Sony Xperia U Android phone
Sony Xperia U review: A compact prepaid Android phone that offers good value for money
- Good build quality
- Intuitive user interface
- Decent battery life
- Limited memory
- Occasionally sluggish
- Outdated Android software
The Sony Xperia U is an entry level model targeted at pre-paid users. When you consider its price, the overall package of excellent build quality, good battery life and intuitive software represents good value. There are a couple of drawbacks, the main one being a lack of memory, but if you can get your head around that, the Xperia U offers excellent value for money.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Sony's Xperia U may be the baby of the company's new NXT series of Android phones but it certainly doesn't look out of place among more expensive alternatives. A compact design, good build quality and a functional user interface are only let down by a lack of internal memory and an older version of Google's Android software.
Small in size but not in quality
The Sony Xperia U is constructed from plastic but build quality is one of its highlights.
The Sony Xperia U is an entry level pre-paid smartphone but its design is very reminiscent of far more expensive models, notably the company's flagship Xperia S and the mid-range Xperia P. It follows the same design principles as these handsets — a square, block shape with sharp corners, a slightly curved back and a distinctive transparent band below the screen.
The Xperia U is constructed from plastic but build quality is one of its highlights. There are no creaks or rattles when the casing is pressed, we love the rubber-style finish on the back cover and the buttons are well placed for single-handed use. Despite its the sharp corners, the Xperia U's small size is a huge plus for ergonomics as the phone fits comfortably in your hand.
The Xperia U's transparent band below the screen has back, home and menu labels printed on it, but the keys themselves are the small dots above the band. The bar is simply backlit label for these buttons. The backlight of the bar changes colour depending on the theme you have set in the Xperia U's software and it will also display colours to match images you're viewing in the gallery. Further, the plastic cap below the transparent band is interchangeable. Sony includes an extra one in the sales package and also sells multiple coloured caps as optional accessories.
The Sony Xperia U has a compact 3.5in screen with a resolution of 480x854, which to be fair is quite impressive for a budget handset. The screen isn't going to blow you away and does lack the vivid brightness of the "WhiteMagic" panel on the Xperia P, but it has reasonable viewing angles and displays crisp text. In fact, the pixel density of 280 ppi (pixels per inch) makes it one of the better screens we've seen on a lower-end Android smartphone.
Gingerbread a self-admitted disadvantage
ICS has been in existence since late last year, so the wait is completely unacceptable.
The Sony Xperia U runs the 2.3 Gingerbread version of Android which Sony admits is a disadvantage at a retail level. The company has promised an upgrade to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future, but considering it has been in existence since late last year, the wait is completely unacceptable.
Given the Xperia U's positioning as a low-end, prepaid smartphone, however, the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich software is a little easier to take, especially when Sony's UI overlay is one of the best we've used. There are some very appreciated features including an app draw can be sorted by multiple parameters, a lock screen allows you to swipe directly into new messages and missed calls, and Sony's intuitive quick settings widget and power saver apps. The only downside is Sony's insistence of preloading the Xperia U with so many apps, most of which are useless.
There are a few other negatives, but most of them need to be put into perspective when you consider the low asking price. Performance is largely smooth enough but there are times, often when using basic features, that the Xperia U's 512MB of RAM seems limited. We wouldn't exactly describe the phone as slow but it's certainly not fast, either. The biggest issue, however, is the lack of internal memory. With only 4GB of storage available and no microSD card slot, we suspect many users could be forced to look elsewhere.
The small 3.5in screen also means Sony's default keyboard on the Xperia U is small and cramped. The inclusion of Swype like functionality that allows you to draw over letters to type does help immensely, but we found it less efficient than Swype.
Decent camera, good battery life
The Xperia U takes decent photos, but image noise was still prominent in most of our shots.
The Sony Xperia U has a 5-megapixel camera but it still uses Sony's Exmor R image sensor. Sony claims the sensor produces images with higher sensitivity and less image noise in low light areas. The Xperia U takes decent photos, but image noise was still prominent in most of our shots. Colour reproduction is notable, however, and the detail in images is impressive for a 5-megapixel camera.
The Xperia U also has a VGA front facing camera for video calling, which works well for third party video apps like Skype and Tango but captures mediocre still photos. Unlike some of Sony's other Xperia models, the Xperia U lacks a HDMI-out port and doesn't have NFC connectivity. Neither are huge disadvantages at this price.
The Xperia U's battery life is perhaps its most impressive feature. We easily managed to pump out a full day of use out of the phone before it needed recharging. We suspect most users should be able to slightly better that given we consider ourselves heavy users.
The Sony Xperia U is available now through Crazy Johns for $0 on the $15 value plan and sells outright through Sony Centres ($299) and Dick Smith Stores ($289).
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Google WiFi review
- 2 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
- 3 Huawei GR5 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 4 Sony Xperia XZ Premium phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Blackberry KEYone phone: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- HP Omen laptops include a first: Nvidia Max-Q graphics technology
- HP's Omen X Compact Desktop can morph into a backpack VR PC
- HP's Omen Accelerator can give your laptop some guts
- HP reboots Omen desktop with more of what gamers love
- Samsung to detail new Tizen OS for smart home appliances, IoT devices
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Linksys Velop mesh WiFi review
- D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- Google WiFi review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTBusiness analystOther
- TP.Net DeveloperSA
- FTSenior Business Analyst- Online/Website application developmentOther
- CCPEGA Developers, Architects and Integrators - multiple requirementsVIC
- TPTest CoordinatorQLD
- FTTechnical Project Manager - Data Centre TransformationOther
- CCInstructional DesignerNSW
- FTSenior Mobile / Web DeveloperOther
- CCDigital Engineering ManagerNSW
- TPSenior Software Engineer C#NSW
- FTSenior Systems EngineerOther
- CCCognos Lead / Cognos DeveloperACT
- CCLevel 1 Service Desk SupportWA
- FTAccount Manager (Infrastructure Transition) - MULTIPLE ROLESSA
- FTService Desk EngineerNSW
- FTSoftware EngineerSA
- CCFinance Billing OfficerACT
- FTCommercial / Contract ManagerOther
- FTReporting AnalystSA
- FTDevOps ConsultantOther
- CCAMI ArchitectWA
- TPData|Reporting AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Agile Business AnalystOther
- FTColdFusion DeveloperOther
- FTVesting and Decommissioning OfficerOther