This Sony Xperia L4 review will cover everything you need to know - from its design and display to its camera, battery life and performance. If it's not the right phone for you, take a look at the last section where I'll offer up some similarly priced alternatives.
Sony has long been a big name in smartphone manufacturing, its flagship devices often feature in T3’s guide to the best phones, boasting excellent cameras paired with tall, slender, high-quality displays that are ideal for streaming video.
The Sony Xperia L4 takes those ideas and scales them back, offering something much more affordable and much more basic. It’s not the best cheap phone you can buy, but it’s a good option for those who are on a very tight budget.
Sony Xperia L4 review: price and what’s new
You can buy the Sony Xperia L4 from Amazon for £169 in the UK and AU$232 in Australia. You can’t currently buy this handset in the US.
The Sony Xperia L4 was released back in 2020 and heads up their most budget range of smartphones. Just like some of its more expensive counterparts, the Sony Xperia L4 has a slender design with a 21:9 aspect ratio giving you widescreen viewing and multi-window functionality. It has improved on 2019’s Sony Xperia L3 with a bigger, better quality screen, more storage, a new 5MP wide camera and a more powerful battery.
Sony Xperia L4 review: design and display
You can always tell when you’re looking at a Sony phone, whether it’s one of their budget offerings or their all-singing, all-dancing flagship, the Sony Xperia 1 II. What they have in common is a long, slim 21:9 design that makes them stand out against the usual 16:9 slabs of glass offered by other manufacturers.
The Sony Xperia L4 is no different. It has a 6.2inch display with slim bezels and a selfie snapper in the notch towards the top of the phone. Measuring 159 x 71 x 8.7mm and weighing only 178g, it’s comfortable to hold and use with one hand, even if yours are on the smaller side like mine.
When you turn the phone over, there’s no camera module sticking out at all, the lenses are integrated into the casing which makes it stable to use on a table, and effortless to slide into pockets. Made from plastic, the back feels strong and durable, even though it looks less premium than glass would have done. You can choose to buy the Sony Xperia L4 in blue or black.
On the frame, there are the usual volume controls and power button as well as a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The placement of the power button isn’t that intuitive, I kept pressing the fingerprint sensor by mistake.
The screen has a resolution of 1680x720p HD+ so you can’t really expect top-tier display quality here. It does look clear and vivid but lacks the precision and detail of more expensive handsets, this is most noticeable in text. It’s not particularly bright either, you might struggle to see it on sunny days. There's also no HDR10 support. Despite that, it is great for streaming TV shows and movies thanks to the 21:9 aspect ratio. This is definitely a phone for keeping you entertained on your commute.
Sony Xperia L4 review: camera
The Sony Xperia L4 has a pretty basic camera system with a 13MP main camera, a 5MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP depth sensor. On the front, there’s an 8MP selfie snapper.
You’ll get the best shots from the camera during the day. Producing clear, bright photos with plenty of detail and accurate colours, the cameras are definitely capable as long as you're in good lighting. On a more dreary day, I thought there could have been a better balance between light and dark areas as overall the scene looked quite bland.
When it comes to photos in very low light, the camera doesn’t fare so well. It's not able to brighten the scene enough, instead, leaving it looking dark and even slightly grainy. In all honestly, if it's social media-worthy shots you're after, the ultrawide mode and 4x zoom won't really be worth your time either.
As you can see from the gallery above, the Sony Xperia L4's cameras can produce some great photos and some that aren't so great. It'll mostly be about making sure you have the right lighting.
Sony Xperia L4 review: performance and battery
A Mediatek MT6762 chipset powers the phone, along with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand on it using a MicroSD card.
The Sony Xperia L4's performance was basic. It coped with casual everyday tasks like web browsing and messaging, but sometimes got warm and slow while working hard to load mobile games.
Its Geekbench 5 scores reflect that, scoring only 146 in single-core and 880 in multi-core. Those are some of the lowest scores I’ve seen. If you’re after speed then this isn’t where you’ll find that. There’s no 5G or Wi-Fi 6 so you won’t have access to the fastest possible internet either.
You may have to recharge the Sony Xperia L4 a couple of times a day, especially if you’re someone who uses your phone a lot. Under the hood sits a 3,580mAh battery, which is smaller than most recent phones at any price. To test it out, I played a local video for two hours on full brightness. In that time, the battery level dropped by 22% that would suggest the phone would have lasted about 9 hours of video in total. To recharge the phone back up again, it took just under two hours to go from empty to 100%. That's okay, it means you won't be waiting around forever.
Running Android 9 Pie, the Sony Xperia L4 feels very intuitive to use, it’s definitely one of the nicer versions of Android out there. There aren’t loads of unnecessary apps when you first boot it up and it comes with Google’s suite pre-installed. There are some handy extras as well, like the multi-window function which means you can run two apps at once by splitting the screen into two. You'll also be able to minimise the display, making it easier to use with one hand when you need to.
Sony Xperia L4 review: verdict
If you like the idea of a smaller phone and you aren’t keen on spending loads of money, then the Sony Xperia L4 is a decent choice. Granted mobile gamers should steer clear, but most people will get on well with its intuitive operating system and its camera which does okay in comparison to other cheap phones.
You can’t expect the best of the best when you’re spending so little on a phone, and that rings true when it comes to the Sony Xperia L4 which has made some sacrifices to keep the cost low. While you won’t get it all, you will get the classic Sony smartphone experience - an immersive handset that is comfortable to hold and very easy to use.
Sony Xperia L4 review: also consider
If battery life is a deal-breaker for you, then maybe consider the Moto G9 Power instead. It has a similar price tag to the Sony Xperia L4 but its battery is 6,000 mAh and should last for more than 15 hours of video playback. That’s pretty impressive for a cheap phone.
It could be worth considering spending a little bit more if you’re someone who wants a more well-rounded device. The OnePlus Nord is only a little bit more expensive yet managed to score very highly in all the key areas – camera, performance, battery life, design, screen and software experience. It’s one of the best Android phones you can buy for less than $300.
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