Sony Xperia neo L review: Blast from the past

GSMArena team, 11 August 2012.
Pages: 123456789

Social phonebook

The visually customized phonebook of the Xperia neo L is virtually the same as the Xperia sola's and can store extensive contact information. A tabbed interface allows you to access contact details, recent calls and info from social networking services.

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The phonebook The quick contacts can save you a click or two the available options

The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options - a dedicated search field on top of the contact list, and an alphabet scroll to jump to names starting with a specific letter.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (you can fine-sift specific groups from an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

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Filtering contacts in the phonebook

If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can "link" their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show as extra tabs.

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Viewing a contact entry Photos and interests from Facebook Call log for that contact

Quick contacts are enabled - a tap on the contact's photo brings up shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact.

Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type), there's an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes.

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Editing a contact

There is an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail. Custom ringtones are enabled too.

Smart telephony

Receiving and making calls on the Xperia neo L was trouble-free. The built-in secondary microphone is used for active noise-cancellation so calls are loud and clear even in noisy environments.

The Xperia neo L phone app features smart dialing. It searches for matches in both the contacts' phones and names. There's voice dialing too (the quickest way to activate it is to press and hold the hardware Search key).

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Smart dialing is available

Thanks to the proximity sensor, the Sony Xperia neo L automatically disables the touchscreen when you lift it up during a call.

The call log is integrated in the dialer - it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad on the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list. You can hide the keypad the make more room for the call log.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Xperia neo L. Scoring a Good result, the Xperia neo L performed better than its newer siblings. More info on our loudspeaker test can be found here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Sony Xperia sola60.959.061.7Below Average
HTC One V66.9 65.367.7Below Average
Apple iPhone 4S65.8 64.574.6Average
HTC Desire C64.6 64.775.7Average
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S650069.7 66.671.5Average
Sony Xperia Go68.7 65.876.2Good
Sony Xperia neo L65.8 65.476.9Good
Motorola RAZR XT91074.766.682.1Very Good
HTC Desire76.675.784.6Excellent

On a 3G network, the Sony Xperia neo L has enough juice for 7 hours and 41 minutes of talk time. That's actually half an hour better than the officially advertised talk time, but an hour less than what the neo V achieved.

Messaging is business as usual

Text messages and MMS use standard threaded layout. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion.

Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.

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The messaging app Starring a message All starred messages Adding multimedia to the message

Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message to an MMS.

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Composing a message Message options Attaching an image

Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there's no unified inbox for other email services.

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Gmail app supports batch operations and multiple (Gmail) accounts

However, the generic email app can do that as well. It can handle multiple POP or IMAP accounts and you have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online.

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The generic Email client has a combined inbox option

Google Talk handles Instant Messaging. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.

As for text input, the Xperia neo L offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is fairly comfortable - the screen is big enough to house decently sized keys.

Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons.

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Xperia neo L keyboard is comfortable in either layout

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It works the same as Swype. Even if you've never used Swype input before, you'll quickly get used to it.

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