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Interface and reliability
- Smooth and simple Android Marshmallow interface
The Sony Xperia E5 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and Sony has indulged in a few subtle tweaks on top, but it's a fairly restrained skin that will be immediately accessible for anyone with Android experience.
If you're new to Android, then you'll appreciate the welcome tips, which walk you through the process of transferring stuff from your old phone, installing apps, choosing themes, setting up backups and security, and a few other things besides.
Sony still hasn't shaken its habit of preinstalling its own suite of apps, some of which are of questionable usefulness. Thankfully, you'll find Google's generally superior alternatives grouped into a folder on your home screen.
General navigation is smooth, but we hit the occasional snag when quitting out of apps, and the camera app is particularly slow to load.
The fact that Sony has opted for Swiftkey as the keyboard app for the E5 is pleasing. It's easy to use, and it learns your typing style quickly, helping to reduce mistypes.
It feels a little cramped on the Xperia E5's 5-inch display in portrait orientation, but that will depend partly on what phone you're coming from. We found that we could type fast with minimal mistakes, and that's what really matters.
Other subtle, but welcome, Sony additions include the ability to swipe down in the middle of the screen to see recently used apps, complete with a search function. There's also a smart cleaner that automatically deletes the caches of apps you haven't used in a while, helping to squeeze every last ounce of performance from the meagre 1.5GB of RAM.
Movies, music and gaming
- No headphones in the box
- Casual gaming no problem for the E5
Sony includes a full suite of media apps on the Xperia E5. You can configure the video app to get live TV, you can add services like Spotify into the music app and, if you plug your headphones in, you can fire up the FM radio app.
This a budget device, so there are no earphones included in the box and the audio relies on a single speaker, which is next to the micro USB port on the bottom edge of the E5. We found it was quite easy to accidentally cover the speaker when holding the phone in landscape orientation to watch a movie or video.
The sound quality is reasonable at lower volumes, considering it's a single speaker, but crank it up and it sounds painfully tinny – you'll want to invest in some headphones. The display is easily good enough to enjoy a movie on, as long as you prop the phone up at the right angle.
Casual games are no problem for the Sony Xperia E5 – we played Crossy Road for half an hour or so without any issues – and it can also run more graphically challenging titles. Racing through city streets in Asphalt 8, the E5 was able to run at the highest graphical quality, though there was an occasional dropped frame. It was also slow to load, and the top of the handsest got quite warm after 10 minutes.
If you're eager to play the latest first-person shooters or other graphically demanding games on your phone, then the E5 is not ideal, but it's powerful enough to cope with most mobile games.
One issue you might run into if you're looking to enjoy a lot of media is a lack of storage space. This is a 16GB phone, with just over 10GB available out of the box. Thankfully, there is a microSD card slot, which you can use to boost your storage by up to 200GB.
Specs and benchmark performance
- 1.5GB of RAM can result in delay at times
- A reasonably good performer, with the odd stutter
Inside the Sony Xperia E5 there's a quad-core MediaTek MT6735 processor clocked at 1.3GHz, which is paired with a Mali-T720 graphics processor and just 1.5GB of RAM.
Sony has been a bit stingy with the RAM here, which accounts for the odd delay when you quit an app or load something new; we reckon Sony should have bumped it up to 2GB of RAM.
Running performance benchmarks in Geekbench 3, the Xperia E5 managed a single-core score of 539 and a multi-core score of 1485. It's the multi-core score we're really interested in, and when we ran it a second time the E5 clocked 1415.
That's not a great score. Consider for a moment that the Moto G4 scored 3104, the Oppo F1 scored 3030, and even last year's Moto G got 1590. It did manage to beat a couple of budget rivals, the HTC Desire 530 (981) and the Wileyfox Swift (1330), but both those phones are £20 cheaper than the E5.
In practice, we found the Xperia E5 to be a reasonably good performer, but there was the odd stutter, and we have concerns that lag will worsen over time as you install more apps, the storage fills up and you have to turn to a microSD card for more space.
The rest of the specs are much as we'd expect. The Sony Xperia E5 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and 4G connectivity. You don't always get NFC with budget phones (you won't find it on the Moto G4), so it's nice to see it included here – you'll need it if you want to try out Android Pay.
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