Product Type: Sony Mobile Communications Smartphone
Newest Review: ... and the other 4gb is for your media such as music and video etc) I was still hesitant so I looked up videos on YouTube demonstrating th... more
U is a Smart Phone
Sony XPERIA U
Member Name: dawnymarie
Sony XPERIA U
Date: 13/02/13, updated on 14/02/13 (176 review reads)
Advantages: Ease of use. 3.5" screen. Crystal clear images. Superb sound delivery. Great camera.
Disadvantages: Omission of expandable memory.
Why purchase this one?
I have a good relationship with the Sony brand. I have enjoyed a number of products that have performed well. I began my mobile partnership with the K800i which was a smashing little phone with an awesome camera. A good camera is important to me as part of the phone package as those unmissable shots are much better if the quality is above average. I reluctantly upgraded to a touch screen Xperia X8 which served me well but my only niggle was the size of the screen - it was small and hindered my QWERTY technique. Therefore the main reason for upgrading to this model is a larger screen for ease of texting.
Brief overview of specification...
3.5" Bravia engine touchscreen (capacitive)
Google Android 4 (Ice cream sandwich)
8GB memory - up to 4GB user accessible (no expandable facility)
1GHz dual core processor
Dimensions 112 x 54 x 12 mm
3G standby up to 472 hours
3g Talk time up to 5hrs 36 minutes
5 megapixel camera and flash with 3D options, face detection and geo tagging + 16x zoom
Unpack and go...
I was not overly excited by the delivery of my new phone as the system is pretty much the same as the Xperia X8 that I already owned. It arrived well protected and security sealed in a small slim box. Not too much to faff about with and not overwhelmed by reams of paperwork. I don't like a gadget that takes a degree to work out how to get started. I don't want to feel intimidated by a phone, it needs to become a part of my life and be very user friendly. The phone was sat charging in no time as it was easy to remove the back cover and access the Sim card slot and battery pack. Simple.
After a couple of hours the phone was fully charged - impressive for a first charge - so I wasted no time in getting to know my new partner in life. I don't like to be reliant on gadgets but let's be honest today's breed of mobile phone pretty much holds everything in one place should you want it to.
Initially I felt like I had made a mistake in replacing my little buddy (the X8) as the U looks so much bigger next to it. The screen was reassuringly big but the phone has a black frame around the screen and then a unique blue light feature at the bottom. This adds to the length mostly and that was what put me off. It felt so big in my hand and was heavier. One thing that was better than the X8's shiny surface was the matt finish to the U on the back cover - meaning that my tendency to drop things was greatly reduced. That was the first sensation of ease and relief. I began to feel like I had made a good choice as I navigated the U with ease. Unlike the X8 which has three buttons on the bottom to navigate 'back' 'home' and 'options' the U is touch button and quite well hidden if I hadn't known what I was looking for. A new person to the Sony brand would soon cotton on and instructions are clear in the manual. I like the location of the on/off button which is to the right side and much more user friendly than the top spot on the X8. A huge improvement from the X8 is the charger slot which was a fiddly little flap which sat on top of the X8 - on the U it is an open access point to the left side. The only other buttons are a +/- for volume and manipulating picture size; and a camera button - both easy to access and use on the right hand side of the unit. The rear of the unit has the familiar Sony logo which is discreet and the small speaker system. The flash is also on the rear of the phone.
The more I played around with it the more I liked it. It sits snug in my hand and feels secure. It has the look that I like - black and quite square edged as opposed to rounded. Shiny with a black border around the screen, which is not too dissimilar to our TV. Great, responsive touch screen which easily out performs the X8 - which had a bit of a lag. The U even has a lovely blue light strip across the bottom - this lights up when the phone is in use and people are often asking what make of phone it is as they like the light! Not my main reason for having a phone but it is a nice touch. There is an option of colours for the bottom of the phone if you really want to personalise it - I don't as I like the whole unit being black. It is a bit of a novelty for those who want it.
