Introduction

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.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 official images

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.

Key features

  • 5.0" 16M-color 540x960 IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
  • Android OS v4.4.4 KitKat
  • Quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex-A7; Mediatek MT6582, Mali-400MP2, 1GB RAM
  • 5MP camera with 1080p@30fps video; 2MP front-facing camera with 720p video
  • 8GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot
  • Optional Dual SIM support
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS receiver, Bluetooth v4.1, FM radio
  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 2,300mAh non-removable battery

Main disadvantages

  • No LTE
  • Low screen resolution
  • Outdated CPU and GPU
  • Average cameras
  • Non-removable battery

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.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 live pictures

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.

Unboxing

The Sony Xperia E4 retail package is about as basic as they gets. It is a plain one-piece box that only opens on the side, much like a generic container.

The insides are kind of cluttered making it near impossible to put everything back in place and comfortably close the box. What you get with the low-cost Xperia E4 is nothing out of the ordinary: a very short but quite sturdy micro USB cable, a standard headset with a built-in mic, as well as an A/C adapter.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 retail package

Design and build quality

There is really nothing special about the Xperia E4's look and build. The _phone_ is unmistakably a Sony device, never mind it was clearly built to a budget.

A fact's a fact though - the E4 is chunky and plasticky all-around. It measures 137 x 74.6 x 10.5mm and is not particularly light either at 144g. The back cover oddly looks too big and shaped more like a bumper case, almost like it doesn't belong and was borrowed from another device.

Other than that, Sony has really done the best it could with the available materials. The body feels nice to the touch and the plastic does not look cheap in any way. The E4 is available in two colors: white and black.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 from different angles

The five-inch Sony Xperia E4 feels comfortable enough in the hand and also quite sturdy. There are no apparent build quality blunders, everything is nicely put together with no cracks or rough edges. The back cover is kind of hard to remove, but this will only be a problem if you frequently change SIM and memory cards.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The Xperia E4 looks odd with the cover off

The cover is removable to grant access the SIM and SD cards so a non-replaceable battery makes little sense in a phone that's not IP-certified or waterproofed.

Perhaps it's cheaper to manufacture this way.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The Xperia E4 in the hand

Controls

The Sony Xperia E4 comes equipped with a 5.0-inch display, which at 540 x 960 pixels has the same ppi as the 4.5" FWVGA display of the Xperia E3. The good thing is Sony managed to slim down some bezel for an adequate screen-to-body ratio of 67.4%.

Above the screen, the earpiece is barely visible, cleverly concealed very close to the top edge, in a very Sony-like manner. The 2MP front-facing camera is slightly off to the left, with a nice silver frame. The phone does not feature any physical buttons, so the area below the display is mostly empty, except for the mouthpiece.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The front of the device is very clean

Going round the device, we find the left side housing only a microUSB port - the card slots are hidden underneath the back-cover: one or two micro SIM compartments (depending on the model) and a microSD slot. There is also a hardware reset pinhole, to help get out of tricky situations without access to the battery.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The left side of the E4 is mostly empty

The right-hand side is equally minimalist. There is the signature round Power/Lock button and, below it, a slim volume rocker.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The right side features the volume rocker and Power/Lock button

The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top of the device near the left corner.

Sony Xperia E4

The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack

The bottom of the Xperia E4 is completely empty, except for a small eyelet in the left corner. We were quite happy to discover that it lets you attach a lanyard, just like the old times.

Sony Xperia E4

An empty bottom side

Around back, we find the 5MP camera lens and a single LED flash right next to it.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Clean back

Near the bottom, right beneath the etched Xperia logo, there's a small speaker grille. A rear speaker can get easily muffled if the phone's lying flat on its back and Sony has taken no precautions against it. But that's perhaps nitpicking.

Display

The Sony Xperia E4 is equipped with a pretty plain IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels on a 5-inch diagonal. The resulting 220ppi is nothing special but probably just right for the price range.

It's not the resolution though that we're worried about. The thing that really ruins the experience is the plastic screen coating, which is very reflective.

While taking the microscopic photo, we had a very hard time focusing to get all three colors right. The distortion is most probably the reason why the display appears constantly blurry.

Sony Xperia E4

Screen colors are otherwise good enough but the reflective coating ruins the experience as a whole.

The only bright side to it (pun intended) are the side viewing angles, which are quite ok despite the bad front glass.

