Sony Xperia E4g Review: A Smartphone With Love Handles

Sony’s budget Xperia E4g phone has the hook of fast 4G compatibility, but in every other respect it comes up short.
Budget phones often omit the bells and whistles of their more pricey mid-range and top-tier brethren, but it’s fascinating seeing which features do and don’t make the cut once you start slicing dollars off the asking price.
Sony’s latest budget offering, the Xperia E4g is a remarkable looking phone, but not exactly remarkable in a good way. It technically measures in at 133 x 71 x 10.8 mm and 135g, which is moderate for a phone this size, but Sony’s had an interesting time in the design phase of the Xperia E4g. It almost looks as though Sony had in mind a much fatter, rounder phone, and at the last minute decided to drop a slimmer handset right into the middle of it.
The result gives the Xperia E4g what are sometimes called “love handles”.

Blobby design. I never even knew it was a thing.
Blobby design. I never even knew it was a thing.

That’s rarely a flattering term, now is it?
They do, to be fair, make it easy to grip and give the screen some visual prominence simply because it juts out from the main body by a few millimetres. Equally, though, this is a hard phone to like the look of. It features Sony’s power “nipple” on the side, and that both sticks out and stands out. So does the screen, and so does the plastic removable back. I’m trying to work out some positives of the design, and the best I can come up with is that it’s been functionally rather than aesthetically designed. The back looks cheap, but it is easy to remove, revealing the sealed battery, micro SIM slot and microSD card storage slot.
An easy to remove case, but all it'll give you access to is the SIM and Micro SD slots.
An easy to remove case, but all it’ll give you access to is the SIM and Micro SD slots.

At a budget price point you’re only likely to get budget internals, and the Xperia E4g mostly follows that trend. Underneath its 4.7 inch 540×960 234ppi IPS display is a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of available storage, expandable via microSD. The inbuilt camera is a 5MP/2MP (Rear/Front) unit with LED flash. It’s all rather standard stuff, with the exception of the fact that it’s 4G compatible, and specifically compatible with Telstra’s 700MHz “4GX” network. 4GX remains a marketing term, in the same way as “Next G” or “Retina Display”, but it’s nice to see a phone in this kind of price bracket with the prospect of reasonably speedy data downloads.
The Xperia E4g actually benchmarked a little better than I expected; here’s how it managed across a number of Android benchmarks.
Sony Xperia E4g,
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited,5008
I’ve commented previously that Android benchmarks don’t always tell the full story, and the Xperia E4g is a case in point. Its benchmark scores weren’t world beaters, but they’d suggest a moderately capable phone, given its price point. That hasn’t been my experience with the Xperia E4g, however, which nearly always tends towards the sluggish, even for simple matters like text entry. Simply setting up the Xperia E4g was an exercise in frustration due to keyboard lag, and that experience flows through the entire device.
The Xperia E4g’s 5MP rear camera is exactly what you might think of a budget smartphone camera; it’s not particularly fast, not particularly capable in low light and, unlike many other Xperia handsets, there’s no dedicated camera shutter button on the Xperia E4g.
Sony's cameras are usually a cut above the rest... except in this case.
Sony’s cameras are usually a cut above the rest… except in this case.

Battery life on budget mobiles is rarely a highlight. The Xperia E4g features a 2300mAh battery which is generally good for a single day’s moderate usage, and in its favour, Sony’s Stamina mode can push that a little further at the cost of smartphone features over straight calling and texting ability. I’m not a huge fan of the trend to talk up phone battery life when you’re effectively lobotomising the phone in the process, but it seems to be a popular feature.
You should have got the sense by now that this is a quite average phone that sells itself on its price.
You should have got the sense by now that this is a quite average phone that sells itself on its price.

The Xperia E4g is a Telstra exclusive as a prepaid device, selling for a meagre $149. That’s perhaps its saving grace, because it sits in that price point where you’re expected to sacrifice a bit of speed in favour of keeping a few dollars in your pocket. In the Xperia E4g’s case, however, given both its sluggish performance and rather ugly design, it’s a deal that’s not particularly recommended.

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