With the new Xperia Z3, Sony has crammed some of the best mobile technology ever invented into a gorgeous, skinny, waterproof body. So naturally it'll be ridiculously expensive.
If, however, you're after a good-looking phone for the everyday basics, Sony hasn't forgotten you. The Xperia E3 is a 4.6-inch Android KitKat phone with stylings very reminiscent of the more pricey Xperias, but will apparently be the most affordable Xperia to date.
Sony has yet to clarify that statement with actual prices, so we'll have to wait and see how much it costs before saying whether it's good value. It's due to go on sale later this year, although again, Sony hasn't been forthcoming with details on where it will go on sale.
Design and display
With its chunky design and wide bezel around the screen, it's immediately easy to tell that the E3 is a more budget-focused phone than its siblings. It's not dissimilar to other Xperias however. It's roughly the same size as the Z1 Compact, the edging has a similar design (although it's plastic, not metal) and features like the sticking-out power button and minimalist Xperia branding are here too.
It's not waterproof though -- that's something Sony still reserves for its higher-end phones. If you hope to get snap-happy underwater or just want a phone that won't conk out the first time you drop it in the bath, you'll need to spend a little more cash. Or just be more careful around water.
The 4.6-inch display is the same physical size as the new Xperia Z3 Compact, but it has a much lower 854x480-pixel resolution. Unsurprisingly, the E3's screen doesn't have the same crispness to it as its more expensive brother. It at least seemed pretty bright, however, and its colours seemed at least good enough to enjoy a spot of Netflix. I'll be putting its screen to the test against its competition in the full review.
The phone uses Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which isn't the most recent version of Google's software -- that honour goes to version 4.4.4 -- but it'll be acceptable so long as Sony comes good with a very low price. Sony's own interface is on top though, so you won't immediately notice it's not the most recent version of Android unless you make a point of looking.
Sony's Android skin isn't too bad. It still has the standard underlying Android architecture, but it makes a few tweaks, such as a handy menu to the left of the app tray to let you quickly customise apps. There are mini apps like a calculator and notes app that can sit above the interface as you swipe around and there are various themes to choose from to customise the look.
The Xperia E3 powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor which, while a vast step down from the 2.5GHz chip in the flagship, seemed capable of delivering a swift experience in my brief hands-on time. Around the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera, with a front-facing camera for selfies or video calling.
With its low-resolution display and basic processor, the Xperia E3 certainly won't appeal to those of you after the best smartphone Sony has to offer -- you should look at shelling out for the new Xperia Z3. If you're after an attractive, fun smartphone, capable of tackling the essentials that won't force you to remortgage your house, the Xperia E3 could be a good option to consider.