Sony Xperia U Review
At the bottom of Sony’s Xperia line, underneath the P and S Models, comes the Xperia U. It made its debut at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and is now available in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India. It should ship to other countries very soon.
Not normally a big fan of Sony products, I admit I was pleasantly surprised by this mid-level smartphone. Sony manages to capture some pretty creative design elements in an attractive package that will be suitable for both the young adult and the free-spirited business user. At the same time, it features just enough raw power to be a suitable work phone without breaking the bank. If it can overcome a few minor flaws the Xperia U should do okay.
Small but Solid
Before we take a look inside, it’s important to note what’s on the outside. Small and solid must be the two words Sony designers were thinking of when they designed the outside shell. It’s only 112x54x12mm, so it fits comfortably in the hand without being lost when you put it to your ear to talk. At the same time, despite its fragile looking plastic case the phone feels anything but. It feels relatively well-built when compared to some other phones that seemingly would fall apart if you breathed on them too hard.
The one design feature that escapes me is a plastic cap on the bottom of the phone, which doesn’t appear to provide any functional purpose. It comes in a variety of colors including black, white, blue, yellow, and pink, and can be snapped off and it changed with relative ease. This may be something that might make the phone attractive to preteens and teenagers. Just above the cap is a transparent strip that lights up under certain circumstances. The two combined add an attractive amount of color and splash.
The hardware on the Xperia U is a bit juxtaposed. On the one hand Sony is not marketing this phone to power users, yet on the other hand there is a little more power under the hood than you’ll find in some higher end smartphones. Here’s what you get:
- CPU – 1GHz dual core
- GPU – Mali 400
- Memory – 512MB RAM
- Storage – 8GB flash (6 GB available to user)
- Battery – 1320mAh
- Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with hotspot, 3G
I was impressed with the dual core processor and 512MB of RAM, though I think 1GB ought to be the minimum amount of RAM in a modern smartphone. That said, the CPU and RAM combination is plenty to power this phone smoothly and without interruption. I’m especially impressed with the battery given its small size. It provides plenty of juice for a full day’s work without missing a beat.
On the downside I am disappointed in the fact that there’s only 4GB storage and no microSD slot. The 5MP camera is nothing to write home about either. It takes less-than-desirable stills and pretty poor 720p video.
The Xperia U ships with Android 3.2.7, upgradable to Android 4.0 later this year. As far as skins go, the Sony UI is one of the more pleasant I’ve seen. It’s visually appealing without being cumbersome, and it seems more intuitive than some others. For example, the Android lock screen is something that’s always been an annoyance to me. Yet for security purposes I understand the need to have it. The lock screen on the Xperia U is highly configurable to meet the tastes of the individual user.
Sony also makes use of independent home screens which can be customized with widgets and apps. When you first unlock the phone you’re presented with preview versions of each home screen for quick navigation to your screen of choice. Just like the lock screen, home screens are highly configurable. It takes some getting used to but once you get the hang of this feature it makes keeping all of the apps on your phone easily organized.
Overall the Xperia U is a pleasure to use under most circumstances. For the individual looking for a first smart phone or a midrange replacement of old one, this is certainly worth a look. If you’re a power user you might want to step up a couple of notches and try something else.