on 12 August 2012
I owned a Galaxy S which was amazing for two years. It could not cope well with multi tasking or more demanding apps. I got fed up it with it and was looking for a change. I preferred a mobile phone that could perform well but at a decent price. I did quite a bit of research because I am a bit funny about technology which I am not going to rant about.
The two options I were weighting up was the Xperia U (£125 approx as an upgrade from Phones4u on PAYG at the time this was written) or the Star N8000 (£125 approx sold on Amazon).
The spec seemed better with the Star as it has 1GB of RAM. The Sony has 512K. I assumed Star would outperform. According to various U tube Antutu benchmarking videos however I noted the following scores (the higher the score the better):
Samsung Galaxy S: Score 3007
Star N8000: Score 3200
Sony Xperia U: Score 5333
You can imagine if I got the Star I might have been a bit cross.
- The Sony is small, like a mobile phone should be and not look like a tablet. It fits in the hand well and the pocket.
- It has square corners not round corners. I dont understand why a lot of phones have the round corners, probably health and safety or something. Its my personal preference by the way. Maybe I am sick of rounded corners now. Square cars is still a NO for now.
- The light strip is a cool touch. The phone feels like it comes to life when you use it and is customisable.
- It says SONY above the touch screen. I feel proud to be the owner of this device. I remember the days when you see 'Sony' it meant expensive but quality.
- Running gingerbread 2.3. Apparently will be upgraded to Ice cream sandwich 4.0 in September. Im happy with the software as it is.
- Due to the small screen it maybe difficult for some people to type on this device. The spell check built in is pretty efficient. If you make a mistake, the software will rectify it when you type the next word.
- Not as clever as the Galaxy S software. For example, on the Galaxy S you can swipe the text message to call someone. That was useful. Swiping from top of the screen to activate bluetooth, wifi etc was also very useful.
5) Storage capacity
- limited. 2gb dedicated to apps. 4gb for all others. This is fine for me. Other people may wish to carry more things.
- No expansion. Good. From previous experience, expansions slow the phone down.
6) Battery life:
OK. Lasted two days tops whilst playing games now and again. The battery can be changed. I intend to buy a replacement battery with higher capacity and use the one provided as a backup.
7) Recent Issues with the phone:
This phone worked like a dream on wifi for 15 mins. Then it started connecting to the router with 'limited connection' ie no internet. Apparently this is a common problem with these phones. I was determined to resolve this because I truely believe this phone is fantastic for the price, performs like a dream and looks great.
I updated the Belkin router with the latest firmware release. It did the trick for me. If you come across this problem I hope the suggestion will resolve the problem.
UPDATE: EARLY DEC 2012
8) A software update has been made available in Nov 2012 in the UK. It gives the Xperia U an update to Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).
It seems faster and has a more intelligent and user friendly interface. The internet connects faster and the range of the wireless has been increased. The highlight of this update is the option to 'swipe' words as seen on the Samsung phones and an improvement to the voice recognition which makes it easier to ask questions or Google something.
Please be aware Sony stated on their website that once the update has been made you will not be able to revert back to an older version of Android. So before you update please check the 3rd party apps you are most reliant on are compatible with the new version of ICS.
Im aware that those who enjoy Rage of Bahamut for example, it currently has problems loading animations.
Thanks for reading.
on 30 May 2012
I'll get it over with first: the well-discussed (if you've followed the forums and read other reviews) lack of a memory card slot is a bit naff, but with a small screen you're not likely to loading it up with oodles of videos. Bear in mind there is 6GB user memory altogether (2GB for apps, 4GB for media), not 4GB as many say. Know your needs, and take your pick. Rather annoyingly, the phone's memory does not appear as a standard mass-storage device when you plug it in with USB, instead it uses MTP for which support without installing bloated extra software is somewhat patchy. However I have successfully coaxed it to work with Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux.
