Xperia SP review roundup

by XB on 27th June 2013

in Featured Content, Reviews, Videos, Xperia SP

Xperia SP ReviewWe are fans of Sony’s mid-ranger, the Xperia SP (C530X). The aluminium frame and hefty weight combine to make it feel like a solid handset, the customisable illumination bar has long been awaited for and, overall, nothing is missing from the feature set. Not everything is perfect though as the display is more washed out than others and the 8MP camera isn’t as good as it should be.

These two criticisms have largely been echoed across other reviews, although despite this, the handset is praised for being a great all-rounder for the price (especially considering the inclusion of LTE). We’ve rounded up some of the best reviews of the Xperia SP, check them out below.

Xperia SP review roundup

Android Authority: “If you are a spec fiend, there isn’t anything on the Xperia SP to get you excited. You’ll be better off with an Xperia Z (if you prefer Sony), Galaxy S4, or HTC One. However, if you are a budget-conscious customer that wants to get the most bang for the buck, the Sony Xperia SP is an excellent choice. It costs far less than current high-end devices, and it’s able to hold its own respectably.”

Clove: “Using the Xperia SP has been somewhat of a refreshing experience. I have not been wowed by anything but nothing has pushed me away. I feel at home with it. If I had to complain then there are some small niggles like the memory (it would be touch and go for me) and placement of the microUSB connector but these are not necessarily deal breakers. If I had to part with my hard earned money on a new phone then the SP would be at the top of my list next to the Nexus 4 whist similar Samsung models would be kicked out of contention due to their price.”

Cnet Asia: “The Xperia SP could have been a great smartphone with its solid build and great design. However, the poor display and camera performance lets the phone down. Retailing at S$598 in Singapore, the handset seems aggressively priced, especially against the HTC One SV (which has a street price of around S$500 but lower specs).”

Cnet UK: “The Xperia SP’s specs won’t trouble the flagship phones, but it has loads to offer for a more modest price tag. Its 720p screen is sharp, its dual-core processor is enjoyably swift and the crisp white design and flashing notification light will certainly find a few fans. Its camera didn’t impress in my tests and Sony’s own app stores and controller connections needs some improvement. If you’re looking for a well-performing all rounder though, and don’t want to spend upwards of 600 smackers, the SP is an excellent option to consider.”

Engadget: “The Xperia SP is by no means perfect. It’s got a grime- and glare-loving screen that misses the mark despite its HD resolution. Other problems: a penchant for bloatware and other small flaws like the terrible WiFi reception. The design may be a little bland for those who aren’t interested in the transparent element, but the build quality is solid. Also to its credit are the capable shooter, long battery life and internal hardware that delivers serious performance for the price point. Something that’s hard to get across when you’re reviewing individual facets is just how charming the handset is. You know it’s not punching in the same weight class as the HTC One and Galaxy S 4, but it comes close. So close, in fact, that if you want to consider this a mid-range device, it would be easy to conclude the Xperia SP is the best mid-range device. It’s attractive, does what you ask of it without complaint and has character, to boot. What more could you want from a pocket companion that’s easy on your bank balance?”

Gizmodo UK: “The battery life on this thing is great. I was regularly getting two day’s usage out of the Xperia SP, something I can’t really say for any other smartphone for a while. This is most likely due to the combination of a 2375mAh battery and that dual-core processor, which makes the Xperia SP pretty frugal in stand-by. For £250, then, the Xperia SP is a damn good phone. From a hardware perspective, the only thing that feels at all lacking is the screen, which leaves you feeling underwhelmed at times. From every other angle, though, it’s a well-rounded package, and the usefulness of two-day battery life really can’t be overstated.”

GSM Arena: “Long story short, we believe the Sony Xperia SP to be one of the most compelling packages in the new midrange. It looks good and behaves admirably. It should definitely keep an eye on some of last season’s quad-core smartphones, but probably not fear them too much.”

The Inquirer: “The Sony Xperia SP is a reasonable Android smartphone boasting decent performance and battery life and all the inherent perks of its Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system. However, the phone’s ability to shine is hampered by a slightly dull display, an ordinary camera, not much internal storage and less than stellar software additions.”

