Sony releases Xperia SP and L in bid for third place in smartphone market


Sony's Xperia SP, a mid-range smartphone that could help the company in emerging smartphone markets as it moves to become the world's third-place smartphone maker. (Courtesy of Sony)
March 18, 2013

Sony has announced two new phones — the Xperia SP and Xperia L — to broaden its smartphone lineup this season beyond the flagship model Xperia Z the company revealed in January.

Sony currently holds a fourth-place position in the worldwide smartphone market , with 4.5 percent of the total market, sandwiched between Chinese smartphone makers Huawei (4.9 percent) and ZTE (4.3 percent). The firm has said that it’s trying to move into the third-place spot behind Apple and Samsung — most recently, Reuters reported, when Sony’s mobile lead Kunimasa Suzuki indicated earlier this month that the firm could focus on cheaper models to offer in developing smartphone markets.

Perhaps to that end, the Xperia SP is being marketed as a mid-range device. The 4.6-inch smartphone has 4G LTE connectivity and a high-quality display that builds off Sony’s expertise as a television maker. Sony promises that the handset will have sharp pictures and deep colors, and will also have a notification light that can change color based on who’s calling or what your phone is doing. For example, when listening to music, the notification can pulse in time with the beat.

The Xperia L, meanwhile, is aimed at a more narrow subset of smartphone users, namely shutterbugs who want a better camera than the average phone offers. The 4.3-inch Xperia L comes with an 8 MP camera but uses Sony’s proprietary sensors and has a dedicated camera button meant to make it simple to switch between phone and camera modes.

The Japanese firm is touting the unique physical features on both phones, as one might expect of the hardware-focused company. Both have the same sleek lines as the Xperia Z and “James Bond phone” Xperia T, and are slated for release in the second quarter of 2013.

The Xperia Z, according to the company, has had strong sales and pre-order sales and has been doing well as it progresses through its slow global rollout. According to Reuters, the head of Xperia marketing, Calum MacDougall, said last month that the Xperia Z had sold all its initial stock in Germany and had strong online sales in France.

The phone goes on sale in Britain Monday — the company has yet to announce a firm U.S. release date for the phone, which is notable for being dust- and water-resistant.

Related stories:

Samsung reveals new Galaxy smartphone in bid for dominant model

Apple CEO Tim Cook must give deposition in e-books antitrust lawsuit

PlayStation 4: Sony announces it, but doesn’t show console

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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