With the exception of powerhouse players Samsung and Apple, recent years have been tough for smartphone manufacturers. Every quarter there are fresh reports that Samsung's Galaxy and Apple's iPhone have increasing control in the market, while the presence of former heavyweights, like Sony with its Xperia range, diminishes. Because of this the Japanese giant came out, guns blazing, at the start of the year, unveiling its top-end Xperia Z smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
With the Z now out, the firm has set its sights on recapturing the mid-range market, unveiling its moderately priced, £350 Xperia SP in London mere months later. Taking a page out of Nokia's book with its Lumia 720, Sony has looked to entice buyers on a budget by loading the SP with a slew of exclusive Sony technologies that were previously reserved for the company's top-end smartphones.
Design and build
While the Xperia SP doesn't have the IP57 certification its top end Z sibling does – so it's not water, dust, or even scratch resistant – we found the device is pretty well built. The Z features a polycarbonate, slightly rubberised case that's complemented with an outer aluminium lining along its sides. As well as making the phone look more expensive than it actually is, the chassis and metal rimming make the phone feel sturdy and well built. The finish gives the SP a slightly bouncy quality that left us feeling reassured it could survive an accidental drop or two.