8064A, 16 GB SSD
1.07 MB/s ∼7% -4%
HTC One
Adreno 320, 600 APQ8064T, 32 GB SSD
1.19 MB/s ∼8% +6%
HTC One X+
GeForce ULP (Tegra 3), 3, 64 GB SSD
0.62 MB/s ∼4% -45%
Samsung Galaxy S3
Mali-400 MP4, 4412 Quad, 16 GB SSD
0.58 MB/s ∼4% -48%

Gaming

Thanks to the integrated graphics unit, Adreno 320 gamers will also have a reason to be happy. The GPU does not have any problems processing current 3D games from the Google Play Store. Along with simple games such as Angry Bird Star Wars or Temple Run 2, we also tried out two more demanding games with Shadowgun: Deadzone and Real Racing 3. Thanks to the high display resolution and pixel density, playing games on the Xperia ZL can be a lot of fun. One disadvantage though is the constantly displayed control elements from Google Android.

Speech Quality

When it comes to the speech quality there is no cause for criticism, since it sounds clear and natural, while the other person can also hear you well throughout. Annoying sounds or noises are filtered out by a second microphone on the back of the smartphone.

The speakerphone feature that is provided via the mono speaker also delivers an acceptable quality. For longer telephone conversations we would nonetheless still recommend using the included In-Ear headset with a selection of adapters, which provides good audio quality, although it is not a high-end product when it comes to listening to music.

Emissions

Temperature

Similarly, to the Sony Xperia Z, the Xperia ZL heats up noticeably in an idle state. With a peak temperature of 31.1 °C (87.98 °F) on the back of the device and 39.3 °C (102.74 °F) on the front, the perceived temperature varies between lukewarm and warm. In this scenario, an up to date smartphone should not really get any warmer than 30 °C (86 °F), although the elevated measurements should nonetheless not represent a problem during daily use.

With a high processing load, the temperature of the case reaches up to 44.4 °C (111.92 °F). Following an hour of operation a noticeable rise in the temperature can be felt in the middle of the back, which is precisely where users will commonly place a few fingers to hold the smartphone in their hand. The HTC One in comparison comes to terms with the heat emitted by the integrated components substantially better, whereby we were only able to measure a maximum of 36.6 °C (97.88 °F) in this case.

Max. Load
 38.8 °C39.7 °C35.8 °C 
 41.6 °C41.7 °C37.7 °C 
 39.1 °C39.8 °C36 °C 
Maximum: 41.7 °C
Average: 38.9 °C
34.1 °C38.2 °C35.3 °C
35.8 °C44.4 °C36.6 °C
35 °C43.9 °C37.1 °C
Maximum: 44.4 °C
Average: 37.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  34.7 °C | Room Temperature 23 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The speaker in the Xperia ZL is located next to the camera on the back. Compared to the Xperia Z this is a considerably better location, since the speaker is not covered by the hand. The audio quality is average and does not sound very well rounded due to the absence of bass frequencies, even though high frequencies are reproduced quite well. The maximum volume is more than sufficient, although high volumes unfortunately lead to some distortion of the sound. Compared to the stereo speakers mounted on the front of the HTC One this smartphone is not able to compete.

The included headset or external speakers can be connected to the 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack socket or the Micro USB port. The required MHL adapter (HDMI) is not included with the standard delivery. Procuring one is possible for under ten Euros (~$13) from Internet retailers though.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

In an idle state, the reviewed device requires between 1.9 and 3.9 Watts. These values are higher than those for comparable smartphones. The best in this respect is the Apple iPhone 5, which only requires 0.4 Watts at the most. The smartphone from Cupertino and the Google Nexus 4 meanwhile need a maximum of 1.4 Watts, thus their power consumption still remains considerably below that of the Xperia ZL, and the HTC One with the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC also only needs a maximum of 1.1 Watts.

With a high processing load the Xperia ZL requires up to 5.6 Watts. The difference compared to the frugal HTC One (4 Watts) in this case lies at 29%. The Google Nexus 4 meanwhile needs more power with a maximum of 6.1 Watts, and the Apple iPhone 5 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3 are even more economical than the HTC One with 2.9 and 3.4 Watts respectively.

