Sony Xperia U review
The Xperia S has all the spotlight to itself in the NXT series, but history has taught us that Sony (and previously Sony Ericsson) can do wonders in the compact class. In two generations of minis and the Xperia ray, the Japanese have delivered packages that no one in the same price range can beat.
We are not saying those smartphones were perfect – it’s all about cutting the right corners in this class and Sony’s engineers have proven time and time again that they are pretty good at that. The Xperia U is seemingly no exception, judging by a quick glance at the list of pros and cons.
*. Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
*. 3.5″ 16M-color capacitive touchscreen of Full WVGA resolution (854 x 480 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
*. Android OS v2.3.7 Gingerbread, planned Android 4.0 ICS update
*. Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, 512 MB RAM, NovaThor U8500 chipset
*. 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, Multi Angle shot
*. 720p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
*. Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
*. GPS with A-GPS
*. 8 GB built-in storage (6 GB user-accessible)
*. microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
*. Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
*. Stereo FM radio with RDS
*. Voice dialing
*. Adobe Flash 11 support
*. Deep Facebook integration
*. Accelerometer and proximity sensor
*. Transparent stripe changes color depending on screen content
*. Replaceable cap at the bottom allows easy customization
*. Limited storage with no expansion options
*. No Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of box
*. Some competitors are slimmer
The Sony Xperia U specs sheet reads like a high-end device for the most part and the design of the smartphone easily manages to keep pace. Sure it’s not the slim sweetness of the Xpera ray, but the Xperia U is still nicely compact and the transparent strip, which changes its color to match the screen contents, is a cool accent.
The obvious catch is the very limited internal storage – 4GB for your documents and media files and 2GB for apps is what you get out of the box and, if that’s a deal breaker, you should probably start looking for other options as there’s no way around it.
So, Sony know what they’re doing in the midrange. The Xperia U is so comfortably ahead of similarly priced smartphones that it’s one of the easiest to recommend.
Few would’ve believed last year that a solid dual-core experience and a display of very good quality would be available at this price point. Screen size aside, the Xperia U is better than the Xperia Arc S in almost every way and that one passed for a flagship device mere 9 months ago.
And as if that’s not enough, the Xperia U is perhaps the most affordable dual-core droid. It’s the cheapest way to get a FWVGA display too, and the build and finish are worthy of a flagship. You wouldn’t normally expect to get anything else on this kind of budget, but you are in for another surprise. The changeable color of the transparent strip is a nice little twist giving personality and character, which are hard to come by in the crowded smartphone midrange.
The obvious catch here is the Sony Xperia U limited storage, but if that’s a deal-breaker to you we should’ve lost you at the intro. Granted, the issue will drive some people away, but if you can live with the 6GB provided, you’ll be getting a deal that’s hard to beat. Just look at the competition.
Sony obviously has a thing for affordable solid smartphones, as the device that comes closest to the Xperia U is its very own Xperia Sola. Dropping the fancy see-through strip and the removable battery, the sola offers that vital microSD slot for all the storage you may need. It also has a slightly larger 3.7″ LCD, which is better suited to multimedia consumption than the tiny, by today’s standards, 3.5″ screen on the U. The Xperia sola will cost you a little extra though.
Sony Xperia Sola
If you are willing to pay that extra, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is another offer you might want to consider. With a bigger 3.8″ screen and a microSD card slot, it can match the Xperia U in terms of speed and performance and even get a slight edge in overall experience thanks to the more functional TouchWiz launcher. Given that it doesn’t even look half as good, we don’t think the premium is justified.
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 18160
The HTC One V on the other hand, is all about premium looks and giving a taste of Sense’d ICS here and now to those who don’t care to wait for an update. It has a pretty good display too, but its single-core chipset raises doubts. Spending more on a handset that’s packing last-year’s hardware is not the best of options.
HTC ONE V
If you want a different experience from Android, you might want to look at the Lumia 710. It’s the only phone here that actually costs less than the Xperia U, with a 3.7″ screen and an equally smooth UI performance, thanks to the lightweight Windows Phone 7.5 platform. The WP ecosystem still has some catching up to do to match Android.
As you can see, matching the bang for buck of the Xperia U isn’t an easy job for most smartphones. Sony have a real winner on their hands. There’s nothing stopping it from becoming a bestseller if they roll out the ICS update in a timely manner and play their marketing cards right. And then a stronghold in the mid-range is a good place to launch a counter attack on the high-end, where Sony Ericsson have been less than stellar lately.
Posted by Wordmobi