Sony Xperia SP review

When I was contacted by Three about reviewing Sony Xperia SP device I was really looking forward to trying it out. The reason? Well, I already use the Sony Xperia Z as my own phone and wanted to see how it compared.

At time of writing this review the SP should have been on sale, however a delay by Sony on all networks means it is not yet available to buy in store and we have no pricing to report as of yet. As soon as we have this information the review will be updated.

As normal for a review, here’s a quick unboxing…..

Now onto the specs….

  • Android 4.1.2 JellyBean
  • 4.6 inch display with 720p resolution
  • 8 Megapixel Camera
  • DC-HSDPA 42Mb/s
  • LTE 100Mb/s
  • 1.7Ghz Dual-Core Processor
  • Bluetooth, WiFi & GPS, NFC
  • 8GB Storage with MicroSD slot for more
  • 2370mAh Battery
Sony Xperia SP review

On the front up top you have the 0.3 megapixel (VGA) front facing camera which is pretty decent for self portraits. It lacks a little in the low-light conditions with no flash and no fancy camera trickery. The rear camera doors perform better though.

The light sensors adjust the backlight on the screen to give you better battery life based on the surroundings. Up top you can see the earpiece for voice calls.

Just like the Xperia T and Z, the Xperia SP features HD Voice so you will get that super high quality call quality you would have got from the more expensive Z or T (if your network supports it).

In the UK both EE and Three support HD Voice and, once you have heard the quality difference, it’s hard to go back to the normal call quality.

Sony Xperia SP review

The screen on the Xperia SP is 4.6 inches and uses the new Mobile Bravia Engine 2. This helps improve the screen quality with darker blacks and richer colours.

Whilst not 1080p like the Z, the 720p resolution does a great job when paired with the Bravia Engine 2 technology abs slightly smaller screen.

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

Something which Sony have put on some of their more recent phones is a clear strip at the bottom which changes colour based on what you have open. It can also be used for notifications, so you’ll see if you’ve any missed calls, texts, emails or other messages.

What is nice though is when you are viewing photos, the bar changes colour to match the dominant colour in the photo.  For example if you take a photo of a can of Coca Cola the bar will turn red etc..

Very much a gimmick and something you might never really use but it does make the SP stand out from other phones.

Down at the bottom just above the notification strip there’s the microphone for voice calls.

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

On the back is the 8 megapixel camera with a single LED light for a flash. This helps out in those conditions where you need a bit more light, but will never be able to compete with a Xenon flash.

The loudspeaker and XPERIA logo with the clear strip on the back at the bottom

Using the same Exmor RS technology seen in the Xperia Z, the SP can capture some fantastic photos and with 8 megapixels.

The sample photos taken below are un-edited and can be viewed in full resolution by clicking on them.  Something which Sony are very focused is great low-light performance and the Exmor RS lens is key to this.

The last two photos taken below are both indoors with less-than-ideal lighting, but it’s produced a great quality shot. This is more than good enough to have printed or to share on social media if you wish.

The other photos were all taken outside in good sunlight and also produced more than adequate quality to be printed. They also captured lots of colour and good contrast.

The Xperia SP is a very decent phone for taking photos on!

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

Sony Xperia SP review

 Sony Xperia SP review

The bottom of the phone is plain with no ports or buttons anywhere to be seen. It does continue the nice silver frame which makes the SP feel a more premium build.

Sony Xperia SP review

At the top you have the 3.5mm headset port which can be used with either the supplied headset in the box or your own if you have a decent pair already, if you don’t….I would buy some.

The reason I say that is the headset supplied is not exactly something I can give a lot of positive feedback on.  Sony have really cut back on the headset here and the quality is noticeably poor when compared to your own decent pair you might have.

Sony Xperia SP review

The left side has the MicroUSB port for charging or data transfer using the now standard cable you have in the box or from your old phone.

Sony Xperia SP review

On the right hand side you have all the buttons from the volume up/down at the top, the now iconic power button also seen on the Xperia Z. The camera button at the bottom is something I personally love seeing. I’d like to see it included in more phones which have a focus on photography.

The power button is something that attracted a lot of attention on the Xperia Z, some people like it, some really hate it but being placed in the middle it does make it really easy to power on. When holding the phone it’s easy to quickly switch on and check notifications, then switch onto standby again…all with one hand.

Final Thoughts

Since Sony took over the Ericsson side of the company they have been producing some great hardware,although their naming seems to be a little confusing to many, myself included.

The SP is a very nice mid-range phone with some great features taken from the Z. I was impressed with the Bravia Engine 2 screen technology and the Exmor RS lens.  It also took some of the same design hints including that power button that sticks out a little.

Where the SP does excel is the connectivity options which include NFC, DC-HSDPA and also LTE. This will be available on Three later this year and will get you some very impressive download speeds on the move.

The 2370mAh battery does a good job at getting you through the working day even with quite a lot of use. This was good to see and the screen does impress, even at 720p which used to be top spec but is now more mid range for a lot of phones.

Sony also have their own UI which sits on top of the Android OS. Thankfully this is much more cut down than it used to be and performs well. The UI used by Sony changes the lock screen and the way the main menu looks too, but if you just like the look of ‘pure Android’ then there’s pretty of launchers out there to give you this experience. My personal favourite is one called Nova Launcher and gives you that stock Android feel

Due to a slight delay in the launch Three have not announced any pricing yet but that should be available shortly and we will update this review with pricing once we have it.

Thanks again to Three for loaning us the Xperia SP to review

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  • Martin

    Looks like a nice phone, makes me laugh that a quad core phone with a 720p screen is only ‘mid-range’! Takes nice pictures, they look really crisp and clear.

  • Martin

    The Register have just reviewed the SP, they are saying it is £300 sim free.