Sony Xperia U review: Fun united

GSMArena team, 8 June 2012.
Pages: 123456789

Gingerbread gets the job done

The Sony Xperia U, like the Xperia S, has a slightly revamped custom skin running on top of Gingerbread (2.3.7). The Ice Cream Sandwich update is scheduled for Q2 of 2012.

As usual, we've shot the user interface on video for your viewing pleasure.

The Xperia U has the usual five-pane homescreen configuration, but there is no option to add or remove panes. There are four docked shortcuts (two on either side of the launcher shortcut). These are visible on all five homescreen panes and are user configurable: they can be either single icons or folders with multiple items in them.

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The Sony Xperia U UI

The homescreen does a neat trick called Overview mode. Pinch to zoom out on any of the 5 homescreen panes and a new screen opens up with a cool transition. All active widgets gather there for easy viewing and selection.

Sony Xperia U
The Overview mode helps you find the widget you are looking for

The Xperia U has some custom-made Sony widgets in addition to the standard set. Those include the Timescape widget (there's a dedicated app too) and a Mediascape-like widget for photos and videos (the actual app isn't there anymore, the standard gallery is back).

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Widgets menu Removing widget

The lockscreen is capable of showing notifications for Facebook events too. A cool new addition to the lockscreen, missing from the Xperia phones of old, is the music player widget, which lets you control music playback without unlocking the phone.

The standard notification area and task switcher are of course present and accounted for - no custom touches to them.

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The lockscreen Lockscreen notifications The standard notification area and task switcher

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia U is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor teamed up with a Mali-400MP GPU and 512 MB of RAM on a STE U8500 chipset. Those specs won't wow anyone, but they should be more than sufficient for this class.

We ran our usual round of benchmarks and compared the Xperia U to its siblings - the Xperia P and sola. The Samsung Galaxy S Advance is also on the list, powered by the same ST-Ericsson NovaThor chipset. We also included the HTC One V to see how much difference the dual-core chipset makes and the One S to see how the old Cortex-A9 architecture compares to the newer Krait cores.

We begin with BenchmarkPi, which measures the computing power of the NovaThor U8500's 1GHz Cortex-A9 CPU. The Xperia U matched its more expensive competition here, only laggin behind the One S and its newer Krait cores.

Benchmark Pi

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    530
  • HTC One S
    306
  • Sony Xperia P
    539
  • Sony Xperia sola
    551
  • Sony Xperia U
    533

In Linpack, the Xperia U did reasonably well matching the Galaxy S Advance and easily beating the HTC One V. The HTC One S really blows everything in this price range out of the water, though.

Linpack

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    64.74
  • HTC One S
    210
  • HTC One V
    34.4
  • Sony Xperia P
    66.9
  • Sony Xperia sola
    68.1
  • Sony Xperia U
    64.9

SunSpider favors the superior JavaScript performance of Ice Cream Sandwich and as a result the One V manages to keep much closer to the Xperia U. The NovaThor-packing Gingerbread running bunch performer equally well here.

SunSpider

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    2663
  • HTC One S
    1708
  • HTC One V
    3299
  • Sony Xperia P
    2784
  • Sony Xperia sola
    2837
  • Sony Xperia U
    2814

BrowserMark adds HTML5 to the equation, but doesn't change the big picture too much. The Xperia U is still doing as well as its similarly spec'd rivals, but this time the pack is closer to the One S than the One V.

BrowserMark

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S Advance
    81557
  • HTC One S
    98435
  • HTC One V
    42342
  • Sony Xperia sola
    73840
  • Sony Xperia P
    72237
  • Sony Xperia U
    75906

NenaMark 2 is where the GPU gets to show its worth. The Xperia U got a respectable score of 28.3 frames per second, which is again almost identical to the achievements of its more expensive rivals. The new Adreno 225 inside the One S is one again setting the pace, but you'd expect that from a smartphone twice as expensive.

NenaMark 2

Higher is better

  • HTC One S
    60.5
  • Sony Xperia U
    28.3
  • Sony Xperia sola
    27.7
  • Sony Xperia P
    29.9

As far as real-life performance is concerned, the Xperia U goes about just about any task hassle-free and most users should be perfectly pleased with it. It's not quite the Galaxy S III beater, but what's important here is that it will not let you down in day-to-day work.

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