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Sony Xperia U review



Our Score


User Score


  • Surprisingly stylish and well built
  • Great perfromance for a budget phone
  • Really easy to handle


  • Screen quite small by today's standards
  • Only runs Android 2.3

Review Price to be confirmed

Key Features: Dual-Core 1GHz processor; Android 2.3 operating system; 3.5in, 480 x 854 pixel display; Interchangeable coloured end caps; Flashing clear plastic strip

Manufacturer: Sony


The Sony Xperia U is the third tier in Sony’s current lineup of Android phones. Costing around £150, it’s comfortably within budget phone territory but, like the Xperia P, it belies its low cost, making for a handset that’s well worth a look. With a funky strip of flashing lights and interchangeable end caps, it has a bit more personality than most too.

Sony Xperia U Video Review

Please note, there is a mistake in this video in reference to the phone not having a removable backplate. You can in fact remove the back and access the battery but there is no microSD slot to expand the storage. We will look to correct this as soon as possible.

Design and Features

Unsurprisingly, where the Xperia U feels most budget is in its design and build, but not in the way you’d expect. Its combination of a matt white unibody chassis and glass screen is as classy as most premium handsets, while the clear plastic strip that runs below the screen is a nice touch, just as it is on the rest of the Xperia lineup.

Sony Xperia U

No, where the budget leaning is most obvious is the size of the thing. Although the screen is technically the same 3.5in diagonal as that of the iPhone, it’s considerably narrower and all told the phone looks and feels small. What doesn’t help is the thick bezel that makes the display look even smaller than it is.

Otherwise, there are just a few subtleties that further take the edge off, such as the thick black trim round the screen’s edge and the rather obvious gaping hole for the front facing camera, but neither of these are close to being deal breakers.

Sony Xperia U

What’s more that smaller size makes this a superbly easy handset to handle. It weighs just 110g and with dimensions of 112 x 54 x 12mm it’s an easy fit in the hand. As with the rest of the current Xperia line, those stylishly squared corners do dig into the hand a little but not enough to really worry.

One point to note is that the matt finish of this white version does pick up dirt quite easily, which is something to be aware of if you’re a regular newspaper reader.

Sony Xperia U

That removable end cap simply pulls off and alternates slide on. There was a spare yellow one in the box of our review sample which we tried and then promptly ditched – we weren’t all that impressed with the combination. You can also get a black version of the phone that comes with an alternative pink end cap. Gimmick? Yeah, pretty much.

Adding to the overall ease of use are a great selection of buttons and other features. Below the screen are three nicely responsive touch-sensitive buttons for navigating the main interface while the right edge is home to the three other main controls, the power, volume and camera shutter buttons.

Sony Xperia U

The power button isn’t quite so easy to reach in left-handed use but for right-handers it falls perfectly under your thumb making for easy one-handed use. Likewise the volume rocker is easy to reach, and the shutter button is great for controlling trickier shots – hold it down and it’ll jump straight to the camera even when the phone is locked too.

Sony Xperia U

Up top is a headphone jack while on the left edge is a microUSB socket for charging and hooking up to a computer to transfer files. There isn’t, however, a microHDMI socket for hooking the phone straight up to a TV.

Sony Xperia U

You can remove the backplate to access the 1290mAh battery and (normal size) SIM slot but there’s no microSD slot for expanding upon the 8GB of built in storage. This latter point could be the deal breaker for many as in fact only about 4GB of this is user accessible. This will mean regularly having to remove and backup images captured on the camera to make room for more, swap in and out different music depending on your mood and possibly even having to uninstall some apps to make room for others.

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February 28, 2012, 2:43 pm

1 overall? Sony must love you!


February 28, 2012, 3:05 pm

A slight slip-up on our part. It'll update on the site soon.


August 25, 2012, 12:23 am

If Sony didn't see fit to exclude the SD slot this would be my next phone! :| Instead I'll have to look elsewhere as I need around 16GB for a decent selection of music along with the usual stuff.

TR, please fix it so this site will remember my login details! Chrome usually does this for me but your JQuery login pop-up stops it.


August 27, 2012, 2:25 pm

I have to agree with PoisonJam, I'm lazy so not having to remember my log-in details would be good (off-topic, sorry).


August 27, 2012, 2:50 pm

You know what, I'd never noticed that before. Unfortunately as we're looking to change our comments system to something half decent asap, we won't be doing any more work on the current system. Hopefully in the next couple of months we should have some significant improvements, though.

Sgt Pepper

August 28, 2012, 4:31 am

Please take the background music out of the recent reviews. It's really distracting and doesn't add anything to them. In this video in particular I've had to replay several times to hear the voice over the music.

Kelvin Brugge

December 28, 2012, 10:30 am

Poor phone, no SD card slot and only 4.0 Gb internal memory. It's like a step backwards with all the manufacturers so scared of Apple they feel they have to copy iPhone.

Galadriel Roc

January 18, 2013, 8:39 pm

This is the worst phone I've had in a long time. It's ridiculously slow and every single application crashes whenever you want to use it every single time. It takes more than 10 minutes just to write an SMS. I have no pictures, no videos, no music and no apps installed aside from the absolutely necessary for the phone to function. Don't waste your money, you are better off with a Nokia 5120, at least it lets you call and send SMS without crashing. WORST PHONE EVER.

