In the Summer of 2015 I bought a BQ Aquaris E4 to use as a DAP, fast-forward some months and the E4 became my daily smartphone. It was a decent piece of hardware, until two months ago something happened with the call reception and drop outs became the norm. To be fair the thing slipped from my hand and hit the ground but the protective case took most of the full blunt or so I thought, because it seems the antenna did suffer with the impact. Darn…
Working as a security officer a phone call can be the difference between a small problem and a massive headache. I had to fix the E4 or buy a new entry level smartphone.
Fixing the E4 for the price of the hard to get replacement parts wasn’t worth the trouble. BQ after all is a small Spanish company. If it was any other established brand I would probably fix the problem buying cheap new parts online.
I choose the second option and bought a new entry level smartphone for 200€, because I just couldn’t afford anything above that price. After all I do have kids to raise and my savings do have some limits.
I admit a lot of bias towards Sony was still present after reading the book Made in Japan, and also having two other books about the brand on my nightstand.
As a Sony Walkman fanboy I actually went ahead and bought a Sony smartphone, it was not my first one and probably not my last. I don’t regret buying it, but my wallet does!
The review title for a Sony L1 should be something like this, “Solid design, decent entry level specs and pretty amazing software”. If you want a specification driven smartphone, the L1 is not the entry level you are looking for, trust me.
If you want a smartphone you can use as a throwing weapon the Sony is a solid option. I’m joking, no sharp edges on the gorgeous design, but with it’s IPS LCD 5.5 inches anti-scratch (>6H) screen and polycarbonate body, the L1 definitely feels sturdy for daily use. The 720p HD screen has beautiful rich colors and can be viewed during a Summer day.
Don’t expect amazing sound from the little loudspeakers Sony installed in the L1, in fact the loudspeakers are often my main gripe on Sony smartphones, a company famous for amazing sound quality should have better loudspeakers on their gear.
Anyway the sound is decent if you want to watch an video, but you won’t throw a party with the L1. You can always use xLOUD or Clear Audio+ sound modes, the first mode is pretty amazing during calls in a very noisy environment. I don’t recommend the use of these modes because sooner or later the loudspeaker will suffer, don’t say I didn’t warn you about it.
The headphone output is actually quite fine in a very subjective evaluation, add that to the built in FM Radio and the L1 can be a decent Walkman in a pinch.
As for cameras the main one has 13 Megapixels and the frontal one 5 Megapixels, the photos look nice but most portable cameras will do a better job at least in my opinion.
Like most smartphones these days it can record in FHD. It has Sony sensors but nothing too fancy unlike the more expensive models of the brand.
The L1 rocks a quad core MediaTek MT6737T CPU running at 1,45 GHz x4, a dual core Mali-T720MP2 GPU, 2GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory and expansion via microSDXC card up to 256 GB, this last detail is wonderful and addresses one of my main complains about the old Sony Ericsson smartphones, lack of storage and expansion. I’m glad Sony dropped the proprietary formats and adopted the mainstream.
Everything is powered by a 2620mAh battery, not amazing in terms of power storage but features Sony tech and in that department the brand excels. My second-hand Sony st25i battery still holds charge after so many years, if that’s not quality I don’t know what is.
The L1 also has what Sony calls STAMINA and Ultra STAMINA modes, this last one literally disables non essential apps and services of the smartphone all in the name of power saving.
The L1 has many more features that I shall not enumerate here but you can visit Sony and take a look for yourself.
The software is the touchstone of the L1, Sony was amazing apps for photo, video and audio, the OS is Android 7.0 Nougat with some details added by Sony. The rock solid apps are one of the reasons I bought the Sony.
Not many bullshit comes pre-installed and for that I’m more than grateful.
The Xperia L1 is a good smartphone for users that already have a nice tablet for games and other demanding apps.
I’m biased towards Sony like I said before, so if you want a ultra lightning fast smartphone for 200€ I think you will be better served with a Chinese brand.
On the other hand if you want a very discrete smartphone for professional use I would consider this model.