Sony really wasn't kidding when it said its new NXT" series of Xperia phones would maintain a design consistency between models. The Xperia U looks near identical to both the flagship Xperia S and the mid-range Xperia P. It has the same square, block shape, with sharp edges. The main difference is that the Xperia U is constructed from plastic rather than unibody aluminium, an expected trade off given the entry-level positioning of the phone.
The Xperia U once again has a transparent band below the screen, but the colour of the band changes to match the colour of what is displayed on the screen. Further, the plastic below the transparent band is interchangeable: Sony will include two different coloured plastic inserts in the sales package.
The Sony Xperia U has a smaller 3.5in screen with a resolution of 480x854, which to be fair is quite impressive for a budget handset. With a pixel density of 280 ppi, this should be one of the better screens we've seen on a lower-end Android smartphone. Despite its entry-level position in the NXT range, the Xperia U still features Sony's Reality Display and Mobile Bravia engine technology, claiming to enhance sharpness, contrast and colour saturation of photos and videos while also minimising digital image noise.
The Xperia U has a 5-megapixel camera but it still uses Sony's Exmor R image sensor. This claims to offer higher sensitivity and less image noise in low light areas than traditional mobile phone cameras. The Xperia U also has a VGA front facing camera for video calling.
The Sony Xperia U is powered by a dual-core 1GHz dual-core processor, has 512MB of RAM, and only 4GB of internal memory. Sadly, there is no microSD card slot for extra storage.
Disappointingly, the Xperia U will originally ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Sony says the phone will be upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months.
The Sony Xperia U will be available through Crazy Johns from 22 July for $0 on the $15 value plan. It will also be sold outright through Sony Centres ("mid-June", $299) and Dick Smith Stores (July, $289).