Mobile Phone Review Round Up: Sony Xperia SP, Samsung Galaxy S4, Motorola Razr HD, Huawei Ascend Mate and LG Optimus L5 II
Omio is rounding up all the mobile phone reviews over the past week from the major tech titles in the UK.
This is all in order to bring you an all-inclusive and encompassing view of the opinions, from the various handset reviewers.
The flagship Sony Xperia Z may be busy stealing the limelight with its whopping Full HD screen and waterproof body, but Sony also has some good kit for those with a slightly narrower budget.
The Xperia SP is an upper mid-range mobile packing specs that would have had last year’s dedicated tech nerds hot under the collar. Its 4.6-inch screen has a 720p resolution, it has a speedy dual-core processor, it runs Android Jelly Bean and, best of all, has a colourful glowing light on the outside to annoy your desk-mates.
The Xperia SP’s specs won’t trouble the flagship phones, but it has loads to offer for a more modest price tag. Its 720p screen is sharp, its dual-core processor is enjoyably swift and the crisp white design and flashing notification light will certainly find a few fans.
Its camera didn’t impress in my tests and Sony’s own app stores and controller connections needs some improvement. If you’re looking for a well-performing all rounder though, and don’t want to spend upwards of 600 smackers, the SP is an excellent option to consider.
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 was one of the most popular phones of last year, rivalled only by the iPhone. It played a huge role in unseating Apple’s dominance of the mobile world, so all eyes have been on Samsung to see what it will bring to the table with its next super phone.
After months of wild speculation, Samsung finally unveiled the S4 — a phone boasting specs to make even the most ardent tech nerds draw breath. It’s a 5-inch beast, packing a Full HD screen, a searingly powerful quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a host of Samsung software extras, a 13-megapixel camera and 4G connectivity for super-fast data speeds.
In smart phone Top Trumps, the S4 challenges the competition on every level.
In most respects the S4 has secured its spot at the top of the smart phone ladder. Its 5-inch screen is the best in the business and its quad-core processor delivers absolutely outstanding performance. Couple that with a host of interesting — if not exactly groundbreaking — Samsung software nuggets and you’ve got yourself an absolute beast of a phone.
It’s a shame Samsung hasn’t updated the design much from the S3. It’s difficult to brag about having the latest kit if you can’t tell it apart from old hardware, and the plastic construction does feel quite cheap. If you don’t mind the Playmobil stylings though, the S4 is a superb phone to plonk in your pocket.
With Sony getting out of the blocks early, it’s one of the first companies in 2013 to reveal its wider portfolio of devices. The Sony Xperia SP technically slips into what we’d traditionally call the mid-range, but with specs matching 2012′s flagship devices, the Sony Xperia SP doesn’t lack power.
That’s a huge positive, because it means you get a great experience from a device that’s now perhaps £200 cheaper than it might have been 12 months ago.
But is there really any space for this sort of device, lacking the glory of the top spot and falling well into the long shadow of the excellent Sony Xperia Z?
The Sony Xperia SP is a good mid-range phone. There’s power and flexibility on board and there’s the performance to back it up, aside from a few minor quirks.
The design of the handset is good too with the metal frame giving the SP a nice solid feel. We’re not sold on the flashing bar however, it just seems a little too much at times, especially when you’re lying awake at night, watching it illuminate your bedroom.
The camera performance isn’t great. Although there’s a lot on offer, it just doesn’t seem to all come together and give you the good shots you’d sometimes expect, with focusing being the thing that frustrated us the most.
However, the Sony Xperia SP is reasonably priced and for that you get a good display and a device that will showcase the fun of Android nicely, with a battery that will get you through the day.
The Motorola Razr HD is the latest Moto handset to grace our hands since last year’s Razr i. With a larger 4.7in display, dual-core power and a larger battery that promises all-day performance, can the Razr HD justify it’s fairly hefty price tag?
Motorola Razr HD – verdict
The Motorola Razr HD is a very solid offering from Motorola. Its Kevlar design might suffer from Marmite syndrome, but we personally find it refreshing and very well built.
Its screen might not be the most pixel-packed, but it’s still sharp, bright and colourful, showing off games and movies (which are easily handled by the dual-core processor) well.
Despite a few camera issues, the Razr HD is another solid offering from Motorola. But at nearly £400, you might find it very hard to justify picking it up over the better specced Google Nexus 4, which serves up quad-core power and a super-slick stock Android experience for a ludicrously affordable £240.
The fact that you can pick up the even more powerful Sony Xperia Z (which packs in a 5in Full HD screen) for £460, doesn’t make the Razr HD’s price tag any easier to swallow either. If battery life is important though, then it might just be worth the extra cash.
Huawei is the epitome of the challenger brand. With a brand name that no one ever pronounces correctly (even a receptionist at the Mate’s launch event reffered to the company as ‘highway’), the Ascend Mate isn’t going to be on the tips of the tongues of many in the market for a new phone.
To counter this, Huawei is resorting to headline-grabbing specs and features. There’s the 6.1-inch screen, for starters, plus a custom quad-core processor which Huawei is claiming to be fastest in the world. Has we got your attention yet?
There is definitely a market for the Ascend Mate, but we don’t belong to it. If you are someone who doesn’t mind using two hands to hold a phone, someone who carries their handset in a bag anyway, then it could be the phone for you. You’ll be rewarded with amazing battery life if you decided to choose a Mate.
While its Korean rival Samsung has picked up all the plaudits for its Galaxy range of mobiles, LG has struggled to garner much interest in its Optimus Android handsets. However, the company is hoping that its updated range will change all that and return it to the glory days of popular handsets like the Viewty models. Last year’s L5 suffered from a low resolution screen, but the company has addressed this on the LG Optimus L5 II E610, while also adding a faster processor, bigger battery and better camera. Is it enough to break it out of mediocrity, though?
The LG Optimus L5 II is a neat and compact little handset, with a vibrant screen and good battery life. It has some neat features too, including its Quick Memo app and the voice activated shutter for the camera. However, we wish LG had given it a bit more grunt in the performance department, as it can feel a little bit underpowered at times.