The display did quite poorly in our brightness and contrast tests. It scored surprisingly low in both and was even surpassed by its predecessor - the Xperia E3.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Motorola Moto G 0.35 315 906 0.57 550 967
Motorola Moto G (2014) 0.24 253 1039 0.43 413 968
Microsoft Lumia 535 0.26 312 1188 0.45 458 1118
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime 0.17 181 1115 0.41 462 1063
Xiaomi Redmi 1S 0.08 158 1437 0.45 615 1370
Sony Xperia M2 0.33 325 989 0.64 643 1000
Sony Xperia E3 - - - 0.69 608 887
Sony Xperia E4 0.28 205 737 0.55 430 787


Using the phone outdoors under direct sunlight is by no means comfortable.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery

Sony has put a 2,300mAh battery inside the Xperia E4. We ran our battery test with the battery-saving STAMINA mode off. The handset scored a solid 88 hours, which means you can count on about 3 and a half days if you do an hour each of calls, web browsing and video playback a day.

The battery is not user-removable, even though the general design of the phone suggests otherwise.

Sony Xperia E4

The Power Saver - now part of the settings menu - helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically, as soon as the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold. You can also choose to automatically turn Wi-Fi off if there is no known Wi-Fi network in range or switch off mobile data when the screen is off, and more.

Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia E4 comes in single and dual SIM flavors. Both models offer quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support and dual or tri-band 3G connectivity with HSDPA. LTE support is only available on the Xperia E4g, which is a different phone altogether.

Local connectivity features single-band Wi-Fi b/g/n and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP and apt-X. Satellite navigation is limited to GPS with no GLONASS support. The Xperia E4 also has an FM radio with RDS. It doesn't offer NFC or an IR port.

There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory and microSD card over the USB cable.

The microUSB port doesn't have any TV-out functionality, but if you own a compatible HDTV, you can output your phone's screen wirelessly via the Miracast protocol or Sony's Xperia Connectivity Throw option.

The app also lets you share your media over DLNA by creating a media server, as well as connect to a PlayStation DUALSHOCK 3 (or 4) wireless controller.

Android KitKat with Xperia flavor

The Sony Xperia E4 comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box. The launcher looks identical to what you would see on any other KitKat Xperia smartphone, like the Xperia C3, which we recently reviewed. If you aren't familiar with it, you can check out this quick video below to get you up to speed.

The lockscreen is the usual affair - it supports widgets (one per pane), while the rightmost pane will fire up the camera. There are a few available default widgets, but you can always get more from the Play Store. Also third party apps oftentimes come with their own set of extra widgets.

Naturally, you can protect your lockscreen by Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Xperia lockscreen, complete with widgets

There are five homescreen panels by default and you can set any of them as your primary one. You can't have more than seven panes at any given time though, nor can you change the order they're in.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Homescreen

You can set various live and static wallpapers, add widgets and shortcut, or change the UI theme. You can also choose which icons will be visible on the status bar, and which should remain hidden.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Customization • Themes

The notification area lists notifications in the default tab with a separate tab for Quick Settings. You can gain quick access to the Quick Settings tab with a two-finger swipe from the top. The toggles are customizable and you can choose between 20+ different toggles and have up to 12 of them visible in their dedicated page. Holding a finger over any toggle will give you direct access to its menu listing.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Notification area • Quick settings

The app drawer is laid out across multiple pages and you can sort the apps in various ways. The settings for that are accessible via a swipe from the left edge of the screen and you can also search and even uninstall apps from there, as well as download new ones.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

App drawer

The Xperia E4 uses the stock Android task manager that lets you switch between the recently opened apps, as well as terminate any of them with a side-swipe.

The so-called "small apps" are also available in the Xperia E4 and are accessible via the task manager. They are similar to Samsung's Mini Apps, and pop up tiny widget-like applications on your homescreen, which you can move around and use without having to open the full-fledged app. So far, there's a default set of seven of those available: Active Clip, Chrome Bookmarks, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Gmail, Timer. Interestingly enough, a previous Xperia we reviewed had an additional two - Notes and Recorder, which are missing on the E4.

You can launch only one instance of a Small App, but you can open multiple Small Apps simultaneously.

Sadly, you can't disable the small apps entirely and will always have them cramming your recent apps whether you use them or not.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Task switcher • Small apps

Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Google Now

The built-in 8GB (about 4.8 of which are user accessible) of storage gets filled up pretty quickly and the Xperia E4 needed a microSD card to help carry the load.

Benchmarks

The Sony Xperia E4 is definitely not a powerhouse and nobody really expects a lot of number-crunching performance out of a budget device. It is powered by a Mediatek MT6582 SoC, which can be considered last year's mid-range at best. Inside it, there are four Cortex-A7 cores, clocked at 1.3GHz and a Mali-400MP2 GPU. That coupled with merely 1GB of RAM paints not so optimistic picture.

But Sony has really managed to squeeze all they can out of the modest hardware. And whatever the Xperia loses on paper, it quickly regains in usability and real-world performance. It runs surprisingly smooth and can definitely be a perfect match for an undemanding Android user, mainly because it is reliable and simply works.

