James Bond's gadgets in every "007" movie seem out of reach, from expensive sports cars to laser watches. Fortunately, the smartphone he uses in "Skyfall" is the exception to this rule. The Xperia TL is a beautiful phone with powerful functionality and a small price tag. Unfortunately, the budget pricing sacrifices display quality and battery power to keep this Bond gadget within reach.
The Xperia TL immediately catches the eye with its sensual design. Head-on, the smartphone is a boring rectangle, but seen from the side, the back arches in, making it easier to hold and a pleasure to show off. The phone is cased in sturdy aluminum and scratch-resistant glass. The 4.6-inch HD screen is large and worth showing off, but the narrow viewing angles will distort the colors for anyone not looking at the phone head-on. The phone weighs just under 5 ounces and does not feel like a burden to carry or use.
The shining quality of the Xperia TL is its 13MP rear-facing camera. Where most phones pack an 8MP camera, this smartphone's camera competes with some digital cameras. Unlike digital cameras, the TL does not pack any significant photo editing or effect apps to take advantage of its excellent camera. You can adjust the settings for indoor and outdoor photos, making it a great camera for any moment. Both the rear-facing and front-facing cameras can film in 720p HD.
AT&T is the exclusive carrier of the Xperia TL, so when you're looking into this phone, check your coverage areas first. Even in metropolitan areas, the TL has some connection issues, dropping data or service randomly.
Another low point for the TL is its battery. The battery can only handle about five hours of HD video. Sony pre-installed several multimedia apps, like an FM receiver and TrackID music recognition, but couple these music apps with regular phone usage, the phone will have trouble keeping a charge for the full day. There are 16GB of installed storage space, and this can be expanded with memory cards. You shouldn't have any issues with filling up your storage space any time soon.
A dual-core, 1.5MHz processor runs this Android 4.0 phone, and all of the apps operate smoothly. Unfortunately, the Xperia TL's connection to "Skyfall" turns it into a constant advertisement for the movie. Installed wallpapers, ringtones and videos of the Bond film are all over the phone. Even if you love the movie, you'll quickly get sick of all the subtle promotions.
If you've always wanted to own one of James Bond's gadgets, the Xperia TL can make that happen. The phone offers a beautiful design and powerful performance for a tiny price tag. The smartphone's connection to the Bond movie "Skyfall" burdens the phone with unnecessary 007 promotional material, and the battery cannot keep up with a day's work. But once you're used to the phone's quirks, the Xperia TL takes you one step closer to earning your license to kill.
The Xperia TL uses a 13MP rear-facing camera, which is able to take better pictures than any other cell phone we reviewed.
The display has a very narrow viewing angle.
As a budget smartphone, the Xperia TL offers great features and powerful processing.