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Review: Sony Xperia ZL

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The Sony ZL is a good phone, but it is a tough phone to recommend. I wish the hardware were a little bit better, but it's an improvement over Sony's earlier efforts just the same. The dazzling screen certainly impresses, and the ZL was great at connecting to AT&T's network. It's too bad call quality was a bit miserable and battery life was only average.

The real selling point of the ZL is the camera, with which I was very impressed. Not only does the software work well, but the results are excellent. Throw in Sony's solid WalkMan player and good living room apps, and you have a solid entertainment device in the ZL.

The ZL's biggest problem, however, is its availability. Cincinnati Bell is the only carrier offering the device with service. That's great if you live in southwestern Ohio. If you want to use the ZL on AT&T or T-Mobile's networks, you'll have to purchase it directly from Sony for the full retail price of $629.99. (That's about the same cost as most unlocked phones these days.) For my money, the GS4 and One offer better hardware and software, but don't do as well with the camera. For many, choosing the ZL may boil down to manufacturer or platform preference.

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