That being said, we will try not to be too harsh on the E4 when diving into its benchmark results. It comes as no surprise that they are low, but we have picked out some quite interesting competition to pin it up against and the results were often surprising.

First up, we have the raw CPU performance test with GeekBench 3, so things should be pretty straightforward in this department. As we mentioned, we have devised a budget league for the Xperia to wrestle in and the MT6582 really holds its own. Here we see the E4 has shown more muscle than the Moto G and Moto G (2014), both running the Qualcomm MSM8226 Snapdragon 400. This is quite understandable, as the once widely-spread SoC is also equipped with four Cortex-A7 chips, but clocked slightly lower at 1.2 GHz.

The situation is even clearer with the Moto E, which shares the same cores, but only has two of them. Interestingly enough, Sony has two other, quite similar Snapdragon 400 phones, both powered by four Cortex-A7 cores - the Xperia E3 and the Xperia M2. Both are in pretty much the same price range as the E4 and one is even its direct predecessor.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1492
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1492
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1180
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1171
  • Motorola Moto G
    1120
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1118
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1074
  • Motorola Moto E
    611

AnTuTu is a compound benchmark, which also takes into account RAM and GPU performance. Here we see pretty much the same arrangement. The Xperia beats the two Moto G's and its predecessor, but is also dwarfed by the Xiaomi Redmi 1S and the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. The Xiaomi ha, rather surprisingly, scored significantly higher that the E4, despite having an HD screen and a quad-core Cortex-A7-based CPU. It, however is clocked higher and 1.6 GHZ. Otherwise, RAM is the same at 1GB.

The Galaxy Core Prime is a different story. It is equipped with a superior Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410, along with an Adreno 306 GPU, so naturally it takes the lead amongst the competition.

Basemark OS II is another all-round benchmark. It gives an overall score along with single, multi-core performance, math performance and more. We focus on the overall score and the dedicated CPU scores. Interestingly enough, the E4 scored lower than its predecessor, the E3, so there might sill be some room for tweaking and software improvements on Sony's end. Then again, the handset does feature a lot more services, out of the box, so the increased background load, may account for some of the benchmark issues.

This theory is further backed up by the detailed single-core and multi-core result. In both instances the MT6582 shows some muscle.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    564
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    526
  • Motorola Moto G
    516
  • Nokia Lumia 635
    451
  • Sony Xperia E3
    417
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    414
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    394
  • Sony Xperia E4
    333
  • Sony Xperia M2
    298
  • Motorola Moto E
    116

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1435
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1313
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1311
  • Motorola Moto G
    1205
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1171
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1164
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1123
  • Motorola Moto E
    1110

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E3
    5697
  • Sony Xperia E4
    5358
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    5283
  • Motorola Moto G
    5030
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5001
  • Sony Xperia M2
    4927
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    4875
  • Motorola Moto E
    2637

In fact, the multi-core score seemed so odd, that we thought there might have been some cheating on Sony's end, but running a tailored version of the same test, to prevent common cheating technique, revealed that the processors in the X4 does, in fact, perform very well.

Interestingly enough, however, the Xperia E3 seems to persistently outperform a lot of the competition, including its successor, which is quite odd, but the reasons could be numerous, ranging from increased system software load to poor optimization. And, at the end of the day, there is always a room for error with standardized tests and a higher score does not necessarily translate into better real life performance.

Basemark OS II (anti-cheat)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E3
    421
  • Sony Xperia E4
    337

Basemark OS II (single-core. anti-cheat)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E4
    1464
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1269

Basemark OS II (multi-core. anti-cheat)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E4
    6110
  • Sony Xperia E3
    5617

Moving on to pure graphics tests, the Xperia E4 really seems to lack behind. The Mali-400MP2 is really not up to par and gets blown away by the competition.

As it turns out, all of the other contenders in the test are powered by some implementation of the Adreno 305, except for the Moto E, which runs the Adreno 302. Utilization by the respective SoCs is obviously quite different, resulting in significantly different results. One thing is for sure, though, the Mali-400MP2 was a really poor choice for a graphics processor and it is a shame Sony didn't just stick with the Adreno used in the E3.

