Sony…when you hear about the company nowadays the first questions people ask is about the PS5 and that means their phone range is currently going under the radar. Well it turns out Sony have a few new phones in their arsenal and we are lucky enough right now to be working our way through the range, starting with the affordable Sony L4. The L4 is the Xperia device coming in at about €150 a fair bit cheaper than the Xperia 10 or 5II for example. Here’s the thing up until this year the entry level pricepoint has been a bit light on competition with only really Sony, Alcatel and Huawei servicing this market but now Nokia and Oppo are back in the mix. So the big question is, how does the Sony L4 stack up.
Sony phones have always been a lovely design, hard edges, black and just clean. The Xperia L4 is no different in that it takes elements from the upper tiers of Sony’s range, even have the same 21:9 display. On the rear of the phone we see the 3 tier camera setup in the top corner, again following the same layout to the brands flagship phones.
As ever we have to take the price point into consideration and while the plastic body doesn’t scream premium, that’s not uncommon for €150, for that price the matte finish is slick and overall it is a very neat and tidy design. Here’s a mad one, no longer do I own a set of 3.5mm headphones but guess what the headphone jack lives on. The time is probably at an end for the humble headphone port but by god I do love to see it.
As is Sony’s prerogative we get the fingerprint scanner on the side of the L4, to be honest it works fine but I did find myself still reverting to using the Pin since becoming accustomed to the Pixel 4a’s rear side scanner.
Sony always do a bang up job with their camera. Their digital camera range is some of the best gear on the market and traditionally their smartphone camera’s hold their own despite some serious work by competitors on the market. At this budget you aren’t likely to find something like the Xperia L4 rocking a triple cam, with 13mp, wide-angle 5mp and a depth 2mp lens. On the front we are also using an 8mp so overall that’s some good stats for €150.
As I mentioned on the rear there is the triple camera setup, really it’s only two and the third ( the 2mp) is there just to be used with the software-derived bokeh system for blurred backgrounds in shots. Oddly enough the Xperia L4 is missing HDR that seems to be given in pretty much all phones these days, yes there is and auto HDR system of sorts but the L4 really struggles with high contrast photography as a result.
The wide angle lens is very good I must admit and it gives a lovely expansive view, you just need to make sure you have your lighting on point as the phone doesn’t handle very bright or very dark well at all. Couple this lens with the 4x digital zoom you can get some pretty nifty pics but again at €150 I shouldn’t expect to be blown away, I just expected a little better.
Sony love a good display and this for me is the best part of the Sony design. On the L4 we get the now standard 21:9 aspect ratio on the 6.2″ LCD display. This means the Xperia L4 is rather tall and narrow, great for holding and watching clips on the full screen. The display itself is a nice 720p HD display which for this price is actually pretty decent in terms of detail in this format.
I did find it was a little dark at times and the setup wasn’t too well able to handle darker videos to bring through that quality viewing experience but that’s not too uncommon for the money, so that’s just me expecting more from Sony displays.
Hardware & Performance
So far what I’m experiencing from the Sony L4 is that for the price it’s grand but there’s an element of we all Sony can do better and again I think we get that feeling when we look under the hood. The Xperia L4 is running with 3GB Ram with MediaTek MT6762 processor hardware, again grand but there is something that says the Snapdragon processors at the same price point will edge the power battle.
We do get some decent storage space with 64GB Internal with a micro SD expansion available. We also get USB-C charging for the 3,580mAh which again for €150 is more than acceptable and should get you through the day no bother. The only downside is that the Realme 5 and Samsung Galaxy A21 both offer nearly 5,000mAh batteries at the same value. See what I mean, the Sony Xperia L4 is good, nothing wrong with it but it could be better.
Despite the screen being setup for mobile gaming, you will want more power and better graphics, so if you are looking for the gamer phone go to the next model up in the Sony range.
Normally I won’t even bang on about software unless it’s something new or really bad but this one took me by surprise. The Sony Xperia L4 is running Android 9 rather than 10, which for me gives the impression that this was either meant to be out much earlier than it is or the company really don’t care about the price point in the market and just wanted something to fill the gap. Like Android 10 is out since what about March?
But that’s only minor right? Well yes and no. It’s minor in the sense it’s still Android and it can be updated but on the flipside it means you don’t get the new gesture controls from Android and a few other bits which you presume should just be standard by now. On the upside Sony are finally reducing the amount of bloatware on their phones and Sony still changes a lot of the Android experience, with a makeover to the launcher and other areas, which is always a good look.
The Goosed Verdict
The thing with the Sony Xperia L4 is that it really is an entry level phone, it’s not exactly dripping in cool extras or fancy bits. What the L4 is simply is a good value for money smartphone and it would be ideal for someone’s first phone this Christmas or as a tie over when you’ve mangled your expensive flagship. I’m very happy with the overall design which is very Sony and the price point.
Sadly that’s about it, there is no wow factor with the L4 bar the 21:9 screen, but all features you can find on any phone in this range now and that means things like the running the old version of Android out of the box is all the more noticeable while there is nothing that makes me go hmmm I’ll buy this over that, if you get me. Personally I believe the Xperia L4 is going to struggle for sales, there are other phones on the market that are a touch more expensive that offer much bigger batteries, processors and are running the new software (which you can upgrade to but still). Having said that as per the norm Sony won’t let you down so if you’ve got a youngun who loves watching Youtube on your phone and you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful smartphone that is build for video viewing the L4 is well worth the look.