* Prices may differ from that shown
My Xperia Mini Pro was 2 years old and was quite outdated software wise, so it was time for a change. I like to be different too, so a Samsung and iPhone are too obvious.
I have only ever owned Sony phones, as they always seem to be well made and a bit different to Samsungs and other similar phones. So again I deliberated between the Xperia M (plastic bodied) and the Xperia SP (Aluminium). I could have either for the same contract price so opted for the SP.
The Xperia SP is a 4.6" Aluminium bodied smart phone, released in 2013, one level down from the 'Z'. It was available in Black, White or Red, and looks great in all colours. I chose a black option and I still like it. It has a lovely 5" screen, which is great for watching tv and movies on the go, and is brilliant for internet use and you can get away with full sites rather than mobile sites. It weighs 155g so feels solid in your hand. The SP has 8GB internal memory and is capable of taking a 32GB Micro SD card.
Sony's android 'skin' is clean modern and looks (in my opinion) better then other manufacturers skins.
It is a very good looking phone and looks expensive. The LED light strip at the base of the phone to indicate activity is really smart and can be set to use different colours for different alerts. Fore example a Facebook alert is Blue, Message is Green, Missed Call is Red, and so on. These can be customised to suit your taste. When you are viewing images, the colour bar also glows in the same tone as the predominant colour of the photograph. The camera is an 8mp affair and in decent light conditions, produces a decent quality image. Its not an SLR, but perfectly decent for snaps for social media or if you dont have a regular camera to hand.
The screen quality is very good, displaying in Sony Bravia quality in 720 x 1280px. The colours are sharp, smooth with no artifacting and viewing, for example, the Interstellar trailer, is a great test for this phone.
Call quality is very good - a big improvement on the Xperia Mini. Very clear, no noise and no straining to hear the caller. The speaker is also very good.
The only thing that lets it down (now), is the upgrade from Android 4.1 to 4.3 has slowed it down and sped up battery usage, which is a shame. But thats only a small issue.
I bought this phone for an amazing price of FREE! Well £12.99 a month with Vodafone - and through the no longer operating phones4u. You cant get an iPhone for that!
A really nice quality smart phone at an excellent price - with a bigger screen than most phones. This does everything an iPhone does and at a tiny price.
Review also on Ciao
I have had this phone since Christmas, as i got it for a present. My phone is on contract and I am paying 9 pound a month. This phone is a good phone, it has a great processor speed, the processor is a dual core 1.7GHz this is great for games and browsing the web. Also this phone has a great camera which has taken some quality photos for me, it has a 8 mega pixel camera at the back with 16x zoom and at the front there is a 2 mega pixel camera. Also this phone comes with 4g which is meant to be great and fast, but i haven't actually used it yet. This phone also has a very large screen for a phone, it is 4.6 inches, which i think is good because it's easy to see what im doing and if i watch tv programmes on my phone they are clear and easy to watch. It has an ok internal memory that can hold enough games and music for me, it is 8GB's. The only slightly bad thing about this phone is that it isn't light for a phone, it's 155 grams which isnt too bad.
There is so much to say about this phone I don't know where to start! I'm going start with the style it's perfect not to big not to small buttons at easy to reach places. Flashing colours to tell you whether you have a Facebook, email, text and so much more the hd screen is perfect pictures look amazing I will say though Sony Xperia s had alot better camra quality loads of free apps because it with android amazing clear speaker when talking nice car mode app for when driving even the feel of the phone is light and easy to handle the only thing I'm not to keen on this phone is after having the Sony Xperia s with built in storage to this one is completely different I can't hold as much as what the Sony Xperia s did but that is the only bad thing I can think off its by far one of my top favorite phone and on a plus its built to match with the ps3!
I'm gonna start my return to Dooyoo with a review of my brand new Sony Experia SP.
So, I got bored with everyone having an iPhone, all a bit same old now I think - plus seeing as I have an iPad mini I'm all Mac-d out for now!
