EE Kestrel review
|Review: May 2014|
In a nutshell: The EE Kestrel is a bonkers-cheap 4G Android smartphone that over-delivers on value by the bucketload.
4G is now available in most cities and large towns across the UK and EE is the top network for 4G. Now it's introducing its own-brand 4G smartphone for a fraction of the cost of most rivals. Is it the real deal?
Design & looks
The Huawei-manufactured Kestrel looks unspectacular at first glance, but it's by no means an ugly duckling (or chick, or whatever baby Kestrels are called.) It may be made of plastic, but it's quite weighty and solid, giving it a quality feel. It may not be a premium handset, but for £99 it doesn't place a foot (or talon) wrong.
In fact, it has two surprises in store. The first is that it has a huge 4.5 inch screen. You'd have to spend a lot more money to get a larger display. The screen isn't quite HD, but at 540 x 960 pixels, the resolution is pretty high and the screen is sharp.
The second surprise is that the Kestrel is so thin. It measures just 7.85mm in thickness, which is iPhone-thin. Lay your Kestrel next to your best mate's iPhone 5s and watch them turn purple as they realise that the iPhone is no slimmer than the Kestrel, has a significantly smaller screen and costs five times as much to buy.
The Kestrel runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with Huawei's Emotion UI. EE has added a few apps and Amazon's Appstore is present in addition to Google Play.
Surprise, surprise! Not only is the Kestrel a 4G phone with a large screen, but inside it has a quadcore processor. It's the same processor that's used in the Motorola Moto G - a Qualcomm MSM8926 clocked at 1.2GHz. It includes a full 1GB of RAM too. Vroom, vroom! With this hardware it will outperform almost any other phone in the budget smartphone sector.
In addition to the fast processor it comes with 8GB of built-in memory plus a microSD card slot, again outperforming all Android rivals at this price.
On the back of the phone is a 5 megapixel camera with a flash. There's nothing special about this camera, but it isn't bad for an entry-level phone. Video recording is no slouch, as the camera can shoot video at HD resolution.
On the front is a basic 1 megapixel camera, suitable for quick selfies and video chat.
This is a 4G phone of course and it's compatible with EE's double-speed 4G in areas where this service is available. This gives download speeds of up to 150Mbps, making 4G as fast as Wi-Fi.
The phone also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connections, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately the headphone socket is on the side where it tends to get in the way.
The Kestrel also features HD Voice for clear calls.
You might be wondering if EE has skimped on providing a large battery for this cut-price phone, but no, the Kestrel is equipped with an extra-large 2,000mAh battery, which is larger than the battery in the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for example. This should give a full day of heavy use, although to some extent this will depend on how much work your phone has to do locating a 4G signal.
The EE Kestrel is selling for a bonkers-cheap £99 on pay as you go, or on EE's cheapest 4G tariff at £13.99 per month. At this price it has no 4G rivals and is literally walking off the shelves. If you're still reading this review, you'd better click through to the EE Online Store before it's too late!
EE Kestrel features include:
- Operating system: Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
- 5 megapixel camera with flash
- HD video recording
- 1 megapixel front camera
- Display: Touchscreen with 960 x 540 pixels (4.5 inches)
- aGPS receiver
- Music player
- FM radio
- Processor: Qualcomm MSM8926, quadcore, 1.2GHz
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
- Memory: 8GB plus microSD memory card slot, 1GB RAM
- Size: 133 x 65 x 7.85 mm
- Weight: 145g
- Battery: 2000 mAh
- Talktime: 12 hours
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EE Kestrel user reviews
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Average rating from 21 reviews:
Reviewed by horwel
on 23rd Sep 2016
Love that prince.
Reviewed by rob wiggin
on 5th Aug 2016
Awesome phone, can't fault it yet, I haven't had the handset long but very happy.
Reviewed by Chris
from United Kingdom
on 13th Apr 2016
Had this for 2 yrs now on contract, but now runs sooo slow, & has been for the past yr. don't want to upgrade & be locked in, will look for a sim free that takes the micro sim.
Reviewed by Russ
on 23rd Nov 2015
Update since May , the phone is ok apart from it keeps loosing gps signal when im using a tracking app , iv heard other users of this phone with the same problem so if you use the gps on your phone dont get this phone otherwise its good value.
Reviewed by Bobby
on 14th Nov 2015
The kestrel is OK I guess, here are the issues
I've had it since April 2015
Then in about aaugust every month only half the screen will work
Then every week
Now every day
Now every second
I've restarted every day 35 times!
I can send messages or anything
Reviewed by Camden girl
on 31st Oct 2015
This phone was great for first few weeks but now it won't hold charge for more than a few hours ? What could I have done wrong ? . Or is it a con ? That said when it's working I like it a lot :)
Reviewed by Mark
from Northern Ireland
on 15th Aug 2015
I hate this phone. When I got it I had to ring up to get it registered for some reason in order to use it in Ireland (roaming) this couldn't be done on the handset, I need it as its only 10 mile from me. When this still didn't work I took it back to shop and they said it was easy to set up, and my reply was how come customer services didn't manage it. They set it up for me and that now works. Any photos I have taken can not be accessed via usb on computer. When I took it back to shop they looked at it and said something needed downloaded onto it and he supposedly did it for me. I took it home and it still didn't work. Whats the point in a camera phone with no way of accessing photos? After some time I realised that I have never received a voicemail on my phone. Having rang it myself this isn't available or isn't setup. I have no idea what I am supposed to do. Customer services aren't exactly helpful, once you sign a contract and the shop doesn't want to see you again. With no user manual and I cant find anything online, what ever happened to the term user friendly or customer service? The phone now has a faulty on off switch and I am told I need to download any photos etc off it before they send it away to be fixed under warranty. I assume they will be erased. I would love to know how I am to achieve this. The only good thing about the phone is its free under a contract and the only reason I'm still with EE is its the only good signal at my house.
