The midrange Android market has long been a Sony stronghold, and is becoming ever more enticing with offerings like the Xperia SP. We are looking at a more than reasonably powered and competitively priced smartphone with an HD screen, whose robust performance and capable hardware make it the hidden gem in Sony's growing lineup.
While the styling is not as sharp as that of the Xperia Z flagship, the Xperia SP's more traditional shape makes it pretty attractive in its own right. And the transparent LED strip at the bottom gives it extra style points - all the while being quite usable too.
The Xperia SP shares another important similarity to Sony's flagship line in the inclusion of the Adreno 320 GPU, which offers an impressive graphics performance thanks to its lower resolution screen.
Overall, the still camera is somewhat of a disappointment but the 1080p videos partially make up for that. The battery is non-user-replaceable but the memory card slot is a welcome improvement over the Sony Xperia P, which is the Xperia SP predecessor.
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.
Google's own offering with the LG-made Nexus 4 is perhaps the closest match in both price and features. If you can stomach the rather limited (and non-expandable) internal storage, the Nexus 4 provides a near identical HD screen, twice the RAM, and a superior 8MP camera. Even better, you get quad-core Krait performance alongside all the latest updates directly from Google. Keep in mind that the Nexus 4 is only a deal worth considering if you can get it from the Google Play store in your country - otherwise, it's prohibitively expensive.
LG offers another serious competitor in the LG Optimus 4X HD. Launched last June, the phone may not be the freshest offering on the market right now, but LG has done well to give it the 4.1 Jelly Bean treatment. The Geforce GPU on the Tegra 3 chipset won't hold a candle to the Adreno 320 in the Xperia SP, but the quad-core processor and lower pricetag will.
Samsung also offers an alternative to the SP in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Premier. The Premier features a more impressive 720p AMOLED screen, but its dual-core CPU is however inferior to the Xperia SP processor. The Samsung mid-ranger does sweetens the pot with its arguably more feature-full Android Jelly Bean build, though.
Sony is doing the right thing by offering a midrange smartphone hot on the heels of their two flagships. Last year, HTC had a similar thing going on with the One X and the One S but failed to capitalize on the width they had through those two excellent devices. We're yet to see whether or not Sony will do better but if you're looking for a capable smartphone in the 300 euro range, the Xperia SP should be high on your short list.
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