Xperia SP hands-on impressions

by XB on 15/04/2013

in Featured Content, Hands On, Xperia SP


Xperia SP_1Sony Mobile kindly invited us to get some hands-on time with its new Xperia devices recently. We had a play with the Xperia SP, Xperia L and Xperia Tablet Z. We’ll publish some follow-up posts on the latter two in due course, but we wanted to firstly share some impressions on the Xperia SP.

As a quick reminder of the specs, the Xperia SP is armed with a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and Adreno 320 graphics (MSM8960T), 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, 4.6-inch 720p display, 8MP Exmor RS camera sensor, 2300mAh battery and supports NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 and MHL.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

We went hands-on with a white version of the Xperia SP that looks very nice in the flesh. Unlike the white Xperia Z, which has a black front face, the SP has a white bezel preferred by some. The handset feels quite solid in the hand, no doubt helped by the aluminium frame that goes around the body.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

We are glad to see the return of the transparent bar in the Xperia range. Yes, it’s inclusion does mean a larger body (the handset is almost similar in size to the Xperia ZL), but we think the benefits are worth it. After all, no other phone can come close when it comes to its utilisation for notifications.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The signature power button is here (as with all 2013 Sony Xperia devices) and the screw gives away the metal build. All buttons had a solid feel with a decent amount of travel when clicking down. It’s nice to see the inclusion of a dedicated camera button on the Xperia SP.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The micro USB port thankfully carries no flaps and juts out slightly compared to the rest of the aluminium frame.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The back cover is made from plastic and can be removed to access the micro SIM and microSD memory card.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Here you’ll notice the small LED flash and noise cancellation secondary mic.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

At the bottom of the handset, there is a hard reset button which we imagine you can use if your phone locks up.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Display clarity is fine when looking head-on, however much like recent Xperia phones, contrast is reduced at other viewing angles.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

We didn’t get a chance to check out the call quality, but the ear piece looked slightly bigger than the Xperia Z from what we could tell.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The Xperia SP prototype we played with was running firmware build number 12.0.A.1.237. The handset was running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and 3.4 kernel.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The display settings has options for ‘Glove mode’ and ‘White balance’.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

At the bottom, you will find settings to manage the notification light settings for the transparent bar under ‘Light effects’.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Under the ‘Light effects’ setting option you can choose to adopt the transparent bar LED effects for music and the gallery album.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

You can also choose which notification colours you would like to use for various functions such as missed calls, unread SMS, alarm as well as incoming calls and incoming SMS.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

You can make out the light effect in the picture below when viewing a picture. It appears that the transparent bar is running three LEDs and you’ll notice the light is not uniformly even throughout the bar. This should not really an issue for most people.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The 8MP Exmor RS camera sensor is the same that is used in the Xperia L (C210X). The picture below shows the Xperia SP camera settings (top) against the Xperia L (below). As you would expect, both have the same resolution options.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

In the camera settings, the Xperia SP has ‘Superior auto’ mode, whilst the Xperia L does not. Both phones feature HDR for photos.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Strangely though, Sony decided to remove HDR for videos on the Xperia SP. This is despite the lower-priced Xperia L will have the feature intact.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Build quality was on the whole good. The back of the handset has a matte white plastic, although the lack of any texture did make it feel a little slippery in the hand. One thing we did notice in the test model was that the back cover did not sit flush with the aluminium frame. If you focus your eyes in the centre of this picture, you will be able to make out a tiny gap and the glint of a metal part of the phone from under the cover.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The same can be seen at the top of the phone, where you can see a small gap between the back cover and aluminium frame. In this case you can make out the white plastic latch used to connect to the back cover. We don’t know whether this was specific to just this handset only, but we made sure the back cover was attached as tightly as possible before taking these pictures. Until we get hands on with a retail sample, we’ll give Sony the benefit of the doubt here.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

The Xperia SP didn’t feel that much bigger than the Xperia L with its 4.3-inch display. You can see a comparison against the Xperia Z (left) and Xperia L (right) below.