In fact the Mali was so bad, that it was incapable of running the GFX 3.0 Manhattan test, most-likely due to insufficient memory. The small screen resolution on the Xperia E4 does help to some extent in the onscreen render, but it is not nearly enough to compensate.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E3
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia M2
    5.9
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    5.7
  • Motorola Moto G
    5.6
  • Motorola Moto E
    4.5
  • Sony Xperia E4
    4.2

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia E3
    17.1
  • Sony Xperia M2
    15.4
  • Motorola Moto E
    11.2
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    10.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    10.3
  • Sony Xperia E4
    9.5

The Xperia E4 did surprisingly well in the browser performance tests. Google Chrome is the browser, Sony has bundled with the budget phone and is surely attributes a lot to the high scores. Interestingly enough, though, the E3, yet again, surpasses its successor, which you really don't want to see in a new smartphone.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    12470
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    15988
  • Sony Xperia E3
    16059
  • Sony Xperia E4
    16137
  • Motorola Moto G
    16867
  • Motorola Moto E
    17213
  • Sony Xperia M2
    18047
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    18353
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    26981

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1085
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1044
  • Sony Xperia E4
    950
  • Sony Xperia M2
    903
  • Motorola Moto E
    784
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
    480

One thing is clear, the Sony Xperia E4 isn't acing any benchmarks. On the contrary - its raw performance is average at best, barely touching some of its competitors. On a positive note - the synthetic benchmark performance may not be a complete measure for the device performance as in real-life use we found it to operate quite well. It provides solid and smooth Android experience and will do OK for the occasional game.

Unfortunately, heavier 3D games may not run well or at all because of insufficient RAM and poor GPU or both. Sony has rather oddly opted to combine a capable CPU with a very underperforming GPU, often leaving the Xperia E4 at a disadvantage compared to even the Xperia E3.

The reality, however, is that being a budget device, the Xperia E4 is quite ok at what it does. And if you don't intend to use it for more than web browsing, watching the occasional video, listening to music, or playing some Angry Birds, and, of course, messaging and calls, then you'd be good for quite a while.

Great phonebook

The Sony Xperia E4 phonebook is integrated with the dialer using a tabbed interface - the Contacts, Phone, Favorites and Groups tabs can be side-swiped. The contact list has a dedicated search filed plus it offers a very nicely animated alphabetical scroll bar.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Phonebook

If you are using two SIM cards, every time you want to make a call you'll be asked to choose which SIM card to use.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Dialer

Linking contacts is available, the quick contact feature is here too.

Telephony

The Sony Xperia E4 was able to hold onto signal very well. Calls remained uninterrupted and the sound quality was okay. Voices came out loud enough. Clarity wasn't the best but it was okay nonetheless.

The dialer support smart dialing.

The noise cancelation system is also pulling its own weight ensuring pretty good background noise suppression, as reported by the other side.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Dialer

The loudspeaker on the Sony Xperia E4 however is rather disappointing. We ran it through our tests numerous times and it still scored only Below Average.

Sony has preloaded a number of features that modify how the speaker sounds. We tested them all, but except for the proprietary xLOUD, the rest made the speaker even quitter. There are three main sound options in the E4 that work across the whole system - xLOUD, Clear Phase and Clear Audio+.

From what we could make out, xLOUD, naturally makes the speaker louder, while Clear Phase improves audio quality, but significantly lowers volume. Clear Audio + seems to be a combination of the two and works pretty well, but still only goes so far.

Bear in mind that the position of the speaker, as already mentioned, makes it very easy to cover and muffle. This, combined with the below average loudness means that you should be cautious when leaving the phone on a flat surface, as you can easily miss a call.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia E4 61.9 58 64.7 Below Average
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime 65.5 61.7 65.7 Below Average
Microsoft Lumia 535 66.5 64.8 71.9 Average
Sony Xperia E3 67.9 66.3 70.1 Average
Xiaomi Redmi 1S 66.9 65.9 71.7 Average
Motorola Moto G (2014) 66.5 66.2 75.1 Average
Sony Xperia M2 66.6 66.7 75.7 Good
Motorola Moto E 75.9 71.5 81.6 Excellent
Motorola Moto G 81.6 75.7 82.7 Excellent


Messaging and text input

Text messages and MMS use standard thread layout. Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message automatically into an MMS.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Messenger

Naturally, the Gmail client and the default Email apps are onboard. Gmail can sync only with (multiple) Google accounts, while the generic Email app can handle POP and IMAP and offers a Combined inbox.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Gmail and Email

Text input

As for text input, the Xperia E4 offers a customizable on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. You can choose a different layout (keypad, QWERTY, QWERTY with extra symbols), add/remove the coma and period button, the smiley and voice input buttons and also enable things like bilingual word suggestions if you have more than one language enabled. Different keyboard skins are available too.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Xperia keyboard

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It's similar to what Swype offers, and even if you've never used a Swype-like input before, you'll quickly get used to it.

Single-hand size keyboard is available too, but only in portrait orientation. If enabled, it squeezes the onscreen keyboard to the left or right side of the screen so it gets more comfortable for single handed text input.

