6 Jul 2013

- Written by Guo Qiang -

When I first got the notification email for the Xperia Test Drive, it came as an unexpected surprise package. I didn’t really expect Sony Mobile, and the social marketing company in charge of the Xperia Test Drive program, Omnifluence, to have such a prompt and efficient response to my application.

Thus, I was given the opportunity to test out the Xperia SP, as I am currently a proud owner of an Xperia Z device for 3 months. So here we go…
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Xperia SP came in a simplistic yet functional packaging, with signature white box with black internals. Sony’s iconic logo is found on the top left portion of the phone box, as per design with other Sony phone models.

Xperia SP has a good size of 4.6”, 720p display screen of TFT panel. It’s no match to premium panels by Sony’s very own Xperia Z, which is the flagship device. But it’s rather passable as a mid-range feature, known to be found in its predecessor, Sony Xperia P.

Colours on the screen appears to be more washed out, and does not fit the status of a mid-range smartphone, which is disappointing where its other features shine.

It’s a plus to see the “invisible light strip” that first debuted on Xperia NXT series, prominently Xperia U for the “Changing Colours” back on Xperia SP. This will bring back the refreshing design that is once unique to Sony Mobile’s 2012 Xperia handsets.

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One good perk of the light strip, other than providing the usual LED notifications, is the versatility of the use of the light strip. When in gallery, the light strip will change to the dominant colour of the photo, with the phone auto checks for the colour. In the examples, the strip shows cyan colour, when the photo appears to be more for that particular colour. Likewise, it was done for the next picture.

The customization of the light strip can be found in the following page;

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It’s pretty nifty feature included by Sony Mobile, to cater to different usage scenarios of the LED light strip. For example, if an unread SMS is in, a certain colour, i.e. Cyan, can be assigned to that particular notification light. Compared to other Xperia devices, it is much more comprehensive and also, clearer as a particular phone feature.

In terms of battery life, it is the norm of typical Android based smartphones nowadays. Expect a shorter battery life when it comes to gaming, as the Adreno 320 GPU packs a fairly powerful punch, with same graphical processing power as its quad-core based cousins, Xperia Z, ZL and ZR.

As for the phone material, although it has a removable rubberised plastic cover, in order to access the SIM card and memory card slot, the phone frame seemed to be holding up well. It has a premium metallic feel to it, which suggests it might be the nature of aluminium frame after all. It possesses a solid touch with anti-slip feature of the rubberized back, which meets the same quality portrayed by HTC One.

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What is interesting is the Glove mode which is unique to Xperia SP for now. It allows the touchscreen to work, even with gloves on. Tried the screen with a towel-wrapped finger, and it works like a charm. Therefore, it is a subtle feature that skiers will like, especially in cold weather where gloves are a necessity.

Camera Performance

The camera of Sony Xperia SP is an 8MP unit with Exmor RS technology for its sensor, so in theory, it should perform much better in low-light and bad lighting conditions, compared to its predecessor, Xperia P.

In good light, the images are quite pleasing, with levels similar to what 8MP based smartphones recently can achieve. However, there is visible loss of details when the images are zoomed in, for a closer view. A good test of simulated low-light conditions resulted in the camera having significant lags when in use, which suggests that the grade for the camera lens and sensor used might be of middle range. Having used to the likes produced by Xperia Z, this is a good point to note, when it comes to mid-range smartphones, which you trade off performance for a lower price tag.

Also, the camera comes with the same package of different scene modes, for users to select and use while taking photos of different conditions. This does not contain Gourmet mode for Xperia SP, which may not appeal to food lovers like me. What a bummer!

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As you can see from the comparison, Xperia SP lacks HDR video mode, which is only available on Xperia Z, ZL and ZR models. Nevertheless, the videos still look pretty decent.

Conclusion

If Xperia Z is the Nissan GT-R model of the Sony lineup, then Xperia SP is the Nissan 370Z. You get lesser speed and performance, but for a more stylish outlook and most important of all, lesser price tag.
Xperia SP does share much similarities with the other phones in the lineup, and with HDR capabilities, it does shine in the camera department well. However, the muted screen colours does have its point amongst the shine from other pluses.




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This review is written by one of my friends, Chin Guo Qiang, who enjoys playing with gadgets as much as I do. He got his hands on a test drive set of Xperia SP. Posted with permission from him. Guo Qiang may be reached either at his Facebook or Instagram.

1 comments:

Nexus Droid said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)