Sony Xperia E1 Review
The Sony Xperia E1 is a device for music lovers on a budget. A phone with a dedicated Walkman button and a rich music app, its music capabilities make it stand out in a fiercely competitive market of affordable Android smartphones. It also has time on its side, as it’s one of the first devices to ship with a new and faster Snapdragon 200 system chip. In addition to all this, the Xperia E1 is also a very compact and lightweight phone, a virtue that becomes less and less common nowadays.
There is a fly in the ointment, though - the phone only has a 3-megapixel camera with no flash. Is that a deal-breaker, and are there any other hidden caveats? Stay with us as we answer these questions right below.
In the box:
- USB Cable
- Wall Charger
- In-ear headphones
- User manual
Forget about design intricacies - the Xperia E1 looks like a device sold in Dollar Tree with its extremely cheap feeling plastic. At the same time, though, it’s also compact, and lightweight.
The first thing you notice about the Sony Xperia E1 is that it’s built out of such low quality plastic that it makes the phone feel like a cheap toy from the Dollar Tree store. This very cheap feel is a bit of a shock even for an affordable device, as nowadays we have similarly low-priced devices like Nokia’s Lumia 52x series or the Moto G that push the envelope with sleeker look and wide color options. Despite its negligence for looks and build materials, it’s also true that the phone is fairly tightly put together and does not screak under pressure.
In terms of pure size, the Xperia E1 is a very compact and pocketable phone (it measures just 62.4mm, or 2.46 inches, wide). As such, it is nearly perfect for single-handed use, as your thumb can practically reach its every corner. In addition, the E1 is also of very light weight, tipping the scales at just 120g (4.23oz). And while in terms of thickness, it is a fairly chubby little phone with a body girth measure of 12mm (0.47”), its compressed overall size makes this less of an issue than it would have been for a larger phone.
Up front, you have just the Sony logo on top, the screen, and no physical buttons - instead, the device uses on-screen buttons for navigation around Android. All the physical keys are located on the left: a tiny lock key, and a volume rocker above it, and while both are clicky and responsive, they are made of that same extremely low-grade plastic, which is disappointing.
We ought to separately mention the unique Walkman key located on the top of the phone. Since the phone is so compact, it’s not hard to reach for it, and it’s also clicky enough. This key is specifically tailored to control the music listening and it integrates tightly with Sony’s Walkman music app. You can customize it to your liking, but by default, long pressing it starts the Walkman app, pushing it once pauses or resumes the current song, and double-pressing it switches to the next song. It’s a neat touch for music lovers, who can control their music without firing up the phone.
The 4-inch WVGA display is of underwhelming quality, with washed out colors and poor viewing angles.
The Xperia E1 features a 4-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels (WVGA). Quite frankly, the display is one of this phone’s weakest points - it looks very washed out, with a distinct bluish cast, poor contrast, and inaccurate colors. Viewing angles are just terrible (and we’re not being picky) - tilt the phone just slightly and you witness huge loss in contrast and color saturation. With all these serious flaws, the middling 480 x 800-pixel resolution, and the 233ppi pixel density, looks like a mild inconvenience that we could excuse given the cheap price of the phone.
On a more positive note, the phone supports automatic brightness adjustments, a setting that is often times missing on low-end devices. It’s also fairly bright, but outdoors its visibility is not great because of the high reflectivity of the display.