Album photo gallery

We should all be familiar with Sony's custom gallery - Album. It organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorts them by date. You can change the thumbnails size by pinching.

Unlike previous versions there isn't a homepage that hosts all of your albums, instead you get the same navigation drawer as the app drawer is offering. There you can find a selector of all of your online and offline albums.

The gallery can connect to online albums (PlayMemories, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr) and also to other devices on the local network. Maps and Globe albums are also available, which use the geotagging info to sort photos by the location at which they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Album

Images can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also available.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Viewing and editing an image

Walkman music player

The Walkman music player is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. It features Music Unlimited integration and is not above trying to sell you songs, but you can hide the Music Unlimited stuff.

The Walkman interface is based on a hidden swipe-able menu that sort your music collection by Artist, Albums, Playlists, all songs and even the songs your friends are listening to (but you need to connect the player to your Facebook account). You can pop up the menu the same way you'd do it in the app drawer or the gallery - just swipe from the left edge of the screen.

The Music Unlimited stuff includes ways to discover new music - Charts, New releases and Channels. Those can be hidden individually (same goes for the artist/album/playlist tiles) or you can disable the service altogether.

The Infinite button is available in the Now Playing screen (just tap the album art) - it will help you find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Walkman

The Walkman player offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ option is here, which determines the best audio quality settings depending on the song you're listening to. We liked how it changed the music and carefully accentuated various details.

Dynamic normalizer evens out the differences in the volume between tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.

The Sound enhancements contain yet more settings. There's an equalizer with presets and manual settings (including tweaking Clear Bass). Then there's Surround sound mode, which imitates the Studio, Club or Concert Hall experience.

The Clear stereo mode enhances the perceivable stereo channel separation. The Dynamic normalizer minimizes the difference in volume between songs (great if you're playing a shuffled mix).

Speaker settings include Clear Phase, which adjusts the quality, while xLOUD boosts up the internal speaker. Both can be balanced simultaneously through Clear Audio + for best results.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sound settings

FM Radio

There's also an FM Radio. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. You can even directly send an "I'm listening to..." post to Facebook. The interface is very intuitive and complete with stunning animations. Possibly one of the best FM radio apps out there.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

FM Radio with RDS and TrackID

Movies

The video playing app is dubbed Movies and it too has a great custom UI. It's connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies and TVs you have on the phone. It will even download posters for them and for movies, it will download metadata like genre, synopsis, director and cast.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work very well for TV shows - it doesn't recognize the S01E02 naming convention and it won't pull info about individual episodes.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Movies app

The Sony Xperia E4 was able to handle videos up to 1080p resolution. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and failed to load sound in videos carrying it but that's mostly normal for smartphones these days. MKV movies went through, but without sound because of their AC-3 audio codec.

The video player comes with subtitle support by default, the only requirement is both file names (video and subtitles) to be identical.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Video playback • Settings

Audio quality

Unfortunately, we couldn't perform our audio output quality test on the Xperia E4 unit, which we had for review. It's certainly not an issue with the smartphone, but perhaps a mere technical issue.

5MP camera doesn't sound like much

The Sony Xperia E4's camera uses a 5MP camera sensor - a resolution, which sounds quite outdated. It shoots with a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels (5MP) in manual and Superior Auto modes. There is also a LED flash to help you with some low-light photos.

Sony Xperia E4

The volume rocker can be mapped to serve as a shutter button, which definitely helps while shooting.

The camera interface consists of two panes and is unified with the camcorder one - you can snap a photo or shoot a video without changing modes most of the times. While this is convenient, framing your videos correctly is nearly impossible as they have a different field of view and you only get to see it once you start recording.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Camera UI and camera modes

In the full resolution Manual mode you also get access to "manual controls" on the viewfinder, which sounds more impressive than it really is. There's an exposure compensation slider and a white balance selector. You can also control the ISO, metering and focus modes, turn on/off image stabilization, but those are buried in the settings menu.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Camera UI - manual mode

You do, however, get a dedicated video mode, with a proper viewfinder with manual control, which is nice to have.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Dedicated video capture mode

The Superior Auto shooting mode is what we've already seen in other Xperia phones. There are no settings you can change, everything here is done automagically.

Manual and Superior Auto aside, the Xperia E4 offers several other interesting shooting modes.

There's Sweep panorama but, unfortunately, panoramas come out with 5MP resolution, lousy stitching and uninspiring quality.

Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4

Panorama samples in both orientations

Then, there are the Augmented Reality effects, which stamp one of several virtual worlds over your scene and you can even move around in this world thanks to some intriguing motion tracking effect (note that it needs real-life visual cues in the scene to track your motion). Children will love this mode, but us bitter adults are unimpressed.

