Sony Xperia SL review: The NXT one

GSMArena team, 15 October 2012.
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Phonebook

The Xperia SL phonebook is the same as the one on the Xperia T. It has slight visual changes: the bottom bar no longer shows you shortcuts to phone, favorites, contacts, and is now a search and add number field. The contacts, phone, favorites and groups tabs have been moved to the top and can be alternated by side-swipes.

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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 the bottom of the contact list, and an alphabetical scroll bar to jump to names starting with a specific letter on the right.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in 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 and editing a 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.

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

Smart telephony

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

The Xperia SL 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 • Dialer

Thanks to the proximity and accelerometer sensors, the Sony Xperia SL 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 to make more room for the call log.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Sony Xperia SL. It managed a Good mark and will be heard loud and clear in most case scenarios. More info on our loudspeaker test can be found here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Sony Xperia T63.7 58.962.1Below Average
Apple iPhone 566.8 66.167.7Below Average
HTC Desire C64.6 64.775.7Average
Samsung Galaxy mini 2 S650069.7 66.671.5Average
Sony Xperia SL (no xLOUD)75.2 65.874.8Good
Sony Xperia SL (xLOUD)75.5 65.976.9Good
Sony Xperia Go68.7 65.876.2Good
LG Optimus 4X HD68.7 66.679.3Good
Motorola RAZR XT91074.766.682.1Very Good
HTC Desire76.675.784.6Excellent

Messaging is business as usual

Text messages and MMS use standard threaded layouts. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent 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

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

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Creating a multimedia message

Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allows 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, etc.

As for text input, the Xperia SL 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 that are easy to hit.

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

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Xperia SL 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 a Swype-like input before, you'll quickly get used to it.

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