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Sony Xperia U review

 Review: May 2012  

Last updated April 2013

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia U is priced at the budget end of mid-range, and that makes it exceptionally good value.



The Xperia U is the baby in Sony's Xperia NXT series. It's an attractive phone, available in a choice of colours and with a transparent strip near the base that flashes in different colours when the phone wants to alert you to something. It lacks the aluminium body of the Xperia P, but this is reflected in its price, and it doesn't really look any different unless you examine it closely.

To be fair, the U isn't really a baby. The 3.5 inch screen (the same as the iPhone 4S) is a high quality Bravia display with a high resolution of 854 x 480 pixels. It lacks the WhiteMagic technology of its bigger brother, the Xperia P, but nevertheless it's one of the sharpest and clearest displays in its class.

The phone is one of the fastest in its price range, with a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM to power it. The built-in memory is 8GB, which is generous, although half of this is not available to the user and there's no option to add a memory card.

The camera on the Xperia U isn't particularly high-end. 5 megapixels with an LED flash and HD video is set to become a standard amongst mid-range phones, and there's nothing that sets the Xperia U apart from its rivals. That's not to say there's a problem here, because the camera takes good shots and can replace a low- to mid-range digital camera. It also has a front-facing VGA camera ready for video chat.

Music is stronger, with an easy-to-use music player that produces high quality audio. Sony's xLOUD Experience, Clear stereo and clear bass all have a part to play in guaranteeing solid sound quality via a 3.5mm headphone connector. An FM radio with RDS is also included. You might miss the memory card option though, if you have a large music collection.

The phone runs Android Gingerbread 2.3, with a promised update to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 during 2012. Sony have overlayed Android with their own user interface enhancements, most noticeably Timescape, which serves as a communications hub for texts, emails, facebook and twitter feeds. These enhancements help to make the most of the limited 3.5 inch screen.

Connectivity options are plentiful, and include all the essentials: Wi-Fi (including the ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot), 3G HSPA, Bluetooth, USB and DLNA. NFC has been dropped from the specification, but it's still very early days for NFC and we don't see this as being a big problem.

Which brings us to battery life. We worried that the 1305mAh battery in the Xperia P wasn't up to the job. The Xperia U has an ever so slightly bigger 1320mAh battery, with a smaller screen and generally less demanding tech to power. We don't think that battery life is going to be a key strength of the U, but it ought to be OK for most users.

So, to conclude, the Sony Xperia U is an attractive phone with a distinctive design and offers a good user experience. There are a lot of great features here, including a dual-core processor, a pin-sharp display, a great camera, excellent connectivity and of course all the goodies that Android offers. Tis a pity it's only Android Gingerbread, but a little patience will fix that. The key selling point of the Xperia U is of course its selling price, and it looks to us as if it's going to be a bit of a bargain.

Sony Xperia U features include:

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Sony Xperia U user reviews

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Average rating from 18 reviews:

Reviewed by rob s from england on 9th May 2013
The best thing about this phone is the removable battery, as the amount of times it freezes every day I'd be stuck.

Reviewed by Nenad from Norway on 12th Mar 2013
This phone is just amazing! I wanted a cheap phone because I have Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet that I'm carrying around, and I don't need big screen. Guess what.. I ended up using XU all the time. For me the top feature of this phone is SOUND QUALITY. It's just blows you away. ICS update worked really good and I am happy with new features and I really like Sony interface (this is personal preference). Battery life is kinda standard but it charges super-fast. Camera is standard, but I like camera software I can play with. The processor is really good but can stuck sometimes. I think it's the matter of managing apps correctly. I thought I might switch it for a better phone after a while but it just won't happen as I got hooked on changing caps. Yes color caps. I am falling for kitch. Gonna buy additional ones on e-bay. :O
Now few bad things: keyboard. The phone is so narrow which is good format for images and gives phone charm but if you're a guy like me then you should be thinking about getting 'big buttons' keyboard from google play for your XU. Storage is really small but I use it for Spotify switching new for old music all the time so its sufficient for me. Images go directly to dropbox and G+ so can be deleted at once.
It is the best value for money phone you can find, however if you want something powerful not charming, XU is not for U. I still use tablet to surf and for productivity so XU fits me very well. But if you want to surf and use productivity apps maybe you should consider bigger screen. However the charm, the POWER SOUND and user involvement makes this phone a really, really good buy.