Other modes include the regular Picture effect mode, which creates a 3 x 3 grid that shows all the available effects in real time. Sony has also included a mode called Social streaming, which can live-stream the video feed from your camera directly on your Facebook wall. That's certainly not something you see every day. There is also a YouTube live streaming option to sweeten the deal.

Timeshift replaces the regular burst mode, it captures 30 shots in just 2 seconds. The intriguing thing is it starts shooting even before you've pressed the shutter button.

Image quality

Samples, taken with the Xperia E4 came out with underwhelming level of resolved detail when viewed at 1:1 magnification. The exposure, contrast and colors are good, which makes for nice looking photos when you view them fitted within your screen.

Getting any closer however shows that the noise reduction algorithm has taken its toll on the fine detail, while the noise still remains high in some images. Furthermore, there are significant oversharpening artifacts visible. The dynamic range is low, too.

Here are some samples form the 5MP camera:

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 sample photos

The HDR mode is a bit hard to find, but it is present on the Sony Xperia E4. You need to go to Manual mode first, then in the Scenes Menu and then you should select Backlight Correction (HDR). The HDR mode is conservative and rescues both the highlights and shadows without going to extremes.

Unfortunately, the resolved detail is even worse than in the standard samples, but, for what it's worth, HDR works pretty well given the hardware limitations.

Here are a couple of HDR samples:

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

HDR off • HDR on • HDR off • HDR on • HDR off • HDR on

We've also snapped two photos with the front 2MP snapper. Unfortunately, the detail is also on the low side. However, image quality was surprisingly good for the tiny 2MP sensor.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

2MP samples from the front cam

Still camera comparison

We uploaded the full resolution 5MP photos to our photo quality comparison database to compare against other high-resolution smartphones. The image quality - resolved detail, noise, colors and contrast - are below average, but you can't really ask much more, given the hardware.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Sony Xperia E4 in our photo compare tool

Video recording done in 1080p at 30 fps

The Sony Xperia E4 is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30fps, which certainly is not as outdated as the still camera resolution. The camcorder shares the same UI as the still camera, unless you go into manual mode.

In manual mode you can set a timer and fiddle with settings like exposure, metering, focus mode, etc.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

More shots from the dedicated video capture UI

For videos the Xperia E4 features digital image stabilization, but there's a price to pay - the field of view (FoV) is reduced (it's how all digital stabilization systems work). The phone is smart enough to detect whether you are shooting hand-held or you have rested it on something stable but you get the reduced FoV either way if the option is turned on.

If you go into video mode from the Manual shooting mode, you get an HDR option, as well as various preset scenes to pick from.

You can also snap stills during video recording but those come out in 1080p resolution.

The Sony Xperia E4's 1080p video samples are nothing to rave about, but they are still better than the still images. The resolved detail is better, the noise reduction isn't as destructive and there is very little noise. The frame rate is around 29 fps, while the bitrate is good at 16-17Mbps with stereo sound recording with a bitrate of 128 Kbps and 48 kHz audio sampling rate.

Rather surprisingly, autofocus was pretty laid back unlike most other Xperia phones we have reviewed and hardly hunted for focus while video recording.

Here's a 1080p sample, which we've uploaded on YouTube.

And here is an untouched 1080p@30fps video sample (10s, 20MB) for you to download.

Video camera comparison

The Sony Xperia E4 captures mediocre 1080p videos. It manages to resolve good detail in our resolution chart test and under good light conditions, but there is lots of noise and artefacts when shooting in low-light rooms.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Sony Xperia E4 in our video compare tool

Google Chrome

The Sony Xperia E4 comes with Google Chrome as the default web browser out of box instead of the generic Android browser. While the minimalist interface hasn't changed since Chrome launched on Android, the browser is being constantly refined by Google, and this has resulted in one of the smoothest and most powerful browsing experiences we've encountered on a mobile.

Of course, one of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Google Chrome

Other pre-installed apps

The calendar has three different types of view - daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Calendar app

Sony Xperia E4 also features the Office Suite 8, which allows for creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt), and it can also read PDFs.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Office Suite 8

Calculator, Clock app (with stopwatch, world clock and timer), Sketch and File Manager apps are available on board the device by default.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Alarms & Clock • Sketch • File manager

The Socialife app comes pre-installed too. It is a service similar to Samsung's My Magazine and HTC One's Blinkfeed. The interface is clean and simple yet beautiful, and there are lots of preloaded feeds. You can add your own RSS links too.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Socialife RSS reader

What's New app has very beautiful UI and will show you the hottest apps and multimedia today, but it isn't limited to the Play Store only. It'll display content from Sony's PlayStation store too.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

What's New

Sony Select does the same as the Sony's What's New app, but comes with much less functions and old UI. It has been begging for retirement for quite some time now, bur, inexplicably, Sony is still keeping it around.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Select

The Power Saver - now part of the settings menu - helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically when the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold. You can also turn off the Wi-Fi if there are no known Wi-Fi networks in range or turn off mobile data when the screen is off, etc.

