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Sony Xperia SP Review

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Sony Xperia SP Review
Introduction:

The selection of mid-range Android smartphones is vast, which makes picking the best model a delicate task. Well, Sony wants to spare you the effort of browsing through all available options by introducing a compromise-free handset that seems to have it all. Ladies and gents, we give you the Sony Xperia SP – a smartphone powered by a fast, dual-core processor, graced by a large, HD screen, and equipped with a fancy 8-megapixel camera. Seems awesome, doesn't it?

Well, that's just specs listed on a piece of paper, which isn't always enough to make any device successful on the competitive smartphone market. Not that the Xperia SP is a bad phone – as a matter of fact, we find it quite promising, but it does come with its imperfections. Read all about the strengths and weaknesses of the Sony Xperia SP in our in depth review below!

Box and contents - Sony Xperia SP Review
Box and contents - Sony Xperia SP Review

Box and contents


Sony Xperia SP Unboxing




Design:

Glass, metal and plastic are fused together to create the outer body of the Sony Xperia SP, and the result is... well, not bad, but nothing mindblowing at the same time, to be perfectly honest. We truly appreciate the inclusion of a metal frame used in the handset's construction, and so do our fingers, but the soft-touch plastic back cover, which actually flexes inwards when pressed for some reason, doesn't quite snap on seamlessly, as it becomes evident when you take a closer look. But details like these would annoy only perfectionists. Those who find black to be too conservative of a color and want to pick a flashier variant may have the Sony Xperia SP in either red or white. 

We find the Sony Xperia SP very comfortable to handle - Sony Xperia SP Review
We find the Sony Xperia SP very comfortable to handle - Sony Xperia SP Review
We find the Sony Xperia SP very comfortable to handle - Sony Xperia SP Review

We find the Sony Xperia SP very comfortable to handle

Sony Xperia SP
5.14 x 2.64 x 0.39 inches
130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia Z
5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches
139 x 71 x 7.9 mm
5.15 oz (146 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Samsung Galaxy S III
5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm
4.69 oz (133 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

LG Optimus L7 II
4.78 x 2.62 x 0.38 inches
121.5 x 66.6 x 9.7 mm
4.07 oz (116 g)

LG Optimus L7 II

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

Being well trained in using large-screened smartphones, our hands quickly adapted to the shape and size of the Sony Xperia SP. In fact, we find it very comfortable to handle regardless of which hand we're holding it in. Single-handed use might be a challenge in some rare cases, but overall, the device is easy to operate. 

Another detail we can't complain about are the physical buttons, all of which are positioned on the right side of the device. The volume rocker, power button, and camera shutter key are exposed well and respond with sufficient feedback when pressed.

All of the physical keys are found on the right side - Sony Xperia SP Review
The microUSB port is on the right - Sony Xperia SP Review
The headset jack is on the top - Sony Xperia SP Review

All of the physical keys are found on the right side

The microUSB port is on the right

The headset jack is on the top


The trademark transparent strip is on the bottom of the phones faceplate - Sony Xperia SP Review

The trademark transparent strip is on the bottom of the phones faceplate


Sony's trademark transparent strip on the Xperia SP's bottom is a welcome unique feature not only because it gives character to the handset, but also because it serves as a notification light. A bright, easy to see notification light, if we have to be exact. It lights up in a different color depending on what kind of a notification is pending. Those who don't find the feature useful are free to turn it off.


Display:

The displays on Sony's smartphones have always been good, but rarely outstanding. The 4.6-inch screen on the Sony Xperia SP is not among the exceptions, but we think it is very good for a mid-range smartphone. It has a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, which gives us a pixel density of 319ppi – undoubtedly the best thing about the screen as the level of detail it provides is excellent. Colors, on the other hand, lean towards the warmer side while whites appear slightly yellowish. Boosting the screen's brightness, however, makes colors much prettier. Speaking of brightness, the display's output is sufficient to ensure that the smartphone is usable even in outdoor conditions, as long as the screen's glassy surface isn't reflecting light straight at the user.

60 Comments
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posted on 01 May 2013, 09:19 17

1. flexile (Posts: 74; Member since: 03 Jun 2012)


It was a good review, but, 8/10? ... .__.

