Sony has a new low-end phone to try and tempt those of you whose bank accounts don't stretch to the expense of its flagship. Called the Xperia E4, this budget device has a large 5-inch display and a battery that will apparently keep it chugging along for two whole days -- an impressive claim.
Key specs for the phone include a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, a 960x540-pixel screen, 8GB of storage and a 5-megapixel camera on the back. The E4 only has 3G, so don't plump for this if you're hoping to take advantage of super-fast 4G LTE data speeds.
Sony has yet to say exactly how much the phone will cost, but those specs plop this phone squarely in the bottom end of the smartphone market. To be competitive it will need to be somewhere around the £100/$150 mark unlocked. Sony has so far also kept its mouth shut on exactly which countries the phone will be available, but we'll update this article when we hear more.
Based on the images we've seen, the E4 has a plastic, rounded back with design cues like the silver, sticking-out power button and minimalist Sony branding you'll see on higher-end Xperia phones. Although its 5-inch screen makes it quite large for a budget phone, it appears to have a fairly narrow bezel around the display to help keep the overall size of the body down.
In fact it measures 137mm long, 75mm wide and 10.5mm thick. Sure, it's not the slickest phone around, but it shouldn't be too uncomfortable to hold in one hand and squeeze into your pocket. It's only available in white or black, which is a shame -- it would have been fun to see some of the cheery colours found on other Xperias, such as the lime green.
The phone comes with 8GB of storage, of which 5GB is available for you to use -- the rest is taken up by the Android software. That's not much, particularly once you start filling it up with big apps and games. There is a microSD card slot, however, which accepts cards up to 32GB in size, allowing you to save your photos, music and videos externally, saving room on the phone itself for apps.
The E4's 5-inch display is sufficient to help make videos on the move as immersive as possible. It has a 960x540-pixel resolution, which results in a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch -- that's on the low side, even for a budget phone.has the same size and resolution display, although 's 5-inch display boasts a density of 294ppi. I'm hoping that Sony makes up for this meagre pixel count with a very affordable price tag.
The phone is powered by a 2,300mAh battery, which is pretty capacious. Indeed, Sony reckons you can get a full two days of use from the phone, which is an impressive claim. Of course, battery life will totally depend on how demanding you are of the phone -- if you spend all day streaming video and playing games, you shouldn't expect to get anything like that. Still, it sounds like it's off to a good start and I'm looking forward to putting that claim to the test.
It arrives with Android 4.4.4 KitKat on board, which isn't quite the most recent version of Google's mobile operating system. That's 5.0 Lollipop, but as we're yet to see Lollipop arrive on even top-end phones like Sony's own Xperia Z3 or Samsung's Galaxy S5 yet, I won't mark the budget E4 down too much for having older software on board. Although the phone can of course be updated to the latest version, Sony's track record of updating its handsets in a timely fashion isn't good, so don't buy this phone expecting an update to arrive immediately.
The Xperia E4 runs on a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, backed up by 1GB of RAM. Those are predictably low-end internal specs, but should be sufficient to make the everyday basics satisfyingly swift. Although glossy gaming may be a stretch for its engine, I expect messaging, social networking, Web browsing and editing photos in apps like Snapseed to be perfectly fine.
On the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera, which comes with features like an HDR function, various scene modes, a panorama mode and burst shooting. Although the Moto G was updated with an 8-megapixel shooter, 5 megapixels is about standard on a budget phone and is what you'll find on low-end phones like the and the Lumia 535. It can shoot video in full HD (1,920x1,080 pixels) however, and there's a 2-megapixel camera on the front for those embarrassing selfies.
With its low resolution display and lack of 4G LTE, the Xperia E4 won't excite those of you hankering after the best new tech Sony has to offer. Its large display, however, may make it a worthy choice for those of you after big screen videos on the go and its promised two day battery life is certainly an exciting prospect.
Here's hoping Sony pairs its low-end specs with a similarly low-end price tag.