Know Your Mobile: “The battery life and display are fantastic, while the camera and overall performance are reasonable. The design and build quality are both great and in terms of value for money you get a lot of good stuff at an affordable price, including 4G, expandable memory, NFC and MHL – a lot of these are things the Google Nexus 4 is missing in a similar price bracket. It’s always a good sign if we’re sorry to see a review unit go when we’re done with it and that’s pretty much the case here.”

Phone Arena: “There is no such thing as a perfect smartphone, and the Sony Xperia SP won’t be the one to break that rule. However, looking at its pros and cons after testing it extensively, we can confidently conclude that it’s a mid-range smartphone worthy of attention. It is a capable multimedia device suitable for those who want the benefits associated with high-end devices – the large, high-resolution screen and fast processor, to name a few, but in a mid-range package that doesn’t cost as much as a flagship handset. Plus, you get LTE connectivity as an added bonus. But keep in mind that the Sony Xperia SP doesn’t really have that great of a camera, as much as Sony’s marketing department want to convince you otherwise.”

Pocket-Lint: “The Sony Xperia SP is a good mid-range phone. There’s power and flexibility on board and there’s the performance to back it up, aside from a few minor quirks. The design of the handset is good too with the metal frame giving the SP a nice solid feel. We’re not sold on the flashing bar however, it just seems a little too much at times, especially when you’re lying awake at night, watching it illuminate your bedroom. The camera performance isn’t great. Although there’s a lot on offer, it just doesn’t seem to all come together and give you the good shots you’d sometimes expect, with focusing being the thing that frustrated us the most. However, the Sony Xperia SP is reasonably priced and for that you get a good display and a device that will showcase the fun of Android nicely, with a battery that will get you through the day.”

The Register: “The Xperia SP suffers from some of the same failings as the Xperia Z but also benefits from many of the same strengths. The difference is that the failings are fewer, and, at the price, more forgivable. The strengths, again at the price, are more gratifying. The large screen, top-notch build quality, impressive battery life, powerful yet efficient chipset and LTE radio are all very welcome on a handset you can pick up for £300.”

Think Digit: “The 8MP camera on the Xperia SP is, just like all the Sony phones we have reviewed in the last 12 months – a disappointment. For all the claims of new innards and revolutionary technology, the fact remains simple – low light shots are pretty much useless. We had the same problem with the Xperia Z, and now with the Xperia SP. There is just too much noise in any picture taken in less than perfect lighting. On the opposite end, shots taken outdoors during the day or in good light are crisp and fairly good. The colour richness is fairly generous, and so is the overall crispness of the shot. To top it off, the camera does take a bit of time to actually be ready to take a shot, but the fairly quick shutter speeds make up for that by letting you take shots in quick succession.”

T3: “Sony’s excellent design and build quality are evident here. The Sony Xperia SP looks great, though the notification system, a Perspex bar at the base of the phone that glows with different colours for different purposes, will divide users. The camera is not Sony’s best, though the hardware shutter trigger is useful. This is a solid, effective handset that’s good value and has strong specifications. It may not be the Xperia Z but it’s certainly worth considering.”

Tech Radar: “Despite noticeable shortcomings with storage space and occasional processor speed, we really came to like the Sony Xperia SP. It’s a handset that so desperately wants to be able to sit at the grown-up table even though it’s really only a mid-level device. The excellent camera and range of connectivity that includes NFC and 4G go hand-in-hand with a great design and a screen size that will be just right for someone that doesn’t want a high-end 5-inch monster. Heavy users will likely get frustrated with the moderate battery and mediocre processor. But if you want to save a bit of money and still own a smartphone that you can show off at parties or around the office, you could do a lot worse than picking up the Sony Xperia SP.”

Trusted Reviews: “The Xperia SP is a very likeable mid-range phone. It’s reasonably powerful for the price, has a stellar line up of features and looks pretty fly too. However, Sony needs to iron out a few quirks in its software, and the phone’s battery life isn’t quite as impressive as specs would suggest.”

