Sony Xperia U
Weight: 110 grams
Dimensions: 112x54x12 mm
Screen resolution: 854x480 pixels
OS: Android 2.3
CPU: Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9
Camera: Primary camera: 5 MP , Secondary camera: VGA , Flash type: LED flash ,
Video recording: 720p@30fps
Browser: HTML5, Adobe Flash
Networks: GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA
Bluetooth: Yes, v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
USB: Yes, microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go support
Memory: 8 GB (up to 4 GB user-accessible memory)
Battery: 1,320 mAh
Has the smallest size of three smartphones in 54 x 112mm. Not surprisingly, this is also the lightest in the featherweight 110g.
Design-wise the Xperia U looks similar to Xperia S, Sony’s current flagship product. The new NXT design line of Sony with the transparent strip in the bottom, a screen with good pixel density, and fast camera capable of HD video. The phone comes out with a removable and replaceable with a cap of different color to suit your mood, clothes. There is an extra cap provided in the box, and a variety of other colors. The illuminated transparent strip at the bottom that lights up when you press the three capacitive “dots” above it. Here it can light up in different colors - white, blue, green, red, purple or yellow, depending on the theme and song you play. This does serve as an antenna and allow easy signal access for improved reception. The navigational dots are greatly responsive as the lock key is placed right underneath your thumb, and the volume rocker below it is comfortably long and wide.
Along with lighting up when you lock/unlock or power the Smartphone on, the LED lights in the transparent bar also indicate certain notifications or alerts you may have on the phone.Pulling the cap out to replace with another color requires just a firm grip and pull-down, but you won’t find any slots underneath, it’s just for appearance purposes. To insert a SIM card you’d have to push the back cover, and slide it upwards, easy-peasy. Thankfully the phone sports a regular SIM slot and a removable battery, so about the only vice in that department is the lack of microSD card slot for expansion of the 4GB internal memory.
The smaller screen and more petite build don’t takes away from the aesthetics of the handset. The 3.5-inch display is nice and bright, powered by Sony’s proprietary Mobile BRAVIA Engine and the handset finds a nice fit in my palm. It is sufficiently bright for outside visibility, with saturated colors and good viewing angles - better than on the Xperia S where contrast and brightness fade significantly from the sides. Here we only get a slightly yellowish cast when tilting on the right, and that’s about the only deviation.
This machine uses Sony Bravia, which promises to improve picture quality for photos and video, and has a resolution of 480x854 pixels and a pixel density of 280ppi, making text clear and small interface elements appear crisp and smooth. The screen is one of the best we’ve seen on a budget smartphone. Have good clarity, brightness and contrast, and decent viewing angles. The only gripe is the lack of oleophobic coating on the display, so finger grease accumulates and gets smudged quickly and you have to wipe it pretty often.
The default camera app comes pre-loaded with a lot of shooting options. When you are framing your shot you can quickly access some of the most important settings right on the screen – Flash, Exposure and Scenes. The fourth icon lets you either swap from the rear camera to the one at the front or capture an image in the Sweep Panorama mode. Images clicked with the front camera were a little grainy - that’s not so unexpected. However, pics taken in the Panorama mode too weren’t really impressive. Apart from being slightly grainy, you could also tell, without having to look too hard, where the camera had ‘stitched’ up the images in case you weren’t super steady while shooting the Panorama.
Regular shots with the 5-megger, however, were pretty impressive. The colour reproduction as well as the sharpness of images didn’t disappoint.
The camera also has an option to capture panorama images in 3D but you can only view it in a device that supports 3D images. We took a couple of shots but couldn’t test it on a 3D device.
The native music player features the xLoud technology along with Sony 3D surround sound. On speakerphone, the music sounds loud and the vocals crystal clear. It’s not one of the phones where you’d be wary of distortion or audio turning tinny when you increase the volume.
Despite being an ‘NXT’ generation product, the handset still features Android Gingerbread (ver 2.3) and is awaiting an upgrade to the Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
There are a couple of apps pre-loaded on to the smartphone, such as MusicUnlimited and PlayNow, which hold a whole lot of promise.
Timescape remains the familiar ol’ interface for you to integrate multiple social service accounts. It streamlines and displays your news or social feed across platforms in chronological order. You can now include a couple of extensions for this app, available on Google Play. These include Foursquare Timescape, Music Timescape, Picasa Timescape and a bunch of similar services.
Hardware and battery
The Xperia S has a 1 GHz dual-core processor. The phone does not slow down while browsing and playing music in music player on the background while we kept on downloading and trying out a couple of games from Google Play. There are times when the phone takes just that extra second. The speeds aren’t blazingly fast but it doesn’t give too much reason to complain either.
The Xperia U is powered by a 1,320 mAh battery. This battery fuel ended the device for close to two days with intermittent internet usage (connected to Wi-Fi), playing games every once in a while as well as streaming music.