Overview, Design and Features
We had our first hands-on with the Sony Xperia ZL in mid January during the local launch of the Sony Xperia Z. Aside from the differences in design, dimensions, weight and battery capacity, the two Sony Xperia devices have similar specs. Are there any reasons for consumers to choose the Xperia ZL over the Xperia Z? Let's find out in this review. Here's a quick look at the specs of both devices:-
The Xperia ZL shares the same design philosophy as the Xperia Z - OmniBalance where you will see subtly rounded edges and an angular form factor held together by a skeleton glass fibre polyamide frame. However, the Xperia ZL has a few notable design differences.
The most obvious difference in the design is the absence of a rear glass panel. In place of it is a textured back, which proves to be a wise decision taken by Sony considering how fast the glass panel of the Xperia Z picks up fingerprints and smudges. Furthermore, with most users opting to protect it's rear with a case, the rear glass panel is hardly seen after the initial un-boxing of the device. We also felt that the Xperia ZL offers better handling due to its slightly curved back, a design strategy that HTC famously used for its Butterfly and One models.
Sony touts the Xperia ZL as the world's most compact smartphone with a 5-inch display, a claim that we foresee the company vigorously defending in the coming months as more 5-inch phones enter the market. For comparison's sake, here are the dimensions of the current crop of 5-inch phones:
- Sony Xperia ZL: 131.7 x 69.8 x 9.8mm
- Sony Xperia Z: 139 x 71 x 7.9mm
- Samsung Galaxy S4: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
- HTC Butterfly: 143 x 70.5 x 9.08mm
- ASUS PadFone Infinity: 143.5 x 72.8 x 6.3 - 8.9mm
As you can see from the pictures shown so far, the Xperia ZL loses the water and dust resistance properties that are highly marketed in the Xperia Z. The 3.5mm audio output jack is no longer covered, and there is a flap located at the rear bottom of the phone which hides the micro-SIM and micro-SD card slots.
There are three distinct design features on the Xperia ZL. First, there is a LED light at the forward facing bottom center of the device. Whenever there is a message, missed call or notification, it will light up green. When it is charging, the LED light is orange. The LED also lights up in the color of the image you are viewing in the Gallery, which reminds us of the transparent strip of the Xperia U.
While most handset makers opt to place the front-facing cameras on the top centre, top left or right of their devices, Sony oddly placed it at the bottom right side of the device which is awkward for taking self portraits as you need to hold the Xperia ZL higher in order to take a normal portrait shot.
Sony adds in a physical camera shutter button on the bottom right side of the Xperia ZL, which you can use to activate the camera in lock screen, any home screen or any app by tapping and holding it for about two seconds. For more information on what the phone offers from the software, user interface perspective, we've got all that covered in our original Xperia Z review over here and these aspects remain identical on the Xperia ZL too.