Hands-on with the Sony Xperia U

Sony Xperia U

Sony just got done with its first MWC press event and we got some hands-on time with the Xperia U,  an entry-level handset that, along with the Xperia S and the Xperia P, helps Sony hit every price point with its Android phones.

When you pick up the Xperia U, you’ll notice the size of the handset right away. After handling 4.5-inch phones all day, the U looks and feels small. Its 3.5-inch Reality Display is pleasing to the eye, but it didn’t have the brightness or viewing angles of the Xperia P’s WhiteMagic display.

On the surface, the U has a solid, but overwhelmingly plastic build that makes it feel cheap. It ships with a replaceable colored cap on the bottom of the phone that you can swap out when the spirit moves you. Similar to the Xperia S and the Xperia P, the U also has a transparent bar that changes according to the color of the image on the screen. On the back of the phone is a decent 5-megapixel camera with 720P HD video recording capabilities.

One the inside, the Sony Xperia U sports a 1GHz, dual-core processor which handles its Android 2.3.7 and Timescape-skinned OS nicely. There’s only a little lag here and there. It’s performance is on par with last year’s Android lineup, which isn’t too shabby for a phone that’ll likely ship with a rock-bottom price tag.

Software-wise, the Gingerbread-powered phone is chock-full of Sony customization and apps, some of which include Sony’s unlimited music and movie services. The choice to go with an older OS is disappointing, but not surprising since it is an entry-level phone. Sony is working on an Ice Cream Sandwich update, but its release date is a carefully guarded secret.

Overall, the Xperia U is a solid, entry-level phone that’ll appeal to the first-time buyer. It’ll also do nicely in emerging market where smartphone penetration is low and cost is a factor. It doesn’t scream like a quad-core phone,  but most of its target audience won’t notice the difference.

Though we like to see new phones with leading technology like quad-core processors and Android 4.0, the Xperia U is entry-level and, as such, won’t have all the bells and whistles of a flagship phone. As long as you know that you are buying a low-end phone, I think you will be happy with the choice.

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