Sony Xperia SL review: The NXT one

GSMArena team, 15 October 2012.
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A refresh, instead of a proper upgrade. A replacement model rather than a successor. Is the Sony Xperia SL aiming too low? Many will probably say so, but you can't blame Sony for trying to extend the life of a pretty solid smartphone and one of its best-received handsets.

The Sony Xperia SL might not tempt anyone already owning the Xperia S to upgrade, but then again that's where the Xperia T steps in. The new Sony smartphone takes the path of the Arc S and tries to give a once successful flagship better chances to survive in the mid-range.


Sony Xperia SL official photos

The Xperia SL finds itself in the middle of an extremely fierce battle. It's squeezed between the affordable dual-core NovaThor-powered droids and the flagships from the beginning of the year, which have undergone several price-cuts and are ready to conquer new territories.

The question is whether the Sony Xperia SL has what it takes to survive in these conditions. A look at its main strengths and weaknesses should help us with the answer.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4.3" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of 720p resolution (720 x 1280 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine; Scratch-resistant glass
  • Android OS v4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Dual-core 1.7 GHz Scorpion CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260 chipset
  • 12 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging, Multi Angle shot
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera, 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 32GB built-in storage
  • microHDMI port, dedicated TV launcher
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Voice dialing
  • Deep Facebook integration
  • PlayStation Certified, access to the PS Store
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor

Main disadvantages

  • More powerful chipsets can be had for the same price
  • Display has sub-par viewing angles
  • No microSD card slot

It's quite obvious, that even after the speed bump, the Sony Xperia SL isn't the most powerful droid around. There are several offerings within its own price-range to offer Krait cores and newer generation graphics processors, which might or might not matter too much, depending on wether the Sony smartphone can offer a smooth ride through the UI.

Sony Xperia Sl Sony Xperia Sl
The Sony Xperia SL studio shots

Plus, there's the 720p BRAVIA-powered screen of Retina-beating pixel density and the very capable 12 megapixel camera, which give the Xperia SL a couple of potent weapons of its own. The design has not changed one bit, but few will deny that the Xperia S was already one of the sleekest looking smartphones around.

It appears that the Xperia SL won't allow our jury to make an easy call, so let's kick off this review in the hope that by the time we are finished, the picture would be more clear.

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