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Sony Xperia U twinkles prettily in hands-on video

Natasha Lomas goes hands-on with the characterful, colourful Sony Xperia U at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona.

Now playing: Watch this: Sony Xperia U hands-on

Sony's recent buy-out of Ericsson has seen a return to the company producing phones marketed only under the Sony brand. Our mobile phones editor, Natasha Lomas, went hands-on with the baby of its newest range, the Sony Xperia U, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Xperia U may be dinky in design and destined for the pockets of more budget-conscious smart phone buyers, but it's by no means a dullard. A thin transparent strip runs underneath the screen and pulses different colours depending on which function you're fiddling with at the time.

A kaleidoscopically hued collection of swappable bottom caps are also available to add yet more personality. I must say it's refreshing to see phone manufacturers such as Sony and Nokia, with its colourful Lumia range, being brave enough to attempt something that defies the current fashion for black, white or grey.

A feather-light plastic shell helps to keep the phone a pocket-friendly proposition, and its blunt-edged slab shape stops it from feeling cheap. Sony's Bravia TV technology has been niftily squished into the phone, making the 3.5-inch screen vivid and twinkly.

The Xperia U ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but rest assured that an Ice Cream Sandwich update is due sometime between April and June this year. An average 5-megapixel snapper can be found on the back of the phone, but inside lurks a 1GHz dual-core chip -- a great asset for a mid-range device.

I reckon this veritable glowworm of a phone is likely to wriggle its way into the hearts and minds of many. For the full preview, hit play on the video above.

Keep your eyes trained on the site for all the latest news from MWC and let me know what you think of the Sony Xperia U, or its big brother, the Xperia P, in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.