Sony Xperia U review: Fun united
Great organizing skills
The Sony Ericsson Xperia U comes with a solid set of organizing options, including a document viewer.
The app in question is OfficeSuite and it has support for viewing document files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, including the Office 2007 versions). For editing, you will need to get the paid app.
Reading documents is quite comfortable and panning is blazing fast. There's built-in file browser and cloud storage integration (Google, Dropbox, Box).
The calendar has three different types of view - daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
The Calendar also pulls info on upcoming events from your Facebook account. Facebook events appear just like regular calendar entries but you can't edit them on the phone, they are read-only.
There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are really big and easy to hit. You can expand advanced functions (trigonometry, logarithms) by turning the phone landscape.
The alarm clock app supports multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The Alarms app can also work as a desk clock - you have a big toggle for the brightness, as well as weather info and shortcuts to gallery slideshow and the music player.
The app has also grown a World clock along with stopwatch and timer functionality, which were missing in previous Xperia phones.
The Power Saver app helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically when the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold.
There are three presets in total. The other two are a manual power saver and a timed saver. The latter can, say, keep all those power-hungry features off for the night and turn them back on in the morning.
Google Maps and Wisepilot navigation
The Sony Ericsson Xperia U comes with a GPS receiver, which took less than a minute to get satellite lock upon a cold start. You can use the A-GPS functionality to get near instantaneous locks. Alternatively, network positioning will do if you only need a rough idea of your location.
Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we've covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere.
3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.
The latest version uses vector maps, which are very data efficient and easy to cache. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.
You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always cool Street View.
Our Xperia U came with a Wisepilot trial with 30 days' worth of full navigation license. The app offers info on weather, traffic, speed cameras and alerts.
Wisepilot uses online maps by default, so you'll need a data connection - but it works even in countries where Google Maps Drive doesn't. You can purchase offline maps if you like - a 2-year license for the whole of Europe is 5 Euro and North America is 5 Dollars.
If you decide to go with the online-only version, the Abroad mode makes sense. It will reduce roaming data usage and maps are cached (so, you if you start off at home or your hotel with the phone hooked up to a Wi-Fi network, you'll save even more).
We just can't promise you that your Xperia U will also come with the same Wisepilot license, it may be a market-dependent feature.
The Android Market is now called the Play Store, but other than the name, it's the same old app store.
It's organized in a few scrollable tabs - categories, featured, top paid, top free, top grossing, top new paid, top new free and trending. The in-app section is untouched though and it's very informative - a description, latest changes, number of downloads and comments with rating. There is usually a demo video and several screenshots for most apps too.
There are all kinds of apps in the Google Play Store and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).