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Sony Xperia SP review

Niall Magennis



Our Score


User Score


  • Excellent range of connectivity options
  • Appealing and original design
  • Dedicated camera button can launch camera app from standby


  • Can feel a bit laggy to use at times
  • Screen's viewing angles aren’t that wide
  • Camera pictures tend to suffer from image noise
  • Distinctly average battery life

Review Price £329.99

Key Features: 4.6-inch 720p TFT screen; 8GB internal memory, expandable; 1GB RAM; 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU; 8MP camera

Manufacturer: Sony


After noodling around with so-so smartphones for a few years, Sony finally went hell for leather with the humongous Xperia Z and grabbed plenty of headlines as a result. However, thanks to its huge 5-inch screen it wasn't for everyone, nor could many people afford it thanks to its high price. If you're in this category then the Xperia SP might better fit your needs. It's got a smaller 4.6-inch screen and a much lower asking price – you can buy it SIM free for £350 or get it free on a £20.50 a month contract – but it still packs plenty of grunt thanks to it's 1.7Ghz dual core processor.

Sony Xperia SP 6

Sony Xperia SP - Design

In a world dominated by smartphones that essentially look like different sized slabs of black plastic, the Xperia SP's is refreshingly different. Available in red, black and white, we had the white version in for review which we think is the best looking of the bunch.

Sony trumpets this phone's aluminium body, but in reality the aluminium is limited to the band that runs around the outer edge of the SP. The bezel around the screen is instead covered in glossy plastic, while there's a matt finish on the removable rear cover.

Nevertheless, the handset feels very solid, partly because it's a bit on the heavy side at 155g, but also because it avoids the slippery feel of the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4. We had worried that the white plastic rear cover would quickly start to look grubby from finger prints and the like, but really that's not the case at all.

It's also great to see that Sony has added a dedicated camera button on the right hand edge, especially as it's stolen the Windows Phone trick of allowing you to jump directly into the camera app – even from standby – just by pressing and holding down this button. The usefulness of this feature really shouldn't be underestimated and it's something we wish other manufactures would start to add to their handsets.

The signature of the phone's design, though, is the translucent strip at its base. There are three LEDs placed just above this strip that are used to illuminate it. For example, when you view photos in the Gallery app it lights up with colours sympathetic to those in the pictures, a bit like Philip's Ambilight system on TVs.

Sony Xperia SP 1

The bar can also illuminate for notifications for stuff like incoming emails and texts. This is helpfully during the day, but it's too bright to use a night as the three LEDs tend to light up your whole bedroom just because you've received a new message. You can turn the light effects off, but it would have been better if Sony had allowed you to set times of day when they can be used and times when they're disabled.

Sony Xperia SP - Screen

The SP's screen doesn't reach the giddy heights of the FullHD display on the Xperia Z, but it's still no slouch for a mid-range handset, as its 4.6-inch frame packs in a resolution of 1280x720 pixels.

Sony has added a few extra features to the Xperia SP's display too. For example, like Nokia's high-end Lumia handsets, there's a special mode that you can turn on via the settings menu that lets you use the handset while wearing gloves. The works reasonably well unless you're wearing very thick gloves.

Sony Xperia SP 4

Indoors the display looks quite bright and crisp, but with brightness set to Auto we found it a bit lacking in pop when using it outdoors under direct sunlight. We often ended up having to dig into the settings menu to crank it up a bit. Also, it's a bit less impressive than we would have liked when it comes to viewing angles, as colours wash out when you tilt the phone up or down in your hand. So, while the display is good, it's not the best we've seen on a mid-range phone.

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Sue Sfc Street

May 9, 2013, 1:45 pm

shall b avin this delivered the day it comes out just as im due 4 renewal.


May 13, 2013, 8:00 pm

Can feel a bit laggy to use at times, screen's viewing angles aren’t that wide, camera pictures tend to suffer from image noise, distinctly average battery life...With all these drawbacks in mind, aren't the 8/10 score a little too high?

Vladimir Putin

May 13, 2013, 8:24 pm

i was thinking of getting this, but opted for galaxy s3 instead now that it's become cheaper

Adam Popowski

June 3, 2013, 6:14 pm

I got the phone on Friday and it stopped working today. The screen went black and I can't turn it on. Anyone knows what's going on?


August 21, 2013, 1:08 pm

I have just bought a sony xperia sp, and I think its a very stylish phone and is a really good phone and easy to use and would recommend it to friends.


October 19, 2013, 2:19 pm

Go to http://store.sony.com/helpdesk and tell them what's going on to find a solution.


January 9, 2014, 8:50 pm

The Sony Xperia SP is the worst phone I have owned. I am not a phone Geek, but have been around a few years and had a few phones in my time. I just want a phone to do its main job and thats to talk to people?. This phone cant even do that. I will phone someone I can hear them but they cant hear me, can anybody help pleeeease before I decorate the wall with it.

Jenny Taylor

January 10, 2014, 4:12 pm

Actually it's quite a good phone and great value when purchased from EE on PAYG for £159.99 + £20 top-up. Sadly the camera is not that good but everything else is fine.


January 14, 2014, 8:07 am

Your phone is clearly broken. Xperia SP has second microphone that helps to filter out background noises - I can talk even in a noisy subway and people will hear me as if I was in a room.


January 14, 2014, 8:08 am

Screen viewing angles and camera issues is true, lagging and battery life is a bull***t.


January 14, 2014, 7:18 pm

Got this product as an upgrade on T-mobile on 2nd January 2014 and was straight away thrilled by it its easy to use android software with hundreds of free games, fast browsing and stunning picture quality, as well as the illuminating transparent band that flashes when you have a call, text ect. And also flashes to the beat of your music (which I thought was super cool). Now I've had it just under 2 weeks and the touchscreen isn't working AT ALL! I have not dropped or damaged the phone in anyway as soon as I got the phone I brought a hard flip case for it and have never taken off the screen protector. I have also tried to reset the phone but it hasn't changed a thing. Needless to say I am not a happy bunny and have been totally put off all Sony phones as I now don't trust them. REALLY SONY, 2 WEEKS?!

Lisa Sarmiento Canua

May 15, 2014, 10:02 pm

I bought this product to give as a gift for my son's birthday and it is nothing but a disappointment! It's a brand new phone and yet it only worked for a day and it went straight to the repair center. And when I finally got it back after three weeks, the back lid cover is BROKEN!! This so unbelievable and so maddening!! I can't even believe that they still have to send it back to me even when it's so obvious that they broke it!! One thing is for sure..I AM NEVER BUYING ANY SONY CELLPHONE PRODUCTS EVER AGAIN! Just that I thought I have saved some money for not buying an IPhone5, but the hassle is definitely not worth it! My son's birthday was last March, it`s already mid May and I am still dealing with so much crap with this product!!! GRRRR....

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