Review: Sony Xperia C – Clever Enough 6


xperia_c_hero
Introduction:

Xperia C was originally launched for the Chinese market. It’s also Sony’s first smartphone to use the MediaTek SoC. Intention wasn’t to play around with the different companies but to provide a phone that cashes on the people’s craze for “quad-core” phones. But this has to be balanced with the performance, design and obviously the budget. People tend to think that having a multi-core processor is makes it high-end. But the budget is always a concern. Xperia C takes care of the everything; price,design and performance. Xperia C is indeed a mid-range device from the company. It’s intentions are clear. To take on the domestic players by using the name and the fame Sony has got.

Design:

Xperia C’s design is clearly inspired by its elder siblings living in the five star apartment. It’s similar to that of Xperia Z and the likes. It’s miles better than what you’ll find on the similar phones especially Galaxies. But to be honest, we’re now tired of seeing the same design on Sony’s phones. They are simply reusing the design over and over again. Rather they are trying to cash on the looks of Xperia Z series. Something like Samsung does, using the design of top-end phones for even ultra cheap driods. But in the case of Sony they at least change the design every year. It’s as if these companies have stopped working on the design part anymore. Only HTC seems to be doing the extra job of designing their phones.
Thankfully Xperia C has very good finish. Obviously it’s not as good as premium offerings but it doesn’t feel cheap either. Sony has used good quality material to build Xperia C. Sony is also providing six months of accidental damage insurance for Xperia C for six months, which is otherwise available to only top-of-the line phones.
Let’s have a proper look at Xperia C’s design. It has a 5 inch display which uses LCD panel with qHD resolution which gives approximate pixel density of 220ppi. Xperia C loses a point or two here. Why? In this segment, Indian OEMs are offering phones with the same size but with Full HD (1080p) resolution. Micromax Canvas Turbo, Xolo Q1000s/2000 to name a few. Viewing angles are good for the LCD unit. Although the Xperia C is budget phone. Above the display there’s a earpiece grill. Right beside it are the ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and a front facing camera in a straight row.

XperiaC_Front_Full_DSCF4010

The notification LED is literally hidden under the bezel below the display, like Xperia L.
Xperia C has very clean design. On its top there’s a 3.5mm audio jack while on the bottom there’s just lanyard socket.

Xperia_C_Top_DSCF4093XperiaC_Bottom_DSCF4096

The right side hosts power key,volume rocker and a dedicated camera key. Dedicated camera is key has become rarity even in the high-end phones and Sony seems to be the only one which bothers to give it. It has some obvious benefits. Same goes for lanyard socket. Further, on the left side there’s only microUSB port.

XperiaC_Left_DSCF4087XperiaC_Right_DSCF4090

Xperia C design gives the impression that it’s a unibody construction which it’s not. To be honest even we fell for it. It’s hard to tell that it has removable back at first sight. Finishing is too good. You wouldn’t realize it in first sight but the back is slightly curved, probably to give the good grip. It’s not as curvy as Arc S though. There isn’t noticeable gap between the main chassis and the cover but there was a little flaw. The left side would make click sound even though the cover was fixed properly. There isn’t any notch either to remove it but the trick is simple. Just start opening from right bottom corner and it comes off easily.
Xperia C’s back has matte finish which gives the handset both the good grip and look. On the back there’s 8 MP camera with single LED flash. Near the bottom there’s Xperia C’s loudspeaker.

Xperia_C_Back_Full_DSCF4099
Under the cover there’s 2390 mAh battery which is non-user replaceable. Above it there are couple of microSIM card slots. Near the top left corner we’ve a microSD card slot.

Xperia_C_Undercover_DSCF4102
So that was about the design. No doubt it’s good but we would now like to see some variations.

Hardware,performance and battery:

As we mentioned before Xperia C is the first handset from Sony to run MediaTek SoC. It uses MTK 6589T,turbo series SoC which has four A7 cores running at 1.2 GHz. The performance is pretty decent. Since it is the MediaTek powering the handset, we’re not too excited to see any big performance. But contrary to our assumptions it did run well. Even with Sony’s custom UI running on the top there wasn’t a slight lag. It seems Sony has optimized their software too for the underlying processor. In the AnTuTu (X version) it close to 14,000, coming close to HTC’s original One X. Gaming didn’t seem to have any issues either.