Sundeep Dawale

February 26, 2013, 8:36 pm

Hi All!

This is the worst phone I've ever had. This is my first smartphone and I regret I did not go for Samsung which is a trusted name for Android phones. Silly me I just wanted to get a different bad, worst mistake of my life.

Don't get sold on the dual core bullshit, this phone is slower than a turtle fuck. If you keep your wifi or data connection on then the phone will simply freeze. I gifted my wife a Samsung Galaxy Y on her birthday and even that works much better than this awful piece of shit.

The fact that you cannot expand the abysmal 8GB memory is a big minus too.

Within 3 months of buying this phone I had to send it to the service center as the touch screen had died a slow death. First a small portion of the top left corner had become unresponsive and I used to rotate the screen just to hit the right buttons. Then in no time it spread like a cancer and the phone was f****g useless. Since the phone was within warranty the service center replaced it but only after 15 days. This place is like 20 kms away from where I live. Bloody nightmare.

Went back to my old Nokia 5800 until the phone was getting repaired and realised how much I had missed it, so much so that I continued using it for 2 weeks even after I had collected the Sony Xpired U F***k-tart from the service center.

Every time an app on this good-for-nothing phone crashes my heart skips a beat. Just yourself the nightmare guys go for trusted names like Samsung if you want Android, Nokia if you want Windows 8 or iPhone. This phone is so bad that Sony should actually recall it and compensate people for the agony their product has caused.


March 4, 2013, 5:38 pm

I just bought sony xperia U but apparently there seems to be a problem with your software because when I make a call after the call the ringtone for the msg's doesn't exists. I have seen from different forums that people from all around the world have the same problem. I took it back they said it's ok but it's not. I have still the same problem. How can you sell something that isn't working properly.


March 12, 2013, 8:55 am

worst phone..very slow...to make a cal u have to wait for 2..3 min, sensor is also very bad u cant disconect ur phone beecoz sensor doesnt work properly.....i dont knw wht happen to sony brand.


March 23, 2013, 2:23 pm

I’m always amazed out how advanced phones become in the lifespan of a phone contract
24 months, I have to confess in being a Sony fanboy, I love their PSP, Tellies you name it I got it, at this rate you would think id get a Christmas card from Sony every year…Oh well perhaps it’s because I don’t own a Vita yet lol but everyone has their platform but for me it’s the Sony brand, this is the second Sony touch screen I’ve had on contract now with O2 and I’m so impressed with it it’s unreal and the great thing about it is it’s not to big and it packs a super sharp screen which is rare on a budget phone I mean the Xperia U cost me the same as my old Sony Ericson WT19i and that had a low end screen even my Gameboy had a higher res.

My favourite part of the phone is the Music player and the GPS capabilities but Ill talk about the music player first, now in the past Walkman phones have been simply trousers in terms of the way music is present to your ears they seriously lacked any graphic equalizers or DSPs and for Sony “the kings of sound” they should hang their heads in shame…..how ever this is not the case with the Xperia U for a start you get loads of presets and adjustable 5 band equalizer and a slider for how much Bass you want to give your tracks, you also get headphone surround options which are friggin cool, they range from Studio, Club and Concert Hall they all sound completely different I tend to select Club as it widens the sound field no end, I also like the fact Sony had added the very cool track Tranzpotter (Journey) lol anyone with a Sony phone will know how good this track

Now the GPS side of the phone is very good, I was using Sygic on old Sony WT19i so I needed a phone that could carry on using this system and I half to say it’s better and a lot smoother, it takes a matter of seconds to get first fix and your ready to go in no time, I’m never a fan of built in GPS modules because all my other past smart phones by different brands were rubbish Samsung or more like “SamScum” being the worst so the Xperia U and my old WT19i were the first two that were any good so Sony seem to do a good GPS, I’ve heard that TomTom is out on Android now so I might give that a butchers but at the moment Sygic is running incredibility well.

My only gripe about this phone is the lack of SD slot but I suppose it is a budget phone so something’s got a to scarified though not the screen Sony did well here Id rather loose an SD slot in favour of good screen and anyway it’s not like I can’t add extra memory because it have the ability to use a usb stick and ill be glad if they make a flash drive for micro USB slots something that’s tiny so it’s not to obtrusive because there is a feature in the settings to mount and unmount a flash drive, I’m amazed there isn’t any micro USB drives around “perhaps me need to get mass uprising outside Sandisk HQ” with boards saying “gives us micro usb storage you lazy scum!!….or maybe not lol so ok instead you have to use a cable linked to regular sized flash drive which is about as attractive as me naked doing a modelling shoot but never the less it’s a good solution to the lack on onboard memory.

The Xperia U is an outstanding phone, I’m not surprised it’s scoring highly on the leader
board, it’s cheap powerful and offers a range of features for the every day user, I bought the Xperia U largely due to its size and the fact you can swap out the battery. the lovely thing about this phone is that the back cover makes up most of the phone so if you drop it on the corner or scuff the sides or back it’s all inter changeable and a new cover will see it right oh and love the feel of Xperia it’s reminds me of those early IBM think pads with the titanium composite plastic/rubber bodies.


July 2, 2013, 10:07 am

bad not even ordinary stopping after every one minute

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