I really like this phone, my next phone will either be this, or the Xperia ZL.

posted on 01 May 2013, 09:26 7

3. Captain_Doug (Posts: 759; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Check out the ZR.http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_zr-5421.php

It's a higher end version of the SP. Same 4.6" screen but iwht a quad core processor, 2GB of ram, 13mp camera and water/dust resistance.

posted on 01 May 2013, 09:35 6

6. flexile (Posts: 74; Member since: 03 Jun 2012)


I didn't know about that one, I will have to check it when it's announced. I just hope it is a compact phone, since that's why the ZL seems so appealing to me. I really like the SP since it keeps the transparent bar from my previous Xperia P.

posted on 01 May 2013, 14:59 1

17. Captain_Doug (Posts: 759; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I'm not sold on the light bar as it seems to add a bit of size. It looks great though. I'm hoping the image on that page is what the ZR looks like after all. Would love the compact size and upgrade it specs.

posted on 14 May 2013, 10:25

42. saket.shrivastava (Posts: 55; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


+1
and why is there a removable back if battery is not accesible????? why not just put a flap like one s/x/v

posted on 01 May 2013, 14:07 4

15. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


The ZR does look nice with the screen taking the overall front space, but i don't think it'll come cheap.
This here, the SP, i'm falling in love...i'm really interested with this one. The pros out-weigh the cons. Agreed that the camera isn't the best out there but it gets the job done...for the blurred, over-saturated, washed etc pictures, i have photoshop, so no worries. Besides that, i'm all for this phone...the screen size is just perfect for me.

posted on 01 May 2013, 09:25 11

2. mafiaprinc3 (Posts: 325; Member since: 07 May 2012)


would love to get the xperia l,ain't got no money right now. xperia sp is an awesome phone,really like sony's designs

posted on 01 May 2013, 09:31 29

4. istitch (Posts: 167; Member since: 19 Mar 2013)


lumia 720 got 9, and xperia sp gets 8? well done, PA, well done!

posted on 01 May 2013, 09:33 9

5. flexile (Posts: 74; Member since: 03 Jun 2012)


Pretty much this.

posted on 01 May 2013, 10:02 12

7. kobainez (Posts: 302; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


It's PA and im not even surprised lol

posted on 01 May 2013, 14:53

16. sorcio46 (Posts: 402; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)


they need to push WP sales...

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:04

23. rgxVOiD (Posts: 435; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


they can do that by having more apps

-Lumia 820 user

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:17 11

25. GTR722 (Posts: 241; Member since: 20 Oct 2012)


They just hate Sony with a passion.

posted on 02 May 2013, 03:11 5

27. emadshiny (Posts: 1135; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


your post will be deleted soon. LOL

posted on 03 May 2013, 21:15 1

31. Dimitru (Posts: 40; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


even the Xperia ZL also only got 8 -____- that one thumb down is PA !! he doesnt like ur comment haha

posted on 01 May 2013, 10:11 3

8. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


Mid range smartphone from Sony with the Quality and performance of High end devices.

But Sony still have the same problem with Camera, just hope Sony can fix that problem soon...

posted on 01 May 2013, 10:33 13

9. CaptainXperia (Posts: 14; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)


why phonearena why ????....y do u become a miser when rating SONY phones????

just wanna ask for the last time... and i know how u'll respond...."is it intentional" ???

posted on 01 May 2013, 11:35 1

13. Commentator (Posts: 2436; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


How is giving this phone an 8 miserly? This phone is sporting specs and performance of a late-2012 flagship that would've received ~8.5. It's the middle of 2013, of course the score is going to drop a bit.

posted on 01 May 2013, 18:23 5

20. Xenaz (Posts: 95; Member since: 28 Apr 2013)


Go check on the Xperia ZL review by the same reviewer Nick.T.....

It come out with a joke cons for me.

posted on 02 May 2013, 15:25 2

30. Commentator (Posts: 2436; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


Yeah I read that review, and both the pros and the cons are jokes.

posted on 01 May 2013, 19:47 1

21. kobainez (Posts: 302; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Boo..

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:07

24. rgxVOiD (Posts: 435; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


Someone doesn't know "optimization"

posted on 02 May 2013, 15:13

29. Commentator (Posts: 2436; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


Someone's posting really vague comments.

posted on 01 May 2013, 10:36 18

10. imparanoic (Posts: 68; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)


and an expensive ( literally same guts as s advance ) s3 mini gets 8.9, talk about super bias

posted on 01 May 2013, 11:25 2

11. lovefist (unregistered)


c'mon PA! 2 points off just for the camera? the pros outweigh the cons, man.

posted on 01 May 2013, 11:32 1

12. Commentator (Posts: 2436; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


And the numbers reflect this. If a 5 is average, then an 8 reflects a phone that is far more pro than con.

