Sony rolls out choice of four phones, one to suit every taste

Sony Xperia 10 has impressive camera features and a battery that will easily power a full day’s use for most people.

The Xperia 10 is one of four Sony phones launched in Barcelona at MWC last month along with their new flagship the Xperia 1, Xperia 10 Plus and a budget-friendly Xperia L3.

The stylish Xperia 10 is a mid-range device (€329) in a slim body design with a capable camera setup and decent specifications.

Sporting a 6-inch LCD display instead of OLED, the Xperia 10 has a distinctive resolution of 1080 x 2520 pixels with an ultra-widescreen ratio of 21:9, which you’ll typically see when you go to the cinema. This unique aspect ratio allows you to see certain movies like Netflix’s popular move Bird Box in all its glory without any black bars on top and bottom. However, most of the content I watched, which included a lot of TV shows from Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube don’t use this aspect ratio. This means you have to zoom in, which crops the video or live with big black bars on either side of the video being played back. Sony says that more than 70% of new movies being made are using 21:9.

Accurate display

As IPS LCD displays go, the Xperia 10 is one of the better ones, with accurate colours and good brightness levels. Colours can be tweaked via the system settings from standard to super-vivid modes or non-enhanced depending on your preference.

The Xperia 10 has a fingerprint reader just below the power button on the right edge of the phone. This works reliably and fast, allowing the front of the phone to have a small bezel on the bottom, but a large forehead on the top, which houses the external speaker and front-facing camera. However, there’s no notch or punch hole for cameras or sensors allowing for an uninterrupted display for media consumption. The tall aspect ratio means Xperia 10 is not as wide as other 6-inch phones and this makes it feel great in the hand.

My review unit came with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which can be boosted using a microSD card. The latest Android 9.0 Pie is installed, running on a mid-range Snapdragon 630, Octa-core 2.2GHz processor.

Overall performance is a mixed bag. In general use, the Xperia 10 doesn’t feel slow, but I found the camera app slow to load and change options sluggish in use. It doesn’t feel optimised, but this should be fixed with updates.

The Xperia 10 has dual cameras; a 13MP with an f/2.0 aperture and a 5MP with an f/2.4 aperture. Both cameras feature LED flash, HDR, Panorama and can shoot both 4k and 1080p videos resolution at 30 seconds per frame. There’s a single front-facing camera of 8MP with an f/2.0 aperture and it’s capable of shooting 1080p videos at 30fps.Image quality is decent, even in low light, but there are no headline features that make it stand out like night mode, ultra wide or a telephoto lens. It’s cool that you can capture video and stills in 21:9, but most modern TVs are only 16:9.

Battery performance is good and most users won’t have a problem getting a full day out of the 2,870mAh battery and although there’s no wireless charging, you do get an 18W fast charger in the box. Also, the Xperia 10 features a 3.5mm headphone jack and an FM radio along with 4G LTE, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The Sony Xperia 10’s 21:9 ratio screen is a unique selling feature but I’m not convinced it’s good enough a reason to buy this phone because most of the content people view is not in this size. The taller and slimmer form factor does feel great to hold and the split screen, multi-app support works well.

Budget-friendly model

The Xperia L3 is a budget-friendly phone and while it has some design quirks, it represents good value for money at €199.

Sony Xperia L3, the budget-friendly model.

The Xperia L3 looks great, but as soon as you pick it up you’ll know it’s not a premium device. The back looks like glass but is plastic and if you press on it, you’ll feel that there’s a gap between the back and the inside.

Like the Xperia 10, the L3 has a separate power button with a fingerprint reader beneath it on the right edge. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack and FM radio along with a USB-C charging port but no fast charging (7.5W) or wireless charging.

The 5.7-inch LCD display has an 18:9 screen ratio at 720p. The resolution isn’t too impressive and it’s not as bright as I’d have liked either.

Out of the box, you get Android 8.1 Ore running on a Mediatek MT6762 processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a microSD slot. Battery performance was excellent with up to two days possible with light to medium use from the 3300 mAh battery. You also get NFC and Bluetooth along with 4G LTE.

Performance in real-world use was actually better than I found with the Xperia 10, which stuttered at times, especially in the camera app. The camera system offers a 13MP camera plus a 2MP lens for depth sensing duties. This allows the camera to create a bokeh effect (blurry background) for portraits. It also has HDR Photo, 1080p video capture, but not surprisingly, no 4K.

Like the Xperia 10, the front selfie camera is a fairly wide angle making it easy to get more than just your face in the shot. Image quality is decent overall and can be excellent in good light. It isn’t going to compete against flagship models and it isn’t capable of capturing the same level of detail but it’s more than adequate for casual shooters.

Overall, the Xperia L3 is a good phone with some excellent features and holds up well against some impressive competition. Of course, you’ll always get better, but you’ll have to pay a lot more for it.

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