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Sony's Xperia ZL is elegant, compact, and speedy

Smaller than its flashier sibling the Xperia Z, Sony's Xperia ZL offers style, speed, plus a big and beautiful screen.

Sony Xperia ZL
Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia

Our colleagues at CNET Asia just took the new Sony Xperia ZL for a complete test-drive and like how this elegant handset handles. While not as luxurious as Sony's current flagship the Xperia Z, the Xperia ZL offers plenty of smartphone goodies including a nimble processor, Android Jelly Bean, and even an IR blaster to function as a home theater remote.

In fact the Xperia ZL packs much of the same compelling hardware as the fancier Xperia Z, such as a stunning 5-inch LCD screen with HD resolution(1,920x1,080 pixels), a powerful 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, not to mention 4G LTE, NFC, plus an MHL port. You also get a main camera with a sharp 13-megapixel sensor.

The Xperia ZL snaps great macro photos. Jacqueline Seng/CNET Asia

The Xperia ZL will even function as a universal remote, using an IR emitter along with companion software to command TVs, audio receivers, and other home theater gear.

One big difference between the Xperia ZL and Xperia Z, however, is that the ZL lacks the Z's seductive glass backing and luxurious styling, which really impressed me in person at CES 2013. The phone also isn't water resistant and it doesn't have a dust-protected chassis like the Xperia Z's. That said, the handset is more compact and easier to grip.

If you're tempted by this capable Sony smartphone, you'll be glad to know that Sony hawks the device directly. Available unlocked in the U.S. and globally, you can find the Xperia ZL on sale now at Sony's Web site.

Now playing: Watch this: A look at Sony's new high-end Xperia ZL