The Sony Xperia ZL is the more affordable and slightly smaller sibling to the Xperia Z flagship Android smartphone we recently reviewed. In fact, Sony claims it's the smallest 5" smartphone on the market, and we believe they're right. For a phone with a very large display it's slightly shorter than the 4.7" HTC One and both narrower and shorter than Sony's own Xperia Z. In terms of internals and display, the ZL is identical to the Z, but it costs a bit less because it has a plastic back and isn't waterproof like the Z. I love great looks as much as the next person, and admit I rarely come in serious contact with lots of water (at least while using my phone), so I find the Xperia ZL a more tempting proposition more so because Sony now offers a variant with US LTE, which the Xperia Z lacks.
Xperia ZL runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with light Sony UI customizations on a 1.5GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with 2 gigs of RAM. It's not quite as quick as the Snapdragon 600 in the HTC One and US version of the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it's still one of the faster Android phones on the market. It has 16 gigs of internal storage and a microSD card slot that works with SDXC cards.
The Sony Xperia ZL has dual band WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and a GPS with GLONASS. It has a front camera that's oddly placed at the lower right corner and a very good 13 megapixel rear camera with f/2.4 lens, HDR and an Exmor RS sensor just like the Xperia Z. It produces very good photos and 1080p video with natural colors and decent sharpness. There's lots of detail in the Xperia ZL's photos, and for those who like serious sharpness, some post-processing can do the trick to sharpen up Sony's fairly soft algorithm.