Reviewed by Majid from North Yorkshire, UK on 23rd Feb 2013
I bought this phone after i started having problems with my Galaxy S3 and had to send it off to be repaired by Samsung under warranty. Realising how dependent i was on my smartphone i wanted to get something cheap and cheerful that would last me the couple of weeks my s3 would be out of action.

Initiially i got a HTC Desire C because of its microsd card slot, but it was terribly underpowered and so went back and exchanged at Phones4u for this which was only £15 dearer. The difference between the two phones was huge! This phone would easily have been top of the range in 2011. Good build quality, dual core processer with decent RAM. The display is bright, crisp and clear. Camera is average and theres no microsd but considering how much you are paying (£115) you cant grumble too much.

However there is a big BUT coming.... This shipped th Android 2.3 and worked pretty well with it. The Android 4.0 update came out few months ago so i updated the phone very soon after getting it. big mistake, the update was so poorly optimised that it was almost unusable....too slow, frequent crashing, numerous times i had to hard reset by taking the battery out. The final straw was when i had to do a hard reset just to finish a call! Then i unlocked the bootloader, rooted and flashed a custom rom (Cyanogenmod 9). The phone is now the delight ive mentioned above with the specs delivering. It is for thhis reason that i took two stars off the rating from 5 to 3. I am an android geek so rooting amd flashing a rom is something i can do.... But not everyone can, wants to pr in fact should have tp, frankly its Sonys job to make a good version of Android 4.0 for their phones.

And so for that reason, much as i love this little thing, i can really recommend it unless its a sexond mobile/spare/you are happy to tinker. Its a shame because after i put cm9 on it i really didnt miss my s3!

Hope this is useful

Reviewed by rupert from uk on 28th Oct 2012
outstanding mobile! all the good features in it an out standing display a excellent camera the battery is good and the phone is upgradable to jelly beans the storage is small but its enough for me and it also supportusb on the go i suggest this phone for you

Reviewed by Daniel from Lancashire, UK on 17th Oct 2012
Got this phone last week to replace my aging Nokia 5230 and what a great decision. The phone is easy to customsie with plenty of apps available from Google Playstore. The Timescape feature is brilliant with all the posts from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and email all in the same place and easy to see and access. Synced with my Google accounts means that I have no problems updating contacts, acessing my gmail account or accessing the internet. The music player is easy to use. The 5mp camera is more than adequate for a camera phone, I personally don't see the point in having 13mp cameras or HD on a mobile phone, the screens will never be large enough to benefit. If you want that quality for your picture or video you will always be better off with a dedicated camera or video camera. The battery life is excellent. i am not the heaviest user but with regular use of wi-fi, bluetooth, internet the battery is surving a full day with at least 30% left in the battery before I recharge overnight.

So far no problems with the phone.

All round an excellent phone for the money.

Reply by Daniel from Lancashire, UK on 5th Nov 2012
Update to my previous post - Sony have now released an update for Android 4.0 which I downloaded with no problem. Battery life seems to be improving with around 50% charge left at the end of the day although, as I said previously, I am not the heaviest user. The phone is easy to use and I am very happy with my choice. This really is an outstanding value for money phone.

Reviewed by Cheryl from UK on 2nd Oct 2012
Had this phone for a while now, brilliant phone APART from sometime cuts off when talking to people on it which can be just a BIT annoying at times!! Battery life really good unless playing games which is to be expected!

Reviewed by Karen from UK on 24th Sep 2012
This phone is fantastic! The battery life is excellent - I've managed to get 4 days out of it with wifi and 3g turned off. The screen is very easy to use, and much faster than my old Nokia Express Music. Browsing the internet is easy and web pages load fast. If you're looking for a budget smartphone with an excellent battery life, you can't go wrong here!

Reviewed by Curran from UK on 23rd Aug 2012
Just got this the other day on contract for £5 a month! Great value, and overall a fantastic phone. The battery life is actually ridiculously good for a smartphone of its calibre and the smallish size of the battery yet it can easily perform a day after heavy use. Honestly, I believe that this phone is better than an iPhone. This is more interesting, fun, and will always leave you excited and yearning to discover more of its capabilities. It's really hard to fault this phone but I can think of two disappointing aspects. The first being the lack of an additional memory card slot. Secondly, the lack of loudness of the in-call volume. However, for the price I'm paying every month, this phone gets a solid 5.

