Sony Xperia E1 review: Enter Walkman

GSMArena team, 15 April 2014.
Pages: 12345678910

Tags: Sony, Android

Phonebook

The Sony Xperia E1 phonebook is integrated with the dialer using a tabbed interface - the Contacts, Phone, Favorites and Groups tabs can be side-swiped. The bottom bar holds shortcuts to search option, add number field, and the advanced settings menu.

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The phonebook The quick contact shortcuts The options from the contextual menu

The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options - a dedicated search field at the bottom of the contact list, and an alphabetical scroll bar to jump to names starting with a specific letter on the right.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

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Filtering contacts in the phonebook

If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can "link" their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show up as extra tabs.

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Viewing a contact entry Editing a contact

The Quick contact feature is present alright - a tap on the contact's photo brings a pop-up windows with shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact, visiting their web page or navigating to their home address.

Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type). There's an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes. There is also an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail.

Telephony

The Xperia E1 makes and receives call without breaking a sweat. The built-in secondary microphone is used for active noise-cancellation. This enables your voice to be loud and clear even in noisy environments. All in all, you'll have an effortless time placing calls with the E1.

The call log is integrated in the dialer - it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad in the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list which searches for matches in both the contacts' phones and names. You can hide the keypad to make more room for the call log.

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Smart dialing is available

Thanks to the proximity and accelerometer sensors, the Sony Xperia E1 automatically disables the touchscreen when you lift it up during a call.

The Xperia E1 scored a mark of Very good on our loudspeaker tests, meaning you aren't all that likely to miss any calls and notifications if you are in a noisy environment. Sony even claims that the Xperia E1 is capable of reaching 100dB from its speaker and we're inclined to believe them.

Sony has preloaded a number of features that modify how the speaker sounds. We tested with all of them off, then with xLOUD on, which noticeably made the sound louder, and then with both xLOUD and ClearPhase on, which sacrificed some of the loudness for improved audio quality.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
Sony Xperia E163.5 65.875.5Average
Sony Xperia E1 (xLOUD, ClearPhase)70.2 73.575.8Average
HTC One (M8)65.8 64.775.7Average
HTC One69.3 66.675.9Good
Apple iPhone 566.866.167.7Below Average
HTC Desire X63.6 61.669.6Below Average
Samsung Galaxy S II Plus65.7 61.566.6Below Average
Samsung Galaxy S III mini66.5 63.076.0Average
Sony Xperia V65.5 61.166.2Average
LG G Pro 266.7 64.975.7Average
Sony Xperia go66.5 66.177.9Good
Samsung Galaxy Express67.7 66.675.7Good
Samsung Galaxy Grand74.1 66.276.0Good
Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo72.1 65.873.3Good
LG Optimus L766.7 66.675.6Good
Motorola RAZR XT91074.766.682.1Very Good
HTC Desire76.675.784.6Excellent

Messaging and text input

Text messages and MMS use standard thread layout. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion. Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.

Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message into an MMS. Four shortcuts at the bottom of the screen handle the most common cases - an image, a photo, a doodle (you draw with your finger) and your location. This, however, takes an extra row from the screen, which isn't too big to begin with.

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The messaging app Adding multimedia turns it into an MMS

The Gmail client has the trademark conversation style view and can manage multiple Gmail accounts. Batch operations are supported too, in case you need to handle email messages in bulk. A cool feature in Gmail is that you can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.

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Gmail app

The generic Email app can handle POP and IMAP and offers a Combined inbox for all your email accounts. It supports batch operations and has a Preview pane option in landscape mode - the list of emails goes on the left, the contents of the currently selected email on the right.

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The generic Email client has a combined inbox option for multiple services

Google Hangouts is the default app that handles instant messaging (Facebook is preinstalled, but Facebook Messenger isn't). It's Google's attempt at unifying all of its messaging services and while the initial release has some quirks that need ironing, it looks to be a promising platform.

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Google Hangouts replaces Talk

As for text input, the Xperia E1 offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is unsurprisingly comfortable.

Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons. There's also the added feature of being able to customize the keyboard. You can choose a different layout (keypad, QWERTY, QWERTY with extra symbols), add/remove the coma and period button, the smiley and voice input buttons and also enable things like bilingual word suggestions if you have more than one language enabled.

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Xperia E1 keyboard is comfortable in either layout

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It's similar to Swype, and even if you've never used a Swype-like input before you'll quickly get used to it.

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The Swype-like gesture input

You can also enable bilingual word suggestions, symbols on long press, the Google voice typing key and the smiley key. All these options are disabled by default.

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Three different keyboard skins Keyboard settings

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