A quick look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Xperia E1.
With the arrival of the Moto G towards the end of 2013, the entry-level and low to mid-range space for smartphones has become more squeezed than ever.
It’s possible to get some very capable mobile handsets without parting with much cash. Many of the bigger name manufacturers such as Sony are a touch more expensive than lesser known names; the amount is small but proportionally significant, so how do you weigh them all against each other?
The best thing to do is set a maximum budget then look at what each handset in that range can do well and what it can’t. Here we provide an overview of the Sony Xperia E1 to help out with any decisions you might be making.
- Design - Sony are well known for delivering well built and aesthetically pleasing products. The Xperia E1 is no exception, despite the low price tag it gets the look and feel just right. The branding and ‘Omni-Balance’ design, with the power button directly in the centre of the right side, clearly marks the phone as a Sony and has a similar soft-touch feel that the comparable Moto range does.
- Sony Xperia UI - Not everyone is keen on manufacturers adding skins to Android, although the general consensus is that Sony’s is the best. Rather than go mad and completely change the look and feel of Android like Samsung’s TouchWiz, Sony’s Xperia UI is lightweight and actually offers some welcome additions to the user experience such as simplifying adding shortcuts, widgets and themes for your homescreens.
- Sony Apps - Alongside the Xperia UI comes some added value in the form of Sony’s own app ecosystem. Of course you’ll have to sign up to make the most of Sony’s music or movie portals, however they are among the best in the industry. As well as these streaming services you get the inclusion of the newest Walkman app. The once ubiquitous portable music player may now have been relegated to the status of ‘app’, yet it is one of the best personal music programs you can have installed.
- Walkman button - It probably won’t be seen on their more expensive devices, although it’s a nice touch at the cheaper end of the scale. It differentiates the E1 from other cheap phones and continues the Walkman brand a little bit longer, which isn’t a bad thing. As well as opening the Walkman app, the button acts similarly to those on hands-free kits, allowing you to pause and resume tracks with single presses, or skip with a quick double-tap.
- Price - One of the reasons you’re likely looking at the Xperia E1 in the first place is price. If you can pick up the E1 from a network (with the purchase of some credit) it may push the price down well under £100, however the SIM free open-market price is still very reasonable at the £100 mark
- Memory - The E1 has twofold issues for memory unfortunately. First of all the 4GB storage, which isn’t a dealbreaker considering it is the norm for phones of this price. You will definitely have to app manage, but remember there’s an SD card slot for data, music and pictures. The bigger issue is the RAM. At 512 MB the E1 does suffer from a touch of slowdown not seen in the likes of the Moto E or G. It doesn’t ruin the phone but it does make multitasking a bit more of a chore.
- Screen - The 4 inch sizing may have been standard a couple of years ago but now seems very small even for an entry-level handset. At 480 x 800, the resolution isn’t all that hot either. It’s passable for sure and delivers decent enough colours when reviewing back pictures or playing games, however it is outshone quite noticeably by most other phones. The cheaper construction on the top layer plastic is also a haven for little nicks and scratches that will accumulate relatively quickly without due care – there’s no Gorilla Glass here.
- Camera – It won’t be a deal-breaker for everyone, especially if you barely take any pictures, however a 3 MP camera just doesn’t cut it any more. This resolution isn’t terrible, pictures still have passable detail, however the other downside is a complete lack of autofocus. You have to get everything absolutely still and at the right range before taking the shot as there is no room for error, also close ups are practically impossible.
Overall the Xperia E1 is a very good attempt at making a low budget phone, however it is outdone in most areas by the Motorola Moto E. Sony add some extra value with their Android skin and apps; if you have an account with these services then these might sway you or even be useful for sharing with another.
If you find yourself browsing in a retail store looking for a cheap phone, it may be available for a very good price locked to a network. In this case the flaws may be outweighed by the deal on the table. Otherwise for a pure, simple Android experience purchased SIM free, it’s difficult to recommend the E1 in the face of its competition.
The Sony Xperia E1 is available to buy SIM free and never locked from the Clove retail site for £104.99 (£87.49 ex-VAT).