The Sony Xperia E is an entry-level Android smartphone retailing for around $150.
Design & looks
The Xperia E follows the design ethic of the current Xperia range, but cost-cutting means that it won’t win any prizes for looks. Although it only has a 3.5 inch screen, it isn’t the most compact budget smartphone, and is quite chunky, measuring 11mm thick. Despite that, it does look smart and purposeful, avoiding the “Mickey Mouse” look that cell phone manufacturers sometimes give their budget handsets.
The 3.5 inch screen is typical for entry-level smartphones and so is the 320×480 pixel resolution. Still, it’s a capacitive screen that responds well enough to the touch, and has a welcome scratch-resistant coating.
The Xperia E runs Android Jelly Bean, although it’s version 4.1 not the latest 4.2. Still, that gives the phone a clear advantage of many others that run older versions of Android. Jelly Bean includes the Google Now feature that learns where you live and work, and tries to give you useful information even before you’ve asked for it.
The virtual keyboard is ideal for texting and emailing, as well as keeping up with Facebook, twitter and other social media.
There’s plenty more smartness on offer, including Google Maps, now with Streetview and navigation. A full web browser, document viewer and a barcode scanner are also installed. Plus of course Google Play store gives you access to hundreds of thousands of downloadable apps, many of them free.
As you might expect, the processor used in the Xperia E is single-core and runs at a modest 1GHz. With only 512MB of RAM available, the number of apps you can run is limited and multi-tasking is best avoided. However, the hardware is fast enough to keep up with the user interface and you shouldn’t notice any real lag unless you start opening up more demanding applications.
The built-in memory is 4GB, of which about half is available to the user, and you can extend this by adding a memory card – up to 32MB. 4GB isn’t a lot compared to high-end models, but it’s as much as you can expect at this price point, and since the processor speed limits the capabilities of the phone to some extent, the available memory seems like a reasonable amount.
The camera is pretty low-spec, having a 3.2 megapixel lens and VGA video recording. The camera functionality is very basic with fixed focus and no flash.
The phone is compatible with 3G (HSPA) and GSM. It includes built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, and also has Bluetooth wireless connectivity. A USB cable and a 3.5mm headphone can also be connected. NFC is missing however.
A bonus feature is the FM radio with RDS.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the bulkiness of the phone is the larger than average battery that Sony has given the Xperia E. The 1530mAh capacity battery can power more than a day’s continuous music playback, which is outstanding for any modern smartphone, let alone such a basic one.
It’s certainly not the kind of handset that a true phone connoisseur would choose, but as entry-level phones go, it’s not a bad choice if you’re looking to save some cash, or perhaps choosing a child’s phone or a spare.
The styling isn’t cutting edge, but it isn’t an ugly duckling either. The 3.5 inch screen and the single-core processor are adequate, the connectivity is good and the battery life excellent. Certainly the camera is very poor, and the hardware restricts the kinds of apps you can install and run, but for everyday smartphone functions the Xperia E gives a lot for the money.