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Sony Xperia SP

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis



Our Score:


Sony Xperia SP – Camera

The SP has both a front facing, basic VGA camera as well as a main 8-megapixel shooter on the rear, so you can use it for video calling if you're away on holiday and need to check in at home or just want to be able to show off the kids to grandparents that might be living in another country.

Sony Xperia SP

The rear camera has both an LED flash and autofocus. As we've already discussed there's a dedicate camera button that you can hold down to launch the camera even from standby, which is a very handy feature.

Sony has packed the camera app full of various different modes and settings. For example, there are lots of scene presets covering stuff like sports, beach and night time settings, as well as various filter effects. With the latter, the SP is able to preview them all live on the same screen at the same time – impressive stuff.

Sony Xperia SP 8

Results from the camera are pretty good. Colours are very rich and bold and if you use the normal shooting mode focus is also sharp. However, on the superior auto mode the camera actually seems to be a little bit worse at focus. The other issue is that there's quite a bit of noise in captured images. Even on shots taken outdoors on a sunny day you can see noise in elements of the image, such as the blue of the sky.

Sony Xperia SP – Apps and Multimedia

The SP has 8GB of memory onboard, but after the built-in apps have taken their share you're left with around 5GB. As a result you'll probably want to invest in a memory card for the phone's microSD card slot, which is tucked away under the rear cover. It can take cards of up to 32GB in size, which gives you a decent amount of room for storing media files.

Sony Xperia SP 7

Sony has preloaded a few of its own apps on the phone, but they're a bit of a mixed bag. Sony Select suggests apps that you might be interested in, but has no real value when there's Google's Play store onboard anyway. You also get SocialLife, a sort of news stream made up of Facebook and Twitter updates as well as news feed from various different services. However, it's rather clunky to use and not really worth the effort.

However, the Walkman music app is rather good, as it's got an easy to use interface and also gives you plenty of controls over audio thanks to its graphic equaliser and various sound enhancement options, such as xLoud.

Sony Xperia SP 2

Sony's video player is also surprisingly useful. It supports a wide range of formats including AVI and MKV files and can automatically sort TV shows and movies into correct folders and name them with series and episode numbers via the Gracenotes database. This is not something we've seen other manufacturers try to do in their video apps.

Sony Xperia SP - Battery Life and Connectivity

Weirdly, despite the fact that the rear cover of the SP can be removed, this only gives you access to the SIM and microSD card slots. The battery is fixed and can’t be removed. To be fair, Sony has kitted it out with a relatively hefty 2370 mAh battery. Unfortunately, despite this the handset's battery life is still distinctly average.

Sony Xperia SP 6

We found we could only get a days usage and no more out of it for the usual stuff like listening to music, tracking runs with the Endomodo app, web browsing and calls. Perhaps this was because we felt we had to up the screen brightness a bit to make it more legible outdoors, but the phone rarely had much charge left at the end of a day.

You can improve things a bit by enabling the Stamina mode in the settings menu, which cheats by turning off mobile data when the screen is off. Thankfully, you can also set up a whitelist of apps that are still allowed to sync in this mode, such as Gmail and Whats App. Still, it didn't seem to hugely improve battery performance for us.

Sony Xperia SP 3

The SP leaves no stone unturned on the connectivity front. It's got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G and 4G support (although some other counties will have a presumably cheaper non-4G version) and there's NFC built-in too. The microUSB port is also MHL compatible, so if you shell out for an adaptor you can use it to feed video to your TV via HDMI. Sony has even added Miracast functionality even through it's not officially supported by Android until V4.2 – the SP runs V4.1.2 at present.

Miracast is a bit like a standardised version of Apple's Airplay for video. As we had a Sony Bravia TV in for review at the same time with this feature integrated we were able to try it out. It's a little bit slow to establish a connection, but it worked flawlessly once the link was set up.

Sony Xperia SP - Verdict

The Xperia SP is a very likeable mid-range phone. It's reasonably powerful for the price, has a stellar line up of features and looks pretty fly too. However, Sony needs to iron out a few quirks in its software, and the phone's battery life isn’t quite as impressive as specs would suggest.

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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?

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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