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Sony Xperia E1 review

 Review: May 2014  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Sony Xperia E1 is an excellent entry-level smartphone with a fast processor, 4 inch screen and outstanding battery life. Only the weak camera performance lets it down.

Today's best buy: Sony Xperia E1 UK SIM-Free S ... from Amazon (£70)



For £100 you can't expect too much from a smartphone, but you'll want a phone that works reliably and handles all the basic apps and social media. The Sony Xperia E1 does all this and more.

Design & looks

The Xperia E1 is a winner in this department. Yes, it may not match an iPhone for style, but at the budget end of the market, the E1's got what it takes. It's a compact phone that comes in a choice of smart colours (Black, White or Purple) and despite its small size it offers one of the largest screens on any sub-£100 phone.

The display measures 4 inches and has a pretty decent resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and 16 million colours. It's just a basic TFT touchscreen and isn't bright enough to read easily in full sunlight, but it's still one of the best screens in this price range.

The phone isn't slim. At 12mm it's quite chunky, but it feels robust and has the advantage of being light in weight. We really couldn't ask for more from a budget smartphone.

Android Jelly Bean

The E1 runs Google Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), which isn't the latest version of Android, but isn't far behind. Social media is well catered for with Facebook and Twitter apps. There's a YouTube app too and Google Chrome for general web browsing.

The Sony Walkman app makes for a great music player too, with "shake to shuffle" control and plenty of features.


When you spend £100 on a phone, you can't have everything. One thing you can't have is a top quality camera. The E1's camera uses a low-res 3 megapixel camera with basic features only. There's no flash, although there is a HDR mode for low-light enhanced images.

The camera is capable of recording video in high definition, but don't imagine that you'll get professional quality results with this.

We'd advise you to look at a different model if photography is important to you. Consider the Motorola Moto G or one of Nokia's Lumia models.

Hardware & performance

Internally, the Xperia E1 has significantly more power than the old Xperia E. It's powered by a dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz, making this as fast as anything in the budget sector apart from the Motorola Moto G. The 512MB of RAM is quite small and will limit the gaming capability of the phone, but for everyday tasks it runs very smoothly. The Adreno 302 graphics processor enables smooth 3D graphics in all but the most graphics-intensive of games.

The built-in memory is just 4GB, but you can add a microSD memory card for up to 32GB more storage, which will be plenty for the majority of users.

Audio quality is good. The phone comes with Sony's full range of audio enhancements - Clear Audio+, Clear Bass, Clear Phase and Clear stereo - plus the xLoud filter. The speaker is located on the back panel of the phone, which is far from ideal, but it's loud - rated at 100dB. There's also an FM Radio with RDS in addition to the Walkman player.

The phone supports HD voice, which is now available on most UK networks, and also features noise suppression and voice enhancement for improved call quality, and we experienced no problems with calls.


This is a 3G phone with quadband support for both UMTS and GSM networks, so it should be usable anywhere. HSPA internet access gives data download speeds of up to 21Mbps.

The phone has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB 2.0 connectivity and a 3.5mm headphone jack too. It also supports both GPS and GLONASS positioning.

Battery life

This is a key strength of the Xperia E1. The 1700mAh battery has one of the largest capacities of any entry-level smartphone. It's enough for up to 9 hours of talktime or an astonishing 81 hours of music playback. When combined with Sony's useful Stamina Mode which conserves battery life when the phone is not in use, this will give most users days of use between charges, which is very impressive in a modern phone.


The Sony Xperia E1 is an excellent budget smartphone and a big step up from last year's Xperia E. It's compact but with a good-sized screen. It has a moderately fast processor, sufficient memory and outstanding battery life. If there's one flaw, it's the camera.

Alternatives include the outstanding Motorola Moto G and the excellent HTC Desire 300.