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:52

53. Sammy141 (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Aug 2013)


compared to other high end devices,maybe.But compared to other mid-range devices,this whitewashes them so i think it at least deserves a 8.5 or 9

posted on 01 May 2013, 12:24 4

14. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 433; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)


I love the way the SP produces punchy colors but sometimes there are oversaturated ones. Image detail is only visible at zooming a photo but not a big deal. I guess this phone should have at least gets an 8.5-9.

posted on 01 May 2013, 15:11

18. Rajan_sharma (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 May 2013)


Phonearena is really a good blog on gadgets.......

posted on 07 May 2013, 03:49 1

33. giri555 (Posts: 95; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)


it seems you are new to this...its the worst blog...people visit here to participate in trolling sessions..and to see the extent to which they are bad...

posted on 01 May 2013, 15:26 14

19. solidsnake695 (Posts: 69; Member since: 04 Jan 2013)


nick says that mack matt plastic feels cheap and samsungs silk fulltime fingerprint plastic is is premium LOOOOOOL

posted on 02 May 2013, 01:08 7

22. DerryAhmad (Posts: 245; Member since: 05 May 2012)


This phone deserves a 9 rating IMO.
its performance outperforms last years flagships (Quadcore) with much less price. Added with a beautiful design, The SP looks like a winner to me,

posted on 02 May 2013, 02:36 7

26. robocopvn (Posts: 188; Member since: 10 Mar 2010)


8 points ?? are you joking PA ??

at least 8.5 or 9 !

posted on 02 May 2013, 13:59 5

28. DemiO (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 May 2013)


this phone should be at least a 9.5 out of 10.it is now available on t mobile and orange on pay you go for 250. What a bargain!

posted on 06 May 2013, 06:15 3

32. madpiyal (Posts: 108; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)


If the best midrange phone gets only 8 with the best midrange looks and best battery backup and with better benchmark scores than quadcore phones then what to expect from their rating system i don't know. We readers deserve better scoring from a tech site like PA

posted on 07 May 2013, 07:03

34. cheetieng (Posts: 2; Member since: 07 May 2013)


What is the SP price in Malaysia?

posted on 07 May 2013, 07:47

35. cheetieng (Posts: 2; Member since: 07 May 2013)


pls... give me SP price in Malaysia..!!

posted on 08 May 2013, 21:27

37. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)


Rm 1099!

posted on 07 May 2013, 10:26

36. kreemer (Posts: 3; Member since: 26 Apr 2013)


oooo...Im Xperia U - I love the little light band!
what is it with their cameras though... very disappointing
still, I love the size - can't wait

posted on 08 May 2013, 21:28

38. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)


XPERIA T OR XPERIA SP??? Still confused which 1 to buy.....

posted on 09 May 2013, 06:37 1

39. giri555 (Posts: 95; Member since: 15 Mar 2012)


Xperia SP, but it. Trust me. I own Xperia Z and I can say the next models (with lock key on right side) are much more premium and comfortable,

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:33

51. Sammy141 (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Aug 2013)


Buy the sp !!

posted on 13 May 2013, 08:35

40. k4j98 (Posts: 60; Member since: 12 Jul 2012)


I'm loving this guy's accent...

posted on 13 May 2013, 23:47

41. LYK1999 (Posts: 3; Member since: 13 May 2013)


I am finding for a phone which will not lag,has big screen and nice camera.
Which phone should I choose,Xperia sp or galaxy grand?

posted on 28 May 2013, 03:44

43. ashfaq07 (Posts: 2; Member since: 28 May 2013)


Hi.....guys I'm planning to buy a Smartphone in range of Rupees 20000-25000 I have selected two Smartphone’s one is Sony Xperia SP and other is HTC One X + (plus) while looking through specification in some sites it shows that Sony Xperia SP is 50% more faster in Internet than HTC One X +(plus) i.e., HSDPA 42.2 MBPS of Sony Xperia SP and HSDPA 21 MBPS of HTC One X +(plus). If anybody using one of this Smartphone or known’s the correct Maximum internet speed while it is connected to 2g and 3g plz let me knw.
I’m buying Smartphone that must be best in:
1. Internet Speed
2. Speed Processor
3. Gamming
4. Best Display etc.

So……..plz guys reply me with correct and truth comments if you knw better Smartphone’s than this plz let me knw and don’t suggest Samsung I’m not interested in it.

posted on 29 May 2013, 22:13

45. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)


I would go for Xperia SP since it's newer (Hence will be updated to Android 5.0 later) and it has 4G LTE connectivity.

Btw, u should also consider Xperia T or Xperia V since the prices of these phones have had a huge drop.....it's much cheaper than XPeria SP and u might find their designs more pleasing. Chck it out.

posted on 28 May 2013, 03:46

44. ashfaq07 (Posts: 2; Member since: 28 May 2013)


Hi.....guys I'm planning to buy a Smartphone in range of Rupees 20000-25000 I have selected two Smartphone’s one is Sony Xperia SP and other is HTC One X + (plus) while looking through specification in some sites it shows that Sony Xperia SP is 50% more faster in Internet than HTC One X +(plus) i.e., HSDPA 42.2 MBPS of Sony Xperia SP and HSDPA 21 MBPS of HTC One X +(plus). If anybody using one of this Smartphone or known’s the correct Maximum internet speed while it is connected to 2g and 3g plz let me knw.
I’m buying Smartphone that must be best in:
1. Internet Speed
2. Speed Processor
3. Gamming
4. Best Display etc.

