Today Sony launched its third generation low-end smartphone in India, the Sony Xperia E3. The phone comes in single-SIM and dual-SIM versions, which cost 11,790 ($194 USD) and 12,790 ($210 USD), respectively. Curiously, the dual-SIM model seems to cost exactly twice as much as the starting Android One phone, which has strikingly similar specs.
The rest of the specifications are the same for both models. They offer a quad-core Snapdragon 400 (Cortex A7 CPU), 4.5" screen with 854 x 480 resolution, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of storage, microSD support up to 32 GB, 5MP rear camera, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a 2,330 mAh battery. The device will be running Android KitKat, and Sony hasn't said whether or not it will be upgraded to Android L and beyond.
The main differences between the Sony Xperia 3 and the Android One devices we saw launch yesterday seem to be the bigger battery (2,330 mAh vs 1,700 mAh) and the design and build materials, which one could argue are of higher quality on the Xperia E3. The E series has certainly seen an improvement in design compared to previous E models.
The processor is a quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex A7 chip from Qualcomm, which is very similar in performance to the quad-core 1.3 GHz Mediatek processor (also based on Cortex A7). Sony is likely to have used slightly higher-quality components, such as a better camera, but at the low-end these differences rarely matter, and Sony hasn't had a great history with low-end cameras so far, anyway.
At the very least the Xperia E3 can be compared to last year's Moto G, which cost about the same when it was launched; now, however, for the same price you get an 8MP camera and a bigger screen with 720p resolution in the new Moto G. Thus, even if Sony's Xperia E3 is worth more than the locally-manufactured Android One phones from India, it's probably not worth twice as much. A price tag around $150 might have been a better deal.
Sony probably doesn't want to fight over who has the lowest margin, and the company must also be betting on its globally recognized brand to help it sell enough units at that price point.
Besides the comparison between components, there's also the fact that Android One smartphones come with stock Android and will be getting updates for up to two years, which some customers may see as an advantage.
The Sony Xperia E3 will be available in stores by the end of the month, so we'll see soon enough how it manages to compete in the market against the already popular Moto G and the much more affordable Android One devices. We've reached out to Sony for comment.