Xperia SP hands-on impressions

Overall, the Xperia SP felt like a very nice phone in the hand. Performance was zippy, although it did not feel as smooth as the Xperia Z. We imagine the SP is more effected by the 1GB RAM (versus 2GB RAM for the Xperia Z), rather than processor limitations – the MSM8960T chipset should be able to handle most current phone tasks. Display clarity was fine and sharp, although it’s clear that this is an area where Sony needs to improve to achieve best in class.

We didn’t get a chance to test the imaging capabilities, we would rather test a retail device when it launches in a few weeks. However, we don’t understand why Sony decided to limit its HDR features versus the lower-priced Xperia L. We don’t expect this to be a hardware limitation so Sony may introduce HDR for videos at some point later. From the short time we had with the handset, we can say that we look forward to spending more time with the Xperia SP in due course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.versteegen.750 Frank Versteegen

    Sugest thumbing up this petition so xperia s users are to distracted to post negative comments and sign petition instead.
    https://www.change.org/petitions/sony-release-updates-much-faster-and-fix-issues

  • natolv

    I also was on Sony Mobile Latvia presentation and there also I got my hands on Xperia Tablet Z and Xperia SP. What can I say – Tablet was the best one I have held in my hands, BUT it`s software was a bit laggy(mby it is because it was a test unit(??)). And SP – a great phone, but it could have more than 1 GB ram. And for SP – they could make some cover for USB port – it ruins the design of phone :)

    I hope, that this will be useful for some readers :)

  • Minlo

    I’m still waiting for bezel-less smart phone from Sony.

  • raj

    What the point of releasing these phone when they are abounding their old devices like old toys. I think sony should just stop making phone cuase they are not doing good job.
    If my xperia s does not recieve android 5 then **** you sony im not going buying any phone from you that my warning to sony.

  • bobeobi gzigzigzeo

    I have tried to know is transparent bar works for all types of notification, such as Gmail, Gtalk etc. like in others models OR just for Missed Calls, alarms and SMS, cause only these are in options

  • Wolf0491

    They should add the ability change LED light color to all phones ;]

  • Galafix

    I have always noticed something, since I have seen a lot of hands-on videos of the SP and the L. The on-screen buttons’ background on the L comes black while the SP retains the gray like that of the Z and ZL, as you can see in the pictures of the two above. Have you guys asked Sony Mobile about this?

  • annoyed

    hey cocksucksers at SONY stop releasing random similar phones with retarded alphabet names. UPDATE your old phones! Nincompoops !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rene-Pedroso/1076467708 Rene Pedroso
  • jjghj

    I wish Sony would do an app or something for the SP that would allow you to have a different light colour for different groups or people, for example, red for family, blue for friends, green for work, so I kind of know who it is already.

  • Andrew D

    They should stick to the phones they have already and focus on the Software…Let them be the first ones to bring a higher Android Version out. like 5.1 or something like that.
    I agree there are too many devices with the name Xperia… What do they want, to finish off the Alphabet?

  • APai

    late and buggy software/ non removable batteries – fix this sony.

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.versteegen.750 Frank Versteegen

    They should hire more sony community managers to let them focus on finding out about software issues people have, and report that back to sony android team.
    This is kindy what community manager should do eitherway.
    Apearntly at sony their a problem with community managers communicating properly with sony.

  • Nermin

    I have a question. From what I’ve read, the SP will have a weight of 155 grams. To me that sounds much as my current phone (lumia 800) feels heavy with its 142 grams. My Xperia Arc, which I had before, had an weight of 117 grams. The question goes to the XperiaBlog, did you notice that the SP was heavy or not? …for me at least, it will be the dealbreaker…

  • seb

    it has a huge battery which is heavy. In the next years batterys wont get lighter. If you want a smartphone that works for more then one day you will have to carry 30g more in your pocket.

  • bobeobi gzigzigzeo

    So, there is no such things in stock?

