After losing significant ground to the likes of Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus in the smartphone market, Sony has been forced to adapt.
Last year’s Xperia 1 and 5 marked a shift in strategy for the Japanese company, introducing the unusual 21:9 aspect ratio. Many Netflix films looked stunning free from letterboxing, but it also meant split-screen multitasking made a lot more sense.
Now, the Xperia L4 has opened up this tall, thin chassis to so many more people. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but something like this will help the Xperia L4 to stand out in the fiercely competitive budget market.
Of course, like many modern devices, much of the phone’s success will be determined by camera performance. The big news here is the addition of a 5Mp ultra-wide lens, which offers greater flexibility than telephoto. The other 13Mp wide and 2Mp depth sensors are unchanged, so the phone is still capable of portrait-style photos.
The phone does retain some features we really liked from the previous model, most notably the 3.5mm headphone jack and impressive side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
The battery has had a nice boost, up to 3580mAh from 3,300 on the L3. With the resolution unchanged, I really hope that means a boost to the already excellent battery life.
These upgrades have pushed the price up to €200 (approx £168), but that’s still firmly in budget phone territory. There’s only one option, complete with 3GB RAM and 64GB storage.
However, all these promising features will run on Android 9 Pie and not 10 when the phone is released. Sony is usually among the first companies to get Google’s latest operating system, but there’s no news on when the Xperia L4 could be updated to software that’s already six months old.
Nonetheless, there’s enough here to make me genuinely excited about a cheap Sony phone for the first time in a while. Look out for plenty more coverage as we approach the Spring 2020 release date.