Reviewed by Russ
on 17th May 2015
Upgraded from a xperia sp about a month ago and its been great the only small niggle is to zoom in when using the camera you use the screen and its very difficult to get the zoom you want , would be better if this function was done using the volume buttons on side of phone . Still giving it 5 stars as everything else is easy to use and a great phone for the money.
Reviewed by Morgan procter
on 13th May 2015
Its just great, with a few tweaks including "nova launcher" it really shines, and for you gamers out there its a thumbs up from me, so far has out performed at every game I've thrown at it.
Reviewed by Roma Robb
on 6th May 2015
Got this from upgrade. Had been using my old Nokia for years so this took a lot of getting used to. However i am beginning to get used to it. Phone is brilliant. just so sensitive sometimes i get the words wrong but the texts which appear above the keyboard are a great help. I also agree that I would love an instruction book as I am totally new to this technology and have to keep asking my grandaughter if I want to know something.
Reviewed by laraine sotori
on 13th Apr 2015
ive had this phone since January and yhis is the second time time its died and when it finally come back on hours later u can no longer use it to make calls it say emergency only so ill lose all app paid for otherwise and photos and contacts personel detail will be lost so I think this is a issue with this phone so I think im going to ask to change to a different model
Reviewed by Phil
from Yorkshire, UK
on 10th Nov 2014
I bought this is a back up phone, with £10/month PAYG on EE, without doubt the best phone I've used in a long time, handles everything I've thrown at it, just laughs at me and begs for more!! Will be loving this long time!
Reviewed by kevin
on 13th Oct 2014
Only had it for a week, but very impressed,very fast when connecting to the internat, and playing games, as noted only drawback lack of full clear instructions
Reviewed by molly
on 8th Aug 2014
Nice phone but but there is no instruction book except for a little leaflet, its trial and error to find out how to use this phone to its full use. My old phone had a nice clear instruction book and I think EE should not assume that everybody has the knowhow to use these sort of phones.
Reviewed by steve
on 17th Jul 2014
its a decent phone but does any one know were i can get a manual ( instruction booklet )for this phone at all
Reply by Mrs Coomber
on 13th Dec 2014
Lovely phone but where can I get a Manual or some instructions on how to use it
Reviewed by El Stoat
on 26th Jun 2014
I got this phone a week ago as I was due an upgrade. I've been using iPhones for the past four years but the besetting weakness of the iPhone - its tendency to miss or drop calls - was getting me down. And when I saw a 4G phone for £13.99 a month...give it a go, I thought.
The transition from iOS to Android has been a lot easier than I expected. As with the iPhone, you'll find a load of pre-installed apps you have no use for; just bung them all into a folder and tuck it away on the final screen. Setting up the home screen with precisely the apps you DO want is easy too, once you get the hang of Android. I spent a happy couple of hours mucking about and got the important stuff - email, messages, notes, calendar - upfront and immediately accessible.
In use, the phone works perfectly well - as a phone, I mean: good, clear reception, doesn't drop calls. As for the connectivity: I live in a good 4G area and I can confirm that it's very fast indeed. The camera's adequate for taking the odd snap, which is all I'd ever want it for. The music player's fine too, and as I was able to put a 32GB micro-SD card in the phone I won't be short of stuff to listen to and watch.
In short, this phone's a bargain, and it looks and feels better in the hand than its photographs suggest. I was thinking of it as a stopgap while Apple sorted out the iPhone 6 but you know, I might well stick with it. Highly recommended!
Reply by John Mackenzie
on 30th Jun 2014
Is there a User Handbook available , other than the small one that comes in the box ? One that in simple terms explains thebasic functions eg making and receiving a call , sending and receiving a text and the removal of unwanted data . Not all owners are technocrats.
Reply by El Stoat
on 4th Jul 2014
Not that I'm aware of - I would have found such a handbook useful, being new to Android. I found some on line forums with discussions about one or other of the Kestrel's quirks but nothing of any real use, and certainly nothing like those little half-inch thick instruction books in ten languages I used to get with my old Nokias. Maybe the manufacturers assume we're all techies nowadays....
Reviewed by Andy
on 4th Jun 2014
It's brilliant for the money. I got one after my 2-year-old Galaxy S3 battery would only last half a day. The Kestrel feels just as fast and I prefer its smaller size as you can actually use it with one hand!! I'm getting three days between charges if I turn off wifi/bluetooth/gps when I'm not using them. Cons: as reviewers mention the headphone jack is in a stupid place, rear-facing camera is very average and the in-built speaker is tinny, so best to use headphones for watching videos etc. Not a big deal when the cost is this good.
Reviewed by Sean
on 2nd Jun 2014
Excellent. Had it for a month now. Fast, smooth and you can't argue for the price.
Reviewed by Darren Naylor
on 25th May 2014
I bought this phone as I smashed my Sony xperia screen twice in as many weeks and at £95 a screen I opted for a kestrel.
This phone is actually better than the £200 + Sony
And I am well pleased with the performance especially the blu tooth that is crystal clear in my car unlike the Sony which was like talk into a goldfish bowl. I would not hesitate to recommend this gem of a phone.
Reviewed by mo
on 17th May 2014
quick grab one before they run out, great phone, the 4G internet is outstanding, faster than a home broadband, everything about it is good plus 10gb of data ,can't go wrong with that. thumbs up
Reviewed by Minibraveheart
on 15th May 2014
Wow !!! Bought this for my Daughter and have to say very impressed with quality and speed of the device for this price, i would even go as far to say its quicker accessing web pages than my samsung s4, if your not a brand snob then this is a quality phone for little bucks