The back of the device furthermore only provides a small panel that can be opened, and the lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 2370 mAh is permanently integrated. Charging the device is accomplished via the Micro USB port on the left side.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 1.9 / 3 / 3.9 Watt
Load 5.1 / 5.6 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC-940

Battery Runtime

Using the application Stability Test with the maximum display brightness and wireless communications enabled, we determined the minimum battery life with a high processing load: After 3 hours and 15 minutes a full charge was used up. This is a better result than with the Xperia Z, but still remains within the expected range for a device in this class. The Samsung Galaxy S3 manages more than four hours in this case, while the HTC One has to be connected to the mains after only 2 hours and 49 minutes.

Following on from the minimum battery life, we proceeded to measure the maximum battery life. With the display brightness set to its minimum and the flight mode activated, the reading of a text file is simulated. After 14 hours and 11 minutes, this test also came to an end. This good result lies in the broad mid-range. The Google Nexus 4 meanwhile only lasts for 12 hours, and the HTC One lasts considerably longer with almost 24 hours, while the Apple iPhone 5 lasts almost as long (22 hours).

The measurement "surfing via WLAN" is a realistic scenario where a webpage is reloaded regularly with the display brightness set to an average value of 150 cd/m². After 8 hours and 45 minutes the smartphone had to be connected to the mains. A good result that is on a similar level as other Android smartphones.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
14h 11min
WiFi Surfing
8h 45min
Load (maximum brightness)
3h 15min

Verdict

Sony Xperia ZL smartphone.
Sony Xperia ZL smartphone.

The Sony Xperia ZL is not a big surprise - another high-end smartphone from Sony with a 5-inch Full-HD display. The display panel is very bright and has good characteristics, although the black level and the narrow viewing angles stand out as negative aspects. Despite perhaps being visually less appealing than with the Xperia Z the easily accessible ports could be a big advantage during daily use, but unfortunately this also means that the Xperia ZL it is not dust or water proof.

The application and graphics performance of the somewhat aged Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC with and integrated Adreno 320 GPU is able to impress, and control via the capacitive touchscreen as well as the speed of Google Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) are pleasing. The camera with 13 megapixels provides pretty snapshots, but that's all. Elevated case temperatures and the simple mono speaker are both negative aspects, whereby the location of the speaker is at least good with this model.

The power consumption and the provided battery runtime are average for this hardware configuration. Unfortunately, the lithium-ion battery is permanently integrated and cannot be changed. In this case, Sony could have easily made an improvement. Altogether, the Xperia ZL is a good smartphone although it won't exactly knock your socks off.

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Specifications

Sony Xperia ZL
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, capacitive, multi-touch, 10 fingers, TFT, Sony Mobile Bravia Engine 2, 443 PPI, glossy: yes
Harddisk
16 GB SSD, 16 GB 
onboard, net capacity: 11.11 GB (69%)
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack, Card Reader: Micro SD up to 64 GB, Sensors: A-GPS, Glonass, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, digital compass, gyroscope, Micro USB (2.0, MHL)
Networking
802.11a/b/g/n (a b g n ), 4.0 (A2DP) Bluetooth, UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), LTE (800, 1800, 2600 MHz), GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), NFC
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 9.8 x 69.8 x 131.7 ( = 0.39 x 2.75 x 5.19 in)
Weight
151 g ( = 5.33 oz) Power Supply: 61 g ( = 2.15 oz)
Battery
2370 Wh Lithium-Ion, integrated
Price
549 Euro
Operating System
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Additional features
Webcam: Rear camera: 13 Megapixel, 3.920 x 2.940 Pixel, Exmor RS Sensor, Autofocus, 1080p (Full-HD), HDR, 16x Digitalzoom, Geotagging, LED-flash & Front camera: 2 Megapixel, 1.920 x 1.080 Pixel, 1080p (Full-HD), Speakers: Mono, Keyboard: virtual, QWERTY, Smartphone, modular PSU, USB cable, In-Ear headset with different attachments & printed documentation, Walkman, Sony Select, Facebook, Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, PlayNow, Video Studio, Xperia Link, OfficeSuite, File Commander, Whatsapp, Adobe Reader, Evernote, McAfee Security, Socialife, Let's start PSM, NeoReader, 24 Months Warranty, Micro SIM, colors: black, white & red, DNLA, HDMI via MHL support (USB 2.0 adapter not included with delivery)

