EE Kestrel review

The cheapest 4G smartphone on the market

EE Kestrel review
Can this low cost 4G smartphone take flight?

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Bringing 4G technology, a quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM to the extreme budget market is something that hasn't been done before.

Hats have to be tipped to EE for at least attempting to try and bring high-end features to a sub-£100 (around $169/AU$180) handset.

We liked

Having the 4G technology on board the EE Kestrel brings two bonuses. The first and most important is that it means access to the fastest mobile web available, with superfast video and music streaming while out and about.

With a potential user base that engages heavily in social media, this will be a godsend. Less important is that greater 4G uptake will only help the expansion across the UK.

The quad-core processor and 1GB RAM also helps make the EE Kestrel more powerful than first expected. Gaming on the Kestrel is smooth, with titles such as Temple Run 2 loading quickly and not experiencing any hesitation.

With the price of the EE Kestrel being one of its major selling points, it is hard to ignore.

We disliked

The biggest problem with the EE Kestrel is the build quality. While there is no doubt that costs had to be cut somewhere, it is disappointing to see a phone that feels so poorly put together.

There is a fair amount of give when trying to flex the handset, and the back plate is exceptionally thin and flimsy.

The location of the headphone port is also really frustrating. Its position on the bottom right hand corner makes it awkward when the Kestrel is sat in the pocket and near impossible when holding the phone in portrait and trying to send a message.

The Emotion UI also has to be mentioned here. While there are some interesting touches here the lack of the app drawer was frustrating and the icons felt very immature. It is not a UI that will appeal to heavy users, and despite the power of the CPU it still managed to feel sluggish.


When it comes to finding a super cheap handset that is actually worth the money, it is all too easy just to opt for an older handset or a handset from an unknown manufacturer.

With the budget market being one of the most hotly contested handset markets, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out.

Bundling 4G technology inside a handset makes it a lot easier to stand out, and really gives the EE Kestrel something to shout about. 4G has yet to penetrate the lowest end handsets and hopefully the Kestrel is a sign that the winds are changing.

Until then, a low price tag, 4G, four cores and a bright screen gives Britain's biggest network a handset that will give the established big boys of the Moto G and the Nokia Lumia 520 a run for their money.

First reviewed: May 2014