WIDESCREEN WON­DER...

Sony’s new phones boast dis­plays per­fect for watch­ing films

Llanelli Star - - TECH NOW -

IT SEEMS strange to be talk­ing about the ven­er­a­ble Ja­panese tech gi­ant Sony as be­ing an un­der­dog. But in the world of mo­bile phones that’s ex­actly what it is.

On one side you have Sam­sung, most peo­ple’s go-to brand when it comes to An­droid de­vices. On the other is Ap­ple with the iPhone for ev­ery­one else.

Then there’s Huawei, breathing down Sam­sung’s neck, de­spite the reser­va­tions among west­ern pow­ers about its Chi­nese ori­gins.

Still, it’s a big busi­ness to be in, and even the small man­u­fac­tur­ers sell a lot of phones.

But why would you buy a Sony over any­thing else? Well, there are a few unique things about Sony’s phones, and they are front and cen­tre in a cou­ple of the lat­est de­vices re­leased. And those fea­tures give us a lit­tle bit of a taste of Sony’s next big re­lease, the Xpe­ria 1.

We’ve been test­ing the mid­dle­and low-range mod­els Sony un­leashed last month – the Xpe­ria 10 and the Xpe­ria L3. And we like what we see.

XPE­RIA 10

THE Xpe­ria 10 is the mid-range new phone. It costs £299 un­locked, and you can bag one for noth­ing on a £26-a-month Voda­fone con­tract.

So, it’s not going to break the bank. For that price, though, there has to be com­pro­mises, and the Xpe­ria 10 com­pro­mises with dated in­ter­nals which, in the end, pro­duce a slower per­for­mance than you might like. I know, though, that most peo­ple don’t of­ten no­tice per­for­mance un­less they up­grade to a faster de­vice.

The in­ter­nals are not what Sony is sell­ing with this phone any­way; the sell­ing point is the dis­play.

It comes in a 21:9 as­pect ra­tio, which means it’s thin­ner and taller than other phones. There’s a clear and ob­vi­ous rea­son Sony has done this: 21:9 is the same as­pect ra­tio you’d see watch­ing the lat­est block­busters on the big screen in the cin­ema. Yes, this is a phone for watch­ing films on.

It has some other ad­van­tages; the slim­mer phone is slightly eas­ier to use one-handed, and you could ar­gue the taller screen com­pen­sates for what you lose either side.

As a phone it’s a per­fectly ca­pa­ble beast. It comes with a pretty stan­dard ver­sion of An­droid, with­out some of the less use­ful as­pects of Sony’s usual mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

Build qual­ity is good, too, as you would ex­pect from Sony. And the camera – a dual unit on the back – pro­duces the kind of qual­ity you’d ex­pect from a phone in this price range. Let’s be hon­est, though, if a great camera is what you need and want, you wouldn’t be look­ing in this price range.

Bat­tery life is mid-range and that is cer­tainly one of the things peo­ple care about when choos­ing phones.

One quirk that might put peo­ple off is the fin­ger­print scan­ner, which is lo­cated on the side of the de­vice rather than the back… it can be a lit­tle awk­ward to reach the vol­ume con­trols un­der­neath.

But you do get what you pay for, and for Sony fans, and those who use their phone a lot for video, the Xpe­ria 10 must be on any list of phones to con­sider.

XPE­RIA L3

THIS is a bud­get phone from Sony, and it cer­tainly shows. It’s all-plas­tic, and the per­for­mance does fea­ture some lag is­sues when switch­ing screens and scrolling.

That said, it’s £169 (or free with a £22-a-month Voda­fone con­tract).

It’s solid and us­able, will take de­cent pho­tos, and do all the An­droid things you like to do with your phone – just a lit­tle slower than you might like.

What it does have in its favour is the 21:9 as­pect ra­tio screen.

If that’s the thing that’s im­por­tant to you, and given the price, this en­try-level model is cer­tainly the way to go.

Bat­tery life is pretty good – it should last all-day un­der nor­mal us­age. Which is more than can be said for its big brother, the 10.

As en­try-level phones go, then, the L3 is worth look­ing at – not least be­cause that fa­mil­iar Sony logo on the back brings with it some as­sur­ances of qual­ity crafts­man­ship.

TWO de­cent phones, for two dif­fer­ent price-points, then. The top-of-the range Xpe­ria 1 will fea­ture the 21:9 screen, too, but will pack in some top-spec hard­ware to ri­val the high-end phones made by Ap­ple and Sam­sung. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see if that screen will make a dif­fer­ence to buy­ers when the prices and specs are com­pa­ra­ble to the best on the mar­ket.

The Xpe­ria 10 and L3 are out now, the Xpe­ria 1 is sched­uled for re­lease in “late spring”. Visit sony­mo­bile. com and voda­fone.co.uk

Sony Xpe­ria’s new 10 and L3 phones have 21:9 ra­tio screens

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