Sony has announced a pair of new mid-range Android smartphones, the Xperia SP and L. The SP is the more interesting of the pair: it matches last year's flagship handsets almost spec-for-spec, with a 4.6-inch 720p display, 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, and an 8-megapixel camera. Unfortunately, it also matches last year's flagships with its OS — it runs the year-old Android 4.1, rather than the latest version, 4.2.
Available in black, red, and white, the SP takes its design cues from Sony's flagship Xperia Z, complete with an all-aluminum frame, but tacks on a transparent bar that you can set to light up in a number of colors. Sony first introduced this feature with the low-end Xperia U, and, although it didn't catch on in a big way, clearly thinks there's something in the idea. The SP will come with just 8GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card, and comes with LTE connectivity and NFC.
The Xperia L is a low-end Android handset aimed at price-conscious users that still want a decent camera. It retains the SP's 8-megapixel sensor, and Sony says the L is capable of recording HDR photos and videos. We'll have to wait and see how well it performs — Sony made some big claims about the Xperia Z's camera, but it fell well short of the competition in our tests. Apart from the apparently-great camera, there's not a lot to love about the L. It has an extremely dated 4.3-inch FWVGA (854x480) display, a dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, NFC, 8GB of storage, and a microSD expansion slot. Like its more-expensive cousin, the L comes with Android 4.1 rather than 4.2, but Sony has skipped LTE connectivity entirely, only including a 3G modem.
Both the Xperia SP and L will be available in Asia and Europe by the end of June. Sony hasn't mentioned a price point, or a potential date for a US release for either model.