So I've bought my ZL in July last year. Ordered it from eBay, from the US. The total cost of the device plus import fees to Greece added up to 630 euros but I do not regret a single cent. The first night I received my phone, I went out to celebrate and dropped it on concrete from a height of about 1.2m. My screen has no shatterproof film because that's the first thing I removed when I unlocked it. So what happened? It hit the ground with the right upper corner of the device, bounced once and landed on the screen. Imagine what was going through my mind as my phone was sitting face down on the concrete. "it's probably dead. Shattered into a million pieces". Well I pick it up expecting to have to punch myself in the face for my stupidity only to discover that the phone is fine. Not even a single scratch on the screen. Even without that godawful screen film. And the corner that made contact with the concrete? The slightest of scuff marks that actually disappeared after a few days because of my phone constantly being taken in and out of jeans pockets (and the inherited friction that comes from that).
Let's talk form factor. I bought the ZL to replace my galaxy note OG. I did this because of two reasons: the galaxy note was a big clunky beast of a device with a great screen but horrible design, looks and feel; second reason was because I hated (and still hate) capacitive buttons. The first time I saw a leaked picture of the ZL, I fell in love with it. The bezel, or lack thereof, the dedicated two-step camera button, the textured rough back, the screen size relative to the phone size and last but not least the design philosophy that still has me stating at this beautiful black slab of a phone that I've been using daily, heavily, for nearly a year now. I just love looking at it and I've yet to see anything on the market that captures my eye as strongly as the ZL did. The fact that the corners of the phone are also quite sharp unlike most other phones out there (especially Samsung) is also a huge draw for me. I want my device to be as square ad possible and I'm waiting for the day when I'll see a completely square phone with sharp corners.
Now onto hardware. The camera of the ZL is decent to good. Great if using proper camera software. This of you running stock Sony roms can atest to the quality of the pictures shot with the ZL + stock Sony camera software. Even on AOSP based roms, the quality is on par with most other devices out there that came out the same year as the ZL. I have no dead pixels on my camera so I guess I was lucky with that. Also there's a flash. The flash is great. I love flash on phones. Not because it's useful for taking pictures at night (it's not) but because it doubles as a flashlight which adds functionality to the phone.
The screen of the ZL and it's amazing 441ppi is quite beautiful to look at, nice and bright for the most part and doesn't mess up and oversaturate colors like Samsung screens. That being said, it suffers from the well known visibility angle issue with some people hate. Personally I have no issue with the viewing angles. I always stare straight into my phone whenever I use it. If it's on the table and I get a message or something, I don't unlock it and leave it on the table and look at it from a crooked angle. I bring it close to my face at a 90 degree viewing angle which negates any viewing angle issues.
The placement of the hardware buttons is also a beautiful and really handy thing for me. I'm left-handed and I mainly operate the phone with my left hand. Because of the way the phone fits in my hand I have access to all four physical buttons at the same time. I could technically press them all together at once if I so desired, which speaks volumes to the ergonomics of the phone.
The ZL's speaker is probably one of it's only major faults in my opinion. It sounds horrible for anything other than the moet basic notification sounds and ring tones. Music through the speaker? Forget it, you might as well stab yourself in the ears with a fork. That being said, I knew what I was getting into prior to my purchase, so together with my ZL, I purchased a Philips Bluetooth speaker for when I feel like bothering other people with my music.
I guess I should say a thing or two about the internals since those are hardware as well. Internals are great! Simple, right? The ZL is a fast phone that never disappointed me once speed wise. Fast quad-core Qualcomm CPU, 2 gigs of ram that I have never managed to fill up, and the gpu which, if I'm not mistaken is an adreno 320, together make for a smooth, lagfree android experience. I don't play games on my phone so I can't really say much about that but I'm sure it handles anything you throw at it just fine.
Call quality is, well, it's fine really. I can hear people just fine and people can hear me just fine. Nothing to complain about there.
SD card slot is also a great hardware feature that was a big factor in my purchase.
Lack of removable battery is the only big hardware downside that made me think long and hard before buying my ZL. But as it turns out, the battery life is fine enough, giving me 4 hours of screen time for the most part. Could it be better? Sure, battery life could and should always get better, but until now I've never really felt like other devices are doing a much better job with their battery times compared to my ZL.
Notification LED was also a big draw for me. It's usefulness is beyond belief when having a chat with someone while your phone is on silent so it doesn't bother people with the notification sounds. As if having a notification LED wasn't enough, the ZL's LED is also insanely pretty to look at and wonderfully positioned at the bottom. I love it and it's a testament to Sony's attention to detail.
Last but not least on the hardware front is the IR blaster which I've only used once, the day I unboxed my phone, before I flashed CM. IR is a nice feature to have but it's not something I really minded losing when switching to aosp.
Speaking of aosp, let's talk about software. Nothing I can really say about the stock Sony software experience since I only used it for about 15 minutes. It seemed nice and snappy but a bit bloated. Camera app was great. Onscreen navigation keys are the main reason I left stock behind. I hate giving up screen real-estate to that ugly black band (it being transparent still doesn't make it any better) so I've been using PIE from the day I got my ZL and I've never used anything else since. I love PIE and it makes the phone's interface look do much better and clean.
Would I buy the ZL again? Definitely. Would I buy the next iteration of the ZL? Not if it looks like the leaked pictures I've seen. I want an even smaller bezel from my next device.
Oh yes, my phone model is a 6502. Yes the non-lte version. I saw no reason to get the lte one since I barely use mobile data and when I do I use it for things that require barely any fast data. 3g is more than enough for me. Maybe this is why I have no camera dead pixel issues? Maybe the 6502 was spared.
I'd be curious to hear if other 6502 owners have camera issues.
Sent from my Xperia ZL