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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.

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Best buy: Free Sony Xperia E1 from O2 (£0.00)

 

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.

Camera

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.

Connectivity

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.

Conclusion

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:

  • 3 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom
  • HD video camera
  • Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 800 x 480 pixels (4 inches), 16 million colours
  • Walkman player with album art, shuffle and smart playlists
  • FM radio with RDS
  • xLOUD Experience, 3D surround sound
  • Clear Audio+, Clear Bass, Clear Phase and Clear stereo
  • aGPS and GLONASS with Google Maps with Street View
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, email, instant messaging, conversations
  • 3D motion gaming
  • Vibration alert
  • Internet: Web browser, YouTube, Google voice search
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • Memory: 4GB internal memory plus 512MB RAM and microSD memory card slot
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) plus 3G UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100)
  • Size: 118 x 62.4 x 12 mm
  • Weight: 120g
  • Battery: 1700mAh
  • Talktime: 9.2 hours
  • Battery standby: 550 hours

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Sony Xperia E1 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. This is a review site, not a forum, so please don't just ask questions. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 4 reviews:

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.
Rating:

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

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

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.
Rating:

 
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