The design is surprisingly decent, build quality average to good, and the screen is luscious - do fit a screen protector (at least one should be supplied) immediately to keep it that way. Some may not be so keen on the widescreen 16:9 ratio compared with the iPhone's 3:2, which does mean that although both are nominally 3.5" screens, the iPhone's is more spacious for portrait mode messaging. Android 2.3.7 works well enough so far, and Sony admit the specs (especially 512MB RAM) are a bit borderline for the promised ICS upgrade, so not sure whether I will bother with that. Battery life isn't too shabby, thanks to the efficient NovaThor processor - with light use, 2 to 3 days between charge seems about order of the day, but obviously not everyone's definition of "light" is the same. The camera is fair, with the 4mm f/2.6 lens well recessed to keep it protected, and a physical shutter button (also activates the camera from sleep) though it is quite stiff.
The supplied handsfree headset is about as cheap as Sony could muster, but the socket is a standard 3.5mm jack, and compatible with normal music headphones and CTIA handsfree devices (not the same as Sony Ericsson used to use alas). The (in)famous LED strip is surprisingly unobtrusive, even though it cannot be turned off altogether (though it's not illuminated constantly either; I haven't yet quite followed the logic, but it's fine), but the optional pink end cap is pretty horrid in my opinion. Dressed all in black straight from the box, the phone is smart and businesslike.
on 4 July 2012
To change my phone from an old LG to this is a pretty big step up, one which I have to say I am chuffed with. The U's turned out to be a very sleek and intelligent piece of kit thus far. The design, quality and ergonomics all seem to be there: it looks professional enough, it doesn't weigh too much and the widescreen aspect touchscreen is also pretty good. The battery does really well and I quite like the built-in camera. The gimmicky lightstrip is very fancy indeed and the interchangeable end caps lets you make the phone more personal to you if you're so inclined, but these things are just sideshow distractions; it's a mobile phone in the end. I don't expect to go above the memory usage with all of my music, gaming or applications (I have an iPod Touch for that) but it's nice to know that what I do eventually want to put on won't trouble the memory limits. My Facebook and Twitter networking works fine on it so it's all good.
As with other people I find that the lack of external memory space (Memory cards, MicroSD, etc.) is a little odd, but when you think about it's internal storage capacity, it becomes a little more forgivable. I'll have to wait until I post some of my music onto the device to test the memory, but I'm happy with this purchase overall. Time to shift my contacts...
on 9 November 2012
I have purchased this Sony Xperia U as a significant upgrade from my previous phone, an elderly Sony Ericsson K800i as I thought I should join the touch screen age!
I have purchased the white edition of this phone, from Phones 4U which comes with both a white and yellow end cap (instead of the pink and black with the black edition). I prefer the white version of the phone, but with the wide range of cases and end caps, you can tailor it to your taste.
I think that the phone is very fast in operation and apps and browsing launch and operate quickly. I like the home screen layout, with facebook at a glance, and other widgets giving information on news/weather/music and top contacts, which is useful to dial in a hurry. you can also assign wallpapers and pictures to contacts and customise your home screens (up to 7).
The camera and video functions are very good, giving good results in low light and having Sony's excellent sweep panarama function!
The dial screen for the calls is very clear and you have options for speakerphone and other in call functions, but be careful unless you press the button to cancel the number pad, it is easy to cancel the call you are on or making! One gripe with the dialler is that in times where you have to press an option or series of options on the call, the number pad doesnt come up automatically unless you press the number button,but be careful as you will cut yourself off!
I have found that the battery life is about a day with reasonable use of apps/web and up to two days with calls/texts. I followed advice and ran the battery down and charged for 12 hours to condition the battery. I was told this is very important.
As this is an Android phone you can download all sorts of apps and games from Play Store (similar to App Store)and films and books as well. There are lots of different things to try and many are free, but some can work out quite expensive. I am assured an update is due to Android 4 as my phone is on 2.37, but have not been able to yet!
All in all, I am very impressed with my phone, it is well built and designed and I love the coloured strip which changes with the colours in photos or theme set. I know the jury is out though but I like it!
