Sony has been one of such brands well known for making smartphones with excellent cameras. 20.7-megapixel lens for a smartphone is great, and that has been used by Sony in quite a few devices now. But, what wasn’t put an emphasis on, was the front-facing camera. The reason? it was mostly used for video calling and the quality really didn’t matter much. Of late, the trend of selfies has got along in such a way that smartphone manufacturers have started taking things seriously, when it comes to inclusions about the front camera.
It was already some brands like Gionee, Xiaomi and such having good front-facing cameras for selfies. Now, Sony joins the game with its own Selfie smartphone – the Sony Xperia C3. In the hands-on we mentioned how odd this device looked in hand, and uncomfortably large as well. The thoughts still don’t change, because for a 5.5-inch screen size, the Xperia C3 was large already but the device has a lot of wasted space around the display to make it wider and taller.
Design and Display
The design looks awfully bad, but I keep this limited to the black variant because according to the users that I hear from, the mint one looks brilliant. Sony has maintained the omnibalance design style for this, thus the back cover isn’t removable and you get to see the slots for SIM card and MicroSD on the sides. The phone feels sturdy though, overall in look as well as with the build quality. But the comfort is not great, because for that big size of the device, the sharp edges on the sides don’t help in making things better.
Above the display, is a bunch of sensors, LED indicator, earpiece, and the 5-megapixel camera with a soft flash. There is a thin slit towards the edge, both on the top and bottom and these are the earpiece and microphone respectively. On the left, there is a slot for MicroSD card, and a MicroUSB port as well, and there is no cover for the port as this isn’t a water resistant device. On the right side, there is a single long SIM tray that needs to pulled out for two MicroSIM cards.
The device being slim, isn’t really good with the comfort, as said earlier as well. When you are using a smartphone to take advantage of the camera, you would want the phone to be easy to hold and the entire screen accessible. That is not the case here.
The display on Sony Xperia C3 is a 5.5-inch one with a HD resolution, and it is the Triluminos display with the support for Sony’s own Bravia Engine 2. It is bright and the viewing angles are good as well, but there is noticeable over-saturation of colors, with bluish tinge taking over other colors in a standard view.
Although it is a little hard to read content under bright sunlight, the display is bright to make dark content visible and easily readable.
OS, Apps and Interface
Sony has ensured to include the latest OS with a bright and good interface, to enhance the user experience. The OS running in the C3, is Android 4.4.2 KitKat with its standard Xperia UI, nothing different from the flagship devices in this case. But, the lock screen isn’t one of those you see on the Android KitKat running recent devices from Sony, because the swipe up or down unlock is what we had seen in Android 4.3 devices.
While there is something for those who wanted an easy usage with a single hand, i.e. one-handed operation in settings, that is very limited. The only two things you can do with this feature, are unlocking the screen with pattern lock (where the pattern box gets smaller and pushed to one side) and accessing notifications and quick settings in the bottom part of the phone.
The standard multiple home screens, notification panel divided into a section for notifications and one for quick settings, app drawer and settings are all resembling what you would have seen on any other Sony smartphone. In the app drawer, swiping to the right from left corner brings up a list of options using which the user can re-organize apps, search and uninstall them. There is bloatware, and many apps are unneeded for the users.
The pre-installed apps include Google apps, and Facebook, TrackID, Walkman, Sony Select, Wisepolot for XPERIA, Smart Connect, Sony LIV, Converter, IG Games Store, Xperia Lounge, OfficeSuite, BIGFLIX, and File Commander. Of these, only 2-3 apps are the ones the user might have chose to download if they didn’t exist in the file system already. Others are all unnecessary and are taking up space in the device, that comes with about 5.09GB internal storage to start with. The fortunate thing is that the user can insert a MicroSD card for storage expansion, to 32GB.
The camera was thoroughly tested, especially the front one for what it is known – selfies. The 8-megapixel camera on the rear isn’t great enough to be lauded, but you cannot expect a better quality capture than this given the fact that major concentration here is on the selfie camera. The 25mm wide-angle lens is quite wide to include several faces for a group selfie, and it is very clear.
To start off about the rear camera, it can still do a well expected job because the low light captures as well are not dark and unclear. It is appreciable how well Sony tweaks the software to work on the ISO with the camera to put in some light in low light conditions. The colors are natural in the captures, and there is no noticeable noise when the surrounding light is decent.
Sony’s camera app is a major help here, with several effects and options to bring about the changes in the capture. The scene modes included are soft skin, soft snap, Anti-motion blur, landscape, backlight correction HDR, night portrait, night scene, hand-held twilight, high sensitivity, Gourmet, pet, snow and others. The modes you get to choose from, include Superior Auto, Manual, AR Effect, Picture Effect, Timeshift Burst, Social Live, Sweep Panorama and Portrait Retouch.
The video recording is possible up to 1080p Full HD resolution. The only issue with the rear camera was the focusing time, because it took more time than usual to focus on an object and sometimes, the focus isn’t set at all. But, for landscape photos, it looks all good.
The front-facing camera on the Xperia C3 collects and puts out all the details, and that is what we see as an issue for the selfies, which look unnaturally clear. Yes, we have to say that because there are rare conditions when a front camera captures pictures so clear. Gionee’s Elife E7 had a 8-megapixel front-facing camera and that too captured excellent selfies, but the good thing was it didn’t make the pictures brighter unnaturally. There are a few modes available only for the front camera.
The extra apps such as Candy Cam are such a help for those who want some cool effects before sharing the selfie.
Performance, Battery and Others
Performance wise, the Sony Xperia C3 doesn’t disappoint. The numbers in benchmark results are not the only ones backing it, but the actual performance, multitasking is good enough. 1GB RAM could feel low when you have some apps in the background and were trying to play a heavy game, but that is still well negotiated.
We could play even the high-end games such as Asphalt 8 and FIFA 15 without much trouble, and that is quite a good one for a smartphone powered by Snapdragon 400 processor. Tried a few videos with Full HD resolution, and those were played quite well by the Xperia C3.
The battery took us by surprise, with the device easily lasting over a day on regular use, and the 2500 mAh capacity wasn’t expected to last that well. A continuous video playing for 2 hours drained the battery by only about 26%, which is quite exceptional. To add to this, Sony’s interface always comes with some excellent power saving modes, of which, the STAMINA mode does a great job when the device is running low on power.
Plethora of connectivity options, and each of them work pretty fine on this smartphone that is targeted for selfie lovers. May be this is one of those reasons why this smartphone isn’t lauded well, because Sony lost the plot and have been trying to market this as a selfie phone. Apart from the standard options, there is DLNA connectivity for media sharing, screen mirroring, wireless controller connectivity and direct options for connecting and installing the device drivers with computer.
The speaker on the back of the phone, isn’t the best in output level but the sound is crisp and really neat. There is nothing special about the headphones provided in the package.
The intentions of Sony are clear, as they are trying to sell this with the front camera as the USP, but that isn’t the only good thing about this. It isn’t really a time when people choose a smartphone only for a good camera to capture selfies, but Sony has managed to give this enough power and a good UI to keep the user experience good. The design is where we didn’t like the Xperia C3, but everything else packed into it, is good for its price.
If you are someone looking for alternatives to this, only to check and conclude, the HTC Desire 816 is a good one, and the Gionee Elife S5.5 with a good front-facing camera should be considered as well, if you capture selfies very often.