Hands-on review: EE Rook

Some people just want cheap and cheerful. EE gets that, so that’s why the company has just released the cheapest 4G handset currently available on the market.

In the UK only you can currently buy the EE Rook for £39 (with £10 credit) if you’re an EE customer or £49 (with £10 credit) if you’re new to the network. But what does that money really get you, and is it a useable device for that little expense?


Upon first look the Rook from EE isn’t going to drop any jaws, but after a little fiddling around and weighing it up in the hand you start to realise it’s quite a nicely designed handset. Especially considering the price.

EE Rook hands-on

It comes with a plastic back with the EE logo emblazoned on it but it offers a nice grip on the phone and feels good on the palm of the hand.

There are rounded corners all over the Rook, with a curved bottom that makes for a perfect sitting point for your thumb when you’re not typing or hitting the capacitive buttons.

EE Rook hands-on

Along the bottom there are back, home and multitasking buttons, as per usual, and the screen is surrounded by some quite thick bezels.

If you’re used to high-end devices there may be a cause for concern, but at this price you really can’t complain about wasted space around the screen.

EE Rook hands-on

The front of the phone features an almighty black bezel along the top where the earpiece, front facing camera and a notification light sit – but it’s not a problem with an even black bezel along the bottom edge.

On the right of the Rook is the power button, it’s in the perfect position to turn the screen on and off whilst the left hand side holds the volume rocker.

EE Rook hands-on

Strangely the microUSB port is at the top of the phone alongside the headphone jack that may make it difficult to use whilst on charge especially when answering calls.

You have to note the EE Rook is quite thick at over 1cm but again at this price range can you really complain. It doesn’t even feel too fat in the hand anyway and is quite light considering the size.

EE Rook hands-on

On the front of the EE Rook is a 4-inch WVGA display with a pixel resolution of 480 x 800. It’s not going to set the world alight but for this price range it’s the perfect set up displaying everything you need to see well and it doesn’t look pixelated for those with Full HD adjusted eyes.

The biggest selling point here is 4G connectivity at such a low price. We’ll have a full look at how it works in our full review, but at the moment I’ve just been excited to zoom around on the internet without having to wait to buffer.

EE Rook hands-on

Android 5.0 Lollipop is here for everyone to play with whilst there’s a Candy Bar overlay on top. It looks a little old fashioned to those who have been experiencing the full stock experience, but at least you’ve got the latest version in terms of features.

This is one of the cheapest handsets you can get at this price so it’s really something exciting to offer.

EE Rook hands-on

On the back there is a 5MP shooter and on the front is a 0.3MP version. For this price handset you’re not going to get any impressive camera technology and the features of both shooters are pretty low on the ground – there’s not even flash or auto focus – but there is a 4x zoom and it does for images you need to take on the fly and share to social networks.

Early verdict

The EE Rook offers some key features a lot of the lower end of the market can’t claim to have. There’s the 4G connectivity – a big bonus for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money – and the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop that a lot of people would have to wait around for.

Some features like the camera and the screen can lack the high-end polish but you really can’t complain when you’re only spending £60 or so on a phone. It’s a no brainer really.