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DanCooper

June 27th 2014 9:00 am

How would you change Sony’s Xperia ZL?


At first blush, you’d be forgiven for asking what Sony’s Xperia ZL was for, given that it was the less fancy version of the Z. The dowdy sibling turned out to be a lot better than expected, however, with nicer ergonomics, even at the expense of the waterproofing. Unfortunately, by the time the ZL was announced, the HTC One (M7) and Galaxy S4 had arrived onto the scene. So, let’s pick apart the ZL and ask: was it a case of bad timing, or did Sony simply not do enough to warrant equal billing with its rivals?

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8 replies
nikonwhore

I would have made it real clear what the whole point of having multiple flagship phones simultaneously was for- now that you mention that it is a tuned down version of the Z, I kind of get it. It never made sense to me as a phone enthusiast at the time, and to the general public, I'm sure it just served to confuse and dilute the Sony mobile image. It wasn't marketed as a midrange or lower tier phone- it was sold as a flagship in a lot of carriers and in some cases, sold side by side with the Z.

I think first and foremost it should have been clear what Sony's brand image was and this did not help it. There should only have been one flagship- the Z.
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dreamwalkin

I think of the ZL as not really a downrated version of the Z, but a sister model. The same car with a slightly different nose job. The Z/ZL like the T/TX are essentially twins. Each pair also carries a similar little brother with a smaller screen, the ZR and V respectively.

There are a ton of analogies we can draw from the car world. Cavalier/Sunfire...Corolla/Sprinter, Levin/Trueno...Tempo/Topaz...Crown Vic/Grand Marquis... Car fans will know what I mean. Not just sharing a platform but even key exterior panels, with the minimal changes they think they can get away with.

It's not a thorough and attractive repackaging job like the kind Fiat is very good at when it wants to turn Fiats into Alfa Romeos and Lancias. If I can change the ZL that's what I would do...make it more persuasive in its own right.

I think in the phone world this practice usually comes from a need to let each telco have phones they can call exclusives, no matter how ridiculous. In Sony's case it is mainly to please one of the Japanese telcos, I blame au. :P

HTC was a big fan of this practice for a while but not so much anymore. I think they stopped when they realized that even two phones with such minute differences is a drain on corporate resources, and like you said is also no good for the brand. That's probably why HTC is so hell bent on pushing just the One brand today.

Sony, like HTC a few years ago, is desperately trying to balloon the scale of its phone business, I hope that their attempt won't end in failure like HTC's pretty much has.
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ender411

I got the ZL after my S3 started to get glitchy and shut off/on randomly. I got the LTE version off contract on amazon, and got one of the few good cases for it from casemate.

Its a really solid phone, great picture and sound, its quick and can handle most things I throw at it.

Certainly though, Sony has to get better at
1. Getting their phones to market quick
2. Not confusing customers with tons of variants.

The ZL has everything i need because i do not care about it not being water proof, but it could be improved. But the real issue is that it probably should have been name the Xperia K or something, not a Z.

Sony does not have the phone brand recognition to do slight variants.
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sinxdurchx

I had it for a year so my thoughts are:

- Why is the notification light not custom adjustable (Green for SMS, Blue for something else...)?
- The haptic of the shutterbutton is bad, it has to be pushed way to much to get a picture taken
- The back cover shows a lot of wear due to the choosen surface
- Put the frontside camera back to the top, seriously I don't want to take pics of fingers anymore
- Don't change the backbround picture when you change the design in the system settings
- remove the ugly mirror sides
- remove some sony apps
- rework the automatic camera, the yellow one which takes way too dark pictures
- Why was there no Dockingstation available?

But nonetheless, this was the first device I used a whole year, which is stunning.
I am kind of getting into a Sony fanboy with the change in mind to a developer friendly Manufacturer.
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MajorGiroux

We use one at work for QA purposes and a friend of mine owns one. I do not have extended experience with it but I still can make some observations.

Sony's version of Android is one of the nicest along with LG's. The screen is also good looking and Sony's app updater is sleek.

That being said, non user replaceable batteries are a pain as we all know that they will wear before the end of your contract. The USB placement is also odd, on the left side meaning that you will have to position the screen upside down (volume and power will be below the screen) when you want to watch videos with the device resting on a table.

The selfie camera is also at the weirdest spot: right bottom corner. I have to re-learn how to use the phone to use it, otherwise my palm is in the way.

I haven't tried the Playstation mobile app but, if it works well, Sony should capitalize on it. The PS4 is looking to be huge, Sony should push their phones to PS users.
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vulcan10

I've had this phone for about a year and I love the overall size. Of course it could be thinner.

I wanted to make a comment about what MajorGiroux was saying about the his palm being in the way of the selfie camera. I had this problem for the longest time till I realized all I had to do was hold the phone upside down. It puts the camera at the top and the camera button under your index figure. Since then works like a charm.

I have also streamed video from the phone to my PS3 with out any problems. It was just crazy easy to setup.

I think this phone could have really been a hit for Sony if they had just marketed better and had possible defined it as a phone for those who don't want their pockets taken up by a phone.
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balamurali03

2) Camera having eximor rs with 13Mp is under utilised even with latest kikat update no low light performance and no depth in field for such high resolution camera, biggest lt down.
3) Battery capacity should have been nearly 3000mah
4) Not enough marketing many didn't know such model exist
5) I am a zl user finding very difficult to get accessories like screen guard, pouches etc...
6) Having front camera down is biggest minus
7) Not enough loud speaker sound
8) for future buy back with latest model with good price will help zl users to passive
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balamurali03

1) Screen should have better color contrast and depth, Ex:- white is not white and black is not black
2) Camera having eximor rs with 13Mp is under utilised even with latest kikat update no low light performance and no depth in field for such high resolution camera, biggest lt down.
3) Battery capacity should have been nearly 3000mah
4) Not enough marketing many didn't know such model exist
5) I am a zl user finding very difficult to get accessories like screen guard, pouches etc...
6) Having front camera down is biggest minus
7) Not enough loud speaker sound
8) for future buy back with latest model with good price will help zl users to passive
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  • ender411

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