Sony Xperia E1 Pros & Cons

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.

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Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

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Conclusion

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).

LG G3 Comparison Sheets & Videos

The LG G3 launched last month and was met with praise from critics across the industry. With an incredible 2K screen never before seen on a major brand handset and innovative new laser auto-focussing camera technology, the G3 is certainly a sight to be seen.

How does it stack up against the competition though? Samsung, HTC and Sony have all released their 2014 flagships before the G3, plus there are still last year’s devices lurking in the background at very attractive prices considering their specifications.

There’s no denying the G3 is in incredible piece of kit, one that anyone would be pleased to own. If you’d like to know how it holds up against its closest rivals on paper, then follow the break for a list of comparison sheets; click on them to open the full size images. We also have a few videos, also available on our YouTube channel, which will be added to as we complete more.

You can order an LG G3 from Clove for just £492 (£410 ex-VAT), with free WCD-100 wireless charging plate while stocks last.

LG G3 vs. Google Nexus 5

Google’s low cost powerhouse is actually manufactured by LG so this comparison is more relevant than it first seems. The Nexus 5 is approaching a year old now but still delivers emphatically considering the price tag.

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Motorola Moto E – as Google intended

androidlogo.jpg‘Stock Android’ is a phrase that gets thrown about a lot, often without really stopping to think too hard about whether it’s a good thing or not.

Google’s version of Android is now a very capable operating system for powering mobile devices. It has a distinctive interface and ‘feel’, as well as providing a very large number of features ‘baked-in’ that have been added to over the years and may not have originally been available.

Many manufacturers have taken to adding their own interface layer on top of Google’s Android. From Samsung’s TouchWiz to HTC’s Sense, these ‘skins’ add a number of extra features and customise the layout and interface to make an experience unique to each device.

This process can be a real improvement; building on existing features and adding new ones, whilst providing key selling points for manufacturers. However it can also seriously hamper performance on less capable devices.

Motorola_Moto_E_black_and_WhiteFor phones like the Moto E, which cut their specification as low as possible while still being able to provide a decent experience, adding much extra becomes a burden on speed and storage space. Motorola make a couple of tiny background tweaks for registration purposes and install a couple of useful apps, otherwise though what you get is 100% Google. Not surprising when until recently they were a Google company.

A phone like the Moto E probably couldn’t have existed before Android 4.3, when Google made big changes to make sure the system ran properly on lower-tier hardware. Now we can see that the basic Android experience you find on a phone for £99, is comparable to one five times the price.

If all you require are the basics of modern technology done well, the Moto E once again reminds us that you don’t always need more.

Motorola Moto E – feels ‘just right’

Motorola_Moto_E_black_and_WhiteDesigning a smartphone must be a tricky business. Which materials should be used? What screen technology is high quality and appeals to as many customers as possible? Should I call the dark grey case charcoal or dusk?

Smartphones are available in a huge array of shapes and sizes, from Sony’s monstrous Xperia Z Ultra to LG’s bendy G Flex. No one product is going to satisfy everyone’s wants and desires, however generally aiming to please as many as possible is a good starting point.

Out of the box the Moto E isn’t likely to turn heads too quickly. It’s quite an understated little phone that gets by without causing a fuss, although I’m sure there was a lot of thought that went into making it appear so simple.

A phone that’s trying to have mass market appeal can’t take risks with its appearance. Much like a family-friendly celebrity at an awards ceremony, the Moto E needs to dress up well without rocking the boat. In short Motorola’s design team have succeeded in this task with the pleasantly cheerful Moto E.

The 4.3 inch screen is large enough to not look out of place against other new and more expensive devices, whilst the surrounding casing is suitably chunky. Without the super-thin stylings of flagship phones you’re under no pretense that the Moto E is trying to be something it’s not, whilst it stops well short of looking ugly and wasteful with excess bezel and casing.

There’s a happy medium with the Moto E that makes it fine to hold without being worried about dropping or damaging it, as you would an expensive top-tier device. There’s still room for the odd touch of difference too. The shallow recess on the back that contains the ‘M’ logo sits just where one of your fingers rests when holding the phone.