Unlocking the phone is a simple swipe across with the finger - a slide bar if you like. This takes you to the home screen - which you can easily personalise with wallpaper or photographs and can fill up with applications of your own liking. The usual standard display of time and date appear - which I find really useful as I don't ever wear a watch now. The signal metre sits a long the top and is accompanied by alerts and battery life - this phone will do an alert for low battery which the X8 only did once unlocked from O2. Along the bottom of the screen are the widgets of your choice - the centre one brings the screen to home.
As I have come to expect, and one of the main reasons I like the Sony phones, the clarity and sharpness of the screen is good. The U does not disappoint. The images are all HD quality and easy on the eye - the larger 3.5" screen definitely makes the most of this and it is a pleasure to use. Other people have also commented on this.
A press of the home screen brings the phone to the slide screen facility and there are four pages up to now as I have not gone wild downloading apps...yet. Once again I find the responsiveness of the U fast and it really is noticeable when I remember the short lag on the X8. A host of familiar applications are ready installed and the familiar settings icon is easily identifiable - it is from here that the U will be personalised. Sound, ringtones, internet access, data roaming, sync etc are all accessed here and the best thing to do is have a good play around to get used to the format and see what things do. I am by no means a technically minded girl but this system is a doddle - that is why I stick with Sony. My daughter has the Sony Neo which is very similar and her previous Samsung was a similar set up - I like a phone that makes sense. My mum has a phone that is so difficult to navigate as things are not where you would expect them to be and doing simple things such as adding a contact means so much work. It is simple to add contacts on the U - all is self-explanatory and logical.
As this is a phone I feel it only right to tell you about the performance and ease of use when making or taking a call. Not something that I do often as I am more of a text girl. Basically if the phone rings you don't have to panic when you first get the smart phone wondering where the button is - as I did with my first smart phone the X8 - it is obvious and easy. The phone rings and you simply slide the green phone symbol across the slide bar with a finger of your choice. Once the call ends the phone has a great big red 'end call' button which responds quickly to your touch - really obvious and in my experience it is user friendly. Making a call is simple with only two steps to it - press the phone button from the home page and then the contacts list is available or you can manually input the number. I am really impressed by how quick and easy this is and the responsiveness makes it a pleasure. Sound during the call is clear as a bell, great for me when my blocked up sinuses make hearing difficult - easy to access the volume button during a call as it is long and slim. I have not had any problem with reception during the time I have had the phone.
Texting. This is the thing that I do most if I am communicating via the U. I wanted a bigger screen for ease of use and to stop silly mistakes being made when typing on the QWERTY. I am very impressed and happy with the performance. The screen size has made a big difference but the responsiveness is the icing on the cake. I hadn't really been bothered by the lag on the X8 whilst using it as I really like the phone but the difference in the ease of use and speed of texting is significant. I use the predictive text and have taught it some new words - such as names - so that improves speed too. I wondered how my daughter composed a message so quickly and thought it was me being clumsy and slow on my X8 - not so! I am impressive with my text speed now too! A bit of a whiz actually and the silly and embarrassing errors that repeatedly occurred on the X8 are very rare - when it does happen it is the predictive text not me, of course. As this was the main reason for changing my phone I can say that I am very satisfied and happy with the U's texting performance.
Another of the requirements on a phone is decent pictures - never going to be competing with a quality camera but when on the go and that perfect moment arises I am not likely to be armed with my camera and I like a gadget that offers me everything in one place. Once again I am impressed but I have to say that I was disappointed initially. This camera has the capability of taking pretty decent and clear shots without distortion or graininess but my first efforts produced camera shake images that had a grainy look to them - so even though I was delighted with the texting and phoning and clear screen I was displeased with the camera images. I knew that it must be capable of better images as the demo stuff was HD quality and crystal clear - really impressive. So I played about with the options of portrait and flash and other handy options and hey presto I can now get the images that I am happy with - fast. The only thing that is not as good is that the X8 and the U are both susceptible to camera shake whereas the good old K800i was unshakable - really that camera was damned good and only 3.5 megapixels. In fact someone has just bought the K800i just for the camera on it! The U beats the X8 again with the inclusion of a flash - I never understood the omission of a flash on the X8? Though, it did take a great photograph.
