The Basics:

  • 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)

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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.

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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.

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