Look and feel
The Sony Xperia U feels tiny in the hand despite its chunky build. It easily slips into bags and pockets and we like the transparent glowing bar and changeable coloured lips
Ease of use
Some users may struggle with the Xperia U’s compact display, but we had no problem playing with apps, bashing out texts and emails, or browsing the web – thanks in part to the sharp resolution and responsive touch-screen. The camera shutter button is a little stiff and hard to press
The Xperia U’s five-megapixel camera snaps sharp and vibrant pics, and has a couple of cool features such as a 3D panorama mode
Despite its tiny frame, the Xperia U packs a dual-core processor that can handle any app and game you throw at it. This phone won’t be out of date any time soon
Sadly the Xperia U’s battery takes a hit from that dual-core processor, and if you like playing with apps you’ll find it dies within 24 hours
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,3/1/2012 12:04:28 PM
Sharp and vibrant mini screen
Compact despite a chunky frame
Neat changeable lip
Lacklustre battery life
Ropey shutter button
Likely to be too small for some
Sony’s Xperia U is the tiniest member of Sony’s new Xperia family, which includes the excellent 4.3-inch Xperia S and the middle-of-the-road four-inch Xperia P. With a mini 3.5-inch display, the Xperia U feels minute compared to its bigger brothers, yet makes up for it with a chunky and surprisingly weighty body – it’s actually thicker than the other two, and weighs only a fraction less. Despite its compact frame, Sony has packed in some impressive specs including a five-megapixel camera and dual-core processor – but is the dinky Xperia U a big success?
To find out which Sony Xperia smartphone is best for you - the Xperia S, the Xperia P or the Xperia U - check out our quick comparison feature!
Despite its smaller frame, the Xperia U keeps the same design of its Xperia brethren, with a transparent bar and coloured lip jutting out beneath the screen. As usual the bar glows an eerie blue when you have a notification, but the Xperia U also has a unique little trick – you can remove the lip and replace it with another of a different colour. We pulled off our white one and stuck on a yellow, which added a refreshing burst of colour to the body. The back pops right off to expose the battery and SIM card slot, but there’s no microSD to expand the 8GB of built-in storage.
The same dual-core processor as the Xperia P has been packed into the Xperia U’s compact frame, so Android Ice Cream Sandwich runs like a dream, while 3D games downloaded from the Google Play store zip by with a silky smooth frame rate – and will do for the foreseeable future. Battery life takes a hit unfortunately, and if you like to mess around with apps the phone will be dying within 24 hours.
The Xperia U packs an impressive five-megapixel camera for such a tiny phone. The auto-focus takes a half second to lock onto a target, but the results are crisp and pleasingly colourful and you get a couple of cool little features including 3D panorama mode. We’re always happy to see a physical camera button on the edge, but the Xperia U’s button is too narrow and barely sticks out of the body, making it tough to fully push down. When we did manage it we inevitably shook the phone, blurring the photo – so we stuck with the virtual button instead.
Budding directors can also shoot HD video, which can get a little grainy indoors but is otherwise crisp and clean. Else, if you’d rather just watch a movie, the Xperia U’s vibrant screen is well up to the task, despite its limited viewing space. Our high-def films looked sharp, with minimal blurring and strong viewing angles. We’d say the Xperia U is easily on par with the impressive HTC One S and HTC One V for media, as long as you don’t mind the small viewing window.
Sony’s Xperia series keeps going from strength to strength. The Xperia U is the smallest yet, but retains most of the Xperia P’s excellent features, including a dual-core processor, powerful camera and crisp, vibrant screen, although once again battery life is less than impressive. If you’re a huge film fan after a truly magnificent and spacious display, try the Xperia S on for size – but if you want something more compact, the Xperia U is a great choice.
The Sony Xperia U (top) compared with the Xperia P (middle) and Xperia S (bottom)