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Sony Xperia SP Review

sony sp

Sony’s new Android smartphone looks set to become a design classic. It may not offer the feature set of the flagship Xperia Z, but it’s not far behind, and when it comes to looks it’s well ahead of the pack.

Premium materials

What sets the SP apart from the other Xperia range is the use of aluminium for the body of the phone. A special co-molding manufacturing technique enables the body to be seamless, resulting in a superbly sleek minimalist style. It’s not a super-slim phone, measuring 10mm thick, and at 155g it’s one of the heaviest phones on the market, but if anything this adds to the premium feel.

There are other details that make the phone special. The aluminium power button is one, but more interesting is the transparent antenna. This runs along the bottom of the phone, creating a transparent illuminated belt that lights up to notify you of incoming calls, messages and social media updates. It also pulses to the beat when you play music, and can change colour too. The lighting effects are customisable and are very, very cool.

Big screen

The screen measures 4.6 inches, making it slightly smaller than the Xperia Z, but still a lot bigger than the iPhone 5’s measly 4 inch display. It has a HD resolution too, with 1280 x 72 pixels, which again is more than the iPhone. The display is bright and uses the Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2 from Sony for smooth video and image processing.

Hardware specs

The size of the screen is in indicator that this is not in the realm of the superphones like the Sony Xperia Z, HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4. Instead, it has the same kind of specs you’d find on the top phones of 2012.

It’s appropriate then that the phone is powered by a dual-core processor rather than quad-core. It’s still fast, being a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor running at a very high 1.7GHz. An Adreno graphics processor enables hardware acceleration of 3D graphics.

The phone has 1GB of RAM, which is typical for this kind of phone, and comes with 8GB of memory plus a microSD card slot. The limited onboard memory is certainly one area where users might feel restricted, and an additional memory card is essential.

Operating system – Android Jelly Bean

Like the other Xperia phones, the SP runs Google’s Android operating system. The version here is Jelly Bean 4.1. This is not quite the latest, so users will be hoping for an upgrade to version 4.2 in the future.

There are a few customisations from Sony, including the Walkman music player software and Socialife, which brings content from social media and news feeds to your home screen, rather like BlinkFeed on the HTC One.

These are welcome improvements to Android without taking away any of the power and functionality of the operating system. In addition, Google Play gives access to hundreds of thousands of apps and additional content such as books, music and videos.

Photography

The SP is equipped with two cameras – a main rear-facing 8 megapixel camera and a front-facing VGA camera intended for making video calls. The main camera is excellent, being equipped with all the features that you’d expect on a quality camera – autofocus, digital zoom, flash, face recognition, etc. What sets this camera apart from many of its competitors is the high dynamic range (HDR) capability of the sensor. This enables it to perform well in low light and also to capture detail in areas of shadow and avoid burn-out in brighter areas of the image.

The camera can also record video at 1080p (full HD) resolution.

4G capability

The phone is compatible with LTE as well as HSPA and GSM. This means that it can operate on 2G, 3G and 4G networks, giving you the fastest data connection available. It is compatible with many different bands, enabling it to be used practically anywhere in the world.

Heavy data users will appreciate the fast Wi-Fi connectivity, and the phone can operate as a Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling a tablet or other wireless device to use the phone’s 4G data capacity, for example.

Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB 2.0, NFC and DLNA. A standard headphone can also be plugged into the phone.

Larger than average battery

Perhaps one of the reasons why the phone is unusually thick and heavy is that it uses a battery that’s significantly more powerful than usual. It’s perhaps a little strange to find such a large battery in what is essentially a design-led phone, but few users are going to be disappointed by this. The battery is in fact larger than any battery Sony has previously used, and it can keep you talking for an incredible 18 hours, or listening to music for up to 44 hours. This is one of the best phones you can get for endurance.

Summary

The Xperia SP is a peculiar phone in some ways. It looks a million dollars, yet it retails for about half the price of an iPhone 5. It’s clearly a design-led device and yet it comes with an outsized battery giving exceptionally long life. In other respects it does everything you’d expect from a phone priced midway between basic smartphones and the most expensive. It has an excellent camera, fast processor, and excellent connectivity. If there’s one area of weakness, it’s probably the limited onboard memory, and this may well limit the number of apps and data you can install on the phone.

Written By

Steve Morris writes about smartphones, tablets, computers and future technology at tech review site S21. He blogs about science, technology and other matters at Blog Blogger Bloggest. Catch his tweets at @s21tech.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Himanshu

    May 6, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Planning to buy Sony Xperia Z next month. But little bit confused whether to buy xperia or Iphone..

  2. Shalin

    May 7, 2013 at 4:53 am

    What I found with Sony phones, that they all are very much alike. The spec, design, weight is similar to the phones came out in 2012. There are many performance upgrades and design upgrades in the phones but none of them can be classified as a radical change. I use very first android phone of Sony Ericsson since 2010. This phone is good for mid-rage smartphone users. Great share!

  3. Rohit

    May 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    nice review Steve,
    one of my friend recently bought Sony xperia z, but it was quite disappointing. it has a great built and it is water proof but its display is very poor. and no value for money.
    i hope xperia sp would not disappointing its users..

  4. Mike

    May 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    From your blog i got very helpful information about Sony Xperia. Sony Xperia have many good features like big screen, 4G capability and many more. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  5. Sudipto

    May 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hey Steve,
    Nice post and Thanks for sharing this post with us. First Sony Xperia Z bang the World and now I think its Sony Xperia SP time to show its features. Sony Xperia SP really seems interesting.

  6. Frank Cern

    May 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    This phone is pretty good if you’re looking at prices in the mid range.

  7. piyush wadhwa

    May 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    It seems to be pretty good phone, 1st phone i owned was of sony walkman series and i loved it, hope sony doesn’t disappoint this time too.

  8. Anurag Kumar

    May 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    The best thing about Xperia SP is that, it has Adreno 320 graphics which is missing in every phone till the price range of Rs 40K.

  9. Raman

    June 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    This is really an awesome phone…battery life an 4G capability are the best features included…

  10. arvind

    January 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Sony Xperia SP is the best smartphone because this phone feature is very nice.This smartphone price is base of feature.i like this phone and i buy this phone thanks for sharing.
    regard

    Arvind

  11. Prasanna

    February 22, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Sony xperia SP is a good phone but i personally suggest xperia C especially if you love games more than the camera. I use C and its good.

  12. rahul kumar

    May 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    hello , i search this mobile phone on google so finally i get full details of this sony moblie phone on your website thanks a lot for giving this imagine mobile phone details with full specification thanks once again i bookmark your website

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