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EE Rook review

 Review: July 2015  

Rating: 3 stars

In a nutshell: The EE Rook is possibly the cheapest 4G smartphone on sale. It comes with the latest Android 5.1 Lollipop, and is a smart, compact phone. However, the cost-cutting needed to make the device so cheap is in evidence everywhere, and we can't really recommend this phone.

Today's best buy: Rook from EE Android 4G Mobi ... from Amazon (£0)



EE's bird-of-prey-named smartphones are pushing down the cost of owning a 4G smartphone, and the new Rook is the UK's cheapest 4G handset - according to EE, that is. Maybe we've lost the ability to count, but we reckon that the Huawei Ascend Y550 is actually slightly cheaper, but we're not going to push the issue. If you're looking for a cheap smartphone, the EE Rook is very cheap, and it's 4G too. We're not going to argue about that.

Design & looks

The Rook resembles the other phones in EE's range - the Harrier and Harrier Mini. Despite its all-plastic build and low cost, it doesn't look at all bad. It's the smallest of the range, but also the thickest, measuring a slightly porky 10.3 mm thick. It's not too heavy though, and its easy to hold and use single-handedly.

The Rook has a 4 inch screen, which is small by modern standards, but not so small that it's a problem. However, as you'd expect for the price, the display is one of the lowest quality screens you can get, with a low 480 x 800 pixel resolution. It's not particularly bright or clear either, so we'd only want to use it for casual use, not for anything intensive.

So far, the Rook is giving us exactly what we expect for the money - a budget-looking phone with a basic screen.

Android 5.1 / quad-core processor

The phone is kitted out with the latest Android 5.1 operating system, which is a good reason for choosing this model instead of one of the older Android phones currently on sale - some of which are still running the old Jelly Bean version of Android.

But let's take a look at the hardware inside the phone. Once again, severe cost-cutting is in evidence. The device is powered by a quad-core MediaTek processor running at 1GHz. That makes it probably the lowest powered phone to be running Android KitKat, and that's probably going to lead to trouble.

The built-in memory is 8GB, which is quite respectable for an entry-level phone, and this can be expanded by adding a microSD card.

We'd say that this hardware is the bare minimum that could be paired with an Android 5.1 phone, and it will be suitable for only the most basic apps. We wonder just how much use of the 4G LTE connectivity a user of this phone could really expect.

Basic cameras

The Rook comes with twin cameras - front and back - but they're as basic as you'd expect. There's no flash or focus on either camera, so really these are little more than point-and-shoot toys.

4G Connectivity

4G connectivity is of course the key selling-point of the Rook, and on an EE pay as you go plan, you can access 4G for as little as £10 per month. That does make it a bargain. However, if 4G data is important to you, we'd question whether this is the ideal phone.

The phone also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB connections, plus a 3.5mm headphone jack. There's no NFC however.

Battery life

The battery of the Rook is rated at just 1500mAh, putting it at the bottom of the class when it comes to battery life. We don't anticipate that you'll use the Rook intensively, considering how limited its performance is, but if you do, you'll find that the battery really doesn't last very long.

Conclusion - very cheap 4G

The EE Rook does what it claims - provides a very cheap 4G smartphone option. The market demand for cheap smartphones ia huge, and if you're buying one, then 4G must be a bonus.

So the phone scores high marks for value for money. Yet we're still nervous about recommending this phone. The slow processor, low quality display, useless camera and poor battery life could make this a waste of your money. Yes, the phone costs just £50, but if you factor in £10 per month in top-up charges, you'll be spending £170 in one year. So we reckon you'd be better off spending a little extra on the phone, and choosing the Harrier Mini instead. The Motorola Moto E 4G is another alternative.

EE Rook features include:

Best buys
Rook from EE Android 4G Mobi ...
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Where can I get new battery for my EE rook?

Asked by helen from United Kingdom on 3rd Sep 2016

EE Rook user reviews

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it, and please ask questions in our User Questions section above. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 10 reviews:

Reviewed by izzy from uk on 11th Jan 2017
Will not charge, i v tried many chargers this is my second phone as thought first one i bought second hand was faulty. new one exactly the same. must be a problem where charger plugs into phone. really annoying as i find it not too bad a phone in other ways. impossible to buy a new battery too, searched everywhere. mayb thats why the phones were selling for 20 quid.

Reviewed by steven from england on 7th Jan 2017
Love best phone in the world for its price so fast.

Reviewed by Andrew Eades-Peacock from England on 10th Apr 2016
I think they have tried to cram too much into a budget smartphone, they would have done better just having 3G technology instead of 4G and looking at better batterys instead.
Don't get me Wong its alright if it's a first or second smartphone or if your not tecsavy but if your more advanced like me then your better of looking at a more high end phone.
This mobile also doesn't support OS updates so if your thinking Android M 6 forget it!
I'm thinking of getting a Motorola moto G 3rd Generation to replace it but I'll still keep this one as a backup phone.

Reviewed by linda hunt from england on 21st Mar 2016
At the moment not very happy with the phone. Turned it off this morning now can't get it on. Can't see it being the battery only had the phone just over a week. Anyone any ideas?

Reviewed by ruby smith from england on 31st Dec 2015
good phone but needs to come with the memory card in it . my first phone and its brillent.

Reviewed by Sue lees from UK on 26th Dec 2015
I Have the ee rook .. but this morning it has died on me and now I can't turn it on. The battery is completely dead i have looked ever where to buy a neW bathere with out any luck... any ine have any ideals where i can get ine froom.

Reviewed by Sarah from UK on 9th Dec 2015
HATE IT!! Bought it as a cheap replacement phone to see me out until I could upgrade.

I cannot answer calls on it. It is the most overly complicated phone ever!

Camera is very poor, sound is hit and miss.

My advice dont waste your money on one, buy a Nokia far easier to use and much more reliable.

Reviewed by NA from uk on 27th Nov 2015
My first experience of this type of phone; conclusion; I wish I had never seen one complicated to answer and delete calls, poorly lit screen, totally a long winded process just to make a phone call and text. I am going back to a simple basic Nokia which does what a phone is intended for, you can all keep these play things.

Reviewed by steveG from England on 1st Sep 2015
I found battery about flat before I had found out how to use it. It is my first touch screen phone and after 3 hours I wanted to send it back as I could not understand how to phone or see to use the camera. I still have not found out how to delete a photo. The video quality is very poor nearly a waste of time.

Reviewed by jules b from uk on 10th Aug 2015
A rubbish phone where voicemail cuts into your phone calls. Wasted an hour in the shop trying to get an answer to this problem with the EE tech department not being able to call the shop back - problem not solved, so I have to live with it! Hence unimpressed!
Poor screen displays where you cannot tell whether or not the phone call has ended and you get loads of rubbish information about the status of the phone. The phone 'bleeps' you to advise that wifi is available when you think it is a message and there is no change in your call/ message status - what an irritant! It seems such a delicate thing to hold compared with older phones because the screen is so sensitive resulting in you wondering whether you will cut off any calls received, let alone be able to answer them. I only want a phone to use and work, not get a degree in how to use it before I can use it. I'm sure you don't have these problems when you buy a new car and drive it away from the car dealers!!

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