The first thing you need to know about the Sony Experia SP is that it is on the Android system (Google's app library). As such it offers your basic Google apps in it's default menu, which include Google Chrome, the Play store (which lets you buy apps), Google maps (very useful for finding your way about when you get lost - something I missed when I was without a smartphone for a while) and Gmail. There is also a blast to the past and a music application entitled "Walkman" which I thought gave it a little something nostalgic about this shiny new top-of-the-range smartphone reminiscient of the retro CD player.
I'm not a massive app-aholic but I installed - in addition to the default apps - BBC iPlayer (only for when I'm connected to Wifi), Amazon Kindle, Twitter, Office Suite, Skype and Snapchat (out of interest in the latest craze...)
The phone has a slightly larger screen than I would usually purchase but I did fall in love with in store and managed to get it free on a £29 a month contract for 24 months - not cheap - but so far I haven't regretted the decision. Because of it's larger screen, it is excellent for light reading if you're bored on the train etc, and I have read some books on it. The cameras are decent and I've enjoyed taking snaps when out of friends and special occasions. There's a decent 8MP back camera (as much as you need on a phone I reckon) and an okay-ish front camera for use with Skype.
Something very cute about the phone is that it has a flashing light at the bottom which flashes different colours depending on what it's trying to tell you. Red - battery low, white - new email, Facebook blue - Facebook notification, etc. When you're flipping through showing friends photos, it changes it's colour dependent on the hue of the photo you are showing them - which I think shows how smart smartphones are. It's a minor feature, but I just love it! The screen is large enough that I could comfortably share photos with Nan & Grandad, who haven't the sharpest sight.
In terms of the basic phone features, texting is easy and calling is straight forward. The default alarm feature comes out with a chilled out tune which is quite nice to wake up to in a morning!
My one criticism is that I can't seem to stop the flashing light at the bottom, which I believe is quite a battery drain. And unlike my old phone, the alarm does not make the phone turn itself on, so it has to be on for the alarm to go off.
There's so much I can do on this little piece of technology that I feel I've only scratched the surface with what I've experimented with so far, and I'd definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a new smartphone which is well worth the money. A very useful tool to keep in touch, play on, take nice photos and read digital books, which is the main things I was concerned about. Anyone thinking of buying one, give me a shout if you have any questions which I haven't covered :).
Despite what I'd previously thought the about mobile network Three, there's no denying that their 'all-you-can-eat' (AYCE from hereon in) data tariff is a big draw, and as their coverage in my area now seems to have stabilised (there's still no signal at The Plough but heh, they've got wi-fi and anyway, no-one gets a signal there!), I decided to give them another 'go', renewing my contract.
It helped when I found that my own particular area was now also in line for a speed upgrade (Three is all about data - even their speech and text goes via a single 3g frequency), this time to something called DC-HSPDA+, the dual channel version of the current fastest data protocol, on 3G at least, of transmitting data to a phone.
Three are calling this 'Ultrafast' or as they've advertised, presumably in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, '3.9G'.
With these speed increases already extant, and well on the way to being nearly as fast as 4G, as and when it rolls out, I decided to 'let them' sell me a new contract, creaming a few quid off the old one in the process by not going for the 'One Plan' which not only has AYCE but allows for tethering of a laptop, something I thought would be handy but never found a use for.
It does of course make sense to get a phone that can handle both DC-HSDPA+ and the long-awaited 4G, aka LTE (Long Term Evolution) should the latter appear during my contract period. To be fair to Three, they have already stated that they will NOT be charging more for 4G as and when they get it, which is more than can be said for EE - Everything Everywhere - who have stolen the lead over everyone else, but being in a monopoly position at the moment, see fit to crank up the charges quite outrageously for very meagre data allowances.
Ironically, Three have made a successful auction bid for a chunk of the 800mhz band perilously close to the Freeview TV tuning range* but promising, like TV, to carry further. This could mean that 4G is easier to get in rural areas than 3G or even 2G!
