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Sony Xperia SP review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £239
inc VAT

This fast, powerful phone is the perfect mid-range handset


Android 4.3, 4.6in 1,280×720 display

Sony’s Xperia SP is now a year old, but is it still worth picking up a new handset for the full asking price? We revisit this great handset to see if it’s been overtaken by its newer rivals.

Although it’s technically a mid-range phone, the Sony Xperia SP gives the high-end Android handsets a run for the money. For starters, it looks absolutely stunning.

Some might see its plastic back as a step down from rear glass panel used on the high-end Sony Xperia Z, but its smooth contours make it much more comfortable to hold, its aluminium frame looks and feels great. It gives the phone a much more pleasing sense of weight and durability – we’re big fans.

Sony Xperia SP

The clear, illuminated antenna at the bottom of the phone also helps give it a bit of character to distinguish it from other mid-range handsets. This can flash different colours to indicate when you’ve got a missed call or incoming text, and each option is fully customisable. It can also add a little more flavour to your media by flashing to the beat of your music or matching the dominant colour of your photos. You can turn all this off if you’d prefer, but we didn’t find it particularly distracting.

The Xperia SP’s hardware performance is right up there with the very best smartphones currently available. It only has a dual-core Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM, but its high clock speed of 1.7GHz made a huge difference in our SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks. Using Chrome, it completed the test in 1,063ms, and it was even quicker using the Dolphin browser, scoring a super fast 954ms. This is very impressive for a dual-core chip, beating many quad-core phones in this browser test.

Sony Xperia SP

Its 3D performance was similarly outstanding. It produced a silky smooth average of 54fps in 3DMark’s Ice Storm test, scoring 10,074 overall. This is just behind the much vaunted Samsung Galaxy S4, but in practical terms you shouldn’t notice any difference. It just about coped with the even more demanding Ice Storm Extreme test as well, scoring 5,689 (or 22fps) overall.

Most tasks won’t need to utilise this extra power, but it made everyday tasks feel that much snappier. It rendered the BBC News home page in just two seconds and we didn’t encounter any stuttering or jerky movements while scrolling through web pages. Its 1,280×720 resolution meant we still had to zoom in to make text a bit more legible in desktop sites, but its responsive touchscreen was a joy to use.

Sony Xperia SP

The display itself is very bright, but there were some noticeable imperfections when it came to overall image quality. Sony claims it uses similar technology to its Bravia TVs, but while colours were very sharp and vibrant, blacks were still quite grey. This was particularly noticeable when we placed it side by side with an AMOLED display, but even other LCD screens produced deeper blacks. This is a shame, but it’s certainly no worse than the Xperia Z.

Thankfully, its screen didn’t take its toll on the Xperia SP’s battery life. This is largely thanks to the large 2,370mAh battery, which meant the phone lasted 10 hours and 13 minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This is great for a modern smartphone and is on par with Sony’s Xperia Z1.

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AwardBest Buy


Main display size4.6in
Native resolution1,280×720
CCD effective megapixels8-megapixel
Internal memory8096MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/2100, LTE 800/850/900/1800/2100/2600


Operating systemAndroid 4.3
Microsoft Office compatibilitynone
FM Radioyes
Accessoriesheadphones, data cable, charger
Talk time19 hours
Standby time31 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£239
Price on contract0
Prepay price£200
SIM-free supplier

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