Mid-range Android phones can be a bit hit and miss. While they offer a cost-effective entry point to the world of smartphones, some I’ve come across could actually put you off using a touchscreen for years to come.
Thankfully the Sony Xperia SP isn’t one of those, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
When you first handle the device it comes as a pleasant alternative to the many flagship phones that are presumably designed to be ultra slippy, maybe in an attempt to sell you expensive replacements when the unit hurls itself from your grasp the moment it detects concrete below. The Xperia SP has a far more industrial feel, with rugged edges (not sharp), a prominent, side-mounted power button, and general solidity that means you can wield it without a case and not spend every moment waiting for the inevitable tinkle of shattering gorilla glass.
This is impressive as the phone comes complete with a fair amount of glass thanks to the 4.6″ screen. The display is clear and bright, with the 720p resolution offering a very respectable reading experience for any blogs, news-feeds, or websites you may care to visit. Video playback is smooth and looks crisp too.
Using the screen to navigate is (for the most part) trouble free, with the touch response being alert and accurate. There are the occasional lags when moving between pages and apps, but this could be down to Android as much as the phone itself. The version running on the SP is 4.1 Jelly Bean, so it makes sense that an upgrade to the butter-enhanced 4.2 would ease some of the minor issues.
Storage is pretty standard for this price range – internal 8GB, RAM 1GB – but there is the increasingly rare sight of a micro SD card slot available on the SP. So if you want an additional 32GB to fill up with songs and videos then just pop one in and you’re good to go.
If there’s one downside to the SP then it’s, as is all too often the case on Android, the camera. While it can produce some decent results, the focus is slow, not entirely accurate at times, and the majority of images that emerged during my testing lacked any kind of sparkle. It’s usable in an emergency, but you definitely wouldn’t want to have to rely upon it for anything important. I’ve included a few shots below so you can judge for yourself.
Overall the SP is a likeable handset that’s comfortable to use, solidly built, and actually looks pretty cool. One aesthetic that I really enjoyed, which probably says more about me than the phone, is the clear plastic edge on the bottom of the unit that flashes different colours to signify messages, missed calls, emails, etc. Such a simple idea, but one that adds to the charm of the phone.
Sony’s software is a little business like for my taste, with fonts and icons looking somewhat staid, but Android’s real strength comes to the fore here and within a few minutes you can add a new launcher that transforms the UI. With this done the SP proved a highly usable, dependable, and fun unit to have in my pocket.
If you’re looking for a low to mid-range unit – and don’t take many pictures – then the SP would be an excellent candidate to add to your ‘ones to try’ list.