Sony Xperia E1 Dual Review: a loud whimper for your buck


Sony has been making a comeback of sorts. A couple of years back, they were struggling to match the competition in price and were never on par in specifications but things started to change last year, when the company rebooted the brand and design with fresh new phones, like the recent and much loved Xperia Z1 Compact. While it has amplified at the higher end with flagships like the Z2, the effect has now reached the lower end spectrum of the market. The Xperia E1 Dual is Sony’s latest jab at the entry level smartphone which replaces the good old Tipo Dual. Priced at less than 10,000 rupees, this Sony smartphone aims to satisfy the needs of a market that always wants more for less. Armed with music focused features, can the Xperia E1 dual stand out from the crowd? Lets find out in our review.



We had unboxed the device earlier, so if you are looking to see what the retail box packs, here is an image with all the components inside –

Box Contents

  • Sony Xperia E1 Dual in Black
  • Micro USB cable for data transfer and charging
  • White earphones with mic
  • Information guides and warranty
  • USB charging plug – 3 pin

As a special offer, we got a Sony headphones along with the device, which you can probably get if you buy online –

Suffice to say, it had exceptional sound quality. Lets talk about the device now.

Design, Build and Hardware walkthrough


The Xperia E1 Dual is designed very much like a new Sony smartphone, with its iconic power button and a classy two tone finish for colours other than black, which we have here. There is a light purple tinge to the walkman button but other wise, the phone is fully dark and very minimalistic. Truth be told, the black variant looks too minimal to our tastes, and would anyday prefer the white two tone finish with purple over the monotone black.


Being an entry level phone, the phone is completely made of plastic, with a matte finish to the exterior. The plastic actually feels a bit cheap and contributes to the lesser weight of the phone, but again, at this price, one can’t complain about the quality. That aside, the plastic does feel very grippy in the hands and leads to a very comfortable grip, owing to the dimensions. Yes, the phone is relatively thick at 12mm but due to the plastic, weighs just 118g, which is extremely light for a small phone like this. It’s so light that you would forget it exists in your pocket, but thankfully the body is not slippery or smooth enough to slide off of a table.


Over at the front we have the tempered glass covering the 4″ WVGA display above which sits the ear piece, the usual couple of sensors and the notification LED, a good addition for an entry level phone. the multi colour LED works for just about any notification you enable, but there seems to be just an off switch and no configurable colours.


Just below the display we have the primary microphone for voice calls, above which is a nice little LED that dances to music. Being a Walkman phone, Sony has sought to add some flair to the device, we don’t complain.


Over at the right we have the volume rocker and the iconic power button, while a lone micro USB slot sits on the left side.


Moving over to the top we have the 3.5mm audio jack and the dedicated walkman button that directly takes you to the music app.


The back houses the 3 megapixel fixed focus camera, the secondary microphone and the really loud 100db loudspeaker at the bottom of the back.


The removable back cover reveals the 1700 mAH battery, the micro SD card slot and the dual SIM card slots.



The 4 inch WVGA display over at the front is pretty decent. It has a pixel density of 233 ppi, which is quite decent at this price range and well within our expectations. While the outdoor visibility or the viewing angles are not that great, it meets expectations indoors, where the phone is mostly used. Colour reproduction of the display is quite good, and has decent amounts of contrast, which is good enough for quick browsing and watching YouTube videos.


The display has poor viewing angles and outdoor visibility, but these are compromises that come with the price. Overall, we’d say this is a decent display at this price even when compared to the competition because the other screens are larger but have the same resolution and hence poor overall output.



The camera on the Xperia E1 Dual is a 3 megapixel fixed focus unit, which is understandable at this price point, but even then, taking images with this camera is not something we’d suggest doing. There are obvious pitfalls and compromises like poor details and lack of a focus mechanism, and the output images tend to be dull. Not the one for capturing memories, but it will do well for a person upgrading from a phone without a camera, which is highly possible at this price point. But considering the competition, Sony could have done a little better. If you are looking for a decent camera on a budget, steer clear from the Xperia E1 dual because it will disappoint. If you are still unsure, here are some camera samples to prove our point –

The same goes for video, which Sony claims as 720p, but all we could do was record at SWVGA. The audio in the video was better though, thanks to the dual microphone setup.

Internals and Performance

The internals are powered by a 1.2 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon processor. The MSM8210 chipset has dual SIM support and Adreno 302 powers the graphics. The processor is of the Cortex A7 type, but being a dual core unit, the processor provides ample amount of power for the general day to day tasks, with no amount of lag whatsoever. But after using the phone for a while, like opening multiple apps, the lags start kicking in, mainly due to the insufficient amount of RAM, which at 512 MB is typical of devices at this price range. Android 4.4 KitKat is supposedly the version that goes lighter for these low end devices, so we hope OEMs pick up the pace and release updates so that the experience is more bearable. Sony already has plans to deliver KitKat to its range of devices, so we expect the performance to improve once the update arrives.