It is a good alternative to popular phones, give one a try!!
on 27 June 2012
Being a mid 50-Something Silver Surfer; (picture Paul Whitehouse - Aviva health food Internet Cafe tv ad - 'any chance of a bacon sandwich around here'?), increasingly struggling with a small (2.4") screen handset but with a contract soon to expire I began looking for a new phone with a larger screen to read more easily and to do a little surfing. Luckily a recent eye test and the arrival of new spectacles coincided with the new mobile so I should be suitably 'optimised' for the next 18/24 months! That's my only minor reservation so far - should I have gone for an even larger screen but with poorer battery life/practicality and at (far) greater expense? Well I guess I will catch-up within the next 18 months whatever the case rather like going to a 42" telly from my current 37"!
I mainly use my phone for texts, calls, an 'always to hand' camera, radio and now with a larger screen some light video capture/Internet usage. However being my first Smartphone I have found it above all to be extremely useful for checking and managing various on-line accounts with some excellent apps that I have installed as well as listening to catch-up radio programmes via its surprisingly good built-in 'speaker' or via my AKG in-ear headphones.
I do not use social media or download games. Whilst I may watch some catch-up tv I believe films/drama/sport/concerts and the like deserve the infinitely superior viewing experience of a decent widescreen tv with a good home cinema sound system. The fact that I work from home most of the time quite obviously influences my usage patterns too. In other words as far as Smartphones are concerned I am a light to moderate user whom does not live life super-glued to a handset!
I chanced upon this Sony Xperia U by pure good fortune. I was 90% committed to opting for another brand when I was shown this alternative handset. Directly comparing them the superior screen quality of the Sony was immediately apparent. The alternative phones screen looked perfectly fine until viewed alongside the Sony against which it then became distinctly average; not as bright, sharp or crystal clear as the stunning Xperia's. I most strongly recommend anyone to directly compare phones this way before purchasing regardless of whatever all the revues or tests say. The combination of this, and its value, performance, features, quality, style, spec., et'al represented to me sooooo much phone for your hard earned £'s.
Now for a few facts and observations: The call quality is markedly superior to my old Nokia which was reasonably good anyway. The screen is 3.5" in a 'wider' 16:9 ratio i.e. like a widescreen tv and unlike the 'squarer' 3:2 ratio of most other 3.5" screens. This somewhat obviously works particularly well when for example viewing a programme on iplayer. Viewing a web page/typing a text in landscape mode is also perfectly okay however, because of the relative 'narrowness' of the 16:9 ratio typing a text in portrait mode is very difficult indeed.
As said the clarity of the screen is the best I've ever seen, it would take something rather special to beat it. I also wanted my phone to remain relatively compact and 'pocket-able' i.e. truly 'mobile' with the bonus trade-off of 'better' battery life that a 'smaller' screen affords. So to reiterate; I always use the keyboard in landscape mode. The keys are larger but still a tad fiddly. Little problem for myself as I have average hands with slender-ish fingers. Someone with larger hands/fingers still might struggle even in this landscape mode?
A partial solution would be to obtain as I have done, essentially to use with a drawing/painting app, a stylus. A company on Amazon; mediadevil does a Magicwand as they describe it. It's a quality 'low friction capacitive stylus' that works a treat.
Whilst the screen is a significant 1.1" step-up from my previous Nokia C3-01 Touch & Type the actual characters are not necessarily any larger; even slightly the opposite perhaps? I shall be searching for alternative/bolder fonts or perhaps start using upper case and/or downloading a well known award winning keyboard app. The fact that the screen is so crisp and clear does however offset this 'shortcoming' to a significant degree; it really helps. Once again another solid reason why you should view the phone/a Webpage/the keyboard/font at first hand before you commit. Even in this circa sub-£200 sector it still represents a lot of money for many including myself.
Battery life is said to be 2-3 days which at this early stage sounds just about right for light to moderate usage. By today's Smartphone driven dire battery performance world this is as good as one can expect? Obviously each individuals needs/usage greatly influence any phones battery life. Heavy Internet/games & video usage etc equals heavier battery consumption. Wherever you fall in the usage stakes I very much doubt you will ever find yourself thinking; 'crickey its not going to last out the day'! Whilst on the subject of batteries the Xperia U's is reassuringly removable unlike some phones where it forms an albeit mildly worrying integral part of the handset. Another advantage of this is if you are a heavier user a spare battery can be purchased and carried as a back-up; a practise widely employed with digital cameras.
