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While Sony continues to make outstanding premium smartphones such as the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact, the Japanese manufacturer makes decent budget phones too. 

The Sony Xperia E3 is well built for its price tag and looks similar to the signature line of Xperia handsets – slim, flat with rounded edges. 

 Once you fire it up, it’s ready to start using immediately.

However, the E3 is not waterproof so don’t attempt dunking it in the pool!

Build

The E3 has a scratch-resistant screen and corners that are meant to handle a few knocks and bumps. It has an aluminium power button on the right with a volume key beneath it, 3.5mm audio jack on the top and charging port to the left. It has a removable back cover, which houses the SIM and SD card slots inside. The handset has dimensions of 137.1 x 69.4 x 8.5mm and weighs 144g.

Screen

The large 4.5-inch display is a respectable size for a budget handset. The IPS display is fairly decent and colours on the web look surprisingly bright and clear – especially when compared to the home screen, which shows that it’s a low-res screen with a resolution of 854x480 pixels. 

Performance

Straight out of the box, the handset comes with Android 4.4 KitKat installed. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz quad core processor, which is as good as you’re going to get for an entry-level handset. It features a 5MP camera, a 2 330mAh battery and Sony has included LTE support, which should mean a much faster internet experience compared to 3G.

Interface

The interface is the same as the premium range of Xperia Z smartphones. The pre-installed apps on the E3 mean you don’t have much to download – saving you on data costs. You will probably want to download Instagram and possibly Facebook Lite too. There is a very useful selection on the Xperia E3 which includes the Google suite, social networks, FM radio, Evernote, File Commander, Zinio and Box. Once you fire it up, it’s ready to start using immediately.

Sometimes the handset can be a bit slow to respond. I found that the best browser is Chrome as it loads websites faster. Surprisingly, the sound quality on the E3 is not bad at all. The speakers are located on the back of the handset, so don't leave it face down when listening to music. The low-resolution screen is not the best for gaming or watching videos.

Camera

The 5MP camera on the E3, admittedly, is not its best feature. There are various modes like auto, manual, Augmented Reality effect (which no doubt can be fun), creative, timeshift burst, panorama and the ability to livestream on your social networks like YouTube and Facebook – a nifty feature for an entry-level handset. Pictures are better when taken outside with natural light; indoor photos are slightly grainy. 

Battery life

Battery life on the E3 is reliable. It has a 2 330mAh capacity battery and since the phone isn’t resource intensive, you will get a lot of use out of a single charge. Sony claims battery life of between 661 to 706 hours on standby.

Check out Vodacom's network coverage map to see where you'll be able to connect and enjoy Vodacom's super-fast LTE network.

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