Sony Xperia E1 features include:

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Sony Xperia E1 user reviews

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Average rating from 14 reviews:

Reviewed by Usman Mohammed from Scotland on 8th Jul 2016
Terrible phone. The camera is awful, and please bear in mind there is no front-facing camera, and so taking selfies is both difficult and unrewarding. The memory is horrendous, even with an SD card. It's very thick and has an unprofessional appearance. Please, please spend a bit more money and purchase a slightly dearer phone. You won't regret it!

P.S. I'm currently saving up to buy an iPhone 6S :)

Reviewed by Alan from Aus on 2nd Oct 2015
I bought this phone for $29AUD at a clearance sale. Best bang for the buck.

Reviewed by louise from uk on 30th Aug 2015
just bought the experia e1 and love it, it's lightweight so I can just stick it in my jeans pocket and no heavy glass screen so when I inevitably drop it it shouldn't shatteras easily . the memory isn't great but I have a sd card for my photos and use my tablet for games in the evening so not a big deal really for me. got mine half price for £40 and I think it's an absolute bargain for that. I don't ask for much in a phone except to be able to text, a few basic apps like banking and messaging, music on the bus and take a few pictures, so it's perfect for me.

Reviewed by Shane Lackhia from India on 21st May 2015
Stupid phone hate it sooooo much help me. mums taken it off me.

Reviewed by shane lackia from uk on 14th Mar 2015
i love the phone!

Reviewed by Ýrig from Germany on 21st Feb 2015
horrible phone, it freezes, has a horrible camera and a terrible screen. By far the worst phone I've owned. Only good thing about the phone is the picture editing application.

Reviewed by Samcat from UK on 1st Dec 2014
I have recently changed to Sony E1 and it is very light weight and not user friendly. Had to have it repaired within 3 weeks as it kept freezing. Still is and keyboard is slow to appear and sometimes I need to remove battery to get it to start. Wish I had stuck with Samsung. I thought the renewal team at Orange were selling me a faster more flexible phone on my contract. I was really conned

Reviewed by fid meaney from Ireland on 11th Nov 2014
My Sony Xperia E1is a. Rural phone I contacted sony and they gave me email instructions to set up picture messages on my messaging app I did so it failed now all I have when I turn my phone on is a picture on screen of green android having a nap if any turn my phone on it's reduced me to tears I am disgusted

Reviewed by jake apaya from england on 24th Oct 2014
the Sony xperia is a nice phone there's two things that let it down is that when you want to put a password and you forget it you cant unlocked because its etched on your phone not the sim car. The camera is quiet not that good so that's why. iv had my phone locked for three moths now and I have been to every shop there is to unlock phone

Reviewed by Brett Burridge from England on 1st Oct 2014
I've had my E1 for a month now and haven't had any problems. The camera isn't great but ok for what I need, memory is expandable so get yourself a 64gb micro card and that will sort it. Fast on WiFi but tesco std connection isn't great. Good selection of apps but forget the best 3D apps. Battery is really poor, the battery saver software stops most apps so really anouying. In general it's a good phone, not on par with IPhone but only cost me £74 on tesco 4G (not actually 4G)

Reviewed by chloe from uk on 27th Jul 2014
I got this phone bout 3 months ago and took it bk once because it was freezing on me. I took it bk to the phone shop they swapped it for a new one and that is doing the same some times I cant answer the phone when it rings. its bad with memory as well. Its a rubbish phone for what it is the only good thing about it is the speakers that's it.

Reply by jake apaya from engalnd on 24th Oct 2014
interesting that's so weird a sony xperia m would do that my xperia e1 don't do that.

Reviewed by mark from uk on 27th Jun 2014
Hello Moto (G).......or Lumia 635....

Reviewed by pavithra from india on 13th Jun 2014
Poor battery withstanding capacity

Reply by jake apaya from england on 24th Oct 2014
I think the battery is fine

Reviewed by tom from uk on 3rd May 2014
Awfull camera, chunky and poor memory capacity. If you are going to spend a hundred quid you would be better with the nokia 520 which looks much better.

Reply by jake apaya from england on 24th Oct 2014
I think your quit right with the nokia 520 so would I.

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