The retail box of the Xperia E has nothing but the basics - an AC adapter, a USB cable for both data connections and charging, and a single-piece headset.
The Sony Xperia E is absolutely identical in shape and size to its dual-SIM counterpart, coming in at 113.5 x 61.8 x 11 mm and weighing 115 grams. It's very compact and lightweight and is one of the easiest smartphones to handle and pocket we have seen recently.
The Sony Xperia E uses the design theme of the previous generation of Sony smartphones, the subtle inward curve of the battery cover reminiscent of the Xperia J and, more flatteringly, the ex-flagship Xperia T. The curvature is a lot less prominent of course in the Xperia E, which is the shortest and chubbiest phone of the three.
Unlike most of the 2012 Xperia smartphones that came with flat matt-plastic battery covers, the Xperia E employs a textured rubberized finish that's almost fingerprint-proof.
What will get smudgy all the time is the screen glass and the glossy black bezel. Keeping the front clean is a tough job too - a microfiber cloth will do the job, but it won't be long before it's required once again.
The Xperia E has no fancy finish, but looks better built than most in its price range. The plastic used feels both adequately sturdy and nice to the touch. The Xperia E's rubery back provides excellent grip and the smartphone handles really comfortably.
Sony did an excellent job of putting the Xperia E together too. There are no squeaks or creeks and the gaps between the panels aren't too wide either.
Most of the Xperia E front is occupied by the 3.5-inch TFT HVGA display. Just above the screen is the centered earpiece, the hidden status LED, and the proximity sensor.
Below the screen we find the capacitive Back, Home and Menu keys, which. They are haptic enabled and producing short sharp vibrations upon a tap. 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.
There's a microphone pinhole just below the Menu key.
The exposed microUSB port is near the top on the left side.
The right side of the Xperia E is pretty crowded, accommodating all three hardware buttons. From top to bottom we find a thin volume rocker, a tiny but prominent metal knob for Power on/off and screen lock, and the camera shutter at the bottom. A dedicated camera key on a budget phone with a fixed-focus camera borders on nonsense, especially considering that it doesn't even override the screen lock to launch the camera.
At the top of the hndset, the 3.5mm audio jack is the only thing of note. While at first glance the bottom appears bare, there's actually a hidden breathing LED right where the chrome frame meets the sloping bottom edge of the front. It glows for a few seconds each time you unlock your Xperia E, 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).
In the right bottom corner you can find a lanyard eyelet.
The back of the Xperia E 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 up to release the battery cover, you'll get to the hot-swappable microSD card slot and the 1530mAh battery.
The Sony Xperia E is powered by a 1530mAh battery, which we are still putting through our usual test routine. Check back with us tomorrow for the results.