The phone comes with 4 GB of internal storage, out of which 2 GB is available to the user. But since there are no options to install apps on the SD card, we couldn’t test out the full suite of games we had, but did try a couple of lighter games. The performance in games was as expected. There was a bit of a lag, but overall we had playable performance. Here is a gameplay video to give you an idea of how the Adreno 302 GPU works on the Sony Xperia E1 Dual –


As you can see above, the game ran decently well, but we did face occasional lag and stutter. Casual games work fine but heavy games are a no go, mainly because of the lack of storage expansion. We also ran benchmarks to test out the raw performance and we repeatedly saw the E1 dual topping out the competition in that price range. Here are a couple of graphs to prove that –

You can check out the complete benchmarks here. In the end, we feel this is a capable processor, only bottle necked by the tiny amount of RAM.


The MSM8210 also enables dual SIM features for the phone, which includes the several standard controls for assigning defaults in calls, data and also the added feature of call forwarding between SIMs. The phone has 3G connectivity amongst the other usual suspects like BT 4.0 and GPS. But the phone had some problems with call quality and general connectivity. Sometimes the data connection completely stops working and we will never know why, and the call quality was a constant complaint from the other side, as they couldn’t hear us properly, at all. These issues don’t stop here, it leads us to the most important aspect of user experience, software.

Software and Music features


Coming to software, the phone runs on Android 4.3 Jellybean, atop which exists Sony’s own custom UI. Sony’s software has come a long way and it is now at a point where everything is just smooth as butter. The Xperia E1 is no exception, and it flies, even with a slower processor. All the UI interactions are very smooth until you hit the RAM barrier. The UI has unique features like a easily arrangeable list of apps, a lot of themes that can change the complete appearance and overall a really pleasant looking colour scheme. It is a notable fact that Sony has scaled the same UI to all of its range, providing and streamlining most of the features. The personalization settings are particularly welcome as it changes even the on screen buttons, if needed. Also, the performance is way better than on any other low end phone we have previously used. Except for the RAM bottleneck which we can avoid by keeping a small number of apps open.


Talking of apps, the default apps are also very nice. It has all the default media apps like Gallery, Video and the usual pre installed Sony apps. In fact, it has almost the same apps as the other Sony phones, like the Xperia Z1 compact, which we had reviewed earlier. But lets focus on the Walkman app here. This feature rich app is where you go for all your music needs. Sporting a minimalistic UI, it has some device specific options like the one above. The dedicated Walkman key that we saw earlier acts as a direct shortcut to this app, but it can also help you shuffle songs. You can do this by shaking the phone while pressing the button.


The phone is also enhanced by the various Audio related features Sony has packed on this phone. The audio quality is exceptional for this price, even on the loudspeaker, which is very loud at a rated output of 100 db. Couple that with Sony’s Clear Audio, Clear Bass and xLoud and you get a really great music experience on a budget. Even the in built FM radio has very good sound quality, and if you are looking at buying anything music related on a budget, the Xperia E1 dual should be on top of your list. However, good things aside, we also faced a lot of issues with the E1 Dual. The call quality was consistently complained about on the other side, the phone restarted randomly and the battery dies out on us on standby. This may be a standalone unit issue but it is worth noting in our experience. The software desperately needs an update and we hope Sony delivers.

Battery Life


Now coming to Battery life, the Sony Xperia E1 Dual’s 1700 mAH battery struggles to power through a day of medium to heavy usage. As mentioned earlier, it died out more than once during standby, without usage overnight, which is not a good sign. Along with the other Software mishaps, we hope Sony improves the battery life too through an update, because we are sure it can do better.



Overall, the Sony Xperia E1 Dual is a decent entry level smartphone from the company with a focus on music. The much loved Walkman features are gaining a comeback here, which is highly welcome but the plethora of software issues and the general lack of stand out hardware features makes it hard to recommend for a first smartphone buyer. While we wait for Sony’s software fixes, the E1 Dual can very well serve as a decent music focused phone, in the mean while, especially for the price. Overall we’d say the Xperia E1 Dual won’t quite meet your expectations of a “Bang for the buck” devices, but it’s quite a loud whimper.

To summarize better, here is a list of pros and cons of this device.


  • Decent Build Quality
  • Decent display for the class
  • Excellent music features and performance
  • Raw performance is best in class


  • Software issues
  • No SD card app installation support
  • Poor battery life
  • Mediocre camera
  • 512 MB RAM is a bottleneck

Author: Bharadwaj Chandramouli

Bharadwaj is a content creator who has been obsessed with technology since the early days of smartphones. He loves talking about tech, is a fan of good design and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @gadgetbuff_ to know what he's upto!