Read the full review: HERE

We are not saying those smartphones were perfect - it's all about cutting the right corners in this class and Sony's engineers have proven time and time again that they are pretty good at that. The Xperia U is seemingly no exception, judging by a quick glance at the list of pros and cons.

Key features
•Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
•3.5" 16M-color capacitive touchscreen of Full WVGA resolution (854 x 480 pixels) with Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
•Android OS v2.3.7 Gingerbread, planned Android 4.0 ICS update
•Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU, 512 MB RAM, NovaThor U8500 chipset
•5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging, Multi Angle shot
•720p video recording @ 30fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
•Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
•GPS with A-GPS
•8 GB built-in storage (6 GB user-accessible)
•microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
•Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
•Stereo FM radio with RDS
•Voice dialing
•Adobe Flash 11 support
•Deep Facebook integration
•Accelerometer and proximity sensor
•Transparent stripe changes color depending on screen content
•Replaceable cap at the bottom allows easy customization

Final Words

So, Sony know what they're doing in the midrange. The Xperia U is so comfortably ahead of similarly priced smartphones that it's one of the easiest to recommend.

Few would've believed last year that a solid dual-core experience and a display of very good quality would be available at this price point. Screen size aside, the Xperia U is better than the Xperia Arc S in almost every way and that one passed for a flagship device mere 9 months ago.

And as if that's not enough, the Xperia U is perhaps the most affordable dual-core droid. It's the cheapest way to get a FWVGA display too, and the build and finish are worthy of a flagship. You wouldn't normally expect to get anything else on this kind of budget, but you are in for another surprise. The changeable color of the transparent strip is a nice little twist giving personality and character, which are hard to come by in the crowded smartphone midrange.

The obvious catch here is the Sony Xperia U limited storage, but if that's a deal-breaker to you we should've lost you at the intro. Granted, the issue will drive some people away, but if you can live with the 6GB provided, you'll be getting a deal that's hard to beat. Just look at the competition.

Sony obviously has a thing for affordable solid smartphones, as the device that comes closest to the Xperia U is its very own Xperia Sola. Dropping the fancy see-through strip and the removable battery, the sola offers that vital microSD slot for all the storage you may need. It also has a slightly larger 3.7" LCD, which is better suited to multimedia consumption than the tiny, by today's standards, 3.5" screen on the U. The Xperia sola will cost you a little extra though