Sony Xperia U NXT
The chunky budget baby of the new Sony Xperia range, the Xperia U shares the build and design of the Xperia P and Xperia S, reduced in footprint to house its excellent 3.5in screen. The 480 x 854 pixel screen feels narrow in use but it’s still the best on test. The 1GHz dual-core processor is also best in class.
Apps and games that suit the narrow screen fly but web browsing can be tricky and takes the shine off the experience, but no doubt you get used to navigating it over time. Typically, the battery only lasts a day with the demanding screen and processor. However, the 3.79GB of available storage is the big disappointment here. If you've a music and movie habit, you'll have to juggle things a bit – rather than fill and forget. Still, the supplied headphones are excellent and there's an Android 4.0 upgrade due this summer.
Reg Rating 85%
More info Sony
A decent, curvy body can’t hide the fact the the Libra is a low-powered Android with a 600MHz processor running Android 2.2 Froyo. The 3.5in 400 x 800-pixel screen and 5Mp camera are both standout advantages and the user interface is fast and the screen is responsive.
If you don’t use stacks of demanding apps or games, it’s a good option, especially as on-line prices drop below £149, as ZTE phone development moves on at speed. Storage is minimal with a 2GB MicroSD card in the box but this can be increased, of course. All in all, a good all-round smartphone for the first time Android user. ®
Reg Rating 75%
More info ZTE
In phone reviews I'd like to see the battery life measured for each one. Battery life of portable electronics is so important to me. Having gone from a Sony Ericcson P1i (3G, touchscreen with stylus) which gave me over a week to an HTC Desire which would give me a day and a half even when just sitting idle in my jacket. Changing to CyanogenMod extended that to a long weekend. But it's still not good enough.
Battery tech keeps improving but any advantages are negated by useless UI animation, fancy graphics and pointless cruft.
Not a single mention of how much space any of these handsets has for application storage which I'd argue is the most important bit of info to have when buying any Android phone, esp a cheap one.
Re: "The Samsung Galaxy Ace looks remarkably like an iPhone 4."
It's a rectangle with rounded corners and single button. Enough to inflame any manufacturer with insecurity problems