The latest bunch of smartphone flagships are out, and opinion remains divided as to which phone is the best of the best. While others argue about which phone is at the top of the heap, many people are content with trying to find the mid-range superstar—that smartphone that offers practically everything that flagships do, yet won’t cost an arm and a leg to actually buy. That said, one of the most promising midrange phones launched recently is the Sony Xperia SP.
The Spec Sheet:
The Xperia SP comes with 4.6 inches of diagonal screen real estate, an 8MP rear camera, and 8GB internal storage. The phone runs Android version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and is powered by a dual-core Krait processor clocked at 1.7 GHz, backed by 1GB RAM and an Adreno 320 graphics unit. You get the standard connectivity options, from quad-band GSM to HSDPA of speeds up to 42Mbps. There’s even NFC thrown in. The battery has a good capacity of 2370 mAh.
For all intents and purposes, the Xperia SP really is a good deal at this price point. You get a big screen, some beefy hardware, and Jelly Bean out of the box.
Sony has perhaps some of the best smartphone designs, and the Japanese company didn’t fall short when they made the Xperia SP. It looks every bit the little brother of the Xperia Z and Xperia ZL, so if you loved the look of Sony’s current flagships, then the SP won’t disappoint you one bit.
The back is plastic with a matte finish, and the front is surrounded by an aluminum frame. Then there’s a transparent LED strip for notifications, and it’s a nice add-on that’s a staple of the Sony NXT line. Build quality is great, and the back offers great grip. If you think Samsung’s offerings are a bit “too plastic” for your tastes, do check out Sony handsets.
The SP does suffer a bit in terms of weight, but the metal frame has a very solid feel to it, and it’s only 22 grams heavier than a Galaxy S III anyway. Still, given its dimensions, it may not be the most pocketable smartphone on the market.
The combination of the 1.7 GHz Krait CPU and the Adreno 320 GPU allows the Xperia SP to have solid performance on practically any front. The Sony-tweaked OS runs smoothly, and navigating through the phone isn’t clunky at all. It’s still not quite as buttery as stock Jelly Bean, but it’s fast enough as it is. You can run practically any app the Play Store has to offer at this point, from the barest note app to your virtual PBX (more info) app to the more demanding HD games.
As for the benchmarks, you’ll find that the SP compares well to the quad-cores of last year. It actually does better than the Galaxy S III in some respects and is just behind the One X in certain aspects. The 720p display allows the SP to be speedier as far as the graphics benchmarks go, and it also puts less strain on the GPU when it comes to mobile gaming.
Camera performance is a little underwhelming for an 8MP snapper. Contrast and colors aren’t as great and accurate as, say, the S III’s camera, and the level of detail is disappointing for a Sony camera. However, they still produce stills of passable quality and there are settings one can play around with to obtain better results. The 1080p 30fps video capability offers better performance compared to the stills, though.
What might kill the SP at this point are the flagships from previous years being sold at much-lower prices. Prospective buyers might want to shell out the minimal difference in cash and still get great hardware. There’s really very little keeping a consumer from getting a Nexus 4 or a Galaxy S III if one has the extra cash to spare.
Still, the Sony Xperia SP is an incredibly solid, nice-looking, and capable alternative at the upper-midrange segment. For Sony fanboys with a budget not suited for getting the Xperia Z or ZL, this is the next best thing to have, and it’s not a bad option at all. People looking for a budget-friendly smartphone with a big screen, capable camera, and great (if unimpressive) performance, the Xperia SP should definitely be a consideration.