The Album app is among the most comprehensive and feature-rich gallery apps we've seen, and it's fast and easy to use.
At the very top of the list is a slideshow, showing off your photos. Lower down, the first photo of each month is shown at twice the size of other images. Photos are organized by month, and you can use pinch-zoom to change the size of thumbnails (then they smoothly animate into the grid).
You can also browse photos on a map (you can manually add geotag info too) or by folder. This includes network storage so that you can view photos from a DLNA server (your home computer, for one). Then there's integration with online albums - Facebook, Flickr, and Google Photos (someone should tell Sony engineers this is no longer called Picasa).
Image editing can be handled by several apps, including the default Image Editor and Google's Photos.
The Music app is another part of Sony's custom software package. The contextual side menu offers many of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder, and online services like Spotify (it's just a link to the Spotify app though). You can also share music from the phone to compatible players.
The app can find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia, and search for lyrics on Google.
The Music app offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ determines the best audio settings depending on the track you're listening to (or tries to, anyway). Then there's DSEE HX, which is supposed to extrapolate compressed music files, like MP3s into high-res audio. According to Sony, the result is near Hi-Res Audio Quality, but it only works with wired headphones. It also helps with streaming audio but not Spotify.
Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
The Xperia L1 comes with an FM radio receiver and an app to go with it - and Sony's is probably the best one we've seen. It has nice visuals, pulls the stations' names over RDS, and you can pick favorites. You can also assign colors to group the stations - say blue for news, yellow for rock music, or purple for house stations.
The FM radio app is tightly integrated with TrackID, too. TrackID is Sony's trusted song identification software which has since evolved way past simple recognition. It can now show you music charts by country, give you live updates on recent searches across the world, and store your search history.
Named simply Video, the app can play your local videos and videos on your home network, plus it has extensive subtitle settings. Additionally, you can flip a switch and have videos played in the background.
But if your region is supported, it can also pull info on TV schedules, shows currently airing, and highlights of what to expect.
The Sony Xperia L1 demonstrated perfectly clean output when hooked up to an active external amplifier. Its loudness was very high too, rounding up a great performance here.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with Sony handsets, the volume plummeted to below average when we hooked up our standard headset. Good news is, it's much easier to forgive on an entry-level handset as most of its competitors aren’t doing any better. Clarity takes a moderate hit with some intermodulation distortion and stereo crosstalk creeping in, but all in all the Xperia L1 does decently.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Sony Xperia L1||+0.10, -0.11||-93.6||92.9||0.0090||0.013||-93.8|
|Sony Xperia L1 (headphones)||+0.79, -0.10||-92.9||91.9||0.010||0.420||-53.1|
|Xiaomi Redmi 4||+0.02, -0.06||-91.6||92.4||0.0016||0.0081||-93.3|
|Xiaomi Redmi 4 (headphones)||+0.04, -0.04||-91.4||92.2||0.0058||0.036||-64.0|
|Xiaomi Redmi 3s||+0.02, -0.07||-94.3||90.6||0.0024||0.0087||-91.8|
|Xiaomi Redmi 3s (headphones)||+0.02, -0.10||-93.7||90.3||0.028||0.061||-72.2|
|Oppo F1s||+0.37, -0.00||-71.2||75.3||0.936||1.190||-41.2|
|Oppo F1s (headphones)||+0.80, -0.05||-67.8||74.6||0.336||0.579||-42.3|
|Huawei Honor 7 Lite (5c)||+0.03, -0.44||-90.4||90.9||0.0019||0.011||-87.9|
|Huawei Honor 7 Lite (5c) (headphones)||+0.04, -0.47||-90.3||90.7||0.0067||0.072||-73.1|
|Motorola Moto G4||+0.02, -0.07||-92.4||92.5||0.0028||0.0084||-92.1|
|Motorola Moto G4 (headphones)||+0.04, -0.08||-92.0||92.0||0.0073||0.070||-63.8|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.