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First Look: Sony's Xperia ZL is sleek, nimble, and advanced

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First Look: Sony's Xperia ZL is sleek, nimble, and advanced

3:22 /

For the unsubsidized price of $759.99, the unlocked Sony Xperia ZL offers a big, bright screen, speedy processor, Android Jelly Bean, and 4G LTE.

Hi. This is Brian Bennett for cnet.com and right now, we're taking a first look at the Sony Xperia ZL. This unlocked smartphone is quite well-appointed and for the steep $759.99 unsubsidized price Sony is charging for it, well, it better be. The first thing you'll notice about the Xperia ZL is its large 5-inch LCD screen. Not only is the screen bright, it boast a full HD resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels too and displays vibrant colors. One thing I noticed off the bat though is if you straight from viewing the screen directly head on, image quality deteriorates quickly. By contrast, the HTC One, which features a slightly smaller 4.7-inch LCD display has the same resolution brightness but much wider viewing angles. Despite its large display, however, the Xperia ZL is sleek at just 0.4-inch thick, the phone is thin with stylishly dark, good looks. Under the Xperia ZL's display is a slick notification light that looks like some sort of robotic eye winking at me from the future. Well, maybe that's just me. It also changes color depending on the alert, the light is calling attention to. Next to that is ZL's front facing 2-megapixel camera, which is an odd choice. Typically, phone maker's position the cams above, not below the screen. There are no capacitive buttons here either. You have to tap the screen to fire up virtual keys for basic Android controls. On the phone's right edge are the Xperia ZL's only phyisical controls. Placed here are a thin volume rocker, a dedicated camera key plus a prominent circular power button sitting in between them. The left side holds in micro USB port while up top, you'll find a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. Sony throws in a set of ear buds that are nicer than the usual throwaway models bundled with phones. A little door cover slots for micro SD and SIM cards. The battery, however, is embedded. The ZL's back side is textured plastic and not the more premium glass materials Sony uses in the Xperia Z. Another difference between the Xperia ZL and the Xperia Z is that the ZL isn't water or dust resistance. Internal components are the same as the Xperia Z though. Under the hood is a 1.5 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 pro processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of internal storage. Not too chevy. That Hardware powers the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean OS and Sony's special UI that's crafted over it. That means you get all the power and flexibility of modern Android. Native support for Google Services including the enhanced search capabilities of Google now. Sony has infused the ZL with its own special sauce too. Highlights are handy weather widget and a nice remote control app to use the phone as a second clicker for TVs and AV receivers. The Xperia's 13-megapixel camera as a ton of features, settings and shooting modes too. As an unlocked GSM handset, the Xperia ZL connects to T-Mobile and AT&T's GSM networks in the U.S. Plus supports 4G LTE bands 1, 2, 4, 5 and 17. I'm Brian Bennett for CNET.com and this has been a first look at the Sony Xperia ZL.

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