Sony started small with the E-series and hasn't tried anything crazy since but the entry-level lineup is in its fourth generation now and offering quite a bit of choice to the budget-conscious buyer. Of course, everything you get in this price range requires a certain trade-off.
The Xperia E4 is a simple and affordable package that gives up the LTE connectivity of the predecessor but offers a 5" screen in return. The resolution gets a welcome though inexpensive boost and the best thing is that nearly all the extra screen real estate comes at the expense of bezel in the Xperia E3. The downside is the Xperia E4 is quite chubby at 10.5mm, tangibly thicker than the E3.
Well, at 130 euro or practically free on contract, this may not be a big deal. Here's what else you get.
The Xperia E4 is powered by a MediaTek MT6582 chipset with four Cortex-A7 cores, clocked at 1.3GHz and a Mali-400MP2 GPU, and comes with 1GB of RAM. This is essentially a mid-range chip form a generation ago and its age is starting to show.
That said, anything above 540 x 960 pixels would've been quite a burden for the CPU. The goal was obviously for the Xperia E4 to not feel as a downgrade. The qHD five-incher has the same ppi as the 4.5" FWVGA screen of the Xperia E3.
Speaking of, the camera setup is nothing special with 5MP stills and 1080p video on the main unit, but the 2MP/720p selfie cam is a welcome improvement over the VGA front-facer of the Xperia E3. You do get double the storage out of the box at 8GB. There's a microSD card slot too, of course.
The Xperia E4 will be available globally, perhaps its single-SIM and dual-SIM versions targeting different markets. We spotted the LTE-capable Xperia E4g at the MWC, trading off - there we go again - some screen diagonal for fast network data. That one too has a dual-SIM option.
All of them are entry-level offerings, meaning the competition may range from Android One phones in emerging markets to Meizu's and Xiaomi's in both Asia and Europe. Sony's most important target however is probably Microsoft's entry-level lineup, the likes of the Lumia 535.
Design-wise, the phone bears a lot of signature Sony elements, but does not offer anything special in the way of materials and is kind of bulky. It runs Android 4.4.4 out of the box, contrary to previous rumors of Lollipop. Sony recently made it clear that focus will be on the Z-series, leaving any other unlucky lineups stuck on KitKat for the time being.
Well, the Xperia E4 doesn't have to wait for us. We are ready to unbox it and see what happens next.