Sony Xperia E1 review: Enter Walkman

GSMArena team, 15 April 2014.

Introduction

Back in 2012, the simple and affordable Xperia E was targeting youths and first-time smartphone users. Two years later and out of elementary school, the Xperia E1 has more screen size and brain power to stay afloat in the rough waters of junior high. The good news is the price is still in check.

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Sony Xperia E1 official photos

Even more importantly, this cheap droid is now officially the cool kid. The E1 introduces a new design aesthetic to the bottom of the Xperia line with a sporty outfit and almost rugged look and feel (but not function). Once again, Sony looks back for inspiration and Walkman gets the nod to sex up the company's entry-level lineup.

The dedicated button at the top will launch the Walkman app even off the lockscreen to let you play and share music locally and online. The loudspeaker is said to output up to 100db, which may as well put sodcasting at a historic high - not if you're on the receiving end, that is. Anyway, xLOUD, ClearAudio+ and ClearBass are by no means exclusive to the E1 - we'll see about it in our dedicated test. Before we get there though, here's the rest of the Sony Xperia E1's key specs.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and -band UMTS support
  • 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 4" 16M-color capacitive TFT touchscreen of WVGA resolution (480 x 800)
  • Android OS v4.3 Jelly Bean, KitKat confirmed but not yet scheduled
  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 302 GPU, Qualcomm SM8210 chipset
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 2GB of user-accessible built-in storage (4GB total)
  • microSD slot (32GB supported)
  • 3.15 MP fixed-focus camera, geotagging
  • SVGA video @ 30fps
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • User-accessible battery, Li-Ion 1700 mAh

Main disadvantages

  • Fixed-focus camera, No LED flash
  • Poor video recording
  • No front-facing camera
  • 512 MB of RAM

Sony has a convincing package on paper and one that promises a loud bang for your buck. The dual-core Snapdragon 200 chipset from Qualcomm should be able to handle Android 4.3 Jelly Bean trouble-free, definitely making a difference from the single-core CPU inside the original Xperia E. The bigger screen diagonal has been matched by an increase in resolution - for a noticeable, but still affordable, bump in pixel density. There's a bigger battery too.

Imaging is the only department to not receive upgrades. The Xperia E1 is still stuck with the same 3.15MP fixed-focus camera from two years ago, and the camcorder will do no better than SVGA.

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The Sony Xperia E1 at HQ

This is going to be marketed as a music-centric phone and Sony may just have a point here. The company's affordable phones have so far been credible enough and the Xperia E1 should be counting on a warm reception as long as there're no nasty surprises. We're on to the design and build right after the break.

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