There are certain things that a smartphone has to do in order to be classed as such, and thankfully the Kestrel from EE manages to do all of these rather well.
The first of these is web browsing. The 4G speeds meant that the EE Kestrel performed well when out and about. At no point was I left disappointed when trying to load a video or web page, even over 3G speeds.
To make the most of this 4G you're going to need a half decent browser, and as with nearly every Jelly Bean handset, the EE Kestrel comes with two web browsers in the form of a native app and Google Chrome.
In terms of functionality I didn't feel that either app had something that warranted its use over the other. Both browsers come almost identically equipped, with the biggest difference I found being the look of the icons on the URL bar and the way you swipe between tabs.
I normally opt for Chrome as I find that it syncs across my devices a lot easier, although my bookmarks were easily synced across to the native browser as it signed in with my Google account the first time I used it. Loading times were equally fast across both browsers.
For messaging, the standard variety of apps comes included. There is an SMS app, the Gmail and email apps. None of these were particularly remarkable, instead offering a very basic experience that neither adds nor detracts from the overall experience.
A decent keyboard is essential to making the most of these messaging apps, and I tend to find myself installing SwiftKey to ensure that I get the best experience.
However the native Android keyboard has really come on in leaps and bounds since it first appeared and left me surprised by how accurate it was.
Speed typing with two thumbs left me having to go back to change the odd word here and there, but no more than usual. Swype style texting isn't supported though, although I can forgive that given the accuracy.
Apps wise, being an EE branded handset meant that the EE Film and My EE apps come preinstalled although these can be uninstalled should you desire. This is a very nice touch and these apps can come in very handy for checking your tariff or for making the most of EE Wednesdays.
Amazon apps also come installed, with the Amazon store apps being irremovable. I was shocked to find no dedicated movies or music player, instead having to go through the Google Play options, which was a little frustrating.
With the smart bits being well covered, the Kestrel also has to make calls. Signal coverage will rely heavily upon EE's coverage in your area, something that can be checked online, but in tests I found that the Kestrel matched my HTC One, even besting it at times.
Call quality was fairly decent, with both parties able to understand each other with no real difficulties.