The perfectly curved, removable back cover also has a lovely matte finish to provide a lot more grip and warmth than a purely flat or gloss cover would provide. Finally the classic choices of black or white (no silly names) for initial colours mark the Moto E out as a no-nonsense bit of kit.

Motorola Moto E – stay connected

motorola-logoModern smartphones are about so much more than simply talking to each other. Once upon a time all that mattered was having signal to send a text or leave a message. In time new features crept in that simply had to be had; I remember sending my mates small pixelated pictures over infrared in the playground, on a mid-range Motorola clamshell of the day.

A number of features are simply expected to be in today’s handsets, although it is incredible to think about just how much technology is sitting in a phone that costs no more than £99.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 200 processor takes care of a number of key connectivity concerns by itself, taking away much of the hard work of ensuring these features work properly. The Moto E has 3G capabilities and whilst you won’t be connecting to a 4G LTE network with it (leave that to the Moto G 4G if you’re interested in high speed for low cost), you can take advantage of 21 Mbps HSDPA speeds if available from your network provider.

Of course as already mentioned it’s not all about mobile connections. As expected, the Moto E can connect to Wi-Fi networks and also make use of new additions such as Wi-Fi direct for creating ad-hoc connections to other phones and devices.

Alongside this is the most up-to-date version of Bluetooth. With version 4.0, the Moto E can take advantage of low power connections to a slew of accessories that have been released in the last year. Traditional equipment such as speakers and headsets now benefit from extended use, as well as the new generation of wearables including smart watches and fitness trackers.

GPS is almost taken for granted now, yet not too long ago even a basic standalone driving aid would have cost you as much as this entire smartphone. Assisted by a network connection, the built-in Google Maps is a competent positioning and route-planning  piece of software, plus you can always add to it with a branded, more feature-filled app from the likes of TomTom, Garmin or CoPilot.

Archos 45 Helium Review

At £145 Archos deliver a respectable 4G capable smartphone that doesn’t break the bank.

archos_45helium_Triple_hidef_3The world of Android smartphones is steadily breaking into two camps. On one side we have the glossy flagships delivered by Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony.

These phones spare no expense in providing the absolute pinnacle of mobile technology at any given time, with super high speed quad-core processors, lasers and all manner of shiny things that fill up specification lists.

They also tend to cost a lot of cash off-contract, which is why many of them get sold through expensive high-tier contracts from operators.

The other side of the coin though involves manufacturers making high quality handsets at a fraction of the cost; handsets that still manage to tick all the right boxes and deliver a decent experience.

The major names mentioned do play this game with their entry-level and mid-range devices, although it’s usually obvious they’re just trying to make up the numbers. For other manufacturers however, this is the majority of their product range. Motorola have definitely proven it to be a viable business model.

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Motorola Moto E – delivers with dual-core

qualcomm-snapdragon-processorIt’s very easy to think that only expensive gadgets can include top quality components, with cheaper products using parts from lesser known manufacturers. This needn’t be the case though if you build to a required specification and stick to your guns.

The Moto E, despite retailing at an almost silly £99 off contract and SIM free, still manages to make use of a dual-core processor to power things. This isn’t from an unknown silicon manufacturer either, it happens to be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200.

Qualcomm have been pushing the boundaries of mobile processing technology for several years and their Snapdragon range is widely regarded as being the go-to chips for making smartphones, tablets and other mobile kit. Qualcomm always offer a range of chips at different performance levels in any given technology cycle. The Snapdragon 200 is on the lowest rung of their current ladder, however is still a very capable processor.

This happens to be a version of the 200 that is dual-core rather than quad-core (almost all other Qualcomm chips utilises quad-core technology), also seen in budget phones from LG and Sony. This doesn’t detract from its capabilities however and is a very good option for keeping the final price of the phone low.

With this chip running the show, the The Moto E is still able to smoothly handle a number of tasks simultaneously, great if you forget to close your apps down properly when flicking between them!

The Snapdragon 200 does have its limitations of course. You’ll find some of the most up to date and powerful mobile games will be beyond its capabilities to run well, however if this is what interests you in the mobile world then you’re probably well aware you need to be spending more money.

