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Sony Xperia C4 review: A decent upgrade with Camera, Gaming, Battery and Performance Review


Sony Xperia C4 review: A decent upgrade
TOP FEATURES

- Good display
- Decent build quality
- Expandable storage
NEW DELHI: The Sony Xperia C4 is the company's new selfie-focused smartphone. Successor to the Xperia C3, the smartphone features an upgraded full-HD display and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor.The internal storage capacity and RAM has also been bumped up compared to the C3. The major highlight of the phone though is still its 5MP wide-angled front camera targeting the selfie-crazy. We used the phone for a few weeks to see where it stands in the increasingly competitive mid-range segment...

Trusted OmniBalance design
Sony Xperia C4 doesn't look very different from other members of the Sony Xperia family and follows the same OmniBalance design language. However, it's not very angular and features rounded corners and edges. It has a slightly curved back that sports a soft matte finish and feels good to hold. Since it's a mid-range device, Sony has predominantly used plastic in the construction of the phone. You also see the bumper corners seen in theXperia Z+.



The Xperia C4 doesn't feel too big or heavy despite its 5.5-inch display because of the excellent screen to body ratio. While not exactly made for one hand use, Sony has tried its best to make it less unwieldy thanks to the positioning of the hardware buttons and software features. The plastic volume rocker is located at the right edge with the typical Sony watch crown-shaped, metallic power button.

The same edge also houses a flap that hides two slots for nano sim cards and one slot for a microSD card. Sony has got rid of the plastic sim card tray and you can now simply plug in the sim cards. The other edge features the micro-USB port, which is slightly unconventional. The 3.5mm headset jack sits at the top edge.



Since it's a unibody design, the back is non-removable. You'll see a camera lens, LED flash, a speaker grille and some Sony and Xperia branding at the back. The front panel features the large full-HD display, the camera lens and a front flash. The phone is well built and exudes a feeling of durability though the design is not very new.

Full-HD display
The Xperia C4 sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080x1280p) IPS display, mobile BRAVIA Engine and has a super Vivid mode that enhances the colour brightness and saturation of photos and videos on the phone screen. We found the display to be bright and vivid and viewing angles were sufficiently wide. Colours looked accurate and graphics appeared sharp and crisp.



It's slightly reflective so sunlight legibility wasn't that great. Touch response was great but it's not clear if the screen comes with Gorilla Glass protection. Overall, its an upgrade from the Xperia C3's 720p display.

Balanced software experience
In terms of software experience, the Xperia C4 comes with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) out of the box with Sony's own UI and apps for music, videos and gallery. Sony's UI skin is not very heavy and doesn't hog on system resources. The experience of navigating across the UI was smooth but not as swift as it is on high-end devices such as the Xperia Z3+.

The phone also has some content marketplace apps and a What's New apps, which show curated content (such as apps, music, games) that users can buy. We feel that Sony has stuffed the phone with a lot of bloatware including third party apps like Line, Kobo, AVG antivirus. Thankfully, most of these apps can be removed.



The UI elements, including the notifications tray, app launcher and settings menu have been skinned but also borrow elements from the new Android 5.0 UI. System apps feature Material Design with a blue theme being omnipresent. The transition effects visible during launching and minimizing apps are also pleasant to look at. The app-switcher is also borrowed from Android 5.0 Lollipop but features the launcher for small apps which can float on top of other running apps.

The phone ships with some small apps,including a browser, timer, calculator and screen grabber. One can download additional small apps from the Play Store, or even turn a widget into a small app. Sony has also included software optimizations for one hand use including the ability to position certain UI elements on the left or right side of the display.

At the cost of repeating ourselves, we have to say that Sony's UI skin looks less intrusive and is well-balanced.

Front camera is not extraordinary
The Sony Xperia C4 sports a a 13MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash and 5MP front camera with Exmor R sensor and front flash.

The camera app offers a large number of settings in addition to Sony's Superior Auto mode that chooses the optimal settings as per the ambient light. You also get different scene options and the ability to switch the resolution of the pictures. Scene modes also include night mode and backlight correction HDR, among others.


Shot with the front camera

The other modes that the app offers include Style portrait, Multi-camera, Sweep Panorama, AR Effect, Creative effect, and Face in picture Effect. There's no time shift video mode. The Multi-camera mode lets you hook other Xperia devices (phones or tablets) or a Sony Wi-Fi/NFC camera and record the same scene with multiple cameras.

While the front camera takes good quality selfies in day light, we found it to be a little underwhelming for indoor selfies in artificial light. The latter missed out on detail and looked slightly grainy.



Of course the real hero is the front flash which does a good job of filling light when you're snapping a
selfie in a dimly lit club. The camera has a wide-angled lens so you ca fit in more people in selfies.



The rear camera takes good quality pictures in most conditions including in low-light. We did find the Superior Auto mode a little inconsistent; it has a tendency to produce saturated colours. HDR mode photos had better contrast.

Decent performer
Sony Xperia C4 is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core (Cortex-A53) MediaTek MT6752 processor coupled with 2GB RAM. The phone comes with 16GB internal storage expandable up to 128GB via microSD card or by using a USB On-the-Go drive (or adapter plus USB drive).

While we did not notice any major lag while navigating through the phone's menu, launching apps and switching between them, the experience is not as smooth as it is on high-end devices and even some competing mid-range ones. Having said that, you may not really notice it while performing everyday tasks.

We were able to play games like subway Temple Run 2, Leo's Fortune without encountering lag or freezes or heating issues but we did notice some minor frame drops while playing Asphalt 8.



We were able to play most popular video and audio file formats on the phone.

The phone supports NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS connectivity options an has an FM radio tuner.

It offers excellent call quality and signal reception and we did not encounter problems while making calls even in areas where cell signal is relatively weaker. The phone was able to lock to GPS without any hiccups. We also used 4G data on Airtel's Delhi network and were able to get a good signal with 25Mbps+ speeds.

The sound output through the phone's speaker grille was loud and clear but sound gets muffled when the phone lies on its back.

The phone is backed by a 2600mAh battery and will last you a full day even if you put the screen brightness at the highest level and use a mix of 4G and Wi-Fi. The phone lasted us more than 14-15 hours with 2.5 hours of screen-on time.

You'll be able to make about 2-3 hours of phone calls, play some casual games and browse the web in this time period. The phone can play video continuously for 6 hours.

You can boost the battery backup by using Sony's Stamina mode that shuts down battery-draining apps and data transfer when the screen is turned off and starts them again when it is turned on.

Final Verdict
Sony Xperia C4 is a good upgrade to the C3 and a well-rounded device that offers a full-HD screen, good rear camera and balanced software experience. However, at Rs 29,490, we feel it's a bit expensive compared to other offerings available in the market (you can buy it at a discounted price online though). Also, the enhanced selfie camera, which is the highlight feature of the phone, is not as uncommon as it used to be in the past and the results were not extraordinary.

Of course you pay the premium for the brand but you can also look at mid-range options from established ones such as the Samsung Galaxy A7 and HTC Desire Eye. The Gionee Elife S7 and Huawei Honor 6 Plus are better specd and offer great performance. The OnePlus 2 is certainly the best option among mid-range phones but the invite system and limited production make it very difficult to acquire one.
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