Screenshot_2013-11-16-21-59-31Screenshot_2013-11-16-22-03-43xperia_c_benchmark_score

The battery was very good too. It’s just 2390 mAh unit there but for us it lasted close to one and an half day, on single SIM though. STAMINA mode can improve the battery performance further. MediaTek’s low power consuming SoC is also responsible for it partly.

Android OS and NXT UI:

Xperia C comes with Android 4.2.2 and Sony’s NXT UI. It’s a very clean UI and simple to use. As a standard on Android, it supports maximum seven homescreen panes. You can set any pane as central which would come up when you press home button. Long hold on the homescreen let you customize it. You get choice to put app shortcuts and widgets on the screen and also to set the wallpapers. You can even set different themes there and there are eight of them. Themes essentially change the color accent of various parts of the UI. For some themes, even the notification LED would flash the color corresponding to them. There’s a standard dock of icons on the homescreen which holds five icons. Since the Xperia C doesn’t have physical keys for navigation it relies upon the onscreen buttons.

XPC_LockscreenXPC_Home_EditXPC_Notification_Bar

The notification drawer as usual shows your notification but it has toggles for essential functions like WiFi and Bluetooth and also a shortcut to access the settings page. It also shows date and time.

One thing Sony’s NXT UI has different than others is the ‘Small Apps’. Small Apps are similar to widgets but unlike widgets they can be accessed from throughout the UI and even other apps and also have far better functionality. For example, you’re in the browser and want to check your calendar or quickly note down something, you can use corresponding small apps. You can even download more small apps from the Play Store.

XPC_Small_Apps XPC_Main_Menu

Main menu is made up of horizontally scrollable pages of icon grids.You get various options for sorting the apps. It has 4×5 grid layout. Unlike stock Android launcher, there’s no widgets tab. You can also lookup for your apps.Since the Xperia C runs on Android 4.2.2, it comes with widget-enabled lockscreen. You need to swipe up or down to unlock it. Swipe right or left to add or launch widgets from the lockscreen.

Media Apps:

Media apps on Sony’s NXT UI deserve special attention. First is the Album app which replaces the stock photo gallery on Android. The Album app apart from having good design also has good functionality. It looks eqaully good in both portrait and landscape orientations.

XPC_Album_App XPC_Album_SenseMe

Your photos are categorized on the basis of time. One interesting feat is the dynamic notification LED which keeps pulsing as you view your photos individually. It detects the dominant color in the photo and simulates the LED. It has nothing to do with functionality but it does look cool. The SenseMe Slideshow in the Album app lets you create the slideshow of the images on the fly with the four themes to choose from and your desired background music to go with it. Xperia C can also act as a media server so that you can share your images over WiFi.
The Movies app replaces the video player and also introduces new functions. Say if you were watching a movie on your phone and switched to some other task, the next time you open the Movies app, it’ll show you a small preview of the movie along with the remaining time. So it resumes from exactly where you left it. You don’t even need to explictly pause the movie for this. The app does all the job for you.

XPC_MoviesXPC_Movies_GracenoteXPC_Movies_Gracenote2

The Movies app is also backed by the Gracenote which provides information for your videos. This good if you’re watching movie and want to know about its characters, direction etc. It automatically searches the Gracenote databse for the information using the video file name. In case it finds nothing, it gives you the option to manually lookup for the info.
WALKMAN is your music player and this name on Sony phone means a lot. WALKMAN directly represents the music quality of Sony’s phones. It is also reach in terms of both the design and functionaliy. It lets you search for the lyrics on Google of Artist info on WikiPedia or the corresponding video on Youtube. Thie functionality can be extended by further by adding more extensions from the Play Store.

XPC_WalkmanXPC_Walkman_ExtensionsXPC_Walkman_Extensions

It also has visualizer. For sound improvements, you can either use ClearAudio+ provided by Sony which automatically enhances sound quality or you can personalize it by using equalizer.

