EE Kestrel Review – Until now if you wanted a budget 4G smartphone, your choices would have been very limited – either plump for a $190 Windows Phone or stump up $406 for a nexus 5. That’s no longer the case thanks to the arrival of the EE Kestrel, the cheapest 4G smartphone yet as just $135 on pay as you go.
The Kestrel is only available on EE and is actually a rebranded version of the Huawei G535 – a phone that’s unavailable in the UK. This heritage is clear from the black plastic casing, which is a plainer version of the bodywork used for the more expensive Huawei Ascend P6. While it looks bland, it’s suprisingly sturdy and well made.
The Kestrel’s Huawei connections are also evident in the modified version of android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Annoyingly, the app drawer has been removed, so all your apps end up on your home screen, whether you want them there or not. We would rather have Google’s unaltered version of Android, but at least the interface feels smooth and responsive with only occasional lag.
The Kestrel loaded complex websites and 3D Graphics reasonably quickly, but it’s far from the fastest phone we have seen in our benchmark tests, taking at least twice as long to complete the tests as other budget phones (Such as the 3G version of Motorolla Moto G). This is Almost certainly due to the miserlt 1 GB of memory holding back the 1.2GHz Qualcomm quad core processor. It’s Fast enough for now, but it will have trouble handling demanding apps over the next year or two.
The Kestrel’s rear panel is removable but the battery is not. Kestrel’s Battery lasted just over 23 hours on 4G when making calls, browsing the web, taking photos, and using GPS. However, you will need to make use of the SD card slot if you take lots of photos or carry a large music and video library around with you. You will find the 8GB of built-in storage fills up fast.
Call quality in London’s West End on EE’s 4G network was not perfect, but was more or less acceptable. The Kestrel successfully blocked out of the din of a nearby construction site, but voices often sounded muffled and a little distant. Adjusting the volume proved to be fiddly because the buttons are too high up to be easily used.
The two areas where significant corners have been cut are the screen and the camera. The 4.5in screen makes the phone awkward to hold and use one-handed.
EE Kestrel Specifications
- 4.5in 960×540-pixels touchscreen
- 1.2 GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor
- 1GB Memory
- 8GB Storage
- Micro Sim
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
- 145 g weight
- 133 x 65 x 8 mm (HxWxD) Dimension