Sony Xperia SP review
Sony’s customisations to the operating system are fairly minimal. It has a total of seven home screens. Sony’s entertainment apps, such as its Video and Music Unlimited services, are hidden away on its outer screens, leaving more room for your own apps on the central screen. A small portion of the screen is taken up by touch-sensitive back, home and menu controls, but we still had plenty of room to use the rest of the screen, including the keyboard. We were able to type quickly and accurately, and while we initially lamented the loss of full stop and comma keys on the first screen, these can be easily added back in using the keyboard settings wizard.
Where the Xperia SP falls down the most is its 8-megapixel camera. We liked having a physical shutter button, but while our outdoor shots had plenty of detail, colours often looked quite murky, even in bright sunshine. We also noticed quite a lot of noise, and clouds in particular were riddled with a light speckling of colour, even in lighter, whiter areas. Indoor shots were better, but the noise still persisted and it didn’t cope well in low lighting conditions.
Its video recording was similarly mediocre, as there was a lot of visible noise even in our brightly lit test room. Static white backgrounds positively shimmered during playback and it only got worse when we turned the lights off.
This will be disappointing to some, but thankfully Sony goes some way to make up for this by packing the Xperia SP full of extra features. Most of them require other Sony products in order to work, but the first of these is support for Sony’s PlayStation 3 Dualshock controller, which allows you to use a PS3 controller with the phone when playing games. Its built-in NFC also pairs up with NFC-enabled Sony Bravia TVs so you can mirror your phone content on the TV screen. The MirrorLink app, on the other hand, will let the phone connect with certain in-car entertainment systems and mirror what’s on screen.
The Sony Xperia SP is a fantastic phone. It has its flaws, but they’re not quite enough to stop it from being an outstanding mid-range handset. With all the speed and power of a high-end quad-core phone, it’s also brilliant value. It wins a Best Buy award.
Buy it now from T-Mobile on a very generous 500 minute, unlimited texts and unlimited data contract, and you'll get a free handset on a £26 per month contract, with a total cost of ownership of £624 over two years. That's a saving of around £300 compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4.
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