Overall you’ll find that Motorola’s decision to pick Qualcomm for the processor is good investment. They have respect in the mobile industry and are known for the quality of their components. The dual-core Snapdragon 200 offers a responsive and reliable experience with the Moto E, keeping the illusion running that the phone in your hands must be worth more than £99.

LG G3 Design Story

LG_G3_Shine_Gold_Hands_On6With a number of device launches over the past few weeks and months it’s always good to take stock of what has actually been released.

Launched at well under £500, the LG G3 was a definite contender for best value for money in the flagship stakes, combining top of the range hardware and features at an impressive price.

The one thing that will sway many consumers however, especially if they are not too concerned about software features or processor speeds, is simply how the phone looks.

Much has been made of Samsung’s style choices over the years and HTC won awards in 2013 for breaking convention. LG though also gathered column inches when the G2 was released last year, with the eyebrow raising decision to place the power and volume buttons on the reverse of the handset.

It was a brave move and the style has continued into the G3. In the following promotional video from LG, a number of key designers talk about the process that went into finalising the G3′s design, based on the ergonomics of holding the device with rear buttons, materials used and hardware components.

The LG G3 is available to buy from Clove for £492 (£410 ex-VAT), with a free WCD-100 wireless charging plate while stocks last.

Motorola Moto E – a budget-conscious bargain

Motorola_Moto_E_black_and_WhiteIt seems that every few months there’s a new announcement in the mobile industry. Whether Samsung are pushing a new octa-core processor, or Apple want to include gold mined from Mars in the latest iPhone, the news usually focusses on the most expensive and powerful mobile devices we enjoy using.

In the last few years though, the smartphone has become a tool accessible to the masses and offers immeasurably more than a simple communicator ever could. Whilst the market for ever-increasingly powerful portable computers won’t be dying out any time soon, there’s a huge number of people who neither need nor want all the features a £5-600 price tag provides.

Cheaper phones have always been available, yet they have often seemed to be little more than an afterthought when compared to their shinier counterparts adorning adverts. Issues including poor build quality or lacklustre software experience have often spoiled what could otherwise be a consumer savvy choice.

Not so more with Motorola’s recent handsets. Their new philosophy is to provide the basics, done well, at a price that leaves other manufacturers scratching their heads. The Moto E is just £99 off contract and SIM free. Considering the overall specification, the price almost looked like a joke when first announced.

Let’s also not forget that Motorola aren’t a new company. They aren’t a Chinese startup or a loss-making division in a larger overall business. This is Motorola. The company may not be exactly what it once was since it separated from the wider enterprise-oriented Motorola Solutions, however the name still carries weight and respect in the consumer space.

Right now nothing comes close to touching the Moto E. If you understand the specification and realise you don’t need a phone to do anything more than the Moto E can, there’s almost nothing else you can really compare it to.

Without moving to a lesser known manufacturer and risking build quality or cheaper components, the Moto E is undoubtedly the best phone this amount of money can buy.

Google Nexus 5 32GB £290 – Available August 11th – Order Now

Limited stock of Google Nexus 5 32GB BLACK & WHITE – place your orders now.

Google Nexus 5Back in May we had a very short run of Black Nexus 5 available at an amazing cut price. Demand was incredible and as expected we ran out very quickly.

Now we are pleased to say, after weaving a little bit of magic, we have now been able to secure further 32GB stock in both Black and White.

This time round the price is £290 (£241.67 ex. VAT) and will be available from August 11th (that’s a Monday for anyone rushing to their calendars). This offer makes for a £49 saving over the Google Play store.

Stock is limited and whilst we have managed to secure a fairly large number of these, we cannot guarantee the offer will be able to run up until the 11th. For this reason any orders will be charged when they are placed to help manage the inventory. Of course should you change your mind at any time after ordering, just contact the Clove sales team on sales@clove.co.uk for assistance.

If we sell out of these before the 11th then the offer will be removed from the Clove site. Don’t worry if you’ve placed an order and the offer disappears from the website, it will still be fulfilled unless we contact you to say otherwise.

To place your order for the Nexus 5 32GB, simply click HERE to be taken to the Clove retail site.

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