One thing that lets the phone down is the omission of expandable memory - both prior models that I owned - X8 and K800i - had this facility. As I have a Sony MP3 player which holds many tracks and has fabulous rich sound I knew that I would not be needing to rely on this phone for music - to be honest you would be constantly recharging it if you did and the MP3 players lasts almost a week of before it needs to be charged up. I was also happy to transfer photographs to my computer to free up space. If you want to store lots of music and images on here it may not be for you.
The sound quality via the speaker is really decent for a phone unit - in competes with the pretty decent sound that came from the K800i and the MP3 player too, not that I like to listen to sound this way but it is handy. Through the earphones the sound is rather impressive - not on the same level as the Sony MP3 (NWZ545b) but it is not to be sniffed at. I like good sound quality and if listening to a rock band (like Metallica) I like to be able to hear the instruments clearly and with a good amount of bass - this doesn't disappoint. The earphone slot, 3.5mm audio jack, is easily accessed at the top of the unit and for me that is the best place for it to be so that it is not knocked.
Video quality is crystal clear and HD quality. I don't watch full length movies on here and wouldn't want to but what I have witnessed has been very impressive. The phone can be connected to TV to view movies too. That was another thing that attracted me to the U - so many extra's that I may or may not use.
Internet access is superb. I am with Virgin media and the connection is immediate and signal remains strong. Not my favourite way of browsing as I like a big screen to view but when on the go and needing directions or to look up a restaurant on Trip Advisor this is very handy. I have downloaded the yahoo mail application which makes my account available with speed - any emails that are requiring attention are retrieved quickly. The U performs seamlessly when surfing though it does use up the battery life and I would say the battery only lasts a day if I am browsing and taking photographs and generally playing around on the phone. Otherwise if it is just an odd text and using the timer (very handy as is the stopwatch) the battery life lasts around three to four days. I am happy with the duration between charging and know that smart phones use up the charge faster.
I have been using the phone daily for the last few months and the casing is still sitting pretty. I do keep it in a pouch if I am out and it is going in my bag. The screen is scratch resistant, made from anti-reflective mineral glass, but I have used the protective plastic that was provided - I was impressed with the quality and little application tool (a kind of squeegee) that came with it. When the phone is sat unused the screen appears shiny and clear, I have to look closely to see fingerprints. When the phone is in use fingerprints are not evident at all. This has impressed me as I don't like to see finger marks.
Available from a host of stores including Virgin Mobile, Phones4U, O2 and Car phone Warehouse.
Varies dependent on provider or if it is unlocked - approximately £120 at this time.
What do I think of U?...
The only reason that the phone is awarded 4 stars instead of 5 is the omission of expandable memory - it would score 5 perfect stars otherwise. The phone oozes quality and for the price you get a fantastic piece of kit. Aesthetically pleasing in black gloss with a screen that does not reflect - making images crystal clear. Running on a fast platform the performance is great and a joy to use. Sound quality is amazing through the earphones with rich bass and stereo evident - listening from the small speaker is not bad on the ears at all, impressive in actual fact. Texting is a doddle with ample 3.5" of screen to play with. Phone calls are clear and reception has always been good. I did have a challenging time initially with the camera and was disappointed as I was used to what the K800i and Xperia X8 could achieve - this was remedied after practice. It is just a case of getting to know the phone and what it is capable of - this one offers lots to keep you occupied. Though I had my concerns about the weight in comparison with the X8 it has not been an issue - actually it does not feel heavy now that I am used to it. I am happy with the battery life and understand that the more I use/play on the phone the faster the battery will deplete - it is very quick at recharging so I don't find it a problem. Normally 15 minutes or so and the battery is ready to go again. So what do I think of U? I love U. It performs to my expectations and beyond - some pleasant surprises and I am still finding more. Oh and I do like the fancy blue light - novelty but nice.
Published on Ciao
© dawnymarie 2013
Summary: I love Xperia U