Unleash the Phones: “The Xperia SP is definitely the best mid-range smartphone that Sony has made to date. While one could argue that there is room for improvement with regards to its camera and display (I’d love to see Sony’s WhiteMagic LCD technology being implemented on more Xperia devices), the company has built a smartphone with a distinctive and thoughtful design, excellent build quality, great performance and battery life and a very well-designed user interface that improves upon the vanilla Android experience without detracting from Google’s design principles. In short, the Xperia SP is a mid-range smartphone that could pass off as high-end without breaking a sweat, and I’ve just loved having the biggest notification LED ever on my phone. If you are not too particular about image quality or don’t intend to use your phone camera for anything more than taking photos of your food, your pets and the odd gathering with friends, the Xperia SP is the mid-range Android phone you want.”

  • Chetan Reddy

    My sp <3 ,updates solved screen and camera is superb now

  • Riccardo

    where are you from?

  • Chetan Reddy


  • Riccardo

    When updates?!? what’s name?

  • Chetan Reddy

    Updates Nt yet available in india bt in other regions
    build number 12.0.a.1.284 is the latest one.

  • a1

    Didnt bought SP coz of touch screen issues. Was a Sony fan since 2006. But didnt wanted to risk any more money. Bought S3. Trusted Device which wil last longer. All brand loyalty is utter crap. Buy what is best and last long

  • Riccardo

    Ok..i’ve 12.0.a.1.257 because my phone is LTE, not only hspa+…But,,my camera not superbe :/

  • Chetan Reddy

    .284 improves camera., .257 improves screen
    see xda’s sp forums. .284 avilable nly for hspa+ ones

  • Riccardo

    why!!!! why!!! only hspa+ :(

  • Chetan Reddy

    Lol :-P ask sony..but they will do it soon :-D

  • Chetan Reddy

    Plastic doesnt last long…i ll bet u would get a problem with s3 a year later

  • jangaleon

    this will probably replace my xperia p.

  • Cristi13

    You know that sony xperis sp is also made of plastic right? Oh the guy only stated his opinion (and i agree with brand loyalty, that is good for the company, not consumer) and you immediatly jumped at him when you saw that it mentioned a samsung product. Like you can predict the future.

  • toto

    very good processor – but everything else is crap and back cover doesn’t fit (why is it there when battery is embeded and they could make it water resistant). and it’s overpriced – non-google-store Nexus 4 is cheaper, last year flagships too (offer more for smaller price)

  • Cristi13

    Sony, a company that produces cameras, sensors etc. For the past 2 years all their phonea had (and have) inferior cameras than their competition. Seriously, what’s wrong?

  • Cristi13

    Better prepare, sony fanboys will be here any second because you said something bad(and true) about sp. Good for you that you didn’t mention samsung.

  • Chetan Reddy

    I dnt knw that sp is of plastic,cos I never felt it,al frame makes me feel so .and yeah I knw future ,samsung phones do get into problems after 12 mnths,.my dad had one,my friend’s mobile too.
    and I told him my opinion!!! Why did u jump at me then? jump

  • Chetan Reddy

    Software :-P

  • Chetan Reddy

    This is a sony blog surprise we support sony :-/

  • Cristi13

    Is too much to ask people to be rational and not to start flame wars?

  • Cristi13

    Is too much to ask people to be rational and not to start flame wars?

  • Chetan Reddy

    Back cover is for sim and mem card and hard reset button buddy,,, I think they cant make aluminium frame look worse with al the holes..sp is cheaper here in india ,350-400 usd

  • Chetan Reddy

    :-) enough .!

  • Cristi13

    I have a samsung phone that lasted me almost 3 years and is still working phone, just because some people had problems, doesn’t mean all phones will have problems.

  • ray

    It is almost perfect, but the display is worse than an XS with very low contrast

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    I dont had any issue with sony sensor. Unless user had no idea to manuplate all the setting sony provide to capture a better image. The only problem i had when capturing in superior mode. Sometimes it just going insane with the auto scene selection. But in normal mode it was a xcellent and more to real camera in action.

