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

Sony Xperia SP

Dimensions

5.14 x 2.64 x 0.39 inches

130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

LG Optimus L7 II

LG Optimus L7 II

Dimensions

4.78 x 2.62 x 0.38 inches

121.5 x 66.6 x 9.7 mm

Weight

4.07 oz (116 g)

Sony Xperia SP

Sony Xperia SP

Dimensions

5.14 x 2.64 x 0.39 inches

130.6 x 67.1 x 9.98 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z

Dimensions

5.47 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches

139 x 71 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.15 oz (146 g)

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm

Weight

4.69 oz (133 g)

LG Optimus L7 II

LG Optimus L7 II

Dimensions

4.78 x 2.62 x 0.38 inches

121.5 x 66.6 x 9.7 mm

Weight

4.07 oz (116 g)

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

All of the physical keys are found on the right side

The microUSB port is on the right - Sony Xperia SP Review

The microUSB port is on the right

The headset jack is on the top - Sony Xperia SP Review

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.

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62 Comments

1. flexile

Posts: 78; Member since: Jun 03, 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.

3. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 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.

6. flexile

Posts: 78; Member since: Jun 03, 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.

17. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 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.

42. saket.shrivastava

Posts: 55; Member since: Apr 02, 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

15. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4767; Member since: Mar 07, 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.

61. ported

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 23, 2015

this phone is complete garbage. The wifi signal drops constantly even when within 5 feet of the wifi router. I would rather cut my own throat than own another of these POS's. Free would be thousands too expensive.

2. mafiaprinc3

Posts: 585; Member since: May 07, 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

4. istitch

Posts: 181; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

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

5. flexile

Posts: 78; Member since: Jun 03, 2012

Pretty much this.

7. kobainez

Posts: 454; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

It's PA and im not even surprised lol

16. sorcio46

Posts: 435; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

they need to push WP sales...

23. rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

they can do that by having more apps -Lumia 820 user

25. GTR722

Posts: 270; Member since: Oct 20, 2012

They just hate Sony with a passion.

27. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

your post will be deleted soon. LOL

31. Dimitru

Posts: 40; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

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

8. yudi.nemesis unregistered

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...

9. CaptainXperia

Posts: 15; Member since: Feb 21, 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" ???

13. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 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.

20. Xenaz

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 28, 2013

Go check on the Xperia ZL review by the same reviewer Nick.T..... It come out with a joke cons for me.

30. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

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

21. kobainez

Posts: 454; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

Boo..

24. rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

Someone doesn't know "optimization"

29. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Someone's posting really vague comments.

10. imparanoic

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 15, 2012

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

11. lovefist unregistered

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

12. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

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

53. Sammy141

Posts: 5; Member since: Aug 26, 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

14. spiderpig2894

Posts: 597; Member since: Jan 10, 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.

18. Rajan_sharma

Posts: 1; Member since: May 01, 2013

Phonearena is really a good blog on gadgets.......
Xperia SP
  • Display 4.6" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Dual-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 2370 mAh(13.23h 3G talk time)

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