The 5MP camera with LED flash on the Sony Xperia U is managed by the standard Timescape UI interface that allows for functions like 3D Sweep Panorama and various scene modes, but it is with a twist now. The rapid sleep-to-snap mode that is present on the Xperia S, is also available here, despite the handset’s affordable nature.

Since we have a dedicated two-stage shutter key, you can set it to directly enter the camera app, focus and take a picture from a locked screen, and the whole process takes about two seconds. This is not the zero shutter lag function that comes with the Android ICS camera API, but Sony’s own contribution, so it will still take 2-3 seconds between shots, unlike the new HTC and Samsung handsets with Android 4.0.

The picture quality leaves something to be desired in the detail department, which is affected by too much noise in less than ideal lighting conditions. Colors are a bit oversaturated, which is fine, but the pics are also soft and well-lit areas often get overexposed. Indoors the situation is average, but noise is significantly ramped up when the lights go down, and the LED flash casts weird shadows on the objects at hand.

The Xperia U records HD 720p video with 30fps, and the flash can be used as a video light during capture when photons are scarce. The quality of the footage is substandard, with too high of a compression, artifacts and noise. Overall, the weak spot in the Xperia U is definitely the camera, which is a pity, since we’ve seen much better 5MP shooters from Sony in unpretentious phones from 2010 like the Xperia X10 mini, for example.

Sony Xperia U Sample Video:

Sony Xperia U Indoor Sample Video:


Music playback is excellent on the Sony Xperia U, no less because the default pretty and minimalistic player interface lights the transparent strip in different colors depending on the song that plays, which is rather cool. Hey, that’s why it’s called Xperia “You” - to customize cap colors and marvel at blinking LEDs.

Sony has been consistently delivering top notch loudspeakers across the Xperia lineup, and the U is no exception - strong and clean sound, which on top of that is pretty deep for a smartphone.

The handset only plays MPEG-4 video files up to 720p out of the box, no DivX/Xvid support, so you’d have to hit the Play Store for that.

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