Feature set summary - Sony Xperia SP review
There’s so much to mention – from the impressive 8MP snapper with great auto mode, to the sharp, colourful 720p Reality screen. NFC is well supported too – it’s a lot for this kind of price.
Style and handling summary - Sony Xperia SP review
It sits well in the hand and looks good, thanks to the glowing bar and the now iconic round power button.
Battery power summary - Sony Xperia SP review
You’ll get more than a day in moderate use and five hours when streaming video – but gamers will see the battery drain really quickly.
Performance summary - Sony Xperia SP review
Under the hood sits a 1.7GHz Qualcomm chip that handles the latest games effortlessly. There was no lag or stuttering, but you will notice the handset gets rather warm after an hour’s use.
User friendliness summary - Sony Xperia SP review
Sony has tweaked Android 4.1 Jelly Bean just a little, and it is just as user friendly and offers the smooth experience we have come to expect.
Sony Xperia SP Review Scoring Summary
|Style & Handling|
Full Review and Specification for the Sony Xperia SP
We loved the Xperia Z smartphone from Japanese giants Sony, with its strong, waterproof chassis and excellent snapper. But it was let down by a chunky body and disappointing battery life. So when we got our hands on the new Xperia SP, we were keen to see if these issues had been addressed. First off, we could see the phone has a more compact chassis, but with a great 720p HD display and impressive camera.
Our favourite feature of the phone’s design is the bar that sits at the bottom of the handset – it’s transparent and glows in colour when you have a notification. It looks good, and also means you don’t have to keep checking the screen to see if you have texts or emails waiting.
The chassis is made from aluminium, and it is more pocket-friendly than its predecessor, even though it has more girth. It’s also comfy to use with one hand, because the five-inch display of the Xperia Z has been reduced to 4.6 inches.
It is heavier though. The Xperia Z was on the heavy side, and the SP is 155g more weighty. It’s not uncomfortable to hold, but you will notice it has a heft to it.
We also really like the now iconic round power button, which sticks out of the right edge of the handset. It’s simple to find, especially if you’re fiddling with your handset in the dark – something we seem to do quite a lot.
On the right side of the handset you’ll find the shutter button. Hold it down in hibernation mode and the camera app loads straight away. Push again and the snapper focuses, then press fully to take a snap. Photos and HD video can be taken at the same time, and the snapper also boasts a range of special modes including panorama and some nifty filters. You won’t find many better cameras on a phone at this price.
The 4.6in Reality display is a boost for media fans. It has a 720p resolution, which offers 319 pixels per inch. There are sharper screens to be found, but we were still impressed by the HD images, which were sharp with no blurry edges. The screen is bright enough to cope with any glare, boasts good contrast levels and amazingly wide viewing angles.
The Xperia Z’s snapper impressed us with its Superior Auto mode, which gave us bright, vibrant snaps in pretty much all light conditions. The Xperia SP also boasts this clever mode – even on dull days we were rewarded with bright snaps. Just point and shoot and you get impressive images.
Under the hood sits a Qualcomm chip that handles anything you throw at it without a murmur. We were able to play the latest games such as Iron Man 3 with great frame rates, and they all looked amazing. After an hour’s play, though, you’ll notice that the handset gets a tad warm. Not hot enough to be a real worry, but we did notice it was warm when we popped the handset back in our pocket.
Look mum, no wires!
Sony fans will love the fact that the Xperia SP has NFC support and can communicate with other Sony gadgets wirelessly. You can connect it to a Sony TV and use the phone as a remote, or listen to music via Sony headphones and speakers. And you can use a Sony external storage device to back up your media, apps and photos too. Okay, you may be restricted to buying Sony gizmos, but at least the NFC facility is being used for something useful.
If you’re a keen gamer, don’t expect more than three hours of playing before the juice runs out of the battery – streaming video gives you a reasonable five hours. In moderate use – a bit of net surfing, some texting, emailing and a few calls – you should manage to squeeze out 36 hours. Power saving mode will help, although it does switch off some of the key features.
The Xperia SP really is a mid-range marvel, with its feature-filled snapper, and Reality screen. It is a tad hefty, and the juice drains quickly if you’re gaming, but for the price you’d be hard pushed to find a better phone.
Sony Xperia SP Specification
- 155 grams
- 5.47 oz
- 130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm
- 5.14 x 2.64 x 0.39 inches
- 4.6" touchscreen - scratch-resistant TFT
- 16,777,216 colours, 1280x720 pixels
OS / Processor
- Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
- 1.7 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 MSM8960Pro Dual Core
- 8 megapixel camera with auto focus
- 16x digital zoom, pulsed LED flash
- Talk time (up to): 18 hours and 53 mins
- Standby time (up to): 734 hours
- Music listening time (up to): 39 hours
- Video playback time (up to): 7 hours and 36 mins
By Simon Thomas on 13th May, 2013