The retail box of the Xperia E dual has nothing but the basics - a wall-mount plug, a USB cable for computer connections and charging, and a one-piece headset.
The Sony Xperia E dual is a fairly compact and lightweight smartphone, coming in at 113.5 x 61.8 x 11 mm and weighing 115 grams. It's one of the easiest smartphones to pocket we have seen recently.
The Sony Xperia E dual borrows some design queues from the Xperia J, including the front panel lines and the thin silver frame, but introduces a completely new back panel. Unlike most of the 2012 Xperia smartphones that came with flat matte battery covers, the Xperia E dual cover is made of a textured rubberized plastic that attracts almost no prints or smudges.
The one place that will get smudgy all the time is the screen glass and the glossy black plastic surrounding it. Unfortunately it's a tough job to clean the front, a (really clean) microfiber cloth will do the job, but it will take you twice the time as it would have taken to do the same with a Galaxy S III or an iPhone 5, for example.
The Xperia E dual is not the best looking handset out there, but it's certainly built better than most of the otter offerings in its price range. There might not be fancy materials like carbon fiber or anodized aluminum here, but the plastic selected feels both adequately sturdy and nice to the touch. the Xperia E dual textured back provides excellent grip and the smartphone handles really comfortably.
Sony did an excellent job during the actual manufacturing of the Xperia E dual, too. There are no squeaks or creeks and no too wide gaps between the panels.
Most of the Xperia E dual front is occupied by the 3.5-inch TFT HVGA display. Just above the screen is the centered earpiece, the hidden status LED light and the proximity sensor.
Below the screen we find the capacitive Back, Home and Menu keys. They light up briefly as you unlock the screen, but the backlighting is otherwise off until you tap on one of them. There's no setting to change this behavior and the lack of an ambient light sensor means they won't illuminate automatically. The keys are haptic enabled, producing short sharp vibrations upon a tap. There's a microphone pinhole just below the Menu key.
The left side of the Xperia E dual has the lonely microUSB port used for charging and connections. It has no protective cover to keep it from getting filled with dust.
The right of the Xperia E dual is pretty crowded - all three hardware controls are here. From the top to bottom we find a thin volume rocker, a tiny but comfortable metal Power/Lock key, and the camera shutter near the bottom. We were really surprised to find a dedicated camera key on a budget phone with a fixed-focus camera, but nonetheless we are happy it's here.
On top of the Xperia E dual resides only the 3.5mm audio jack. While at first glance the bottom seems appears bare, there's actually a hidden LED right where the chrome frame meets the slanting bottom edge of the front. It glows for a few seconds each time you unlock your Xperia E dual, matching the currently selected color theme. The tiny status LED next to the earpiece is in charge of notifications (messages, battery status, missed call etc).
At the right bottom edge you can find a lanyard eyelet.
The back of the Xperia E dual has the 3.1MP camera lens and the loudspeaker grille just between the removable battery cover and the soldered plastic at the bottom.
Once you slide the battery cover up and remove it, you'll get to the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the 1530mAh battery.
Removing the battery cover will give you access to the two SIM compartments. Neither of those is hot-swappable, but both of them support 3G networks. We'll go more in-depth with the dual-SIM telephony later in a while.
Sony put a 1530mAh battery inside the Xperia E dual. We put the handsets through our battery routine, but we were sure to supply it with two SIM cards. It scored 30 hours, which means you'll only need to charge the smartphone every 30 hours if you use it for an hour of talk-time, an hour of web browsing and an hour of video-watching per day. Quite disappointing result indeed.