So……..plz guys reply me with correct and truth comments if you knw better Smartphone’s than this plz let me knw and don’t suggest Samsung I’m not interested in it.

posted on 04 Jun 2013, 10:25 1

46. Sondae (Posts: 190; Member since: 02 Jan 2013)


If this phone come from samsung PA would give it a higher score since its from Sony thats why its lower lol....

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:53

54. Sammy141 (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Aug 2013)


lol so true.....

posted on 05 Jun 2013, 03:40

47. Genersis (Posts: 197; Member since: 29 May 2013)


I think I'd rate it a little higher.
It at least matches the S4 Mini on paper, and unless the S4 mini ends up being significantly cheaper than the Xperia SP(say, £300 or less), I think they should be scored the same at 8.5.

posted on 15 Jun 2013, 10:32

48. PadFone (Posts: 6; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


HI guys pleas answer me i like to buy a phone Im thinking between Sony Xperia T or this one who will be the winner?

posted on 21 Sep 2013, 11:38

52. Sammy141 (Posts: 5; Member since: 26 Aug 2013)


in my opinion dis is the winner

posted on 16 Jul 2013, 00:52

49. najib1312 (Posts: 102; Member since: 08 May 2013)


Bought 1 for USD307 2 weeks back. What a bargain.
Honestly, the only phone that can match this in terms of price is Xperia T. But decided to opt for SP due to its newer design cues, android 4.1.2, raw processing power & Awesome battery.

But those who's more into photography & need more internal storage can go for Xperia T which currrently retails for little less than USD300. Won't regret......

Another surprising thing is that Galaxy S4 mini, which is thought to be SP's rival, retails for USD460! And that's after bargaining heavily with the retailer. Heck for that amount of money I can buy Xperia ZR/ZL/Z. What was Samsung thinking?

posted on 20 Aug 2013, 00:18

50. VictorHu (Posts: 2; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)


I hv white version for 3 days. Seriously you need to zoom the quality of silver paint on aluminium frame. I got it spoiled after 3 days use charging using original USB cable. I assume white has problem with silver paint finishing quality on its aluminium frame. I compare it with black version which has more smooth paint. I exchange it as one to one warranty replacement to the store i bought it. We olen 3 sealed white xperia sp and found similiar defects. The store give me black version as replace my white version.

Overall...i recommend this phone to you. It has all future tech need except its front vga camera which cannot use face lock features.

Lte network..sdcard slot..led illumination...big screen.and its cool lock button. Easy grip.

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 01:48

55. Sentinel_9743 (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Sep 2013)


SONY ROCKS.
And whats up with the notification light?
It pulsates every time you get a notification, play music etc. it's very appealing and just really cool.....

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 01:49

56. Sentinel_9743 (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Sep 2013)


SONY ROCKS.
And whats up with the notification light?
It pulsates every time you get a notification, play music etc. it's very appealing and just really cool.....

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 01:50

57. Sentinel_9743 (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Sep 2013)


SONY ROCKS.
And what about the notification light?
It pulsates every time you get a notification, play music etc. it's very appealing and just really cool.....

posted on 18 Oct 2013, 06:41

58. 3ewess (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Oct 2013)


Mine scored
21367 on AnTuTu
5475 on AnTuTu 3DRating Benchmark
7800 on Quadrant Standard
I'm impressed, quite a good value for money!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 14:34

59. alanmasters (Posts: 1; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)


I was excited to receive this phone as an upgrade to my Experia S, itself a great phone.
Inexplicably though, unlike its predecessors, the SP has no lanyard loop. To avoid the expense and hassle of insuring my phones against accidental dropping, I simply attach them with a watch chain. With regret I've had to return the phone unused solely because of this missing feature.

posted on 30 Apr 2014, 14:50

60. iainathome (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Apr 2014)


an absolutely appalling phone, hangs/ freezes constantly, opens random apps at will, unresponsive touch screen. totally unreliable, returned to my old galaxy s2, the xperia;s going where it belongs, in the bin ....

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Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia SP

OS: Android 4.4 4.3 4.1
view full specs
Display4.6 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (319 ppi) TFT
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960T, Dual core, 1700 MHz, Krait processor
1024 MB RAM
Size5.14 x 2.64 x 0.39 inches
(130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm)
5.47 oz  (155 g)
Battery2370 mAh, 10.73 hours talk time

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