Xperia U: Our hands-on impressions

by XB on 6th March 2012

in Featured Content, Hands On, Xperia U

Xperia UThe Sony Xperia U sits at the lower end of the Xperia NXT range. It carries the same Iconic Identity design as the Xperia S and Xperia P, but is lower specced than its big brothers. However, it has one head-turning feature not found on the more expensive models – an illuminating transparent bar that changes colour according to what is being displayed on screen.

We recently went hands-on with the handset and liked what we saw. A lot of people that visit this site may not be interested in the Xperia U given the lower specs, but Sony is pricing this handset quite competitively. We think the colour-changing notification bar will be a great talking point with consumers and Sony is likely to focus on this feature when marketing the handset. Click through for our first impressions of the Xperia U.

Thoughts on the Xperia U

Illuminating notification bar – The headline feature of the Xperia U is the colour changing transparent bar. This transparent bar is the same found in the Xperia S and Xperia P, but in the Xperia U it actually changes colour depending on what content is being shown on screen whether that be a photo, music or web page. Think of Philips Ambilight televisions if you’re trying to conceptualise what happens. It works very well in practice changing colour almost immediately to what is being displayed on screen. You may think this might be distracting, but it didn’t annoy us, although our play test was only brief. It does not work when you play a video so it shouldn’t distract from any video content. Overall, we really liked the effect and we’ve not seen anything like it in any other phone. Seeing this first hand though made us wish it was a standard feature on the Xperia S and Xperia P handsets too.

Xperia U

Stylish design with interchangeable caps – The Iconic Identity design really is very different to anything else out there. Kudos to Sony Mobile for creating designs that stand out from the me-too Android crowd. We like the implementation on the Xperia U, you don’t get the nice metallic feel of the Xperia P, but the plastic seems perfectly tactile. With the Xperia U you can change the bottom ‘caps’ of the phone for ones of different colours (this isn’t possible with the Xperia S and Xperia P). These interchangeable caps add to the illuminating notification bar and we can see this phone appealing to the fashionistas out there. The white Xperia U will come with white and yellow caps, whilst the black model will come with black and pink caps.

Xperia U

Speedy handset – The Xperia U carries the same 1GHz dual-core ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 processor found in the Xperia P. It is also running at a lower resolution (480 x 854 versus 540 x 960 on the Xperia P), which means it is not having to work as hard as the Xperia P. The result is a very smooth performance in terms of UI. We noticed no lag on our testing.

Xperia U

Average camera performance – The Sony Xperia U has a 5MP camera (no Exmor R camera sensor here) that is capable of 720p video recording. Nothing to shout home about, however it does carry the Fast Capture feature found in the Xperia S and Xperia P. This means that holding the camera shutter button will take a picture from standby in around two seconds.

Xperia U

Limited storage with no expansion – The Sony Xperia U only has 8GB of in-built flash storage and no micro-SD memory card slot. Only 6GB of this is user accessible with 2GB of this allocated to phone memory for apps, data and games and the balance for media. It is quite clear that this is not the phone for those of you with large music collections or those who like to watch a lot of video content. Sony never intended this to be a media phone anyway and the lack of HDMI port reinforces this point. The 2GB partition for apps/data however, means that it should have more than enough space if you just use your phone to download apps.

Xperia U

Xperia U uses a normal SIM and has a removable battery – On the plus side, the Xperia U will use a normal SIM card (unlike the micro-SIM needed in the Xperia S and Xperia P). Also, the handset will use a removable 1320mAh battery – once again no embedded battery as found in the other Xperia NXT models.

Overall initial impressions – Sony said that the Xperia U is designed to be a phone for the first time smartphone user. In that regard, Sony has succeeded in our view. The phone is certainly not boring with its funky design and illuminating bar, we can imagine it being a big talking point and is sure to grab the attention of passers-by. Yes, in terms of specifications it doesn’t carry a lot of features but then at the very competitive price point Sony is aiming at it doesn’t really need to.

Xperia U

  • Asad Mulla

    they gave a removable battery and standard sim. A simply SD card would make it so much better. 8gb fixed, thats not gonna work.

  • Asad Mulla

    they gave a removable battery and standard sim. A simply SD card would make it so much better. 8gb fixed, thats not gonna work.

  • Zoey Nguyen

     Aside from the NovaThor processor, fast capture and transparent strip, I still prefer Xperia Ray.

  • Julius Buma-at

    Sony Mobile is copying and trying to be like the iPhone.  For me this is not good.  I’d rather stick with my W8 Walkman for the meantime as it is hot swappable up to 16GB of microSD card and upgrade this to CM9.  Sony should put a microSD slot in all of their models just like Sony Ericsson did.

  • agree..

  • No, your W8 Walkman’s micro sd is not hot swappable. It’s under the battery.

  • Pingback: Sony Mobile Communications unveils Xperia P and Xperia U (Xperia NXT series) | Xperia Dev()

  • Anonymous

    How are Sony trying to be like the iPhone, a micro sim is the only similarity and I know because I have an iPhone, there is nothing about it that makes me think Sony are just copying, it’s never good to make such a bold “matter of fact” statement when there is nothing to backup what you are saying.

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  • M@nU

    Itz Just Awesumm…. Compact-Sized Perfect SmartPhone frm SONY….:)) :-)

  • Jurij

    [quote] The Sony Xperia U only has 8GB of in-built flash storage and no micro-SD
    memory card slot. Only 6GB of this is user accessible with 2GB of this
    allocated to phone memory for apps [/quote]

    It’s not true. Sony Xperia U has 2 GB of system memory and 2GB for user usage. That’s all. Here is proof: . Check out also Xperia U white paper ;) 

    Best regards,


  • Anonymous

    The website link is wrong – the white paper is correct. It says:

    System memory 2 GB
    Phone memory 2 GB
    Internal storage 4 GB

    Add all this up it gets you to 8GB eMMc (6GB user accessible).