 

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We tested the Sony Xperia ZL smartphone.
We tested the Sony Xperia ZL smartphone.
Upon delivery there is a protective foil on the display.
Upon delivery there is a protective foil on the display.
The location of the 2 megapixel camera on the front is unusual.
The location of the 2 megapixel camera on the front is unusual.
The structured surface on the back is not on the Xperia Z.
The structured surface on the back is not on the Xperia Z.
The main camera has a resolution of 13 megapixels.
The main camera has a resolution of 13 megapixels.
SIM slot and card reader are under a panel.
SIM slot and card reader are under a panel.
The memory capacity can be expanded via micro SD. Maximum: 64 GB.
The memory capacity can be expanded via micro SD. Maximum: 64 GB.
The Micro USB port is easily accessible, which should be more pleasant over time.
The Micro USB port is easily accessible, which should be more pleasant over time.
The Xperia ZL has a dedicated shutter release button.
The Xperia ZL has a dedicated shutter release button.
The 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack socket is on the top edge.
The 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack socket is on the top edge.
Modular PSU, USB cable and In-Ear headset with adapters.
Modular PSU, USB cable and In-Ear headset with adapters.
The smartphone is delivered with Google Android 4.1.2.
The smartphone is delivered with Google Android 4.1.2.
The white balance can be manually configured in the settings.
The white balance can be manually configured in the settings.
Text entry takes place using the virtual keyboard (QWERTZ).
Text entry takes place using the virtual keyboard (QWERTZ).
Using the landscape format the keyboard takes up a lot of space.
Using the landscape format the keyboard takes up a lot of space.
The telephone application doesn't provide any surprises.
The telephone application doesn't provide any surprises.
We liked the widgets in the multi-tasking menu a lot.
We liked the widgets in the multi-tasking menu a lot.

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Pro

+Attractive design & good manufacturing quality
+Dedicated camera shutter release button
+Integrated micro SD card reader
+Comprehensive range of communication options
+Simple operation and text entry
+Application and graphics performance
+Full-HD display with good characteristics
 

Cons

-Permanently integrated battery
-13 megapixel main camera for snapshots
-Display with elevated black level & narrow viewing angles
-Average quality mono speaker

Shortcut

What we liked

The attractive design of the Xperia ZL, as well as the provided features, and the high resolution 5-inch display with 1080x1920 pixels (Full HD).

What we'd like to see

A display with a lower black level and wider viewing angles, as well as the possibility to change the battery.

What surprises us

That Sony have created a second high-end smartphone that is only marginally different the Xperia Z. An obvious development of the Xperia Z could have perhaps been a better solution.

The competition

High-end smartphones with Google Android. Among these are the Asus Padfone Infinity, the HTC One, and the Samsung Galaxy S4. For price conscious buyers we would recommend the Google Nexus 4 for a price of around 300 Euros (~$389). Apple furthermore joins the fray with its 4-inch iPhone 5. Windows Phone 8: Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Windows Phone 8X or the Samsung Ativ S.

Ratings

Sony Xperia ZL
08/05/2013 v3
Felix Sold

Chassis
91%
Keyboard
58%
Pointing Device
93%
Connectivity
44%
Weight
100%
Battery
95%
Display
81%
Games Performance
42%
Application Performance
63%
Temperature
79%
Noise
100%
Add Points
86%
Average
78%
88%
Smartphone *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Sony Xperia ZL Smartphone
Author: Felix Sold, 2013-05-10 (Update: 2013-06- 6)