TODO alt text

Sony Xperia SP review

A mid-range marvel with a massively impressive spec list

Our Verdict

The excellent camera and range of connectivity that includes NFC and 4G go hand-in-hand with a great design and a screen size that will be just right for someone that doesn't want a high-end 5-inch monster.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 1 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 12.1 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 7.50 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 720

View full specification

For

  • Attractive aluminium design
  • Full-featured camera
  • Media apps are a highlight
  • Impressive HD screen

Against

  • Average processor
  • Low storage space
  • Battery drains quickly
  • Redundant Sony online services

Sony Xperia SP review

Maps

The Sony Xperia SP arrives with Google Maps all ready to go - and this is pretty much the only navigation app you're going to need. It's pretty much the de facto maps app for both Android and iOS smartphones alike, and there are plenty of features to take advantage of.

Turn-by-turn navigation is built in and you can select whether you're driving, walking or taking public transport. As usual, you're given the option to view the map as a satellite image and you can select favourite places as well as see recommendations for pubs and restaurants nearby.

The Sony Xperia SP found its location very quickly when we went out for a stroll, and the general performance of the app was up to scratch when we wanted to zoom in or out.

It slowed down slightly if we had other processes - such as music playback - running at the same time, but ultimately coped as well as any other smartphone at this price point.

Apps

Sony Xperia SP review

We're fairly certain you'll bypass the Sony Select app gateway and head straight for Google's own burgeoning app store.

Sony Select is a rather sorry affair, although it does factor in Facebook suggestions. Divided into apps, music and games, the interface doesn't look as polished as Google Play, and the selection of apps in itself is pretty minimal.

Google Play's simple interface is very easy to use and is separated into apps, games, movies, music, books and magazines.

Any app you download will automatically be installed and a shortcut generated on some available space on the home screen.

Widgets are also available to select from the Google Play store and will end up in your app drawer for selection later.

Sony Xperia SP review

While Sony is usually one of the worst manufacturers for including pre-loaded bloatware apps on its phones, the Sony Xperia SP is noticeably free of them. That might be because of the limited 8GB storage, but whatever the reason, it's a blessing.

All you really get in terms of Sony home grown talent is Wisepilot for Sony Xperia - a navigation tool made rather obsolete by Google Maps - and the option to download PlayStation for Xperia.

This gives you access to a Sony-exclusive PlayStation Store for smartphone games. Unfortunately, better games can be found on Google Play and there doesn't appear to be any sign of PlayStation's vast gaming history. Why no Crash Bandicoot or Tomb Raider?

By far the most interesting app available is the Socialife app, which replaces TimeScape as Sony's own social network aggregator. Once you've selected your region and added your account details you can get Twitter and Facebook updates in one place. There's also the option to channel other nuggets of information, such as news headlines and sports scores, into the feed.

Sony Xperia SP review

The best part of the app is easily the excellent widget that makes flipping through the most recent updates particularly easy. It's great to be able to do this directly from the home screen - but be mindful that the continued connection will drain the battery even quicker.

There's a built-in feature called Smart Sorting that learns your interests by what you click on and changes your news feed subtly to favour your choices.

This is a long shot from HTC's Blinkfeed, but if you can't be bothered to swap regularly between apps to check the latest goings on, then you might find this particularly useful.

Again, the biggest barrier to apps on the Sony Xperia SP is the limited storage options. Large games such as GTA III or The Dark Knight Rises can easily swallow a gigabyte of storage space, and unfortunately the Sony Xperia SP just doesn't have that much to offer.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory1 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia S
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time7.50 Hour
Screen Size10.9 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution1280 x 720
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)144 g
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density342 ppi
Height128 mm
Width64 mm
Depth10.6 mm
Radio TunerYes
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXPERIA S Smartphone
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon
Product LineXperia S
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeGyro Sensor, Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number1257-2734
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Experience watch. Experience capture. Experience play. In full HD, all with the Xperia S smartphone.

Snap, share and view life's greatest hits on the crisp, clear 4.3 HD touchscreen. Escape into blockbuster movies, hit music and PlayStation games. It's all a few clicks away with the Sony Entertainment Network on your Xperia S smartphone. But don't keep all the fun to yourself - share it on your TV, straight from your HD mobile. Sony Entertainment Network with Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited are not available in every market.