Amidst a dense, angry crowd of rabid tech journalists, we managed to get some time with the Xperia U, Sony's lower-tiered, Android 2.3.7 smartphone announced just minutes ago along with the NFC-equipped Xperia P. At first glance, the screen is very prone to slimy fingerprints — some of the fault lies in the crowd, but it also doesn't bode well for prolonged use, either. The the home button on the transparent bar was a little finicky, but the color changing looked great, especially as we went through a gallery of pictures and themes (including amethyst, gold, and sapphire). We were also pleasantly surprised by the bottom cap's firmness: it will come off when you want to swap caps, but it takes enough work to do so that we don't think it'll really ever randomly pop off in your pocket or bag.

Performance seems decent enough — no obvious lagging in the time we had. The Sony rep couldn't give us a price, except to say that it will launch as the most affordable Xperia phone — and depending on that price, we could see it holding up pretty well in that tier.