Android Central

It's no flagship, but there's plenty to like about the Xperia Z's little brother

Android Central @ CESIn addition to devices we’ll be seeing in the West in coming months, CES gives us the opportunity to get some face time with devices that probably won’t see the light of day in the U.S. or Europe. One of these is the Xperia ZL, which Sony says will be making an appearance in selected markets during the first quarter of 2013.

Best described as a budget version of the Xperia Z, the ZL is a device that’ll be appearing in selected territories, meaning you probably won’t see it sold in the same country as its big brother. The ZL trades off some of the more premium features of the Z, including the fancy glass back panel and 4G LTE connectivity, instead opting for a chunkier plastic design and 3G/HSPA radios. The back panel’s finish can be likened to that of the Xperia T. It’s matte plastic on the white version and textured soft-touch on the black model, and feels pretty good in the hand, though it’s nowhere near as sumptuous as the Xperia Z’s glass rear.

The waterproofing of the Z is also absent, meaning you’ve got traditional exposed microUSB and headphone ports, rather than the plastic covers present on the higher-end device. Physically, it’s also a little smaller, exchanging some thickness up top for increased heft around the back.

We didn’t notice any substantial differences in screen size, display quality or software in the Xperia ZL. You’re still dealing with a 5-inch 1080p display running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Sony’s custom UI, with its entertainment services front and center. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro also powers the Xperia ZL, meaning it should be just as speedy as the current crop of high-end Android devices. Other physical specs mirror the Z pretty closely, too -- you’ve got 2GB of RAM and a 13MP Exmor RS camera. Only storage space has been decreased, from 32GB on the Z down to 16 on the ZL.

In some alternate universe, the Xperia ZL might have been Sony’s early 2013 flagship, and if that were the case, we wouldn’t be terribly disappointed. It’s a perfectly nice phone, though on the international stage it’s destined to live in the shadow of its big brother.

The Xperia ZL is set to make its debut in Q1 2013. Like the Xperia TX before it, it’s likely this model’s release will be limited to a handful of Asian countries.

 

Reader comments

Sony Xperia ZL hands-on

20 Comments

3G/HSPA??? Selected terretories??? Is this possibly a T-mobile candidate from Sony?? I'm having an extremely hard time deciding between an Xperia Z/ZL or a Nexus 4. If this means we will be seeing a tmo sony device it would make my decision even harder!!

I like the ZL's design more than Z. It's more compact, the plastic backing is less susceptible to cracking. ZL apparently has a hardware camera button.

This phone needs to be on T-Mobile USA.....tomorrow.I don't know what happened between Sony(or SonyEricsson) & T-Mobile but they need to settle their differences. I love the open ports(with no doors to break). No LTE should mean the ZL will get great battery life.Plus you get all the top-notch hardware of the Z.And check out the Purple ZL.Sony continues to want to match all those Nokia Lumia colored phones.Great job Alex,again,on the Sony reporting.

Here at ces and I tried these both out today. I gotta say I like the ZL So So So much better than the Z, Imo, to hold and use, and asthleticly. I personally dislike the uber-slippery, 100% glass chassis, and the flaps for all the ports are really hard to remove, and look really silly while open. Also, the ZL has a physical camera button and the Z does not. The Sony employees I talked to said they had 'roughly' the same battery life, but gsmarena says the ZL has a significantly larger battery.

Here at ces and I tried these both out today. I gotta say I like the ZL So So So much better than the Z, Imo, to hold and use, and asthleticly. I personally dislike the uber-slippery, 100% glass chassis, and the flaps for all the ports are really hard to remove, and look really silly while open. Also, the ZL has a physical camera button and the Z does not. The Sony employees I talked to said they had 'roughly' the same battery life, but gsmarena says the ZL has a significantly larger battery.

I'm watching the ZL promotional videos on YouTube. The narrator calls this phone the Xperia "Zed" L. I guess someone at Sony likes Men in Black. LOL

This is the first phone I looked at that I would consider getting over a Nexus, and I am anything but a Sony fanboy. Finally Sony use up to date hardware, back in March 2012 they were releasing a Qualcomm S3 phone with Gingerbread. I love the onscreen butttons (but it needs to be customizable), small bezel and removable storage. It's 1080p, but its not ginormous, this is such a big deal for me, it's 1cm thick, but the surface area is smaller than the S3. Base on GSMArena its pentaband 3G, this is a huge deal as well. Knowing Sony, they will have great headphone out soundquality and camera.

Only problem now is the price and unlocking the bootloader which void the warrenty, which usually is available from their website. I guess I will have to wait till the price go down though.

A 5 inch phone is not ginormous to you? Your hands must be huge. I can't imagine having a phone larger than my SGS2 let alone these 5inch monsters that are coming out!

Like I stated, it is smaller than a Galaxy S3, which only has 4.8" screen. It's not the screen size, but the overall area. And comparing with all other 5" 1080p devices in the market right now, this is probably the smallest one of all. This device have a lot to offer with a great design, it seem to have everything that I want except for the fact that it is not a Nexus device and (most likely) doesn't have an unlock bootloader like Samsung (international) devices, and probably cost much more than a Nexus. If you note the physical button placements, they also pay attention to one hand usage. I have owned close to dozen Samsung android devices in the last two to three years, but I feel I might go for something with better built materials.

This is where the market is going with 4.8-6" phones so we just have to accept it. I don't have big hands, but I think devices with formfactor like the Nexus 4 are the limit of what a phone should be. Unfortunately, for those who prefer 4" devices will have to stick with older devices or transfer to iPhones because I don't see flagship devices release with that size anymore.

Phones always get released with at least a few drawbacks. Even though it does not have 4G/LTE I would still consider this over the Xperia Z. It has a dedicated camera button and an infared sensor that can be used as a remote!! Both phones are amazing in their own right! Sony finally bringing their A-game

You might want to double check your facts Alex. The Xperia ZL does have LTE and will be available in Canada which is far from "Asian Markets".

Your fact checking oversights are getting pretty embarrassing. First telling people the Nexus 4 won't do LTE BEFORE fact checking (and worse with a condescending tone), now this.

I'd definitely go for the ZL over the Z.
1. Textured back. Less of a fingerprint magnet
2. Expandable storage 64gb. More than 32 gb of the Z.
3. Infrared module. Can be used as a remote control for all your devices
4. Larger capacity battery: 2370 mAh over 2330 mAh
5. More screen, less bezel. Easier to use with one hand
6. Dedicated camera button

Sure, it is not water or dust proof; but I can live with that. By the way, both versions will be marketed in some countries: Canada & India are two such confirmed markets.

Are you guys mad? Xperia ZL has 4g lte connectivity. It dogs the water proof body and gives you all features of the Xperia Z in a more compact body. Also, the Xperia Zl has a dedicated shutter key and has a infrared radio to be used as a remote control for various devices!!!!!