XPC_Walkman_EqualizerXPC_Walkman_Audio_Settings

All three media apps,Album,Movies and WALKMAN, can share the content over WiFi by acting as a media server while the Throw function is limited to Movies and WALKMAN. By using Throw, you can pair up your bluetooth headsets or mirror your phone’s screen to your HDTV or other devices on WiFi network.
There are also Sony LIV and Sony Music apps. The former let you view episodes of TV shows on Sony’s channels. This is region dependent feature. In our case, we were presented with the TV episodes from Indian Sony channels.

Entertainment:

The loudspeaker on Xperia C is although loud,not as clear as one would expect but it’d still do when you just don’t want to listen songs on earphones. The bundled earphones have satisfactory performance. The phone itself produces very good output which with the customization options takes experience a step further even with bundled earphones. The output is clear and crisp, upto what Sony is known for. Xperia C has FM Radio as well. Sony is also offering headphones with Xperia C which are worth Rs.1500 but our review unit didn’t come with any, we can’t comment on the quality.

Camera:

Sony has put a 8 MP AF camera on Xperia C and single LED flash to assist it. Camera has good amount of features. It uses Sony’s Exmor R sensor.
UI is simple to use yet it is very extensive. It has plenty of customization options to tweak your photos. It’s not possible to mention all. Only thing missing was the Sony’s new superior auto mode. It seems to reserved for Sony’s high-end phones only. Apart from that there are various scenes too for different conditions. Xperia C camera also supports HDR for stills while it has EIS (electronic image stabilization) for videos. As far as the videos are concerned, it can shoot videos in Full HD (1080p) resolution.

XPC_Camera_VideoXPC_Camera_ModesXPC_Camera_SettingsXPC_Camera_Scenes

Honestly speaking, we’re very much impressed with the quality of the images Xperia C produced. We can definitely say that Sony has put their efforts on mid-range cameraphones too. The HDR mode works really well on Xperia C. Xperia C produces very good amount of details by 8MP standards. Xperia C doesn’t try to sharpen the image unnecessarily to make them look crisp. The noise was also very much under control. White balance and color reproduction were satisfactory. Sony has a chance to work with the dynamic range and could also tweak ISO. Yes there’s HDR for those conditions but who would mind improvements? For this segment, Xperia C has a very good camera.
Image samples:

DSC_0004DSC_0016DSC_0045DSC_0048DSC_0136DSC_0159

Xperia C records video in 1080p Full HD resolution at 30 fps. You can also capture photos while recording the video but those are limited to 2MP resolution. It records audio in stereo and at 48KHz. Videos were pretty clear but continuous autofocus was a bit aggressive. Videos were pretty clear and details were good too. Overall it has very satisfactory video quality.

Video sample:

Connectivity:

Xperia C is very rich in the connectivity department as well. Sony has packed as many features as possible while still keeping the price low. As we already mentioned it has two SIM card slots. The first SIM works on both 3G and 2G while the second SIM runs only on 2G. Wi-Fi (b/g/n) is obviously present with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 along with Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. As we mentioned before Xperia C is also DLNA capable which lets you share stream content to your HDTV or other compatible devices.
As a dual SIM phone you can have both the SIM cards simultaneously,that is, you can receive a call on second SIM while still talking on the first one. It has the ability to forward calls to the other SIM in case one of them is absent.

Conclusion:

In this price segment Sony has very tough fight. Xperia C should have come to Indian market a long ago. The new offerings from Indian OEMs have made the competition tougher. These phones trump Xperia C in areas like display and camera. There are phones which are cheaper than or around the same price as Xperia C but offer Full HD display and/or 13MP camera. Talking about the competition, Micromax is offering its latest flagship Canvas Turbo with Full HD display and 13MP camera. And it’s also a first from any domestic player to use full metal chassis. But it has maximum 16GB of memory and there’s no microSD card slot for memory expansion.
Xolo has Q2000 on its deck to go against Xperia C. It also specs similar to Canvas Turbo but no aluminum body. You get a microSD card though.

Despite this, what stands behind Xperia C is Sony’s name and the trust. With value added things like accidental damage cover and free headphones, it looks like a good package overall. If you’re the one who was waiting to get a decent phone, especially a dual SIM phone but not willing to go with domestic brands, Xperia C should be your choice.


About Swapneel Bandiwadekar

I'm into tech since 2006.You can find me on forums as @swap002. I also used to write reviews for Hindustan Times and been a member of pilot programs. Connect with me on Twitter or Google Plus.