The Sony Xperia SP comes in the same slim box as the Xperia Z/ZL pair of flagships. Inside you will find an A/C adapter, a USB cable and a pair of headphones. The USB cable is to be used with the dedicated charger as it has no cable of its own.
There's no microSD card supplied either, but given that even high-end smartphones omit that, it would be unfair to expect the Xperia SP to have one. However, the relatively limited internal storage (only 5.8GB are user-available) you'd probably need to get one sooner rather than later.
At 130.6 x 67.1 x 10 mm, the Sony Xperia SP isn't really in the running for the most compact of 4.6" smartphones. It only has a marginally smaller footprint than an LG Optimus 4X HD (which has a 4.7" screen and hardware keys), and it's also 1.1mm thicker than the former LG flagship.
The Sony Xperia SP is also quite heavy at 155g and, while we certainly appreciate the solid feel (the metal frame does add to the total weight), we have to admit that it's not the most comfortable smartphone to carry around. It's just not a device you slip in your pocket and forget about.
Quick to make up for the less than perfect portability, the Sony Xperia SP scores big in the looks department, featuring a pleasant matte plastic on the back and a co-molded aluminum frame running all around the body. The relatively thick profile does take away some of the high-end feel, but the overall design is still quite impressive.
The plastic on the back not only looks cool, but also feels sturdy and grippy enough, while the front is mostly a replica of what you get with the high-flying Sony Xperia Z. However, the most characteristic design element of the Sony Xperia SP is certainly the transparent strip at its base.
Beginning with their NXT line of devices last year, Sony introduced a new take on the notification LED in the form of an illuminated strip dubbed Ambience light. While it's not something particularly groundbreaking, it does help the Sony lineup stand out in the smartphone crowd.
The Ambience light illuminates to match your currently selected theme, or the dominant color of the image you are currently looking at in the gallery. It also works in the Walkman music player, lighting up along with the beat of the currently playing track. Of course, you have the option to disable it, if you find it too flashy for you taste.
The Sony Xperia SP brings a cool upgrade to the transparent strip, allowing it to act as a visual caller ID, by flashing in a specific color, depending on who is calling you. Since it's also visible from the back you will easily be able to tell who is on the other end of an incoming call even when the Xperia SP is lying face down on a table.
It may add a few millimeters to the footprint (and perhaps to the thickness), but we'd definitely say the Ambience light strip is worth it.