The Android market is packed with impressive hardware, competition is fierce and manufacturers don't want to give an inch to their rivals. In the middle of it all Sony and Samsung are going toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S4 Mini and Xperia SP, so we've compared these pocket-sized powerhouses for you to find out which delivers the best value.
The S4 Mini has an impressive processor; equipped with a 1.7GHz dual core chip from Qualcomm the smartphone has plenty of power for you to run all your favourite apps and games. And with the latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean installed all that power is managed beautifully and you'll have access to more than 850,000 apps. Samsung has also squeezed in 2GB RAM so you can be watching a video while your phone does other things in the background without any lag.
The Xperia SP has the same 1.7GHz dual core processor from Qualcomm but the slightly older Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and only 1GB RAM. This stops the phone being so smooth when running intense apps and can cause some glitches if you're trying to do heavy multitasking. That said, for most people the raw power will whisk them through their mobile effortlessly.
With cameras becoming ever more important on smartphones Samsung has given the S4 Mini an 8MP snapper that can capture full HD video and has some cool features to help enhance your stills. HDR mode makes the colours in your images really stand out by taking three shots at different exposures and putting them together, while Sound & Shot captures a burst of background noise to give your photos atmosphere. The S4 Mini is also equipped with a 1.9MP front camera for great selfies and clear video calls.
Sony has equipped the Xperia SP with an 8MP camera too and like the S4 Mini it can record HD video and has an HDR mode. But Sony has also added image stabilisation to reduce blur on your photos and the overall picture quality seems a lot better than Samsung's. With Sony's prolific success in the digital camera industry it's little wonder why their cameraphones are ahead of the rest. However, it has only given the front of the phone a relatively dated VGA camera for video calls and selfies, not great for updating Facebook with shots of your nights out.
With a 4.3" qHD Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy S4 Mini has a stunning screen that's perfect for everything from viewing photos on Facebook and Twitter, to playing games and watching your favourite programmes. It also uses Adapt Display, a feature that'll automatically adjust the screen to make everything look its best. You can also make manual changes to keep the screen how you like.
The slightly smaller screen on the S4 Mini means the whole device is much smaller and lighter than the SP, measuring 124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9 mm and weighing only 107g. The slim and lightweight design makes the S4 Mini look and feel great, with a smooth polycarbonate body and extremely thin bezel around the screen it's the perfect phone to use one handed and slip into a pocket.
Thanks to its big screen and the extra tech running the camera, the Xperia SP is a bit of a heavyweight for a mid-range phone. It measures 130.6 x 67.1 x 10 mm and weighs 155g, nearly 50 grams more than the S4. The SP also has a metal frame, giving it a more premium feel than the S4, and also improving its durability to knocks and bumps. It's also got an ergonomic design that makes it nice to hold but that extra size and weight is quite noticeable when the phone's in your pocket.
Battery life is one of the most important things to consider in a new smartphone. Mobile phones are mobile and plug sockets are not, so you need to be sure your phone will last the day. The S4 Mini has a pretty sizeable 1900mAh battery giving about 300 hours of life on standby or up to 12 hours of talk time. With the large, high resolution screen you'll probably be looking at around seven hours of video playback, plenty for the average day out.
The Xperia SP, however, has a massive 2370 mAh giving it an incredible life of 734 hours on standby, that's around one whole month. If you use your phone you'll get a whopping 19 hours talk time or seven and a half hours watching videos. What's more impressive is that those numbers are without enabling STAMINA mode. STAMINA mode automatically switches off apps and connections that run in the background if they're not needed to preserve battery and you can customise its kill list so you don't miss what's important to you.
The spec differences in a nutshell (purple highlighting shows the highest spec):
|Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
|Sony Xperia SP
|Size||124.6 x 61.3 x 8.9mm 107g||130.6 x 67.1 x 10mm 155g|
|Display||4.3" qHD Super AMOLED||4.6" HD TFT|
|Processor||Qualcomm 1.7GHz dual core||Qualcomm 1.7GHz dual core|
|RAM||2GB RAM||1GB RAM|
|Front facing camera||1.9MP||VGA|
|Connectivity||NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, Infrared, 4G||NFC, Wi-Fi /b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G|
|Battery||Talk time: up to 12 hours Standby time:up to 300 hours Battery size: 1,900mAh||Talk time: up to 12 hours Standby time:up to 300 hours Battery size: 1,900mAh|
|Memory||8GB on board storage, microSD up to 64GB||8GB on board storage, microSD up to 32GB|