Looks and dimensions
Sony seems to have deviated from the laws of genetics in case of neo L. Hence, its design doesn’t bear much resemblance with the sleekness of its recent breed of Xperia S, Xperia U, Xperia Pphones. Its shape, however, has glimpses of some older Xperia phones such as the Arc and neo V, but unlike the thin beauty of the Arc, neo L is fatter.
The phone measures 4.8×2.4×0.5 inches, which may seem to be sleek but once you hold the phone, it isn’t really light. It weighs 131.5 grams against the Xperia neo V which weighs 126 grams, and Xperia Arc S which weighs 117 grams. Other contemporaries also weigh less, such as HTC One V, which weighs 115 grams and Samsung Galaxy S Advance, which weighs 120 grams.
Sony Xperia neo L sports a 4-inch HD TFT touchscreen with 854×480 pixel resolution, slightly larger than HTC One V’s, but smaller than that of Motorola Atrix 2 and Samsung Galaxy S Advance. Below the screen are four physical buttons (in the same curved shape as the three buttons in the Arc) namely Back, Home, Menu and Search. These buttons are stiff, small and you may sometimes accidentally tread upon the on-screen controls while pressing the hard hardware buttons. Likewise, the buttons for power and volume are not well placed if the phone is held in one hand. Since, the glossy body of Xperia neo L is rather slippery, even not-so-clumsy users might end up dropping it a few times.
Ice Cream Sandwich integration
The phone runs on Android 4.0 out-of-the-box and that is an important selling point since users would not have to wait for an update, a la Motorola Atrix 2. However, the HTC One V, priced similar to the Xperia neo L, also offers a premium Android 4.0 straight from the box.
Sony has done well by adding a number of useful widgets in the Xperia neo L that add to its functionality, such as the Gallery View, which allows users to access pics, videos and music from the same widget. The dock/menu bar located at the bottom of the five home screens is also customisable and can hold a total of four applications. Users can create folders if they want to add more applications to this dock.
The phone comes loaded with all modern connectivity options available in a mid-range smartphone, such as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, 3G, GPRS, EDGE and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and EDR. It has GTalk, Gmail and a combined inbox for all emails. The social networking integration, including Facebook and Twitter, will make it a suitable choice for the youth.
Call clarity is decent, but only in a quite room. When we stepped out on a noisy street, the sound became muffled, which will be a dampener for those who travel a lot.
Music and videos
The stock music player in Sony Xperia neo L will be welcomed by any audiophile, as it features a host of features in addition to the standard music playing options.
Sony Xperia neo L’s default video player can play videos at 720p easily, though we expect it to hang after other processes eat up more RAM. The stock video player has only three options, forward, back and start/pause.
In today’s world, the camera plays an important role in any smartphone. The best part of Xperia neo L’s camera is that this 5MP unit with autofocus is accompanied by an LED flash that clicks far better pictures than many. There’s also a front-facing VGA camera for making video calls.
A feature we found to be redundant in the camera was the panel located on the right side of the on-screen interface. On the bottom, Sony has placed icons so that users can choose between video, audio and panorama mode, but tapping on either one expands the window and users need to select the camera mode once again, thus making it a lengthy process.
Its chief competitor, HTC One V, also features simultaneous HD and video recording in the camera, which helps it snake past Xperia neo L.
In an effort to lure gaming enthusiasts, Sony has included EA Games, Get Games and Games & Apps in the Xperia neo L. Both the apps offer a host of games that would prove to be addictive and enjoyable. The screen resolution makes the image clarity at par with the best in the phone, but we expect that the phone’s 512MB RAM would prove to be insufficient for heavy gamers. Moreover, none of the games come pre-installed; users would have to download them over the internet.
The last word
Overall, Xperia neo L is not a great phone and even though its native OS is ICS, it still doesn’t make the cut. For a price tag of Rs 18,499, it’s advisable that you look for a device that offers better value proposition before making the final pick. For camera minus zoom, single core processor and a not-so-sleek looking body, paying anywhere close to Rs 20,000 for an Android device cannot be justified.
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