  • yuff

    Screw the SD card slot. If they release a 16 GB variant, this would sell like nutella hot cakes.

  • Dvdvdv

    Why is 720p camera? =(

  • Rene Pedroso

    What a vote of confidence. Sony’s website is wrong. Great third party marketing by XBlog.

  • angel morales

    Sony copying Iphone what a joke… why would sony want to copy such a shitty phone like iphone? 

  • Killing Spree

    in gsmarena they said only 4 gigs of memory which is real pls. answer

  • Shemale

    I bet xperia is she not he so I rather sister than brother

  • Cheng

    lol, angel, i like ur comment “shitty phone like iphone” not been aware that there are far more users to dislike iphone than I thought haha ~

  • Oink

    Samsung could copy the iphone. And they did…

  • After much consideration, I think I would prefer the U over the P or S. I’ve been using the Arc for a while, quite a premium handset imo, and I really don’t need to have the BEST phone that comes out. I think having a fast little phone that looks cute would be perfect. For me, I’m willing to give up a little camera quality if it means I get that light-bar. I was drooling over that since it was announced. To have waited all this time (& I’ll still be waiting at least 6mos before I can get my hands on one) and NOT have that is not an option for me. It has enough storage, a nice enough screen, and it has the same processor power as the P which is a big factor as well. If it were slower I would say probably not. But it’s fast and looks great. It will be a great all-round phone. Also I like the white!

  • nite fox

    I prefer the Xperia Mini Pro design by far. Don’t like the white plastic thing. Btw, after the x10 mini and xperia mini, will there be a next Xperia Mini?

  • air

    Im wondering the same thing, the xperia U is too big and the rumoured Tapioca is lower spec than current mini

  • sony

    f**K of oink … no company stands in front of i phone excet sony

  • sony

    f**K of oink … no company stands in front of i phone excet sony

  • So many people do this, and it’s so annoying. Apple wasn’t the first to come out with a smartphone! There were PDAs and portable handheld computing devices with large screens, with and without a stylus, far before the iPhone came out. It’s like saying everyone who releases an MP3 player is copying the iPod. So far from the truth. They weren’t the first, they were just the most “different” at the time… but the times they are a-changing. Get with it.

  • JT

    Make it an aluminum uni-body like the P in silver, gunmetal or black then make it available on Sprint!!!  I would buy it!

  • Rajamurugan075

    Common Sony! 4gb memory and embedded battery. We Indians won’t buy it. You’re losing out to the Koreans who bring fresh tech unlike you who take up to medieval ages!

  • Rajamurugan075

    Sony, don’t let us down. We’re hardcore Sony Ericsson fans. Your new models with embedded battery and no micro sd card slot will take you nowhere. You will be going the Nokia lumia way.

  • According to the white paper, it has got:
    System memory 2 GB
    Phone memory 2 GB
    Internal storage 4 GB

    That’s fine for me.

  • Julius Buma-at

    Open the back cover of W8 and you can see and then remove the micro sd card as it is placed on top of the battery, just don’t forget to unmount it first.

  • Julius Buma-at

     I’m just comparing it in terms of no micro sd card capability.  Just MHO.

  • Pingback: The Xperia U in all of its LED colours | Xperia Blog()

  • Actually I like Sony Xperia U Smartphone… It’s cute.. :).. And I wanna know about the sim card? Is it Micro sim or Normal sim? And the only problem is we cannot expand the memory :( When it is coming to Saudi Arabia ???

  • Zevice99

    Jealous people I say…

  • Xmyass

    I bought the Xperia U for 199GBP .. Tesco SIM only deal at 10GBP/mnth.. 500mins 5000texts 500MB .. my first ‘Smart@ phone. I LOVE IT!!
    6GB plenty .. I just created a playlist of tracks that I actually like listening to :)
    Ice Cream Sandwich any day soon, get the S or an Iphone if you prefer Koudos over efficiency!

  • Fernando Nogueira

    Sony prepare your pijamas because if you continue to release phones like this you will soon be at sleep like RIM or Nokia…
    No sd card slot what kind of a phone is this?
    Was it that more expensive to add one?
    I realy like the design of your latest phones but this is unaceptable,oh well will see the price…

  • Marco

    I agree. And, another thing, if it ha a micro sd slot , that would be only necessary for data (fotos, videos,…) because 2Gb is more then enough for the apps someones needs.
    OK, you have already so many pictures and videos in the internal memory that there is no more space available. Whats the problem with that? Just move them to the the computer and copy to any backup media (CD, USB PEN,… whatever). Even if the phone had a micro sd slot, would someone keep all his photos and videos in the card without making a backup to other storage media? That’s my opinion :)

  • some sites say only 4gb is accessible and u r saying 6gb
    soo wat 4gb or 6gb available plz reply

  • Shiftgirl1978

    Someone please help lol my first smart phone is xperia u by Sony and I need the pre loaded ap’s the phone came with due to me accidentally deleting them. I don’t even know which ones they were anyone? I’d appreciate the help

  • Allanjefred

    Xperia u sucks to me. I was dissapointed on what i bought. No sdcard can not ne upgraded.

  • I got My micro card stuck how do i get it out?

  • will96

    where can you buy a white back and cap for the xperia u?

  • Shreya

    Me too! Any help?!

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