Sony has released two Z series flagship phones this year. Both sporting top specs, but slightly different dimensions, craftsmanship and speed tests’ results. Let’s see what is behind this dual phone strategy.
The new Sony Xperia ZL is a slightly reworked version of the Xperia Z released a couple of months back and features a set of top-shelf internals, much like Z, but with interesting differences.
Size-wise the Xperia ZL is a bit smaller; 132 mm x 70 mm and 9.8 mm thick, weighing just 151g. Sony XPeria Z is taller at 139 mm, wider at 71 mm and thicker at 7.9 mm weighing a bit less 146 grams.
Design-wise, it’s almost identical to the Sony Xperia Z – same sharp-edged orthogonal design brief, at least at first glance. But flip it over and the evolution shows through; the ZL differs from the Experia Z in that it has a contored, rubberized backplate, making it a delight to hold. 7 millimeters have been lopped off the bottom, rendering it far more amenable to one-handed use than is its beefier elder sibling. Here is a Sony XPeria ZL’s back side:
OK, it’s now plastic on the rear rather than the toughened glass of the Xperia Z, but its a question of utility vs style – if you prefer the sleek (7.9 mm thick) chicness of the Z, so be it. We prefer the enhanced user-friendliness of the ZL’s design, even if that very contoring has swelled the device’s girth by an extra couple of millimeters. Here is a picture of Sony XPeria Z’s back side:
Both Experia ZL and Z models sport a 5-inch TFT display with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. OptiContrast LCD screen; its brighter than the AMOLED’s seen on rivals’ devices, and the 443 ppi full HD res means it’s breath-takingly sharp too. The only drawback is viewing angles are a bit narrow – you’ll need to tilt the Xperia ZL in the direction of the other person when showing them on the screen – certainly not a big deal.
Everyday number-crunching is the duty of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU clocked at 1.5GHZ across its quartet of execution cores, with 2GB RAM tagging along and pixel-painting the job of the Adreno 320 GPU. Storage space is a 16GB flash drive.
Port-wise there is a microUSB connector, and a microSD card slot. For connectivity of both Z and ZL smartphones features wide-band WiFi 802.11 a,b,g,n, and n 5GHz, NFC, and its microSIM slot allowing for phone networking. GSM, WCDMA, and LTE radios mean phone conectivity is well supported wherever you might be, and we witnessed 12Mbps downloads and 8.5Mbps uploads, with clear call quality in both directions.
In benchmarks the Xperia ZL lands up a bit quicker than the Xperia Z, already recognised as a capable performer, but in SunSpider, the acid test of browsing speed, the Xperia Z’s Achilles heel of around 2 seconds has miraculously been sliced to 1.1 seconds, sending the Xperia ZL straight onto the podium of leading smartphones. That benchmark alone means buyers need to justify choosing the Z over the ZL rather than the other way around. Sony have included the usual 24-month guarantee. Battery life is good for a full day’s use.
The Xperia ZL ships with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean as its OS, and it runs along smooth as silk, whether launching or switching between apps, browsing heavy pages, anything you throw at it. Need For Speed, GTA III, piece of cake. Aesthetically buyers might well prefer the longer, 2mm-slimmer Xperia Z, or the angular touch of glass instead of the rubberized contors of the ZL, but otherwise, this is practically an upgrade.
READ: Sony Xperia Z review !
Sony Xperia ZL comes in at a fairly unfortunate time. Samsung Galaxy S IV is here and with its winning Exynos 5 Octa processor, similar price point and a big name behind, ZL has its work cut out. Also Galaxy S IV is available in most carriers, whereas Sony Xperia ZL is only picked up Cincinnati Bell. HTC One has a superior display and battery life to Xperia Z or ZL and again it is available everywhere. Well, One’s camera sucks, but you get my point.
Sign up to the Gadgetmix Newsletter (free) for news and reviews mailed directly to your mailbox CLICK HERE