- 4.6-inch, 1280x720 pixels screen
- 8GB Internal Memory (plus SD card slot)
- 1.7Ghz dual core CPU and Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
- 1GB Ram
- 4G-enabled (currently EE only)
- Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean
Review: Xperia SP -- Solid, Mid-Range Phone (With A Little Extra)
Sony has made good headway in recent months in establishing its Xperia line of smartphones as a distinctive, high-quality range of Android devices.
But for every stand-out flagship - like the waterproof, super-thin Xperia Z - Sony has also maintained a line of three or four mid-range devices. These typically decent but imperfect phones usually feature some, but not all of Xperia's supposed USPs - and arguably confuse the brand's message more than delight customers.
The latest entrant into this market is the Xperia SP, a 4.6-inch, dual-core Android Jelly Bean smartphone with a decent 8-megapixel camera, an HD screen and a few nice design touches - if not anything truly remarkable.
On the good side, while the phone is slightly dull in construction - losing the glass elegance of the Xperia Z for a textured rubberised back - it is also very solid and durable. The camera is an appreciable upgrade from the mid-range shooters available last time you upgraded on contract, and the specs are high for a phone which is already available for free on a contract as low as £21 a month.
The battery is also very good for the price, and the 319 pixels-per-inch screen is just as good as the Samsung Galaxy S3, last year's best-selling Android smartphone.
It also has some unique touches. Take the transparent bar at the bottom of the device, which lights up in different colours depending on what you're doing. If you're scrolling through photos, it will choose the colour that most resembles the picture you're looking at. It also alerts you to messages, charging status and calls with different colours. It's a small feature, but it makes the SP feel at least a little special, and not just a collection of parts in a plastic frame.
Less usefully, the phone also comes with Sony's suite of bespoke apps which pitch themselves as a useful blend of music and video streaming, 'Playstation Certified' games and a music app, but really come across as bloatware.
In terms of performance, the Xperia SP performs well. No it's not at the same level as the Xperia Z, HTC One or Galaxy S4 - with the specs you wouldn't expect it to be. But it's generally a speedy, adaptable device which can cope with 3D gaming, video playback and browsing without a stutter.
The overall result is a classic Sony midrange phone. On specs, construction and quality it stands alongside - even slightly above - its closest rivals, certainly in terms of price. But without the high-end touches of the Xperia Z, the overall impact is a little flat. You won't regret choosing the SP if it fits your price point and needs - but you won't learn to love it, either.
With the same ultra-clear Retina display as the iPhone 5, but now with an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/10/iphone-5s-uk-pictures-release-date_n_3898775.html?1378818683&utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">added fingerprint sensor</a>, a seriously impressive 64-bit A7 chip, an improved camera and a new gold design option, this is the best iPhone ever made. And with its consistent market-leading app selection, easy-to-use OS and delightful design, it's hard to argue against it being one of the very best gadgets ever made too.
Google LG Nexus 5
The new Nexus 5 is based on the internals of the LG G2 - which means you get the same Snapdragon 800 processor, as well as the full version of Google's new Android 4.4 KitKat OS, which integrates SMS messages into Hangouts, freshens up the design and adds new features under the hood. The camera is still a little lacking, while the design is functional rather than beautiful, but at £299 off contract it's still a steal.
Samsung Galaxy Note III
The Note III is huge. It's got a 5.7-inch screen, though with the same 1080P resolution as the Note II. It adds a new leather back panel, which gives it an 'office' feel in line with the productivity-plus-stylus theme of the device. It also adds a Snapdragon 8000 quad-core processor, some new software enhancements and a few new S-Pen functions into the mix. If you're looking for a giant note-taking phone, this is still your best bet.
The 5C was rumoured to be Apple's 'budget' iPhone. It isn't - and not only because it isn't that cheap. The "proudly plastic" 5C comes in five colours (see what they did there) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/10/iphone-5c-uk-pictures-release-date_n_3899557.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">but has the same internals, screen and camera as the iPhone 5.</a> It's essentially the same beautiful, high-end phone you already know and love, in a more colourful (and potentially divisive) design. As such it's hard to see how Apple won't sell a billion of them.
Samsung Galaxy S4
Though the S4 i<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/24/samsung-galaxy-s4-review-_n_3145186.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech" target="_blank">s in some ways an evolutionary upgrade over its wildly successful S3</a>, it's an extremely attractive, lightweight and high quality phone with a 5-inch HD screen, the fastest processor ever seen in a phone and <a href="http://gdgt.com/samsung/galaxy/s/4/" target="_blank">some interesting new features</a>, including a measure of 'eye tracking' controls and gestures that don't require you to touch the screen.
The HTC One is probably the most beautiful smartphone on the market - and is also the most intelligently designed. With twin, front-facing speakers it's the best choice for watching movies, and its 4MP 'Ultra Pixel' camera punches above its meagre pixel-count suggests.
Sony Xperia Z1
Sony's new flagship smartphone is an evolutionary development of the also-excellent Z. It keeps the same screen, the waterproof design and the nicely-tweaked version of Android, while upping the processor performance, improving the camera and smoothing out the rough (or rather sharp) edges of the Z's blocky design.
Nokia Lumia 925
<a href="http://gdgt.com/nokia/lumia/920/" target="_blank">The Nokia Lumia 925</a> has the same great design and attention to detail we've come to expect from Nokia, but with some crucial upgrades from the 920 including a thinner, all-metal design and an improved camera.
The LG G2 is an extremely high-end 5-inch, 1080p Android 4.2.2 smartphone whose major distinguishing feature is that it has three buttons on the back of the device, which are normally found on the sides. The G2 has its camera button and volume rocker on the rear, which for many people is enough to justify the purchase alone. It also has excellent battery life for this class of device.