As we suspected last week, when phones started to appear in retailer listings, Sony's Xperia NXT series has launched in the United States. The manufacturer sends word today that its Xperia S, P and U handsets, available in Europe for a few months now, are now available stateside, unlocked and SIM-free. But before you reach for your wallet, a couple of caveats -- first, although these phones are unlocked, they'll only work on AT&T 3G/4G within the U.S., and they're all running Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box. Sony's quick to add that all three are upgradable to ICS, but we're already well into the age of Jelly Bean, and if you're shelling out the full retail price for a phone, you'd rightly be disappointed to find an 18-month-old OS loaded on there.
The Xperia S is Sony's flagship for the first half of the year, with a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 CPU, 1GB RAM, a 720p "Realiy Display" screen, a 12MP rear camera and 32GB of internal storage. The Xperia P is the mid-range offering, with a 1GHz ST-Ericsson dual-core chip, a qHD display, an 8MP shooter and an aluminum shell. And the Xperia U is the tiny entry-level model, sporting a WVGA screen, a 5MP shooter and interchangeable plastic bottoms.
To Sony's credit, all three are well-built devices with some decent hardware inside, and in our reviews of the Xperia S, P and U, we praised Sony's build quality and hardware. But in a market accustomed to buying phones directly from carriers at subsidized prices, we think they're going to struggle to sell many of these. And the price point certainly won't help. Here's what you can expect to pay for the NXT series phones in the U.S. --
Xperia S – MSRP $559.99, unlocked, in black or white
Xperia P – MSRP $479.99, unlocked, in silver, red or black
Xperia U – MSRP $299.99, unlocked, in black or white
In a world where the Galaxy Nexus sells for $350, and the AT&T One X is yours for $549 off-contract, it's difficult to recommend Sony's Gingerbread-based offerings at these price points. We'd much rather see the faster, more attractive, ICS-toting Xperia GX land on Western shores, instead. In any case, you can find Sony's presser after the break.