Sony also provides a Backup & restore app, which can use the internal storage, a microSD card or even an attached USB mass storage device. You can backup the system and downloaded apps and their data along with any media files.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The Power saver app • Backup & Restore app is really handy

Other preinstalled apps on the Sony Xperia E4, which deserve mentioning, include a dedicated PlayStation app, which allows remote management of a PS4 console.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony PlayStation app

Alongside it, there is the Xperia Lounge - a sort of custom-tailored deal and promotion aggregator. It gives users the opportunity to participate in various Sony promotions and win prizes. Another interesting little feature is PartyShare. It lets you turn the E4 into a multimedia HUB, so you can centralize content, like music and photos on a single device and control it from other nearby, locally connected phones.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Xperia Lounge • PartyShare

You bet Google Maps and Navigation are also part of the app package to utilize the built-in GPS receiver (sadly lacking GLONASS support). Offline maps are available, again, since the last update, so you can save some data traffic too.

Whatever you may be missing, there is the always-growing Google Play Store for you.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Google Maps • Google Play Store

Final words

So, the Sony Xperia E4 is a cheap little entry-level phone. Except, it's not little but you get the point. What we don't quite get is why Sony needs four devices when last season they had two for the same job. The E4 has an LTE-enabled version, the Xperia E4g, and each of those in turn has a single and a dual-SIM option. Last year's you could simply get the Xperia E3 with either dual-SIM or LTE support and that was it.

Sony Xperia E4

This year you can have both, plus it's a fair guess that the regular E4 is for developing markets while the LTE phone is for places with 4G networks. But that's not the case - the Xperia E4 (3G model) will be available across Europe.

Of course, these two are not absolutely identical. The E4g with LTE has a smaller screen and slightly better chipset. The regular E4 boasts a 5" screen. This may sound complicated but the truth is Sony didn't have to think too hard. The Xperia C from two years ago is a nearly identical package.

Sony Xperia E4 key test findings:

  • It is definitely not the best looking device out there, but feels solid and well put together. The finish is way too simple and most likely scratch-prone.
  • The display is a major disappointment. It offers a resolution of just 540 x 960-pixels and bad contrast and sunlight legibility.
  • Battery life is pretty good and with regular usage the Xperia E4 can easily go through three days on a single charge.
  • The Xperia launcher runs quite nicely on the E4 and is packed with a lot of interesting features. The phone is definitely not lacking on the software side but a Lollipop update seems unlikely.
  • Performance-wise, the E4 is fluid enough, but really scores low in benchmarks. The CPU is decent, but the GPU is poor.
  • The speaker on the Xperia E4 scored Below Average in out rests. It is really on the quiet side and the placement is less than ideal, it can get easily muffled.
  • The camera is a pretty plain 5MP unit. Not much resolved detail and a lot of noise. HDR works quite well.
  • 1080p videos turn out decent, again, considering the 5MP camera. The noise is still there, but the situation is a bit better, than with the still shots.

The Sony Xperia E4 does a couple of things right. It doubles the inbuilt storage of the C3 - and the E3 for that matter. The bigger screen fits in pretty much the same footprint, meaning some bezel is gone - of which the Xperia E3 had a plenty.

Still, the E3 is the better looking phone. It's got a smaller but better quality 4.5" FWVGA screen - the ppi is practically identical while contrast, sunlight legibility and viewing angles are all in favor of the Xperia E3. Other bonus points for the older Experia E3 are LTE connectivity, which is hard to come by in this price range, and the Snapdragon 400 chipset, compared to MediaTek. That said, the E3 and E4 currently cost about the same, at around EUR 130.

Sony Xperia E3

Sony Xperia E3

Motorola's legendary budget phone, the Moto G, seems like an even stronger contender. The original from 2013 still packs quite a punch and can be picked up for as little as EUR 100. It is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8226 Snapdragon 400 SoC with an Adreno 305 GPU and 1GB of RAM, which is by no means worse than Sony's hardware.

The Moto G also offers a very nice 4.5-inch 720p screen, way better than the one in the E4. For a few bucks more, you can pick up the Dual-SIM variant, or the one with LTE, if need be.

The revised version of the handset, the Moto G (2nd gen) is even more attractive. It bumps the display up to 5.0-inches, improves both cameras and throws in a microSD card slot for extra convenience. It also comes in dual SIM and LTE flavors.

