Sony's first budget phone still shows off in the spec department, touting a 3.5-inch Reality Display, 720p HD video and an illuminating strip
Editor's Review of the Xperia U
The Xperia U is the smallest member of Sony's latest Xperia shipments, with a 3.5" touchscreen and a shorter, stockier appearance. It's a cheaper alternative to the Xperia P and S, but on paper is not all that different to them. This begs the question: Is this the best-value Xperia handset out there?
Design & Build
The Xperia U distinguishes itself from its siblings by going for a more youthful look. Fundamentally the same shape as the Xperia S and P, it has a removable cap at the bottom which comes in various colours.
The Xperia U is shorter and thicker than the Xperia S, measuring 112 x 54 x 12mm. Something it does have in common with its siblings is the therapeutic transparent strip below the screen, which changes colour according to your desktop theme and music, and also houses the phone's antenna.
The Xperia U features a small 3.5" display, which, looking at the success of Apple's iPhone 4S, isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Reality LCD display has a
good balance of brightness, colour and viewing angles that are actually better than on the so-called 'flagship' Xperia S. The small screen and Sony's 480 x 854px resolutions makes for an impressive 280ppi, making images look crispy clear.
OS & Performance
The Xperia U runs on Android 2.3 for now, though the release of Ice Cream Sandwich is said to be imminent at the time of writing.
The handset houses a 1GHz dual-core NovaThor U8500 processor. It fulfils all its necessary functions admirably, though if you get too many things going at once then the 512MB of RAM will start to feel the strain.
Internet browsing on this phone runs smoothly on two cores. Text is clear thanks to the high pixel density, and pinching-to-zoom doesn't lead to any serious slowdown.
Camera & Multimedia
The camera included here is lesser than those offered by its flashier (pun intended) siblings. It's a 5MP offering with LED flash and is managed using the Timescape UI. Some of the stand-out features here include the ability to take 360-degree photos, and the sleep-to-snap feature which lets you take a photo within seconds of picking up your phone.
As to be expected from 5MP, there is really nothing impressive about the camera quality. Anything below optimal lighting conditions and the picture gets so noisy that it may as well be screaming at you. Even in well-lit areas, the images don't have a nice balance of lighting, leading to overexposure.
As expected from the people who gave us the Walkman, the music player here is of a high quality, not least because of the smooth transparent strip changing its colour to suit the music mood. Sony's 3D surround sound technology noticeably improves performance both through headphones and loudspeakers. Good to see that Sony haven't lost their acoustic touch.
Battery life, connectivity, and Storage
Packing a 1320mAh battery, the Xperia U offers up to 5 hours and 36 minutes of raw talk-time. This isn't bad, and the average user won't have an trouble getting a full day's use - or maybe more - out of it. Always good when you can charge your phone at bed time rather than rush around during the day, frantically looking for phone-charging points like some battery junkie.
The Xperia U doesn't go for anything out of the ordinary when it comes to connectivity options. Here we have our standard Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, WiFi, and a 14Mbps HSDPA radio. DLNA is present here also, making for seamless interactivity with your TV.
So far so good for the Xperia U, but it all falls apart when it comes to storage. The phone features no option for expanding memory, so you'd have expected it to make up for it with plenty of internal space. Sadly, it seems that the memory-men at Sony are stuck in 2005, when 4GB of internal memory seemed infinite. Well, in 2012 it isn't, and it effectively negates the phone's potential as a music and video-filled media centre.
The Xperia U is quite possibly the best-value phone in Sony's latest Xperia range. This doesn't say an awful lot necessarily, given that the Xperia S is a mid-range phone with a pretty high-range price tag.
The Xperia U just misses out on greatness through its poor memory capacity, which means you won't be making the most of its fine processing power as you simply can't keep that much on it. For those who are frugal with the phone space though, this could be a good option.
Sony Xperia U News
Not content with offering customers the chance to prematurely bag the HTC One V, UK retailer Into Mobile Phones has also began taking pre-orders for the Sony Xperia U. The Xperia U is Sony’s cheapest phone yet, but that’s not to say the company have skimped when it comes to the phone’s specs. Powered by [...]
O2 has added a bunch of new phones to its jam-packed Coming Soon page, revealing that it’ll soon be offering the Sony Xperia P and Xperia U handsets. There’s no details on pricing just yet, but the network’s promising that both phones will be released in April. This will follow O2′s launch of Sony’s flagship [...]
Sony will soon be able to take on Samsung’s Galaxy Pocket with its own bargain-priced Android smartphone, a leak has revealed. The leak comes courtesy of the AnTuTu Benchmark database, which lists a yet-unannounced Xperia device. It also reveals some of the specs that we can expect from Sony’s debut ‘low-end’ phone, including a 1GHz single-core [...]
Clove has started taking pre-orders for the Sony Xperia P and Xperia U before both phones are released on April 23. It looks like that leaked pricing was pretty accurate, as the phones will retail for £378 and £238.80, respectively, Clove has confirmed. However, it’s not such good for you looking to purchase the colourful [...]
The pint-sized Sony Xperia U has been confirmed for a May UK release, courtesy of the guys at Carphone Warehouse. The retailer has swiftly added the phone to its ever-expanding Coming Soon page, which has revealed that the Xperia U, as well as the Nokia Lumia 900, will be landing on the shop’s shelves in [...]
Sony Xperia U Specifications
112mm x 54mm x 12mm
Full capacitive touch screen
Type: TFT LCD
Size: 3.5 inches
Resolution: 480 x 854
Interface: TimeScape UI
Integrated NFC Chip
CPU: 1GHz Dual core
A-GPS with maps
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack
Data: Standard microUSB
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
5.0 megapixel camera
Auto Focus and LED Flash
720p Video Recording
At 30 fps
Front facing camera with video calling
Talk Time: 396 minutes
Standby Time: 472 hours
Radio: FM with RDS
Audio supported formats
Playback: MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+
Video supported formats
Playback: MP4, H.264, H.263, WMV