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    Come on… Samsung as trusted device? Google it up ” galaxy s3 problem” you will find lots of bad things and problem about it more then xperia s had. Not being to anti samsung here, but when you mentioning ” as a trusted device ” its sound fishy. Want long and lasting device go get yourself 3310. One of the LONG N LASTING DEVICE EVER MADES.

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    Only the back cover of xperia sp mades of plastic. Not entirely wraps with plastic.

  • ret

    ever heard about constructive critisism? you don’t support Sony – you are just fanboy, prising everything with Sony name on it – and you are hurting Sony because instead of improving their products they wil sell inferior ones. good companies listen to consumers. also if you blindly recommend somebody some product as best ever and it does turn out to be dissapointment – you hurt Sony because that person will never consider it again

  • guest

    how big are the sim and mem cards? how big is the cover? why this cover look so tacky? if they embed battery there’s no need for cover and they could’ve made it waterproof

  • zddr

    Also check sales reports and you will find lots of S3s :) If you sell millions of phones there must be some problematic units – and because you sell more the number of problematic ones also increses (but percentage of problematic units may be very small overall) I just don’t want device that suddenly go black out of reason and dies ;)

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    The sales figure dont prove it quality but prove its popularity. But on the other hands sony prove it quality but leaked of popularity due to less marketing campaign. but the popularity s3 had not continued to s4 and there is a report galaxy s4 not reaching their sales target goal ( phonearena ). Better sudden death ( can claim for new replacement ) rather then suddenly xplode ( can claim for new device + medical treatment )

  • ray

    i m using .284 as it improves camera but noise is fairly very high :(
    screen black level improves a bit

  • zddr

    You didn’t understand – there are more complains because there are much more S3s on the market

  • sony

    SONY is the best…i have an xperia p the camera Quality is better than samsung plastic s2…and here dont say anything about samsung.just say about SONY’S PHONE.and i wait for honami.



    My xperia SP disconnects from wifi many times! Does anyone else face this problem too ? Pls respond so i know if i should send it to the store i bought or if its a software problem


  • Mohammed Khired

    it’s not official…

    and this blog not for support sony…

    you wanna support them go to the official sony forums

    here xperia owners release the stress that sony cause it to us every now and then…

  • Mohammed Khired

    sgs2 camera’s quality is better…

    i tried both…

    not becuz it’s sony it’s better

  • Mohammed Khired

    12 months…really ?

    i bought XS…… i had problems from the second day..
    year later these problems still exist until now..

    i wonder why sam customers always happy and don’t have silly problems like our problems..

    saying it’s plastic proofs me how sheep and stupid u r…

    cuz u can’t relate single problem to sam products…

  • Mohammed Khired

    You don’t say !

    and S3 have plastic every where!

  • Mohammed Khired

    yes , it’s trusted device…as a xperia s owner i approve this fact

  • sony

    Realy Realy Realy? U know sony made camera of samsung phone…
    Best camera maker is sony …Apple use sony camera !!

  • cam

    the best of Sony cameras – in competitors’ phones… why Sony can sell great sensors to other companies but can’t put decent camera into their own phones…

  • Cristi13

    You didn’t get the idea (see the comment below). Also just because samsung is popular means their phones are not good. If it was true, only imagine the scandal that it would be (something that clearly didn’t happen). For example, the speaker of my xperia s broke 3 months after I bought the phone, does that mean that sony makes bad products, no, there will always be faulty devices somewhere, as long as it doesn’t represent more thant 30% from all the phones is still good. But trust me if i knew how things turned out to be after this year with my xps i would have reconsidered my purchase (and it isn’t the first time sony srcrewed up, search for petition xperia x10). So in conclusion when you buy phones, look at more options, because brand loyalty will benefit only the company not the consumer.

  • Official Sony forums are full of complains. 90% of the people there don’t know what root is.

  • We just need more developers for this device.

