Hands-on: Sony Xperia U

Hands-on: Sony Xperia U

Hands-on: Sony Xperia U

The existence of the Sony Xperia U (previously known as Kumquat) hasn't been entirely a surprise and it is one of the two NXT smartphones to round off the trio of new Sony-branded devices, with the other being the Xperia P and the earlier announced Xperia S. Out of the three phones, the Xperia U is the one with specs that clearly defines its class - its 3.5-inch display and 5-megapixel camera are clear indications that the smartphone will come with a more affordable price tag out of the three.

That is not to say that the Xperia U is not as appealing or any less functional - in fact, the Xperia U looks like its cousins, clearly following in line with a human-centric and minimalist design philosophy. The familiar transparent band makes an appearance again on the Xperia U and has a large and pretty whimsical role to play (as you will find out later) in terms of providing a uniquely Xperia U and colorful experience.

Here are the key highlights of the Xperia U, followed by a video demonstration:

Sony Xperia U 

  Key highlights of the Sony Xperia U

  • Android 2.3 (Upgradable to Android 4.0 ICS during Q2 2012)
  • 3.5-inch Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine / 854 x 480 pixels
  • 1 GHz STE U8500 dual core-processor
  • 512 RAM / 8 GB Internal memory 
  • 5-megapixel camera / 16x zoom / Auto-focus
  • 1320 mAh battery
  • 110g
  • 112 x 54 x 12 mm
  • Black and White (with exchangeable caps available in the box)
  • Availability: Q2 2012
     

The Xperia U comes with the tiniest 3.5-inch screen and off the bat, looks like a downsized version of its largest cousins.

All phones in the Xperia NXT line come with a thin plastic band that acts as an indicator for their touch sensitive controls. The band in the Xperia U's case, has a larger and more interesting role to play.

The transparent band can illuminate according to the color of the photos viewed in the gallery or the album art of currently playing tracks. In this instance, the band turns to a coldish blue shade to correspond to the main colors of the album art. The results are pretty accurate and fast based on our experience as we swipe across the gallery photos and album art.

Conversely, it picks out the more warmer tones in this example and turns to a quick shade of orange.

By navigating to Themes, you can change the color of your background to fit the sort of color you want the transparent band to illuminate in general.

The Xperia U comes with a removable battery. In addition, you can remove the cap at the bottom to further personalize your phone. Exchangeable pink and yellow caps will be available in the box. 

The Xperia U certainly comes across as a more fashionable option for those looking to dress up their phone with a splash of color. We found the illumination effects an interesting and a visually arresting concept which sets itself apart from not only its NXT counterparts but from competitors as well. It is clearly targeted towards a younger demographic as compared to the Xperia P and U and we are pretty sure that the aesthetics would appeal to them. Otherwise, the phone feels solid in the hands and its matte surface gives it a cleaner look and feel. The build quality of all three Sony Xperia phones is definitely impressive and the Xperia U is no exception. The Xperia U will certainly sit nicely beside the Xperia ray, another uniquely designed phone with a similar target audience. Like the ray, the Sony Xperia U sells the idea of personalization and fashion.

Global availability is said to start from Q2 2012 onwards although details on its price has not been revealed yet. Most certainly, it will be priced at a lower price point than both the Xperia S and the Xperia P.