JAPANESE PHONE MAKER Sony unveiled the Xperia SP smartphone earlier this week, along with the cheaper Sony Xperia L handset. Both phones should appeal to those that don't fancy coughing up big bucks for Sony's flagship Xperia Z smartphone, and they offer some of that handset's standout features.
We got our mitts on the Sony Xperia SP handset, which looks nothing like its older, more expensive brother.
The handset's fully plastic casing feels much cheaper than that of the Xperia Z, but that's okay, considering that it's much cheaper. The XP isn't a bad looking device. We got the white model, which has a minimalistic, stylish feel to it, aided by the illuminating bar at the bottom of the phone that lights up to match what's showing on the screen.
The Sony Xperia SP features a decent 4.6in HD 720p Bravia display. While this doesn't match the HD 1080p touchscreen found on the Xperia Z, it proved impressive during our hands-on time, displaying vivid images and crystal-clear text. Our only slight gripe is that colours can look a little washed out, compared to the Clearblack displays on Nokia's Windows Phone devices.
This screen is backed up by a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.7GHz processor, and we noticed no lag whatsoever while using the handset. However, we have yet to put the Sony Xperia SP through its paces, but we'll be sure to do so in our full review.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the Sony Xperia SP's mobile operating system of choice, and while it's not Google's most up to date Android 4.2 version, it furnishes the phone with most of the latest features.
However, Sony has marred this somewhat by loading the Xperia SP with its custom user interface. As we pointed out in our Sony Xperia Z review, this custom skin is not nearly as obtrusive as previous iterations, but it still loads up the handset with a bunch of apps that most users will probably never give a second look at.
For example, fire up the handset and you're greeted with Sony's Walkman and Video apps, which during previous tests have proven to be no better than the stock Android alternatives.
The Sony Xperia SP, despite being a mid-range handset, sports an 8MP camera on its rear complete with autofocus, LED flash, HDR mode and the ability to shoot HD 1080p video. We had a quick play with the camera, and although we were in a dark venue, it managed to perform well. We did find that the flash made pictures slighty overexposed and noisy, so we'll be sure to test this further in our full review.
There's also a 0.3MP front-facing camera for video calling, although we have yet to put this through its paces.
On first impressions the Sony Xperia SP is a decent, well configured mid-range smartphone. However, it has some fierce competition in the mobile market from Nokia and Samsung, and we're not fully convinced that Sony has done enough here to win over budget conscious smartphone buyers.
Check back soon for our full Sony Xperia SP review. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