  • Afzal Zainal Rddz

    I dont have any issue using xperia s interm of the hardware ( after display replacement ) but mostly on the software side which is can be fix on each update. Based on galaxy line up honestly i dont impress with the quality. But suprisely the sales increase due to marketing stratergy and legal fregemantent between rival. But look at the current sales for new galaxy s4. People starting to realise samsung just a master of gimmick and add on things/fetures that already being introduce but when it comes to quality it wont stay the level user expectection. Proven more the samsung facing down on their share market as being reported in other site.does that rings the bell? Xperia s salling number also dont come with a small margin scale.

  • Cristi13

    Samsung phones are good when it comes to built quality, their problem is that samsung is using that glossy plastic which is not appealing( they should use a mate one). Now about sales,it is not only the s4, all flaghips this year, for some reason become stagnant in terms of sales (even s4, htc one, xpz, lg optimus g pro etc). Why is that, because people are pleased with what they bought last year and we’ve come to a point in that companies can’t really upgrade too much. Also i’ve seen articles sustaining this theory, analyst predicted thatthe mid-range market will become more important. But still samsung has such a big difference in mmarketshar,and trust me they will not fall just because the s4 will sell a litle less than expected ( then again, there were prediction, nothing is official).

  • luiram

    Help, where can someone in the usa get the red version

  • Abhishek Chakraborty

    I am from Hyderabad,India but have the build as 211 and no updates are shown.. How you all got the future releases. Let me know.

  • xad

    *upvoted* Sony seem to rely far too heavily on what Android provide when it
    comes to the camera software doing minimal testing and improving and focussing instead on the cosmetics of the app. I had the Xperia S and now the Xperia SP and both have camera issues. The S improved over time (still struggles with focus at times).

    The worst part is iPhone’s (at least version 4s, not sure about 5) used Sony’s Exmor sensors and yet the iPhones photos were always superior to the Sony’s who were the ones who made the sensors! How that even makes sense i’m not even sure. Not an iPhone fan myself, but definitely jealous of their photo quality even on their older phones. Sony need to stop neglecting camera quality if they are serious about challenging the likes of Samsung.

  • Riccardo

    You recived new firmware? 12.0.A.2.220?

  • Chetan Reddy

    by flashing .284 ftf file

  • Chetan Reddy


  • Chetan Reddy

    but some one got it ……he updated it…but surprisingly it was .284

  • nameofthewind

    Xperia SP have weak wifi receiver so if you’re far away from the wifi router it does have a tendency to lose the connection

  • avenger

    Wifi problem was also present in xperia arc. It drives me crazy and the phone lags like hell after the 4.0 update. I used to like Sony phones but after arc, I think people should think twice before buying sony phones. Also, if the problem in this phone is as bad as the one in the arc and the owners of this phone will have a very very bad time.

  • gunboat_d

    The SP and ZL both have $50 off deals at New Egg through today only. 350 for the SP and 499 for the ZL. Dunno how long it’s been on, but it ends today.

  • Dharmesh Mistry

    When will the UK get the updates. I have a sim-free Xperia SP, that I adore more than my previous HTC One. I sold the HTC One because of poor build quality & excessive heat build-up issues. Now I am loving my Xperia SP, but am stuck with firmware 12.0.A.1.257, mine is the LTE UK version

  • Dharmesh Mistry

    I have the UK sim-free version with the same software as you, 12.0.A.1.257. The camera is shocking for a 8mp camera phone, even my HTC Desire S 5mp camera is better than this. Sony owe us a refund for giving us no software updates as promised and crap camera’s

  • Riccardo

    i have the 12.0.a.2.245 and the camera is improved and wifi is better!

  • Anshul Kakwani

    wt abt camera now after 245 update?

  • prayask

    m still having some camera issues ..the pics are not focused after the recent update ..

  • lucasarg

    i want it! NOW! :( (but i haven’t got money :c) lol

  • 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.

  • Khasha

    The worst smart phone I have ever had.
    After 2 month the screen was full of dust and dirt and I found a hair under the touch screen after 6 month!
    The back is like a piece of paper, very low quality device.
    Highly NOT recommended!!!

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