Family/friends loved the nifty light band with changing tones, the first thing they all noticed! Personally I'am not bothered either way; all I will say is yes its an admittedly attractive and unobtrusive aside. Moving on to more important things; the HD video capture and 5mp camera with 16x zoom plus basic VGA front facing camera will be quite useful, particularly the video as my excellent but older compact camera is not HD.
Two notable anomalies have arisen as potential negatives. Firstly the Android system is the older 2.3 which I hasten to add is actually very quick working very well indeed. (The handset being 'dual core' with a 1Ghz processor, both good points I believe). An update to Android 4 will be available later this year. Being honest 2.3 works so well I'am reluctant to 'update' until I have researched more. Why fix something that works and ain't broke?
The other unusual aspect is that there is no micro-SD card slot so check there is enough built-in memory for your personal needs before you commit. Refer to the reviews (DTEG's and others) that fully explain and provide a 'bigger' picture. Personally it's not a problem as it's highly unlikely I will get anywhere near it's full capacity: semi-retired so little if any business usage, no games downloads, music all on a superb Sony MP4 with outstanding battery life, also own a Kobo Touch e-reader with truly mega battery life (!), will only download a modest number of apps, usually use my laptop for emailing....
Back to a few more basics. The handset is relatively light whilst retaining a solid feel; 110gms only 10gms more than my old Nokia. It sits comfortably in the hand the rubber effect and slightly curvatured reverse/sides providing a safe, secure and reassuring grip. The front aspect is classic angular Sony finished in piano black, not entirely dissimilar to my 'Walkman' both a little 'different' but in a classical, stylish and restrained way. A quality screen protector was included in the box and fitted from day one.
One final Top Tip: I was told at first, i.e. out of the box, to use whatever battery life there was in the handset until it completely died and only then give it it's first recommended 8 hour charge. Apparently this is important for future battery life/performance. I guess many will know this but I mention it for the sake of others like myself whom did not.
Hopefully after a few months usage I will update this review for as the title states these are only my 'Initial Impressions' after all.
on 17 September 2012
I used to own a Nokia XpressMusic 5800 and I accidentally dropped it in a pond. I was then wondering whether I should get an HTC or another Nokia. HTC is excellent but I was a loyal customer of Nokia, given its solid build and wonderful quality.
But what caught my attention was the price for Sony Xperia U! For a reasonable processor, a good screen, and other lovely features £173 is absolutely a bargain. The screen is sensitive, but less after I put on a protector (in fact the screen is scratch-resistant). Never have I seen a phone with better displays in direct sunlight!
The Android OS needs updating, but it is scheduled soon. Plenty of apps and utter flexibility to customise are the advantages of Android. However I find the GPS less responsive than my previous Nokia, and the earphone plug is of a different size to normal ones (the earphones are rubbish, they don't fit into my ears at all).
The sync and bluetooth functions work well. Overall it's flawless. To summarise:
Good: excellent screen, good camera, flexible customisation, good sensors, convenient keyboard, overall satisfying
Bad: battery capacity is LOW, earphones are rubbish, don't like the music player, GPS occasionally unresponsive (even when the signal is strong).
My 18 year old daughter has had this Sony Xperia U for about 6 months now and she loves the phone. The Xperia U's relatively compact size was just right for her (she definately didn't want a larger smartphone with a four inch plus screen size). What sealed it for her was the pretty alternative pink base bar with a little row of informative flashing LEDs above it - these LED light colours can be changed to white, turquoise, green, blue, yellow, pink or purple and the wallpaper themed to match. Plus this Android phone has a dual-core 1GHz processor and is pretty responsive with a good touch screen (we applied the supplied screen protector as soon as it was unpacked). It took a while to get it to update correctly, but eventually the phone upgraded itself via the internet and our desktop Windows 7 PC from Android v2.3 to Android v4.0. There's 6Gb onboard storage (4Gb free) but no slot for an extra memory card. The Xperia U comes with the battery, in-ear headphone/microphone headset, and a USB2 data cable and USB mains charger. The Computer Shopper magazine rated this Sony Xperia U smartphone four stars (out of five) and a 'Budget Best Buy' when SIM-free (no contract).
