We were only able to spend a few minutes with Sony’s new Xperia P smartphone as we rushed from Sony’s press conference to HTC’s press conference on Sunday, and we didn’t get any time at all with the Xperia U. Thanks to a slightly lighter event scheduled on Monday, we were able to make it over to Sony’s booth and spend some quality time with its new smartphones. These are the first smartphones that will be launched by the new Sony Mobile Communications unit that picks up where Sony Ericsson left off, and to be frank, we’re a bit concerned. This pair of Android phones is well-made and we like what Sony has done to its UI atop Android 4.0, but we’re still seeing some things that concern us. Check out our hands-on photos in the gallery linked below, and then hit the break for our initial impressions of the Xperia P and Xperia U smartphones.
First and foremost, these smartphones will hit the market in a very Sony Ericsson-like fashion. They will both launch running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and Sony has stated that the Xperia P and Xperia U will each receive an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich some time in the second quarter. Slow software updates have historically been a big issue for Sony Ericsson’s Android phones, so this definitely isn’t a great way to instill confidence in users who might still have a bad taste in their mouths.
The devices themselves are solid phones, however. They share a very similar design identity that includes the transparent light bar near the bottom of each handset, and they also sport Reality Displays that make use of Sony’s Bravia engine.
The larger of the two phones is the Xperia P, and it features a 4-inch display with “WhiteMagic” display technology that Sony says is ultra-bright and power efficient. After spending some time with the phone we can definitely confirm that the screen is extremely bright, and colors don’t get washed out at all as the brightness increases. The 1GHz dual-core processor doesn’t really do Android 4.0 justice on this handset, but hopefully things will be a bit smoother in the release version of the software.
The Xperia U features a significantly smaller form factor and a 3.5-inch Reality Display. It’s powered by the same dual-core processor and it it suffers from the same occasional hiccups that we saw with the Xperia P. The display isn’t quite as impressive as the panel on the Xperia P unfortunately, but beyond that the two phones are very similar.
We’re looking forward to spending some more time with these phones but in the mean time, be sure to check out our hands-on gallery above.