Since Sony took over the headset business of Sony Ericsson recently, it is easy to say they had an uphill struggle getting consumers to part with their money in an industry full of competition from the likes of HTC and Samsung. Announced back at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Xperia U is the third handset in the new Xperia range following on from the S and the P which are the larger versions of the U.
Now onto the specs….
- Android Gingerbread
- 5 Megapixel Camera
- HSDPA 14.4mb/s
- HSUPA 5.76mb/s
- 1Ghz Processor
- Bluetooth, WiFi & GPS
- 4GB Storage
- 1320mAh Battery
Looking at the front of the Xperia U, at the top is the light sensor which helps adjust the backlight depending on your lighting conditions at the time, there is also the Sony branding and a front facing VGA camera used for video calls or for taking self portrait pictures
Below that is the 3.5 inch screen which at times feels really small, considering it is the same screen size as the iPhone 4S this was quite surprising but was really noticeable. The screen resolution is 480×854 and apart from the small size, the screen quality is actually quite impressive for a phone at this price.
Below the screen are three touch sensitive buttons like seen on the Xperia S which most of the time get really annoying and often need a few taps to get the phone to respond. What makes it worse is that the icons telling you which button does what is placed in a transparent strip below which you can’t see normally and when you press a button and this strip lights up it makes it even harder to see the icons. A very unique design against other non Xperia phones but something which looks like it was not really planned quite right.
On the back you have a 5 megapixel camera (sample images below) with a single LED flash to help in poor lighting conditions. There is also the speakerphone next to the camera. The results from the camera for a 5 megapixel camera are impressive when outdoors and with decent lighting conditions. Put the Xperia U in poor lighting and the single LED flash does a good job at helping get a better picture but will never be as good as with outdoor lighting.
There is also a macro mode which is very hit and miss with the slightest movement making the photo turn out blurred and out of focus. This is a problem for a lot of phones though and not just on the Xperia U.
Below the camera at the bottom is the brand logo, and you might recognize it as the same one seen on Sony Ericsson handsets available in the past, this looks like something which survived the Ericsson buyout by Sony.
The bottom of the phone has the microphone and a hole for a lanyard if you like wearing one of them with your phone. The lanyard hooks in once you remove the cap at the bottom so it wont fall off. This cap can be replaced with different colours, which you get a spare cap in the box. In the device we got in to review it came with a black cap on the bottom and a pink one if we wanted to change…. which we didn’t of course but depending who is looking to buy the Xperia U you might like to swap caps for different days etc…
On the top you have the 3.5mm headset jack for using either the supplied headset or your own one. The headset supplied was actually quite good when comparing to the normal basic standard you usually get in the box.
On the left hand side there is just the MicroUSB port which is uses for plugging into either the charger for topping up the battery, or for plugging into a computer (PC or MAC) to transfer files using the provided software, this also allows for software upgrades which sometimes need to be done via the cable.
The right side of the Xperia U is the on.off button (also used to put the phone into standby mode), the volume up and down buttons which as with all phones can also be used for changing the profile between normal, silent and vibrate. These volume buttons also act as the zoom controls when using the camera mode. Speaking of the camera, thankfully there is also a dedicated camera shutter button on the right side which makes taking pictures really easy, this is a feature many people like to have on their phone.
Sony are trying to get their Xperia range into the hands of as many people as possible, and this is why they have three different model phones which have nearly the same design but are aimed at different people. The Xperia U fits into the low cost but mid range but keeps some important Xperia parts such as the clear strip across the bottom for notifications. Also with the Xperia U you have the option to replace the bottom cap to have different colours so you can really customise your phone as your own.
My biggest complaint with the Xperia U is that even though it was announced in February this year and only just went on sale recently, it still runs Gingerbread and although it has been promised to get an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich, Sony already have a bad reputation at upgrading to the latest software and the Xperia S which went on sale before the U has only just started to get the upgrade.
If you are looking for a small phone but want a good set of specs from a well known company and don’t want to spend a fortune then the Xperia U is worth looking at, but if you are after the latest phone with the most up to date version of Android, Sony might not be for you.