Sony Xperia E3 hands-on
Sony already unveiled its new Xperia lineup of devices at IFA 2014, comprising the Xperia Z3 flagship, the Xperia Z3 Compact munchkin, the 8” Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, but alongside them the budget-friendly Xperia E3 also made a debut. We had the fortunate chance to spend some time with it and see how it feels like at our fingertips. It's hands-on time!
Design-wise, you can see which Sony device has inspired the design of the E3 right off the bat - of course, we are talking about the new Xperia Z3. That said, the Xperia E3 comes with typical Sony design, with the rounded-edge style of the current Xperia flagship, but unlike it, we can't say that the E3 is a beautiful device. Then again, being nothing else but an affordable mid-ranger, the Xperia E3 comes sans the premium build materials of the top-end Xperia Z3 and relies on regular, matte plastic, which definitely feels cheap. From the looks of it, one might judge that the Xperia E3 comes with front-facing stereo speakers, but they'll be more than wrong.
Despite its dimensions, which are relatively hefty for a 4.5-inch device, the smartphone feels great in the hand, as the plastic elements provide an adequate amount of grip, paving the way for a comfortable holding experience. The side bezels of the Xperia E3, however, are pretty large, as one can see from the photos we snapped. Nevertheless, it feels like a pretty sturdy and durable device, which might survive a few drops on the ground and live to tell the tale.
The predecessor of the Xperia E3, the Xperia E1, came with a 4-inch, 480x800-pixel IPS LCD display, whereas the newer generation has a 4.5” one. The resolution, however, remains the same, and it easily comes to mind that this has affected the sharpness of the display in a negative way. The combination between real estate and amount of pixels has worked out an unimpressive pixel density of 218ppi.
As usual with IPS LCD displays, we are dealing with a somewhat coldish color temperature (at first sight, at least) and good viewing angles. As a whole, we feel that the display is rather mediocre. Certainly, there are other mid-range devices out there that perform better in this exact category.
No surprises here - the Xperia E3 comes with Sony's own take on Android 4.4 KitKat. Although not as feature-rich as the user interfaces of Sony's major rivals, the UI of this budget-friendly gadget is relatively close to stock Android. This provides for a seamless, almost hiccup- and lag-free navigation throughout the various pages and menus of the interface. The Xperia E3 has scored most of Sony's distinct software features - Sony Walkman, Sony Album, most of the stock apps of the Xperia Z3, and Stamina Mode, to name a few.
Processor and memory
The silicon inside the Xperia E3 is a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400, mated with 1GB of RAM, and it appears that this duo is perfectly capable of providing a more-than-adequate overall experience. You'll hardly stumble upon a performance-related issue or any lag at all. Sony is known for the software optimization of its devices, and the Xperia E3 is no exception to this rule.
The Sony Xperia E3 comes with a 5MP rear camera (an improvement over the 3MP one of the Xperia E1), toting an LED flash and a rather full bag of software features aboard. Digital image stabilization, autofocus, HDR, panorama, various scenes and effects are just some of the features photography devotees will be able to tinker with if they lay their hands on an Xperia E3. If video clips float your boat, then the Xperia E3 will probably please you with its ability to shoot 1080p videos.
However, most of Xperia E3's rivals sport higher-megapixel rear cameras, and while this characteristic is not the most vital, we feel like the Xperia E3 might be underperforming, compared to some of them. What's more, the front-facing camera of the handset is merely 0.3MP, which is totally unimpressive as well.
So, the Sony Xperia E3, yay or nay? Of course, you are the ones who have to decide for yourselves. Then again, if Sony prices the Xperia E3 right, we can safely say that the state of the mid-range market is about to get a tad more exciting and heated once the mid-range affordable launches this fall, where it will encounter the Moto G and a slew of other compelling mid-rangers.