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Sony Starts Selling Unlocked Xperia NXT Smartphones Stateside

Sony built its empire on the back of entertainment, and its Xperia smartphone line is no different. The Sony Xperia Play is already bringing smiles to the faces of virtual adventurers with its dedicated gaming buttons and analog joystick; today, Sony announced that it's bringing the Xperia NXT series to the United States. Each of the three phones announced focuses heavily on a different entertainment aspect, from photos to tunes to an all-around HD experience.

The Xperia U is a nod towards music lovers. The handset packs in Sony's XLoud and Surround Sound technology to provide a better audio experience, while a transparent band underneath the 3.5-inch screen changes color to match the tone of the album art or gallery on-screen.  In non-audio aspects the feature set is a bit more modest, with 512MB of RAM, a 5MP camera and a 854-by-480 display.

The 4-inch Xperia P, on the other hand, is for the Instagram afficionados.  It's the first handset to feature Sony's WhiteMagic technology, which automatically delivers a bright, yet power-efficient picture on the 960-by-540 display depending on your environmental conditions. The Xperia P also has an 8MP camera capable of snapping 1080p HD video.

We went hands-on with the Xperia U and Xperia P at this year's Mobile World Conference, and were impressed with the phones' colorful screens and snappy performance. We were particularly excited about the Xperia P's SmartDock accessory, which turns your TV into an Android PC when the phone is attached to it.

Finally, the 4.3-inch Xperia S is being billed as an all-around HD solution, packing a 1,280-by-720 HD screen coupled with a 12MP camera that can take 1080p video. It has a dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processor and up to 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

All three phones utilize Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine and sport DLNA compatibility, adding to their entertainment-friendly chops. The Xperia P and Xperia S additionally pack in HDMI connections and NFC functionality. The Xperia NXT line ships with Android 2.3, but Sony says they're upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich.

Interestingly, Sony isn't selling the Xperia NXT line through the traditional carrier channels, choosing instead to sell the GSM phones directly through its website as well as and other e-tailers. That means the Xperia handsets come unlocked, but without the pricing subsidy many U.S. shoppers have come to expect. The Xperia U will set you back $299.99, while the Xperia P and S cost $479.99 and $559.99, respectively. Each comes in several different colors.