CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Phones

Sony Xperia TL packs new processing punch (hands-on)

The Xperia TL for AT&T is Sony's fastest Android yet, but is it enough?

Now playing: Watch this: The smartphone used by James Bond: Sony Xperia TL
1:52

When Sony and AT&T first announced the new Xperia TL, I admit I was skeptical of its prospects. That's because despite the inspired and fashionable designs of its Xperia smartphones, the performance of these Sony handsets has been a real letdown. Take the Xperia S for example, which was touted last year as Sony's flagship Xperia model. Unfortunately, the phone ran an outdated Snapdragon S3 processor, which couldn't match the new S4 chips powering the competition. The new Xperia TL that Sony promises features an updated CPU, a 13-megapixel camera, and AT&T LTE, is a different story. This sleek black handset is the first Sony phone to gain U.S. carrier approval since the ill-fated Xperia Ion and just may pack enough mobile heat to make Samsung, Motorola, and HTC take notice. After getting a chance to look at the Xperia TL up close, its performance definitely seems smooth, fluid, and responsive.

The TL is the most powerful Xperia handset yet. Roger Cheng/CNET

Design
Though Sony hasn't released full details about the Xperia TL's dimensions, it looks to be close in size to the Xperia Ion. That was also the case when I held the phone in my hand. The Xperia TL's 4.6-inch (1,280x720 pixel) display is also a hair smaller than the Xperia Ion’s larger 4.7-inch (1,280x720 pixel) screen but apparently has the same pixel density.

Other than that, the device has the same slab-like shape and glossy black aesthetic that graced the Xperia Ion. It's a conservative look to be sure compared with Sony's unlocked Xperia handsets, which come in a myriad of playful colors and are chiseled in sharp edges. Of course this device is the official handset of the latest James Bond film Skyfall after all, so I'm sure the Xperia TL will earn instant style points when Daniel Craig brandishes it on the silver screen.

The Sony Xperia TL is on the chunky side. Roger Cheng/CNET

Features
Aside from the updated 1.5GHz dual-core processor, the Sony Xperia TL runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Sony has said it plans to update the phone to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean after launch.

Like the company's other Xperia devices, Sony places a lot of emphasis on the Xperia TL's imaging capabilities. The handset features 720p HD front-facing and 13-megapixel main cameras. The phone also sports a revamped gallery app that lets you resize and edit pictures. Once shot, you'll be able to share photos and video using the Xperia TL's connection to AT&T's fast 4G LTE data network. Another way to output content from the Xperia TL is its MHL port. MHL connections are found in newer HDTVs but are much less prevalent than the ubiquitous HDMI port.

The Xperia TL features a 13-megapixel main camera. Roger Cheng/CNET

NFC, or near field communication, is another cutting-edge wireless technology included into the phone. With it you'll be able to transmit information such as pictures and other files just by tapping it against other compatible devices.

Outlook
On the surface, Sony's new Xperia TL appears to be just what the doctor ordered to help the company increase, or at least stabilize its American market share. That said, while the Xperia TL’s dual-core processor is a much-needed improvement, it’s just enough to keep pace with competition from HTC, Samsung, and LG. Both the new HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, and massive Samsung Galaxy Note II will offer quad-core chips and run the most recent version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean. To really put the hurt on its rivals, Sony will have to offer truly top-notch hardware to match the Xperia line’s aggressively stylish design. Neither Sony nor AT&T have nailed down pricing or availability for the Xperia TL, but it’ll likely ship in time for the holiday shopping season. Check back soon for our full review.


Best Phones for 2019

All Best Phones

More Best Products

All Best Products