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.versteegen.750 Frank Versteegen

    big deal smartphones not heavy anyway, whats important that it holds easy in your hand.
    Its all about performance per watt and better batery life.

  • Rüdiger

    Sony PLEASE why are you producing that many smartphones and in additon, why are you not updating them constantly with the newest android version?
    PLEASE rethink your smartphone product strategy: All it needs are 4 different Smartphone-Models: 1 Highend Consumer Smartphone, 1 Business Smartphone, 1 (smaller) Outdoor-Smartphone and 1 Mini-Smartphone.
    Each one should be at least updated through an Model-update every 9-12 month (but don’t confuse us with all these letters.. stick to a name and count up like Apple).
    If you do that and you also keep integrating other Sony products and media (Playstation, Sony Entertainment, Bravia, Eos, Walkman.. you have it all in ONE company).. THEN YOU WILL KICK APPLES AND SAMSUNGS ASSES immediately..

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashad.mamood Ashad Mamood

    It won’t be getting android 5!

  • mountain

    Funny, it took them 1 year to realise they should have put colour notification, floating touch, removable microsd, metallic body and 4.6″ screen into a single device.

  • Babylonbwoy

    Looks good!

  • lolsomany

    xperia s wont get android 5 because of it using s3 snapdragon which didnt support kernel for android 5

  • http://wishu-blog.net Wishu Kaiser

    Android 5? The Next Version will be 4.3 or maybe 4.5. Android 5 will be released in 2014 and no, the Xpera S won’t get it in 2014.

  • GI_Jimbo

    Actually, you can choose light color for any contact from within contacts app. So no need for an extra app ;-)

  • YoureaFag

    You do realize, idiot, that Sony doesn’t read this blog? So virtually your ‘threat’ just did jack-shit.

  • filzo

    V much more better :D

  • lolzer

    well, it’s not practical, especially for single-handed use. You’ll touch the side of d screen(since it’s bezel-less) before your finger is able to touch what you want.

  • Herman

    This is exactly what I explain when people point out they don’t want any bezels.

    If my Nexus 7 didn’t have a bezel on the top and the bottom, I couldn’t hold it as conveniently watching movies as I can now.
    The same goes for the Xperia S and its bottom Xperia-branded plastic piece. I always find myself holding the device with my thumb there watching a video.

  • Anodo

    I was told the camera is not as good as it should. It lacks of quality specially on the photos.

  • Joe Merol

    And also, because Android 5.0 DOES NOT EXIST.

  • http://www.facebook.com/umar.f.khan.14 Umar Farooq Khan

    8MP camera…. Sony wait a min …. Series S(Xperia S, Xperia SL) always had 12.1 MP cameras so whats this ??? downgrading ….. This is the phone i would have exchanged with my SL but I dont know if i want to cuz of the camera, My SL takes AWESOME pics and I cant risk selling that off and going for this lower resolution camera, I do know that MP is not everything but still 8mp is kind of a deal breaker.

  • Ryder

    This is mid-range smartphone, Bro. Xperia S Series was supposed to be high-end devices. So that explains everything.

  • miguelmamfm

    Why won’t you take a picture of your 8Mpx and upload it here so we can see what’s really behind your camera :x i was able to take much better pictures with my Arc S then with SP

  • sanjjub

    Dust enters into the screen from the back cover. If phone held with camera facing towards us with back cover removed then light of the screen can be seen directly from the back-cover locking notch and from there dust enters into the screen. this big hardware defect of this handset. Shame!! after paying that much price how they design handset……..? how to trust these brand……..?

  • rohit

    what else except nexus gets the latest updates?

  • Scrobbel

    Oh no! Not an extra 30g! You must be a real weakling.

  • Arvind Sharma

    Is it possible to change boby of xperia sp in sony service center my phone is white colur i want it black is it possible or not

  • abhishek

    xperia sp has got the bad body. cracks occur over the aluminium frame

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