Interface and Functionality:

We won’t spend much time reviewing the Timescape UI on the Xperia U, as it is the same Android Gingerbread overlay we find on the Xperia S, our review of which you can read here.

It is good-looking and functional with the Mediascape shortcut, and a plethora of widgets that cover things like social networking feeds and even app and media recommendations. Moreover, the Xperia U is expected to receive its Android Ice Cream Sandwich update.

Sony has included the usual preinstalled apps, some of which are useful, some you can chuck, and it has also provided its Music and Video Unlimited services for consuming media with a Sony account.

Typing on the virtual keyboard was surprisingly accurate, considering the phone’s size, since the keys look quite smallish. The on-screen keyboard is well-spaced, but the keys are not as big as on the iPhone, for example, so hitting the right one takes getting used to.

Processor and Memory:

Sony is using the 1GHz dual-core NovaThor U8500 chipset by ST-Ericsson with ARM Mali-400 GPU in the Xperia U, just like on the Xperia P. It was the first mobile chipset with SMP multithreaded processing, and ST-Ericsson is the only mobile chipset maker besides Qualcomm that integrates the radio as well - HSPA+ in our case with the Xperia U - for a complete solution.

No complaints, since we can get a quite capable multicore chipset in affordable handsets like the Xperia U. The phone’s interface moves well with this chipset and the 512MB RAM are enough of you don’t overwork the Xperia U with multitasking. 

The biggest gripe memorywise is the lack of microSD card slot. The Xperia U is quite the chubby phone, so why would Sony stick us with just the 4GB of internal memory is puzzling. On the other hand, it has the generous 2GB of memory for installing applications, their cache and data, but that still leaves us with only 4GB user-accessible storage for your music, vids and so on.

There are some slight delays when transitioning here and there, but nothing an upgrade to the lighter Android 4.0 shouldn’t fix. Here are the benchmarks:

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Sony Xperia U2266541928,3
LG Optimus L71886284219,2
Samsung Galaxy S II3113607651

Internet and Connectivity:

The browser is powered well by the dual-core chipset, and rendering speeds, as well as panning and scrolling are swift. The phone renders the page in real time while zooming, which usually slows things a bit, but here the delay while pinching is negligible, even when there are Flash elements to stretch or compact.

Text reflow is also seamlessly fitting the article text within the screen width upon double tap. Since we have a very good pixel density, text appears crisp, making reading a bit easier, despite the fairly small display for today’s Android standards.

The NovaThor U8500 chipset incorporates a 14Mbps HSDPA radio, and the phone also sports Wi-Fi, A-GPS, Bluetooth and DLNA for streaming to your TV. Speaking of, the Media Remote app allows you to control a Sony Bravia TV via Wi-Fi.

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