Sony Xperia SP pictures and hands-on

The Sony Xperia Z kicked off the company's 2013 smartphone presence with a bang, but it's not the only handset due this year. Behind closed doors at Mobile World Congress 2013 in February, Pocket-lint was treated to an advanced viewing of the new, mid-range Sony Xperia SP.

READ: Sony Xperia Z review

The Xperia SP will be the successor to both the Xperia S and Xperia P models, as its condensed name suggests.

The SP has includes an illuminated transparent bar in its design, much like an evolved version of that found in the original Xperia S. The SP is different as it can illuminate to any number of different colours via LED lights, whether using the on-screen footage to base the colour of light or be set up manually via user preferences. It's even posible to program specific conditions, such as yellow light when your best friend calls, or red when your angry boss gets on the blower.

It's a nice idea, but we think it could have been implemented to look a little better. As it stands there are three clear points where the LEDs emit light, which doesn't give an equal, diffused spread or the kind of high-end feel we think such a design element could have. Still, it can be turned off and the transparent section is fun without the extra light.

Visually there are otherwise plenty of similarities between the Xperia SP the higher-spec Xperia Z. In the hand the body feels high quality, while the same high-quality aluminium standby button can be found to the side.

The SP's 4.6-inch screen comes loaded with a 720p resolution which, while less impressive than the Z's 1080p high-density screen, does still offer up the Mobile Bravia Engine 2 for rich colours in playback. It looked good to our eyes with the short period of play we managed to get.

Under the hood there's a dual-core, 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 processor to keep things running smoothly. The Android 4.1 interface has, as per other Sony Xperia products, been redressed with the company's own core software elements - Listen, Create, Watch and Play making up the core user experience.

Bluetooth connectivity in the guise of NFC - something we'll see on plenty of Sony products in the future, no doubt - and 4G-ready connectivity speeds also feature.

The rear camera is an 8-megapixel version of the Exmor RS sensor, paired with an f/2.4 aperture lens. It's lower resolution than that found in the Xperia Z but, you know what, the resolution sounds preferable to us for picture perfection. There's a built-in HDR (high dynamic range) mode which can snap two pictures in quick succession and fuse them into one image for more shadow and highlight detail in a single frame.

The Sony Xperia SP will have 8GB of on-board memory and is due out in the summer, available in black, white and red finishes. Exactly when it will arrive or how much it'll cost we're yet to find out, beyond Sony's comment of a "mid-term price".

Looks like a quality mid-range offering that will further strengthen the Xperia uprising.