Reviewed by JSG from UK on 8th Aug 2012
Excellent choice if you opted to go for this phone. The specs and craftsmanship of this phone for the price I paid is unbelievable. I brought a pay and go handset and put in a 12month sim as it was cheaper than buying sim free and it worked in my favour as the phone turned out to be unlocked.

If anyone is worried about the battery life donít be. I have had this phone for over a week and every day at the end of the night after 14 to 15 hours I still have 40 to 60% battery left. I have not used it over wifi but the mobile internet and background data has been on 24/7, downloaded apps each day, few phone calls and text alot. I can see the battery being drained end of the day if I switch on Wifi/GPS or watch movies.

Overall this is a very good phone for someone who is not too bothered about the storage space and is not going to be using it for loads of music/ HD Video/ heavy browsing everyday. For the user who is going to be just checking mail, occasional browsing and odd photos / video then this is perfect.

Remember you can always backup to PC if you do a lot of Video.
I can also verify that I have managed to watch MP4 and Xvid/AVI movie with the standard player.
I was originally looking at the Nokia Lumia 710 but this wins hands down.
This was my first phone review so hope it helps people in picking the right phone for them.

Reviewed by Mohammad from egypt on 1st Aug 2012
Excellent mobile go and buy this it's very good

Reviewed by Rohit from UK on 24th Jul 2012
WHAT AN AMAZING PHONE!!!! i got rid of my blackberry for this Xperia u Phone. What can i say, its amazing, funky, light, its similar to the iPhone 8GB but the Xperia u is much better, the led light at the bottom, loud speakers, screens reactive , even though not much memory on the phone, its still a good phone, good camera and very good quality, , the battery life is good , i got 2 days out of it, would recommend this phone to anyone, it beats the iPhone and its cheaper

Reviewed by Cheryl from UK on 16th Jun 2012
LOVE THIS PHONE! Got it as a replacement as the BB Bold 9790 & SO glad I did, took a while to figure bits out but got there in the end! Only thing not keen on is have to keep changing the lighting when I try to take photos, not keen when have the flash but maybe thats lighting conditions! When I try to take photo indoors I have to alter the camera lighting & then again when I'm outside but not exactly hard work! But when photos have finally been taken they are VERY clear, can't complain anyway! Not sure what the battery lifes like yet, maybe won't be brilliant with it being smartphone but can easily charge overnight! Would recommend to anyone liking touchscreen, better than the Iphone IMO!

Reviewed by Des from Ireland on 15th Jun 2012
Have this phone for 2 weeks and I find it excellent. Great all rounder but not costing a huge sum. Fast response times, good enough camera, excellent call quality, good screen, battery will easily last 2 days on moderate use, one day if very heavy use. Lack of SD card is not an issue for me but might be for some users. A lot of newer phones are too big so I like the compact size of the U and looks great in black.

Reviewed by Akshay from India on 13th Jun 2012
I love this phone.sony is a exilent company in my opnian

Reviewed by K from UK on 11th Jun 2012
Good phone.
It does have one annoyance- the illuminated transparent band at the bottom which I cannot find a way of switching off. It lights up for a few seconds during certain features. This surely eats into battery life.
Apart from that it is a fun and reliable device.

Reply by S21 from UK on 11th Jun 2012
I wouldn't worry about the LED light. It's power consumption will be negligible.

Reviewed by James from UK on 1st Jun 2012
Got my Xperia U yesterday and really pleased so far. I've used an iPhone 4 up to now and I've been impressed by how good this phone is for the money. The screen is excellent, call quality very good and web browsing very fast. Only minor niggle is the battery life, but certainly no worse than the iPhone. Good looking phone as well, looks more expensive than it is.

Reviewed by Sharon from uk on 26th May 2012
Best phone ever!
Great for watching movies via netflix or Google play
No lagging
Great screen
Great battery life
Call quality good.
A great buy

Reviewed by Lewis from England on 26th May 2012

Reply by Spoony from England on 26th May 2012
Back at yu handsome!

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