Sony Xperia P and Xperia U hands-on videos and images from MWC 2012

The newly sans Ericsson Sony Mobile Communications held a press event yesterday on the eve of Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona, and presented two new Xperia-branded Android smartphones, the Xperia P and Xperia U. We’ve already brought you all the official details, and now it’s time for the complimentary hands-on post.

The Xperia P and Xperia U, when looked at from over a metre or so, would be virtually indistinguishable from each other (and from the higher-end and previously announced Xperia S) if it wasn’t for the slight difference in screen size. Sony sure has put unifying design into all of its new devices. Unifying, recognizable, and quite different from anything else currently on the market. So… that’s good, right?

Well… yes and no. It’s interesting that Sony brought the blocky corners to the rest of the world (meaning outside Japan – where many smartphones have the same corner design or similar), so I appreciate it going for recognizability. And while that will make you instantly say “hey, that’s a Sony” the problem is that you’ll never know which Sony. Not for sure, anyway.

And the branding doesn’t help either. These three smartphones, which are very similar in appearance, are differentiated in name just by one letter. True, Sony isn’t the only company doing this (see HTC, Huawei, and to some extent Samsung which started the whole company brand+smartphone brand+letter madness with the Galaxy S). Yet Sony’s devices are the ones which most closely resemble each other. So that could’ve been done better.

The next problem here is that spec-wise, both the Xperia P and Xperia U are okay phones. Okay, but not ‘wow’, if you know what I mean. That has to come with the price point, yet Sony keep insisting that synergies within the group will make its phones stand out. That, in fact, was the exact thing they said back in 2001 when Sony Ericsson was formed – that Sony will step in with its know-how in electronics and bring integrated experiences.

Now we hear the same tune. But this time, because the Ericsson brand is gone – this time it will actually happen. In case you’re wondering, this is the same company that Sony Ericsson was a month ago. The same people are working there. It just changed its name because Sony acquired Ericsson’s stake in the joint venture, that’s all.

Sony has also remembered that it has movie and music studios in the group somewhere, and thinks that people will buy Sony smartphones because they come with Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services.

I don’t think so. But it is in a way refreshing to see a company focused less on raw specs and more on user experience. That said, Sony is focused on that just theoretically for now – we’ll have to wait and see if they actually deliver something different in this regard.

And the last issue I have with the Xperia P and Xperia U is that they run Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was announced in October. HTC is launching devices running ICS in April. So why can’t Sony do that too? The new Xperias will ship in “mid-Q2″, so presumably in May. But they’ll ship with Gingerbread.

Sure, an update to ICS is promised, but didn’t Sony learn anything from the Xperia X10 debacle of yesteryear? Or maybe that was Sony Ericsson that learnt that, and Sony still hasn’t. We’ll see.

The Sony Xperia P, with its unibody design and 4-inch screen, is the middle-market offering among the three new Xperias. Here are some hands-on pictures:

And here’s a hands-on video showing it in action:

The Sony Xperia U is the entry-level device in the range, and thus should be the most affordable. It comes with some interesting gimmicks too, such as interchangeable colored bottom tips, and the ability to set a specific notification light color. Here’s the Xperia U in all its glory:

And here it is on video:

More pictures of the Sony Xperia P and Xperia U are right below this paragraph in the dedicated gallery. Enjoy!

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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    I know the Vivaz pro is better spec wise but I hear it has a severe lack
    of applications (most of the symbian apps are for nokia), the xperia x8
    has crappier specs but way more apps.