Sony Xperia SP Review


Flipping the power switch on the Sony Xperia SP introduces us to the latest variant of Sony's custom UI is layered on top of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Actually, that's the very same interface you'll find even on the maker's current flagship – the Xperia Z, with all its unique traits and benefits.

Overall, there's a lot to like about the new skin. For starters, it is pleasing to the eye with colorful themes, high-resolution wallpapers, and transparent UI elements. But at the same time, functionality has not been overlooked. The notification bar hosts a handful of toggle buttons that turn things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on or off. In addition to the stock widgets found on Android, there are a few that Sony has thrown in – widgets for social networking users, a notes widget, and a whole bunch of clocks. Last but not least, the so-called “small apps”, which are accessible by pressing the recent apps button, are a handy little addition. They act like easy-to-access productivity tools hovering above the UI and include a calculator, voice recorder, timer, and a notes app. 

The on-screen keyboard works like a charm. It is not only very comfortable to type on, be it with one or two thumbs, but also highly customizable. For example, you're free to add or remove non-mandatory buttons, such as the Google voice typing key, the comma, the period, or the button that brings forth a list of smileys. Users who need a non-English keyboard will be happy to know that there is a long list of typing languages to choose from.

Processor and memory:

Quad-core processors may be all the rage nowadays, yet the Sony Xperia SP “only” has a dual-core chip crunching all the heavy computations. The SoC in use is the Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960T by Qualcomm, clocked at 1.7GHz and backed up by Adreno 320 graphics. But you know what, that little piece of silicon actually packs quite a punch. The smartphone is always responsive and performs nearly flawlessly when handling even heavy tasks, while even the most intensive 3D games run at excellent framerates. On the other hand, the 1GB of RAM on board may be insufficient in some rare occasions. In particular, we did notice occasional lags when switching between or exiting applications.

Quadrant Standard AnTuTu GLBenchmark 2.5 (Egypt HD) Vellamo
(HTML5 / Metal)
Sony Xperia SP 7866 16413 4970 2013 / 755
Sony Xperia Z 8221 20835 3382 2198 / 626
Google Nexus 4 4757 16749 4917 3175 / 600
Samsung Galaxy S II Plus 3833 8228 2142 1558 / 425

We have to thank Sony for outfitting the Xperia SP with a slot for microSD cards as the 8GB of on-board storage are likely to be insufficient for many users. The 5.3GB of user-available storage is enough for installing dozens of apps and for storing photos, but users who wish to carry around music and video will probably need at least another 8 gigs or so.

Internet browser and connectivity:

The Chrome web browser is what we find pre-loaded on the Sony Xperia SP. That's a great solution for those who use Chrome on their computers as well since the mobile version can sync with their bookmarks and history lists. On top of all that, the browser is really snappy, handling even heavy web pages with ease. We must also note that having a large screen with high resolution also makes sufring the web quite enjoyable. Of course, those who aren't happy with Chrome are free to install an alternative of their own – Firefox, Dolphin, Maxthon, or Opera, to name a few.

Although it is just a mid-range smartphone, the Sony Xperia SP comes with LTE connectivity. In other words, you'll be enjoying blazing-fast data speeds, assuming your carrier has an LTE network operating on a frequency supported by the device. No LTE? No problem! There's also 42Mbps HSPA+ connectivity on board. The GPS radio is backed up by GLONASS compatibility for improved reception and accuracy. Last but not least, there's an FM radio present for those who still demand having the feature.



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. 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: 4769; 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: 3723; 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: 3723; 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


24. rgxVOiD

Posts: 440; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

Someone doesn't know "optimization"

29. Commentator

Posts: 3723; 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: 3723; 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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