Verdict: It’s amazing that the EE Rook even exists at such a low price, but it does, and while it’s undeniably basic it’s great for the money.
EE Rook Review and Specification
The EE Rook is a £49 smartphone. That alone should be enough to both raise suspicions and get the attention of deal hungry buyers, but not only is it ludicrously cheap, it also supports 4G and has a 64-bit quad-core processor.
That just shouldn’t be possible, but apparently it is. The question then is what had to give to achieve that and whether the EE Rook is actually as good value as it appears. Read on for the answer.
The EE Rook might have some impressive specs but it doesn’t have an impressive design. It’s not awful but it’s about what you’d expect from a phone this cheap. There’s a plain black plastic shell, broken up on the back only by EE’s logo and a yellow ring around the camera.
The front is similarly plain, with large bezels surrounding the screen, making the phone look a little chunky, which isn’t helped by the fact that at 10.3mm thick it’s already a bit chunky anyway.
The sides are a slight improvement though, as they have a metallic finish, which nicely contrasts the black mass making up the rest of the shell.
So it’s plain and looks as cheap as it is, but it’s still functional and reasonably solidly built and EE wisely focused its attention on ensuring the innards were up to scratch, as you’ll see below.
There’s a 4.0-inch 480 x 800 screen on the front of the EE Rook, which is small by smartphone standards but big compared to the feature phones which almost rival it for price.
It has a pixel density of 233 pixels per inch, which isn’t overly sharp but nor is it so lacking in clarity as to be uncomfortable to use and it’s actually pretty good for the price.
The size won’t suit everyone, but it can be seen as a good point if you want a compact phone that’s easy to fit in any bag or pocket and even easier to operate with one hand.
It’s not tiny either, as 4 inches still makes it big enough to comfortably use apps, play games and even browse the net on. It’s not ideal for watching videos but it will do if needed.
The EE Rook really comes into its own when it comes to power. For one thing it obviously has 4G. That’s one of the biggest selling points of the phone and ensures you can browse, stream, download and upload rapidly from it even when there’s no Wi-Fi.
But its processor impresses too. It has a 1.0GHz quad-core MediaTek processor coupled with 1GB of RAM.
If we break that down for a minute 1GB of RAM is a fairly basic spec for an Android smartphone, but handsets that cost over twice as much only have that, so it’s still pretty impressive.
The processor is a similar story. It’s not the fastest chip around but it is quad-core. EE could have easily got away with putting a dual-core chip in a phone this cheap. Surprisingly it’s also 64-bit and runs the latest version of Android (Lollipop 5.1) so it’s capable of impressively smooth performance and can even cope with multitasking up to a point.
The EE Rook is still a basic phone and it will struggle with demanding games or if you try and do too much on it at once, but for basic smartphone tasks it’s more than capable and even that’s amazing for the money.
The EE Rook has a 5 megapixel camera on the back with various modes and options to help you take the perfect picture. That 5 megapixel spec is, like many things about the phone, pretty basic but still good for the money and easily allows you to take social network worthy photos. Though bear in mind that there’s no flash, so it’s not as good in poor lighting as it could be.
The front-facing camera is less impressive as it’s only 0.3 megapixels, but EE could have justifiably skipped the front-facing snapper altogether, so it’s nice that it has one at all. You’ll be able to get some basic selfies with it, but they’re not photos you’re likely to want to show off.
Interface and features
The EE Rook runs Android Lollipop 5.1, so its software is up to date. It’s also very close to being a stock version of Android, which means the interface is intuitive and has minimal bloat. On the flip side some of the apps you want to use may not be included out of the box, but you can easily download these from Google Play.
Other than being on the latest version of Android the EE Rook is light on features. There’s its 4G support of course though, as well as its 64-bit quad-core processor and its low, low price.
Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity
There’s a 1500 mAh battery inside the EE Rook, capable of keeping it going for over 5 hours of talk time or more than 400 hours of standby time. Neither of those are particularly impressive stats, but it should last you a day if you don’t use it too heavily.
There’s just 8GB of built in storage, but that’s not a huge problem as the EE Rook also has a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 32GB, so with that you should be able to keep all your apps and media on the phone.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.0.
The EE Rook has a lot to boast about, with 4G support, a 64-bit quad-core processor and Android 5.1, despite a price tag of just £49 on pay as you go.
It’s undeniably a basic phone and there are some cut corners, particularly when it comes to the design, battery life and storage space, but they’re all acceptable and there’s a lot that it does fairly well.
This isn’t a smartphone that you’d buy to impress people, nor one which power users should opt for, but it’s astonishing value for money.