Motorola Moto G
Motorola Moto G (2nd gen)

Motorola Moto G • Motorola Moto G (2nd gen)

Motorola's very own E-series feature another popular option in the budget class, which is even cheaper than the Xperia E4. The Moto E is a really "bare-bones" device, but the original model from 2014 can currently be picked up for as little as EUR 90. For this, you get a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, Adreno 302 GPU and 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inch 540 x 960 pixels display, as well as a single 5MP camera.

This one also has a second revision, the Moto E (2015). It bumps up the screen to 4.5 inches and notably improves hardware. It comes equipped with either a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 or a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, both perhaps better than the MediaTek powering the Xperia E4. The more-powerful model costs about the same as an Xperia E4 and offers a significantly better Adreno 306 GPU, not to mention LTE support.

Motorola Moto E
Motorola Moto E (2015)

Motorola Moto E • Motorola Moto E (2015)

With all due respect to Motorola, the Microsoft entry-level lineup is perhaps Sony's main target. The Lumia 535 is spot-on with a 5" screen at 540 x 960 pixels. It is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and an Adreno 302, complete with 1GB or RAM. The 5MP selfie camera is a key selling point, for a low cost phone. The Microsoft Lumia 535 can be had for as little as EUR 100, posing quite a threat to the Xperia E4.

Microsoft Lumia 535

Microsoft Lumia 535

Having to beat this kind of prices is what drove Sony's choice of hardware. The Xperia E4 has a low-cost chipset and a low-quality screen but the most likely users will be getting it free on contract in the most probable scenarios. That's where the Sony brand will definitely help.

As always though, if you are trying to get the best possible value for your budget, the time you take to look around will never be a waste.

Unboxing

The Sony Xperia E4 retail package is about as basic as they gets. It is a plain one-piece box that only opens on the side, much like a generic container.

The insides are kind of cluttered making it near impossible to put everything back in place and comfortably close the box. What you get with the low-cost Xperia E4 is nothing out of the ordinary: a very short but quite sturdy micro USB cable, a standard headset with a built-in mic, as well as an A/C adapter.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 retail package

Design and build quality

There is really nothing special about the Xperia E4's look and build. The phone is unmistakably a Sony device, never mind it was clearly built to a budget.

A fact's a fact though - the E4 is chunky and plasticky all-around. It measures 137 x 74.6 x 10.5mm and is not particularly light either at 144g. The back cover oddly looks too big and shaped more like a bumper case, almost like it doesn't belong and was borrowed from another device.

Other than that, Sony has really done the best it could with the available materials. The body feels nice to the touch and the plastic does not look cheap in any way. The E4 is available in two colors: white and black.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Sony Xperia E4 from different angles

The five-inch Sony Xperia E4 feels comfortable enough in the hand and also quite sturdy. There are no apparent build quality blunders, everything is nicely put together with no cracks or rough edges. The back cover is kind of hard to remove, but this will only be a problem if you frequently change SIM and memory cards.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The Xperia E4 looks odd with the cover off

The cover is removable to grant access the SIM and SD cards so a non-replaceable battery makes little sense in a phone that's not IP-certified or waterproofed.

Perhaps it's cheaper to manufacture this way.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The Xperia E4 in the hand

Controls

The Sony Xperia E4 comes equipped with a 5.0-inch display, which at 540 x 960 pixels has the same ppi as the 4.5" FWVGA display of the Xperia E3. The good thing is Sony managed to slim down some bezel for an adequate screen-to-body ratio of 67.4%.

Above the screen, the earpiece is barely visible, cleverly concealed very close to the top edge, in a very Sony-like manner. The 2MP front-facing camera is slightly off to the left, with a nice silver frame. The phone does not feature any physical buttons, so the area below the display is mostly empty, except for the mouthpiece.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The front of the device is very clean

Going round the device, we find the left side housing only a microUSB port - the card slots are hidden underneath the back-cover: one or two micro SIM compartments (depending on the model) and a microSD slot. There is also a hardware reset pinhole, to help get out of tricky situations without access to the battery.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The left side of the E4 is mostly empty

The right-hand side is equally minimalist. There is the signature round Power/Lock button and, below it, a slim volume rocker.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

The right side features the volume rocker and Power/Lock button

The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top of the device near the left corner.

Sony Xperia E4

The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack

The bottom of the Xperia E4 is completely empty, except for a small eyelet in the left corner. We were quite happy to discover that it lets you attach a lanyard, just like the old times.

Sony Xperia E4

An empty bottom side

Around back, we find the 5MP camera lens and a single LED flash right next to it.

Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4
Sony Xperia E4

Clean back

Near the bottom, right beneath the etched Xperia logo, there's a small speaker grille. A rear speaker can get easily muffled if the phone's lying flat on its back and Sony has taken no precautions against it. But that's perhaps nitpicking.

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