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
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
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
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.
Design - Interface and Media
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