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Sony Xperia L1 review: Level one

Introduction

The Xperia L1 marks Sony’s return to the still growing and highly-competitive entry-level market. Putting together a good smartphone for beginners can often turn out to be an even tougher task than designing a flagship. Maybe that’s why Sony is retiring its E-series and introducing a new contender in the Xperia L1.

Sony Xperia L1 review

Sony used to cover the budget niche with the pocket-friendly E series, some water-proofed handsets in the M lineup and the selfie-centric C-series adding adequate depth and continuity all the way up to the flagship Z lineup.

It’s now the Xperia X that’s in charge and Sony is obviously keen on revising its alphabet further down the ranks.

Other than the name change, the newly unveiled Xperia L1 isn’t dramatically different from the typical Sony entry-level handset we’re used to. Almost a year sharp after the Xperia E5, we get a premium looped surface design – well executed given the tight budget – as well as a big screen, LTE connectivity and a high-res camera. Reasonably priced and powered by an up-to-date Android version, this starter package has all the right bases covered.

Sony Xperia L1 key features:
Body: Polycarbonate Loop Surface design, scratch-resistant screen glass
Screen: 5.5″ IPS LCD of 720 x 1,280px resolution (267ppi)
Camera: 13MP camera with AF, f/2.2 aperture; LED flash; 1080p @ 30 fps video capture;
Selfie cam: 5MP f/2.2; 1080p @ 30fps video capture
Chipset: MT6737T, quad-core 1.45GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, dual-core Mali-T720 GPU
Memory: 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage; microSD slot (hybrid)
OS: Android 7.0 Nougat with Xperia UI
Battery: 2,620mAh Li-Ion (sealed); Qnovo adaptive charging
Connectivity: Dual-SIM (optional); LTE-A (Cat.4 150/50Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS/GLONASS; Bluetooth 4.2; NFC; FM radio

Main shortcomings:
Chipset delivers low-cost performance
No panorama mode in the camera app

The Mediatek chipset is perhaps the biggest question mark – a small bump in clock speed over the Xperia E5 will hardly help the four Cortex-A53 cores make a difference and the graphics chip isn’t particularly good either. That said, two of the most likely rivals, Nokia 3 and the Moto C Plus, are relying on the same chip to do the math.

Sony Xperia L1 review

Anyway, if Sony optimized the performance right, the Xperia L1 will be going places. Amid recent reports of improving smartphone sales, another potentially strong seller in the pipeline will be a welcome boost for the recovering company.

Let’s get on with it then – the Xperia L1 is coming out of the box right after the break.