Sony has managed to fill every conceivable price segment with a different variant of its Xperia handset, which is good if you’re a Sony fan and have a specific budget in mind. However, after the launch of the Z and the ZL, the price of the Xperia Ion (last year’s flagship) has suddenly plummeted to under Rs 25,000, thereby leaving a massive gap between Sony's mid-range offering and the cheapest high-end smartphone. The newly launched Xperia SP is the first of many to fill this void. Priced at Rs 27,500, the SP looks nothing like the Xperia S, as one might imagine given the naming scheme. Instead, it shares the same design aesthetics as the Xperia ZL, but with slightly scaled down specifications to match the price. Let’s have a quick specifications tour of the SP and see how it fits in with the competition.
OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
The Xperia SP will ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and you can expect the familiar Sony skin as well. The UI won’t be that different as compared to what we’ve seen on the Z and ZL, and we’ll be getting the exclusive apps like Sony Music and Sony LIV bundled along too. In terms of software, there’s nothing that we haven’t already seen.
Cellular – 4G ready, but probably not for India
The SP is a quad-band GSM and 3G phone along with LTE support. However, it remains to be seen if Sony will keep the LTE radio chip or launch it without one. Looking at the recent launches, the LG Optimus G is one of the few phones with LTE capabilities in India.
Shares the same design aesthetics as the Xperia ZL
Display – 4.6-inch 720p display
The display on the Xperia SP is a 720p TFT panel with a very decent pixel density of 319 ppi. Sony has also gone with Corning’s Gorilla Glass for added protection. Overall, the display should be sharp, but we’re not sure about how good the viewing angles and colour reproduction will be.
Form factor – Sony ditches plastic for aluminium
Sony has ditched the plastic shell of previous Xperias and has gone with a full aluminium chassis. This gives the handset added durability and the light texturing on the body should make it easier to grip. The smaller screen size and thinner bezel also mean it should be easier to manage in your hand as well.
Wi-Fi – The whole package
Apart from supporting Wi-Fi draft ‘n’, there’s dual-band Wi-Fi support, Wi-Fi direct and hotspot functionality. Sony has also baked DLNA into the phone, which means you can share music, videos or photos directly from the gallery without having to open up a specific app.
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
The Xperia SP is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8960T or S4 Pro SoC. This is quite a potent chip and is a big upgrade compared to the chipsets in the previous Xperia line. The SoC consists of two Krait CPUs fabricated using the 28nm process along with an Adreno 320 GPU.
Internal storage – 8GB
The SP packs in a respectable 8GB of onboard storage along with the option to expand it up to 32GB via a microSD card.
Sony Xperia SP
Cameras – 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and VGA front-facing camera
The 8MP shooter packs in most of the modes and features you’ll find in other Sony devices, leaving out a few, like HDR video. You get an LED flash to back up when the lighting gets dim. Sadly, the front camera is just VGA, which is low given the fact that most front cameras these days are at least 1.3MP.
GPS is present along with a GLONASS chip for quicker and more accurate triangulation.
Like all newer phones, NFC is present as well.
Battery – A 2370 mAh battery
This is quite a sizeable battery for a 4.6-inch phone and coupled with the efficient CPU, we are looking at some very decent battery life. We’ve already seen Sony’s STAMINA mode in action and this could really boost the battery life even more.
The bottom line
The Xperia SP seems like one of the many handsets that Sony will be launching to fill the Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 price gap. The SP is shaping up to be a very good handset for the price; however, it does have to contend with previous flagships – for instance, the Samsung Galaxy S III – that have moved down the price ladder. With the OS on the same playing field, the S III does beat the SP in terms of raw specifications and power, so it will have to fight to stay relevant, unless Sony drops the price quickly.