Sony Xperia SL Review

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Sony released a refresh of the Xperia S back in August and the reason you might not have heard about it is because Sony just quietly slipped it in. There’s a good reason for this since the Xperia SL is exactly the same as the Xperia S, except for two things – a slightly faster CPU and Android 4.0. Apart from this, the new phone appears to be a near carbon copy of the old one and as expected, is priced at the same price point as the old one.

A handsome looking phone

A handsome looking phone


Design and Build
The Xperia SL carries forth the same solid build of the Xperia S and despite it being plastic, manages to feel sturdy and very well made. It does appear a bit blocky due to the lack of rounded edges and a slim profile. At 10.6mm, I wouldn’t exactly call it fat, and it’s pretty light as well with the battery at 144g. On the connectivity front, you will find a plastic flap-covered microUSB port and HDMI port on either side, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top. Buttons on the phone include the volume rocker, camera shutter and a power/sleep button. We had a major issue with the capacitive buttons on the first model, which didn’t seem very responsive. Unfortunately, the SL isn’t any better and the same problem persists. The 4.3-inch HD screen sails past the iPhone’s Retina Display with a pixel count of 342ppi. Coupled with the Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine, this makes anything and everything on the screen appear super sharp and crisp. Colour reproduction is very good and so is the sunlight legibility. The display also supports 10 finger multi-touch gestures. The rear of the phone remains unchanged as well with the camera, LED flash and speaker grill all vertically lined up. 

The capacitive buttons still don't work right

The capacitive buttons still don't work right


Interface and Media
The interface is a lot snappier from our first encounter with its close cousin and that’s mostly due to the fact that it’s ICS this time around. Not the latest in the Android world, but we’ll take what we get. The phone should be getting a Jelly Bean update as well somewhere down the line, at least we hope so. Sony has stuck with the same features and functions in Timescape from its previous phones and just tweaked some of the apps; after all, why fix something that’s not broken? The interface is incredibly smooth and fluid, and the lingering lag that was present in the old phone seems to have been ironed out.

Very good audio performance

Very good audio performance


The phone is powered by the same dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260 processor, but now it runs at 1.7GHz instead of 1.5GHz. The slight bump in speed helps get rid of some of the lag in the UI as well as gives a little boost to demanding apps like 3D games and photo/video editing. This also helps when browsing, as image heavy sites tend to render a little quicker. Audio quality is very good as well and the music player is simple and easy to use. There are plenty of equaliser settings along with special audio enhancements. We found the ‘Studio’ preset to be the most effective for most genres of music.

The Xperia S is a quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G phone with support for advanced speeds like 14.4Mbps HSDPA and 5.8Mbps HSUPA. We also have the usual assortment of Wi-Fi ‘n’, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, NFC and Bluetooth v3.0 (Xperia S had Bluetooth v2.1). For the entire list of the extra apps that come pre-bundled, do have a look at our Xperia S review.

Packs in a powerful battery

Packs in a powerful battery


The 12MP shooter excels at macro shots but only if the lighting condition is ideal. Outdoor shots come out really well with really good amount of detail in the pictures. When we tried to capture the same subject indoors, despite the decent lighting condition, there was lot of noise in the image. We had this issue with the Xperia S as well and as it turns out, it seems to be a limitation of the sensor more than the image processing algorithms. You also get plenty of depth of field effect in close-up shots. There’s no touch-to-focus since you have a dedicated camera shutter button.

Really good outdoor macro shots

Really good outdoor macro shots


Battery Life
As far as battery life is concerned, the 1750mAh battery should deliver very similar performance as the Xperia S, despite the slight bump in clock speed. We’ll update this with the exact numbers from our video drain tests and loop tests, but so far under regular usage, the SL should easily be able to last you an entire day even with heavy usage.

All lit up!

All lit up!


Verdict and Price in India
The Xperia SL retails in the market for Rs. 30,999, which is an absurd price considering the older Xperia S can be found for as low as Rs. 24,000. Nothing has really changed at all apart from the software update. The speed bump is good, but once the Xperia S gets ICS, you’ll never notice the difference. Instead of this, the LG Optimus 4X HD makes an excellent buy at around Rs. 28,000 as it packs in a more powerful quad-core SoC and larger screen.


A super fast experience: Don’t like waiting? The Xperia SL is powered by a super fast dual core 1.7 GHz processor. The latest version of the Android platform makes your smartphone experience complete. Enjoy Face unlock – wave goodbye to passwords and use your face to unlock your phone. You can also easily keep track of your data consumption and set limits or warning levels. Let the music play: The original is back. Xperia SL comes with the new Sony “WALKMAN” app, featuring a manual equalizer, surround sound and a beautiful, dynamic and intuitive user interface. So fill it with your playlists. Or tap into one of ours. See what your friends are listening to. Go explore a world of music. Easy sharing: Great song. Want others to hear it too? Share your music wirelessly with One-touch Listening on your NFC speakers. And to view your pictures and videos on a big screen, just swipe the display and you’re ready to enjoy it all on your tablet, TV or laptop via DLNA. Or simply plug your smartphone into your HDTV’s HDMI port. 12-megapixel camera: With the 12 megapixel fast capture camera, you’ll never miss another shot again. It goes from sleep to snap in just over a second. Low light? No worries. The Exmor R for mobile camera sensor lightens up any gloomy day. Make the most of your pictures – you’ll love Xperia SL’s photo effects and apps like Instagram. Shoot HD video: First day of the summer. Last day at the beach. Memories may fade, but the Sony Xperia SL HD mobile keeps them bright. Record it all in full HD video. And to grab still images from your videos, just download Sony’s frame grabber app from Google PLAY. Razor sharp HD display: View everything in razor sharp clarity on the stunning, 4,3” Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine. The Xperia SL HD screen has the highest PPI – pixels per inch – of any Sony smartphone, and is certified as the sharpest+ HD smartphone display.


Form Factor Bar
Screen Type LED-backlit LCD, capacitive touchscreen
Screen Size 4.3 inches
Screen Resolution 1280 x 720
Number of Colours 16M


Processor Dual-core
Speed 1.7 GHz


Internal Memory 32 GB (up to 26 GB user-accessible memory), 1GB RAM

Camera Features

Sensor Resolution 12.1 MP, 4000 x 3000 pixels
Features 3D Sweep Panorama, Video playback and recording, Face recognition and Smile detection
Digital Zoom 16x
Video Recording Yes
Front facing camera 1.3 MP

General Features

OS Android
Version 4.0
Bluetooth Features Yes, v2.1 with A2DP
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
USB Connector Yes
Available Colours Black, White, Silver, Pink

Carrier Networks

2G GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100




Dimensions 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm
Weight 144g


Media Player Music formats: MP3, 3GPP, MP4, SMF, WAV, OTA, Ogg vorbis, FLAC|#|Video formats: 3GPP, MP4
Alert Tone Vibration; MP3
Speakerphone Yes
Audio connector 3.5 mm


Type Li-Ion
Talk Time with Standard Battery Up to 498
Standby Time with Standard Battery Up to 420

Miscellaneous Features

Built in Applications Synchronisation via Exchange ActiveSync|#|SyncML|#|Google Sync|#|Facebook|#|Google Voice Search|#|Google Talk application|#|Google Maps with Street View and Latitude|#|Google Mail

After Sales Service

Warranty Period 1 Year


Warranty Period 1 Year

Published Date: Oct 24, 2012 09:24 am | Updated Date: Oct 24, 2012 09:24 am