My daughter is with Orange 'pay as you go' and the phone connected to Orange when her old phone's SIM card was added and the phones battery was charged. The phone also connected automatically to our DIR-655 wireless router using the routers 'WPS' (WiFi Protected Setup) button, and the phone can be set to use free WiFi for internet access rather than using the expensive Orange 3G network. The phone has GPRS and a fair few apps installed, plus you have access to the Android market and the internet. Installed apps & widgets include a timer, stopwatch/alarm, Timescape organiser, Astro File Manager and a few demo games. I liked this Xperia U so I also bought it to upgrade my old SIM free Xperia S - really easy to swap over as they share the same basic Sony software tweaks. Sony modify Android to provide their own interface style and media apps. Transfering media from the PC to the phone is easy using Sony's Media Go PC software (it installs via the phone's USB2). Battery life isn't great, lasting around 5.5 hours video playback. Sony say it offers "6 hours 36 minutes of talk time, or 472 hours of standby time", but if you leave it on in standby with no energy saving options activated, it needs charging every day (I can charge it at work anytime in the office or via a car USB 12v adaptor so that's no problem for me).
The 3.5 inch 854x480 pixel touch screen is quite responsive and the on-screen keyboard easy to use when the phones in landscape mode (automatically chosen when you rotate the phone). There's a 5MP camera with flash for decent photos and video, and a second front facing camera for video calls. The phone is 54x12x112mm and weighs 110g - my daughter only wanted a relatively small phone and this fitted the bill. Even with my larger man hands I still find the phone perfect for my use, as the shape, weight and build quality seem just right if you don't want a bulkier larger phone (such a 4.8-inch screen smartphone). As the Xperia U screen is just 3.5 inches across this gives the screen a decent 280 pixels-per-inch resolution for viewing. The screen is bright and clear and runs Android smoothly. On a contract you could probably get a better HTC One S for the money, but at around £150 and adding your own SIM card this Sony Xperia U phone is pretty good value, and we both like it for its compact size, ease of use, build quality, looks and performance, so 5*. The Xperia U's also available with a white body and you can get cheap plastic black, pink, white or yellow end bar cap's via eBay or Amazon resellers (our black phone has the black body and comes with an easily swapped pink or black end cap - they clip on just below the LEDs).
on 30 September 2013
ive had this phone for about 5 months now and the truth is that I wanted to smash this phone few times cause it made me so angry but couldn't afford to buy another one and selling it second hand it will cost less than half price. this device was supposed to have a strong processor and good for multitasking, it freezes if 2 or more apps are running at the same time. every time I surf internet I have to go to services and clear cache cause it will freeze if I don't. Skype and facebook running at the same time will make the phone to not respond. video wont be good at all if its not bright.i have so much to write about it but I don't have time. so overall its wasted money, thanx to sony.
on 23 July 2012
Its been more than a month so i think i can make some decent review
The phone is great, CPU is powerful and u cant find 1Ghz dual core for this prize. Going from application to application and using multiple pages on the web browser is done smoothly. Camera is 720p so thats ok too. The only trouble is that i dont have expandable memory which i knew it before i buy it. Battery goes 1-3 days, of course depends on what u do with your phone. OS is good but waiting for ICS by end of September.
In the box you even have screen protection layer
Delivery was on time
UPDATE 27th of July 2012
The middle of the screen became non responsive to touch. There is even app that came already installed on the phone that test the screen...it showed same results, middle part of the screen is not responding to touch. Just talked to Amazon and the will send me new phone..lets see..Will keep you posted
on 30 July 2012
I recently purchased this as a gift for my wife. I got to set it up for her and I've played a little with the phone. I was expecting less since I saw opinions not so good about the Led bar and stuff. Let me tell you something, that led bar is wonderful and my wife loves it especially when it changes the colors. The screen is sharp and vibrant and the movement and interaction when you touch it is fast. Doesn't matter if Android is only 2.3.7. Sony says it is 4.0 ready but you really want to change it it everything works ok?
As a bottom line: my wife is very happy with the phone and that says it all.