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Sony limps into 2020 with the Xperia L4

The Xperia L4, what was Sony thinking? (Image source: Sony)
The Xperia L4, what was Sony thinking? (Image source: Sony)
So, Sony has announced its first Xperia smartphone of 2020. Do not get your hopes up, though. The L4 retains the 21:9 display of recent Xperia smartphones, along with the underwhelming 2-year old chipset that powered its predecessor. The Xperia L4 comes with a 720p 6.2-inch notched-display, a 3,580 mAh battery and triple rear-facing cameras.

In a time when the Sony Xperia brand is struggling for market share, devices like the Xperia L4 speak volumes about the company's ambition. While making your first smartphone of the year an entry-level handset is not necessarily a bad thing, the Xperia L4 is unlikely to impress anyone.

Equipped with a 6.2-inch display, the Xperia L4 retains the 21:9 aspect ratio of recent Sony smartphones. The panel is a 720p LCD, which is unsurprising for an entry-level smartphone. The appearance of a notch is new for Xperia smartphones, though. Sony has equipped the device with 3 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage too, which is acceptable for an entry-level handset. There is also a 3,580 mAh battery hidden beneath the device's plastic body, which should be large enough for most people. The inclusion of a USB Type-C port, a microSD card reader, a 3.5 mm jack and a fingerprint scanner are all welcome too.

However, we cannot understand why Sony persists with the MediaTek Helio P22, a two-year-old SoC that it included in the Xperia L3. The Helio P22 felt slow when we tested the Xperia L3, as it did in all other Helio P22-powered devices that we have tested. Sony will ship the Xperia L4 with Android 9.0 Pie too, another odd decision in our books.

Ultimately, the Xperia L4 seems like a solid upgrade from the Xperia L3 when viewed in isolation. Sony has upgraded the battery, cameras, display, and storage, which are all worthwhile changes. Sticking with an SoC that felt outdated last year is baffling, though.

The Xperia L4 will come in Black or Blue and will be "available in select markets from Spring 2020 onwards", according to Sony.


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Alex Alderson, 2020-02-21 (Update: 2020-02-21)