We mentioned that the screen of the Sony Xperia U isn’t all that big but while it certainly doesn’t rival the big guns for watching video or playing games it’s actually perfectly adequate for everything else. It’s an LCD panel with a typical resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, which in combination make for a reasonably sharp display that’s easy to read emails or browse the web on. Viewing angles are good and it’s reasonably colourful too.
About the only area of concern is typing. We found it absolutely fine for typing on, despite the keyboard being visibly narrower than that of the iPhone, a phone that many people already find a little slim. But, for those that do find smaller phones a tight squeeze, this one is no exception.
What makes the typing experience so tolerable for us, however, is that the screen is super responsive and the word prediction excellent. We could type away at near enough as fast as we can on any touchscreen.
Part of what makes that screen feel so responsive is that under the hood of this phone is a nippy dual-core 1GHz processor. Dual-core is becoming more common in mid-range phones but it’s still pretty rare at this price point. It keeps the phone feeling fast and responsive during almost all typical activities, coping with graphically rich websites, fancy 3D games and, as mentioned, our feverish typing speed!
Putting that subjective feel to the test, we ran our usual suite of benchmarks and the Xperia U came up trumps. SunSpider, BrowserMark and Linpack scores of 2499, 66437 and 33.7 (single) and 64.7 (multi) show this phone is fast when it comes to raw CPU power while scores of 2178 and 1529 in the Egypt and Pro offscreen tests of GLBenchmark prove it has gaming chops too.
When it came to calling the Xperia U also held up reasonably well. A noise cancelling microphone is something of rarity at this price point and the earpiece delivered enough volume to keep us happy.
Likewise battery life was more than adequate with the phone delivering a reasonably heavy day’s use. Yes, it’s a charge every night scenario, but what phone isn’t these days?
Interface: Android 2.3 with Timescape UI
Like all of Sony’s current Android handsets, the Xperia U runs the older 2.3 version of Android but an update to 4.0 is in the works. That update will bring welcome enhancements in terms of both features and performance but even as things stand the Xperia U is a very capable and easy to use handset.
Hitting the homescreens, you’ve got five to choose from with four fixed shortcuts across the bottom of the screen – two either side of the main menu shortcut. These four fixed apps are interchangeable with any other app or folder, with a simple hold-and-drag gesture being all that’s required to move them around.
The main app menu can be ordered in a number of ways with the default being however you choose to arrange them. But you can also change them to be in alphabetical , most used or recently installed order.
As ever, there are more widgets loaded onto the homescreens than we’d ever want but it’s easy enough to remove a few and speed up the interface even more in the process.