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Review – Hands on with the Sony Xperia SP

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I have been hands-on testing the Sony Xperia SP for the past week. The Sony Xperia SP is a mid-level phone which is not as feature rich or as powerful as the Xperia Z series. Although this is my first time with a Sony Smartphone I once owned the extremely popular Sony K750i a number of years ago which was as solid as a rock and featured one of the best cameras around for it’s time. Would the Sony Xperia SP stand up to the challenge?

Sony Xperia SP

The Sony Xperia SP is available in Red, White Silver or Black

Build Quality

The Sony Xperia SP has a solid aluminium design with a plastic polycarbonate back cover that is smooth, but yet grippy, which makes the phone comfortable to hold and no doubt makes the phone look more expensive than it is. The buttons are all situated on the right hand side where there is a volume rocker, a button to operate the camera and Sony Xperia SP side-shot a small but stylish round aluminium power on/off button which is suitably placed, making one-handed operation a breeze.

The SP weighs 155g and measures 130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm which makes it comfortable to hold up to your ear for any length of time. At the bottom of the phone the transparent antenna bar, which some would say is a little gimmicky, flashes when you receive notifications or calls. The 4.6″ HD Bravia engine HD touchscreen has excellent clarity with a 1280 x 720 pixel perfect razor sharp display.

Under the Hood

The Sony Xperia SP has a Dual Core 1.7Ghz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 Pro processor and comes with 1GB RAM. I had several apps opened at once and never noticed any speed issues although there maybe issues if playing any powerful games. The touchscreen was very responsive and it was simply to have several programs opened at once and access each of them.

The SP comes with 8GB of internal Flash memory capacity with only 5.5GB is available, thankfully there is a Micro SD expansion slot so you can add up to an extra 32GB. The battery was slightly disappointing after a full 2nd charge the battery had drained to 60% after playing with it on and off for 2 hours. Sony have included STAMINA mode to extend the battery life of the device by turning off resource hogs such as WiFi and Mobile Broadband whilst the phone is idol.

Sony’s ClearAudio+ sound has clarity when playing videos and music and with the graphic equalizer settings you can improve the quality of your music even further in the the Walkman App. I would however purchase a decent set of earphones to further enhance your listening pleasures as the included earphones lead a lot to be desired.

Software

The Sony Xperia SP comes loaded Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) software and the latest version of Google Play and Google Chrome but not too much bloatware, thankfully. The Sony Select and Playstation apps have a repository of apps and games on offer but it’s pretty limited with Google Play having more available.

One of the best features on the phone is the feature rich Walkman app which doesn’t disappoint. The transparent antenna pulsates and changes Apps included in the Sony Xperia SP colour to the beat of the music. One bug bear I have with my current Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is when listening to music is my music gets interrupted by text message notifications, something I didn’t encounter on this phone. Sony clearly know how to please and engage music lovers everywhere.

The smart connect software is quite a useful feature in which you can set up services to run on a certain condition. For example if I was to charge it overnight I could set it to night mode which would put the phone into silent and turn the alarm on.

Another cool feature for me was to access the music and videos on MyBook Live personal cloud external hard drive without having to install additional software but unfortunately I wasn’t able to play all my videos as the device only offered playback for 3GPP, MP4, MKV, MPEG2-TS, MPEG-4 and WEBM formats.

The user interface is different to your average Android phone and adds a little Sony Style to your phone with the addition of icons and a different font which makes it sleek and stand out.

Camera

After changing a few settings the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with 16x digital zoom takes reasonably good photos with vivid colours being enhanced.

Sony Xperia Camera shot

This photo was taken with the Sony Xperia Camera.

Some of the photos were a little out of focus so I do recommend playing with the settings and possibly switching some of the auto features off to get the most out of it. Having the dedicated button for the camera simplifies the process of taking pictures thus could be a substantial replacement for a compact camera. As for video the Sony Xperia SP can capture video in Full 1080p HD at 30fps and comes with video stabilisation built in.

Rating: 8/10

Pros

  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Excellent Walkman App
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Slick Design
  • Good Camera
  • Smart Connect Feature

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Video Formats Supported

Summary

I can’t help admiring the Sony Xperia SP. It’s sleek, smart, sophisticated and somewhat different to other Android phones. The Walkman app is an excellent feature for listening to your music and the HD display is crystal clear. The SP would have received 9/10 if the battery life was a little better so prepared to carry your charger everywhere or make use of the built in STAMINA mode.