Hands on: Sony Xperia L3 Review

Sony's new budget phone offers a big screen, sizeable battery and two cameras on the back.

First Impressions

The big battery and good-sized screen should appeal to media streamers on a budget. it's just a shame phones are still running Android Oreo in 2019.

Key Specifications

  • 5.7-inch HD+ 18:9 display
  • 3300 mAh battery
  • 3GB RAM
  • Helio P22 chipset
  • Android Oreo
  • 13MP and 2MP rear camera

Sony’s big MWC 2019 presence is with its new trio of 21:9 screen-toting smartphones. The Xperia 1 is the 4K OLED daddy, with the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus trimming some of the high-end features for a saving on the price. Then there’s the Xperia L3.

This is Sony’s budget option for the year and it comes with a big 5.7-inch display, two rear cameras and a battery that should easily get you through the day.

Sony Xperia L3 price and release date

Sony hasn’t released pricing info for the L3 yet, there’s also no firm date we should expect the device to hit shelves. Previous L-series devices have been around the £200 mark so this seems like a good bet for a starting price.

Sony Xperia L3

Sony’s Xperia L3 is lightweight, luminous – and lacking the latest version of Android.

Sony Xperia L3 – Design

As this phone is firmly aiming for the cost-conscious shopper, don’t expect it to be clad in metal. Instead, Sony has used a really nice soft-touch plastic that covers the sides and back. It’s slightly rounded and nestles well in your hand. The use of plastic also leads to a phone that feels almost too light; like there’s a replaceable battery missing.

Down the right-hand side you’ll find the selection of volume and power controls, along with a capacitive key for fingerprint authentication. Sony’s use of a side-mounted fingerprint sensor has always impressed me as it’s the position your finger naturally rests whenever you pick up the phone.

Related: Best cheap phones

Sony Xperia L3

Despite being an inexpensive feature phone, the Sony Xperia L3 packs in headline features from the last few years – a dual-lens main camera and Type-C USB for fast charging.

There’s a USB-C port on the bottom for charging and even though this is common with flagships, you’ll often see lower-end phones go with the older micro USB connector instead. That USB-C port also enables Sony’s Adaptive Fast Charging for the 3300 mAh battery – another nice feature to see on an affordable phone.

Sony has even kept around the 3.5mm headphone jack for good measure.

Sony Xperia L3 – Screen

The biggest initial disappointment with the Xperia L3 is the display. The 5.7-inch size is fine but the HD+ resolution feels too low when it’s stretched this far. Pixels are easy to spot, icons look blocky and colours lack any pop or oomph. There was a short trailer of the film Venom loaded onto these devices and it wasn’t much of a pleasurable experience watching it.

It wasn’t all bad, though, Brightness levels are fine and viewing angles are also acceptable.

Sony Xperia L3

Faux metal jacket – while the Xperia X3s rock metallic-looking bodies, they’re actually fashioned from lightweight plastic.

Another frustration is the software. Sony, why are you shipping a phone in 2019 with Android Oreo? The 2017 version of Android is completely outdated and I wouldn’t bet on Sony ever updating this to Pie, let alone whatever version comes this year.

Sony Xperia L3 – Camera and performance

Powering the L3 is a MediaTek Helio P22 chipset, 3GB RAM and there’s 32GB of expandable storage to play with too. All fairly run of the mill stuff that should lead to an OK experience.

Two cameras sit on the back: a main 13-megapixel main sensor and a secondary 2-megapixel sensor for adding some basic depth effects to your shot. Blur can be applied to selfies too. I had a quick play with the camera in the demo room and it seemed snappy to load and focus, whether photos will be up to much on closer examination remains a mystery.

Sony Xperia L3

The 13+2-megapixel main camera arrangement means you can create artistic depth of field effects.

The Xperia L3 adds in a few nice features, fast charging especially, that should make it a good choice if you want a big screen on a budget. There’s nothing here that should have Motorola and its Moto G7 series worried though and it’s a shame there are still phones around with Android Oreo in 2019.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.