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Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia XA vs Xperia E5: Which budget Sony phone is best?

We take a look at the specs, features, camera tech and design of Sony’s budget smartphones, the Xperia L1, Xperia E5 and Xperia XA, to decide which of these affordable mobiles is best for you.

Sony just launched its latest budget-friendly phone, the Xperia L1, which packs a 5.5-inch HD screen, 13-megapixel camera and some sleek design for an affordable price. Of course, anyone looking for a wallet-friendly smartphone already has plenty of choice when it comes to Sony handsets.

The best budget Sony devices you can buy in 2017 include last year’s Xperia E5 and Xperia XA. These mobiles aren’t without their flaws, but still have some strong features and design work for a low asking price. So how does the Xperia L1 stack up against them? Here’s our best budget Sony mobiles comparison review.

Read next: The best Sony phones in 2017

Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia E5 vs Xperia XA: At a glance

Phone Sony Xperia L1 Sony Xperia E5 Sony Xperia XA
Screen size 5.5-inches 5-inches 5-inches
Screen resolution 1280×720 1280×720 1280×720
Water resistant? No No No
Fingerprint sensor? No No No
Processor Mediatek MT6737T Mediatek MT6735 Mediatek MT6755
Memory 2GB 1.5GB 2GB
microSD support? Yes Yes Yes
Rear camera 13MP 13MP 13MP
Front camera 5MP 5MP 8MP
Price TBC £99 £239

Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia E5 vs Xperia XA: Design and screen

The Xperia XA is our pick of the budget Sony bunch when it comes to design. This sleek and slimline smartphone boasts an edge-to-edge screen, unmarred by ugly bezels, for attractive aesthetics as well as easy one-handed operation. Gorgeous.

Sony hasn’t offered the same bezel-free finish on the new Xperia L1, but you do get the same rounded edges found on the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra. At 5.5-inches, the L1 is likely to be more of a struggle when it comes to one-handed use despite being comfortable to clutch.

By contrast, the Xperia E5 by contrast sports a more straight-laced look and feel, although it’s a tough little beast to survive all kinds of punishment. It’s also clearly a Sony phone, sporting typical design touches such as that rectangular build.

None of these Sony phones are water resistant, nor do they sport fingerprint sensors like more expensive Xperia handsets.

Both the Xperia E5 and Xperia XA sport a 5-inch IPS 720p screen, although the Xperia E5’s colour palette is warmer than the XA’s. If you’re after a bigger display, check out the 5.5-inch Xperia L1 instead. This larger panel once again packs a 1280×720 pixel resolution, which offers reasonably sharp visuals.

The Xperia XA is the only phone here to boast Sony’s Super Vivid mode, which boosts colour vibrancy for truly stand-out images.

Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia E5 vs Xperia XA: Features

All three phones here run Sony’s jazzed-up version of Android, complete with that ‘unified design’ layout. In other words, the software’s colour scheme matches the hardware, offering a uniform finish. You get Sony’s built-in help guides and tutorials, plus resource management to give a performance boost when needed.

However, the Xperia L1 is the only phone here to currently offer the latest version of Android (version 7.0 Nougat). The XA and E5 are still waiting for a Nougat update (which might never come), which means they miss out on key features such as split-screen multi-tasking and improved battery efficiency.

All three phones boast storage expansion via the microSD memory card slots. Great news if you wish to carry around loads of movies, photos, music and so on.

Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia E5 vs Xperia XA: Performance and battery life

When it comes to performance, all three of these Sony phones make do with a simple Mediatek processor.

The Xperia E5 packs in a Mediatek MT6735, while the Xperia XA goes for the MT6755 and the Xperia L1 uses a more recent MT6737T. Both the Xperia L1 and Xperia XA have 2GB of RAM, while the E5 trims this to just 1.5GB.

In simple terms, you can expect basic performance from all three of the Xperia handsets here. In our real world testing, the Xperia E5 actually proves smoother than the XA, with less stuttering and lag during everyday use. We’re yet to test the Xperia L1, but are once again expecting budget performance.

The Xperia E5 also beats the XA when it comes to battery life. We found we struggled to get a full day of life from the Xperia XA, while the E5 made it to bedtime without too much complaint. We’ll be sure to test the Xperia L1’s battery life for our full review.

Sony Xperia L1 vs Xperia E5 vs Xperia XA: Cameras

As for the camera tech, you get a 13-megapixel shooter on the back of all three of these Sony Xperia handsets. However, the Xperia E5’s snapper is significantly more budget than the XA’s, with a lens that really struggles when lighting conditions grow dim. The XA is helped along by its phase detection autofocus, something not found on the other two affordable Xperias.

The Xperia XA is also the king when it comes to video thanks to its built-in image stabilisation. That said, all three phones here top out at Full HD footage.

Both the Xperia L1 and Xperia E5 sport a 5-megapixel camera around the front, while the Xperia XA bumps this to an 8-megapixel shooter.

Check back soon for our in-depth Sony Xperia L1 review.


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