Sony brought us the Xperia SP Android phone for the mid-range market and for buyers who felt that the Xperia Z was too big for them, too expensive or just didn’t need the raw power the flagship phone offered.  This handset is laden with custom technologies exclusive to Sony and is a reasonable handset boasting of decent performance and an impressive battery life.  What’s more, the handset brings all the amazing benefits of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.  What dampens the phone’s shining potential however is the slightly dull display, a not-so-impressive camera and little internal storage space.

Design and build

The Sony Xperia SP is a 4.6 inch dual-core Android smartphone featuring a slightly rubberized polycarbonate case and an outer aluminum band on its sides.  It also features a metal chassis and trimming that makes it have an expensive look while feeling sturdy and well built.  Despite the metallic and aluminum built, the phone weighs just 155 grams (5.47 oz) – a little heavy yes – and measures 131 x 67 mm and is 10 mm thick.  Unfortunately, the Xperia SP does not have the IP57 certification like the Xperia Z, meaning that it is not resistant to water, dust and scratches.

Performance

The Sony Xperia SP features a dual core 1.7 GHz GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Krait SoC, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB internal memory – out of which only 5.8 GB only is available to the user.  While the SP is far from being a powerhouse like its top end sibling the Xperia Z and other flagship phones including the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the soon-to-come Sony Honami or Sony Xperia Z Ultra, it is still quite a nippy and impressive device that scores a 14,886 mark in Antutu Benchmark tests.

This is a perfect phone for the mid-range market that can be used in web browsing and gaming without experiencing stutters and chugs, but very demanding graphic games may not perform so well on this handset.  Like most Android phones, the Xperia SP is designed to eliminate any potential bottlenecks in performance, making the device pleasant to use as it delivers a smooth and fast performance.

Although the phone has a microSD card slot that allows for memory expansion by up to 64 GB, the 8 GB internal memory the phone offers may be insufficient for many users.  On the other hand, the Xperia SP offers all the connectivity features of a modern Android smartphone including GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. Bluetooth, NFC and MicroUSB connectivity.

Display

The Sony Xperia SP boasts of a 4.6 inch 720p (720×1280 pixels) LCD 10 finger multi-touch touchscreen that translates to a 319 ppi display density.  It also comes with Sony’s custom Mobile Bravia Engine 2 technology that significantly improves the display performance by enriching colors, making edges sharper and pixels brighter.  However, even with the Bravia technology, the Xperia SP’s screen looks dull and the maximum brightness isn’t that dazzling compared to other phones in its price range.

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The 8 megapixels rear camera on the Sony Xperia SP is capable of taking images up to 3264×2448 pixels and the front camera can take VGA images but is more suited for video calls.  The primary rear camera coms with features including geo-tagging, face and smile detection, touch focus, sweep panorama, HDR capability, image stabilization, autofocus and LED Flash.  The camera can take full HD 1080p video but the quality is not so impressive in low-light conditions.

Software

Like all recent Sony smartphones, the Xperia SP comes with a customized version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a user interface that is not as intrusive or ‘heavy’ as Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense.  However, it does come with a number of annoying bloatware.

Battery

Sony claims that the non-removable Li-Ion 2370 mAh battery on the Xperia SP can offer up to 19 hours talk time on 3G, up to 635 hours standby time on 2G and up to 39 hour music playback time on a single charge.

Conclusion

The Sony Xperia SP is a well-designed smartphone with an exceptional build quality offering a decent performance and battery life.  However, the minimal storage and average camera and display may be a concern for users who want nothing but the best.