(*the reason why my Mum's been sent an aerial filter as she's near one of the masts taking part in a field trial)
AND SO TO THE PHONE
As I was quite happy with my Samsung Galaxy S2, in particular with its size, I didn't feel like getting a Galaxy S4 , HTC One or the Sony Xperia Z, all the current Android market leaders, but all rather too large for me and costing more per month than my last contract. Also if I wanted a tablet I'd have bought one - oh hang on, I already did!
Then up pops the new (as of April 2013) Sony Xperia SP on the scene, presumably designed to reel in those in my position who'd rather have a phone-sized phone, rather than a 'phablet' but still with a whole raft of nifty features.
As I say, this one's fully equipped for any data speed upgrades that are likely to be thrown at it in the life of this contract, which is about as close to future-proofing as you're likely to get these days.
The feel of the phone is excellent. Sony have done a great job of building in some quality feel, what with its lovely flat screen unimpaired by physical buttons - it doesn't even have an 'iPhone dent' - and the real satin aluminium band around the edges (Samsung please note - NOT plastic chrome). It's not the slimmest phone around and in fact it's a tad chunkier than the Galaxy S2 but it's all down to the curved back which sits nicely in my hand. It's also quite heavy, at around 156 grammes or about 5.6 ounces. This is down in part to the fact that the aluminium that shows is the tip of the iceberg, hiding an all-metal chassis, with only the flimsy plastic back to detract from the feel that it's hewn from a solid billet of alloy and therefore passes my own 'doesn't creak if you try twisting it' test. Thankfully, the back doesn't feel flimsy when clipped into position.
All physical control buttons are on the right hand edge, which eradicates the nuisance experienced with the Samsung, where, just when you want to turn it off with your right thumb, you find your index finger, which is wrapped around the opposite side altering the sound volume instead!
Unlike its big brother, the Xperia Z, it ISN'T waterproof, so don't mix them up!
However, this also means you can get the back off to fit both the SIM (now a micro-sized one) and the micro-SD card. Curiously you can't change the battery, which as far as I'm concerned makes this more of a rental proposition than an outright purchase as it gets towards the end of its contract and doesn't seem to be holding its charge like it used to, although there does appear to be a 'reset pinhole' for those inevitable but hopefully few 'lock-ups' where previously only removing the battery would have done.
The Android operating system isn't QUITE up to date, although it's still a Jelly Bean version (4.1.2). Going from experience, this may well get up-dated.
The 8-megapixel camera is pretty good, but isn't breaking any new ground here although it does have some good trick features, like 'smile recognition', which if it refused to take a picture until your subject smiled, is only one step away from a 'miserable git filter'! To be honest, I don't really mind. Its results are, well, better than adequate and until they make phones with real optical zoom lenses, I'm not really too interested. You've probably realised yourselves that the so-called digital zoom is exactly that - only 'so-called'. It's just a blower-up of the centre of the picture till you can't stand the fuzzy shot anymore.
One feature which immediately picks the Xperia SP out from the crowd is the 'light bar' across the bottom which acts as the notification for a long list of things; blue neon for a Facebook message, red for missed calls etc. The colour scheme is fully configurable. Coming from a phone with no notification LEDs at all, it's a real eye catcher, quite literally.
Unlike the flagship Xperia Z, this phone 'only' has a dual-core processor but it redeems itself by running at a respectable 1.7mhz and to be honest, as long as it scrolls in unison with my finger and allows me to flick my entire list of contacts from A through Z in one sweep, I've got no axes to grind.
Despite using exactly the same version of Android Jelly Bean (4.1.2), in the Sony iteration of it, you can no longer install apps to your SD card*, which given the machine's 8gbyte on-board storage capacity is a bit of a let down. True, some media files, movies for instance, can be enormous and can be stored on the SD card. In fact, the SD card more or less is limited to being media storage only. This was not the case with my Samsung Galaxy S2 which allowed me to save as much on-board memory as possible by installing lots of apps to the SD card.
