Bush Spira E3X – Camera
I quite enjoyed my time shooting with the Bush Spira E3X’s 21.5-megapixel camera. It’s certainly a cut above what you’d normally expect from a £200 phone camera, although standards have increased considerably in the past year or so.
Sony’s IMX image sensor helped the phone to deliver some decent results in good natural lighting, with pleasantly natural-looking colours. I wouldn’t bother with the HDR mode, though – you have to manually select it, there’s an overlong pause while said composite image is formulated, and the results are a little blown-out and hyperreal.
Not when the standard mode deals with a combination of bright blue skies and shadow so competently, at any rate.
This may not be the phone for you if you’re a fan of macro shots, however. I tried repeatedly to focus in on a rusted chain from close-up, tapping to focus on various portions of it, but was left with a bunch of images of a blurry chain and an in-focus background.
Similarly, my attempt at food photography at a reasonably well-lit restaurant resulted in a noisy, slightly out-of-focus pizza.
Give the Spira E3X plenty of light and adequate distance, however, and you’ll get some pretty good results. The front camera, too, is a decent 8-megapixel example, so selfie fans will be well catered for.
Related: 12 Best Smartphones 2016
The Spira E3X refused to focus on this chain
Nice, balanced, natural colours
Food photography in reasonable artificial lighting didn’t come out great
As with most cheap phones, low-light performance isn’t great
Another example of what the Spira E3X camera can do in optimal conditions
Bush Spira E3X – Battery Life
I received some curiously mixed results from the Bush Spira E3X’s 3,000mAh battery.
For my first few days with the phone, I didn’t use it as my daily driver, so it was only used very lightly for the odd bout of web browsing, email checking, and video watching. In these conditions I managed to get it to last a full two days (placing it on airplane mode overnight) with 30% still left in the tank at the end of it.
Doubtless this is thanks to Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Doze feature, which maximises efficiency during idle times.
Conversely, under heavier use it did pretty poorly. On one particular day, I took the phone out to snap 35 or so photos, sent a few emails, used Google Maps to guide me to a few locations (on foot), and received a couple of calls – all while running the Slack app in the background. Having taken the phone off charge at 2pm, the battery was at 20% by 11pm. That’s terrible.
On a more moderate day, having uninstalled Slack, and with no camera usage (but a few benchmark tests), it dropped by 18% in eight hours, which was far more reasonable.
All of which combines to leave the impression that the Bush Spira E3X will last you fine if you’re a light-to-moderate user, but that it really doesn’t like being pushed too hard.
Still, for those times where you don’t make it through the day, the phone’s fast-charging facility will get you back up and running nice and quickly. I managed to get it from 9% to 70% in just one hour of charging.
Should I buy the Spira E3X?
The Bush Spira E3X is a solidly built and well-specced phone for a great price, but it suffers from a number of rough edges that top-notch budget rivals such as the Moto G4 Plus simply don’t.
On the plus side it has a robust metal frame, a decent screen, ample storage, and a camera that will get you decent results in good lighting. But it’s also very heavy, the fingerprint sensor is hit and miss, battery life is erratic, and there are some clunky touches with its design.
The Bush Spira E3X is a good-value phone with a number of stand-out features. There are a few too many rough edges for it to join the new budget phone elite, but it’s worthy of consideration as an alternative pick.
Score in detail
Battery Life 6
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 7