Sony Xperia Neo L Review
Sony has been hard at work with their Xperia range in 2012, and the portfolio of smartphones continues to swell by the month. While much of the spotlight is on the Sony Xperia S and its lesser siblings, the Xperia P and Xperia U, the Japanese manufacturer have produced a range of other phones, one of these being the Xperia Neo L. Now don’t worry if you have never seen or heard of the Neo L – it is a rarely mentioned phone in the western market, this is because it has been handed a one-way ticket to China. Of course, as it is now as easy to buy phones from the Chinese market as it is to head down to your local High Street, it is only right that you are provided with more information on the Neo L. Who knows, it might be your future phone!
Sony has generally stuck with the same theme in the design of phones in the Xperia range – squared-off corners, solid build and cumbersome feel. This has completely changed with the Neo L and the Chinese market has been handed what is arguably the most attractive Xperia handset to date. It is sleeker, prettier and has nice smooth curves which give a look of really style. It measures in at 121 x 61.1 mm which is enough for a tidy 4.0 inch screen and capacitive Android buttons but not a lot else (other than the obviously Sony and Xperia branding). There is no creaking with the phone and it feels pretty solid in the hand, the width – at 12.2mm – makes this far from the thinnest phone on the market, but adds to the sturdiness. A weight of 131.5 grams makes the Neo L, light to carry around.
Like many modern smartphones, the Xperia Neo L comes in a choice of black or white with the latter being the most aesthetically pleasing.
As mentioned earlier, the Xperia Neo L comes with a 4.0 inch LED-backlit LCD capacitive touchscreen, offering a 480 x 854 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 245ppi. The quality of the display is decent but lacking the wow factor of the Xperia S or P. This might have something to do with a lack of Bravia engine technology which works so well in producing a crisp and clear display.
The brightness and contrast is okay, and colour saturation is satisfactory but does not hold up brilliantly on HD video. Browsing the web, watching standard video and playing basic games are all fine. The inclusion of the backlit LED also means that the screen is pretty good in unfavourable light conditions.
Sony has earned itself a pretty good reputation of producing good cameras in the Xperia range, and the Neo L features the same 5-MP camera as its other mid-range siblings. LED flash helps when taking pictures in bad light and the touch focus feature responds well, ensuring snaps are clear and colourful. There is no smile and face detection or 3D sweep panorama features as seen in the Xperia P, but the minimal shutter lag is equally as impressive. Video shooting is at 720p, which is now pretty much standard in modern mid-range smartphones, and there is a video light to help the quality of the shot. A basic, VGA secondary front-facing camera is not the greatest but proves useful for video calling and vanity viewing.
On to the hardware and the Sony Xperia Neo L packs a Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon 1 GHz Scorpion processor. The fact that Sony has opted for a single-core processor when most phones in this price range have moved to dual-core is as surprising as it is disappointing – especially when the phone is running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That being said, it still has enough in the way of power to carry out the usual tasks such as Facebook, Twitter, email and basic games.
There is 512MB RAM included, which is to be expected, but only 1GB of internal storage space. To include such a small amount of storage in a smartphone in 2012 is nothing short of embarrassing. Thankfully, there is a micro SD card slot offering up to 32GB of extra storage space, which you will definitely need.
By far and away the best feature of the Sony Xperia Neo L is the inclusion of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This is skimmed over nicely with Sony’s Timescape UI, resulting in a good overall operating system. In theory, a phone running Ice Cream Sandwich should be enjoyable to use but sadly it is let down by the phone’s lack of power. Skipping through lists and apps is still decent, but you can’t help feeling that it could have been so much better.
The battery in the Xperia Neo L is a pretty good 1500mAh, this provides more than enough juice for a full day’s charge of heavy usage – this is of course helped by the ordinary processor. According to Sony, the standard Li-Po battery should provide up to 410 hours of standby time on 3G and over 7 hours talk-time on 3G.
The Sony Xperia Neo L has a lot in the looks department but very little in the way of performance. With the Sony Xperia P available for around the same price, there is not likely to be many takers in the UK and US markets, unless, of course, you base your choice of phone on looks alone, which would this phone a real winner.