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Sony Xperia U..Good budget smartphone
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Sony Xperia U..Good budget smartphone

Budget price and Sony aren’t two words we usually think of together but in the case of the Xperia U Sony has hit the nail on the head. The runt of the current Xperia litter with a 3.5″ screen it looks like Sony left the Xperia U in the dryer a little longer than its siblings..it is a miniature version of the bigger phones.

The Xperia U fits well in the hand and is a stylish black slab with the Xperia signature clear plastic band near the bottom. This one has a trick not available to its bigger brothers..it glows different colours reflecting the prominent colour on the screen..combined with the changeable cap at the bottom..a pink one came in the box..this little phone exhibits a little je ne sais quoi.

At 12MM thick it is a bit chunky by today’s standards it still feels dainty because it is otherwise trim at 112mm tall and 54mm wide. Under the hood the Xperia U is running Android Gingerbread 2.3.7 with Sony’s interface tricked out to look like Ice Cream Sandwich including the three buttons under the screen. Overall specs look pretty good for a budget phone.

– Android 2.3.7 with custom Sony interface
– 3.5-inch 480×854 pixel LCD display
– 1Ghz dual-core NovaThor SoC with Mali-4ooMP GPU
– 512MB RAM / 4GB internal storage / 1.9GB app storage
– 5MP camera w/ flash, VGA front-facing camera
– 720p video capture
– WiFi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS
– HSDPA 14.4Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps
– 3G: 850/1900/2100Mhz, 2G: 850/900/1800/1900Mhz
– 112 x 54 x 12 mm
– 110g

That dual core processor…unusual for a budget phone..gives the Xperia U pretty snappy performance on the WXVGA screen which is bright and colourful, but blacks don’t jump out at you and look kind of drab. Sine the screen is only 3..5″, the 854×480 resolution results in a high 280ppi pixel density, so text looks really sharp.. Viewing angles are fantastic. I did find the screen to be a fingerprint magnet..so you will need to carry a cleaning cloth.

The front facing VGA camera does the job for video chats..the 5MP rear facing camera is a mixed bag. I one the dedicated camera button..it will quick launch from sleep in a blink and in normal use the shutter is quick but not quite instantaneous. The camera software gives you one touch access to all the features which include 2D and 3D panorama shots..it works quite well.in 2D anyway, I don’t have a 3D monitor.

Picture quality is not bad under good lighting conditions but the dynamic range leaves a bit to be desired..notice the difference between the two pictures..it seemed to handle the pastel coloured roses better than the bright yellow flowers.

Video quality was not great at 720p..notice the noisy background and the panning artifacts..I am at a loss to explain it because the camera specs indicate it should take better videos than this

http://youtu.be/bAk3N8MFUjU

Overall the Xperia U is a very good budget smartphone if a high performance camera is not a priority. The phone has a good feature set, a nice screen and feels good in the hand, pocket or purse..and the price is right!  The Sony Xperia U is available from Fido for $0 with a 3 year plan..$300 without.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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