(*I later found out why this was. The Sony already has 3 'sections' of in-built memory, the RAM, the on-board memory and what can best be described a simulated SD card, which is the limit that this version of Android can handle - the Samsung by contrast obviously had one less on-board section of memory. There is however a convenient 'one press' way of sending all media files to your actual SD card thereby saving a considerable amount of space if you're prone to storing movies.)
For some strange reason, the Sony's screen, made of Corning Gorilla Glass is even more of a finger-print magnet than previous phones I've had although on the plus side, the back is a matt finish instead of the piano-black glass used on its big brother 'Zed'. The ease with which the 4.6 inch (diagonal) screen smears gives it an almost grey finish, which is not helped by the fact that you have to be looking at it at almost precisely 90 degrees to see the true richness of colour.
CLEVER BITS ABOUND
There's now a 'switch' for taking a screen-grab, useful if trying to explain something to an app developer say. You access this via the on/off button just as you would when switching to 'airplane mode' and one click records a jpeg file of the last screen you were looking at.
Thank goodness for common sense. You actually get a real live button to press when taking photos with the camera which also shoots 720p HD video.
Voice calls are potentially clearer (well the bit you speak anyway) as the microphone on the back of the handset doubles as a noise canceller making background noise a lower proportion of the sound heard at the other end.
The Bluetooth is compatible with my car dashboard allowing me to make and take calls without taking my hands off the steering wheel, giving me one less thing I can be fined for as I 'tailgate' the car in front at 85mph, the owner of which is 'hogging' the middle lane! (Joking in case the Thought Police read this).
As battery life has always been a bugbear of smart-phones, Sony has put some extensive work into power management. For example, there's 'Stamina Mode' which turns off data transmission as soon as the screen goes blank, so no new 'app updates' can come in behind your back and at your expense leaving you more in control of data usage. These later versions of Android also let you set an artificial ceiling to your monthly data in case you are on a limited tariff. The phone gives you an estimated stand-by time, but this is strictly for a phone that's left on, but not used. Any kind of usage relegates this figure to 'piece of string' accuracy. You can leave it with network data switched off, so that it only uses recognised wi-fi hotspots. One of the benefits of it being a trifle 'chunky' is that it contains a generous 2300maH (2.3 Amp/Hours) battery, unlike the 1900maH jobs more common.
Of course, some 'clever bits' have.....
The NFC facility (Near Field Communication) seems to me to be a pretty pointless exercise except to those who fancy the idea of wafting their phone over some credit card payment device, hence my title,(*best said with a Geordie accent). True, it also allows for two devices so equipped to swap information, but since my other NFC device is my Nexus tablet, and it has already pulled down exactly the same Contacts list from my Google account there's little I'd want to swap. I suppose in years to come, we'll be seeing people sitting next to each other on the train having the phone equivalent of a 'Barbarella sex' moment but without the smoking fingertips. Oh well, at least it will keep them quiet for 5 minutes.
Something else that has 'norfolk enchants' as far as I'm concerned is the slew of ways in which Sony would like me to start spending money in their direction, starting with their own app market and then a music/movie download system all of their own. I don't mind that the music player is called 'Walkman', that's to be expected. Annoyingly, these 'system apps' placed there by the maker are seldom delete-able without doing something to the phone that would render the warranty invalid, i.e. the process of 'rooting'.
You can make phone calls and send texts with it, I nearly forgot.
I got mine with no up-front payment for £26/month over 24 months, on a contract giving a Billy-Nomates like me way more minutes and texts than I'll EVER need plus that unlimited data, with no increase once it goes '4G'. I noticed that Three had shown it as being a £379 item but in reality even the Sony web-site has it for a tad less, and via e-bay you can source an unlocked de-branded version for around £250 and be ready to roll once you get the 'micro' version of your SIM card, which either involves getting another from your network provider or buying a guillotine tailored for such purposes (yes honest) for less than a tenner.