The Sony Xperia C3 is a 5.5 inch Android smartphone that sets itself apart with a thin and lightweight build plus a 5MP front facing camera that on paper at least, should help the C3 punch above it’s weight when it comes to selfies. Here is the Mobile Geeks review of the Sony Xperia C3:
The Sony Xperia C3 is not widely available around the globe just yet, especially in the West where Sony continues to struggle to compete with Samsung and others to gain traction with the larger telcos. The Xperia C3 has now however become available in Malaysia and India for prices just North of $300, making it a large mid-range phablet offering. Let’s take a look at what you are getting for your money.
Sony Xperia C3 Hardware Overview
The 5.5 inch display of the Xpreria C3 makes the device a fairly big Android smartphone, or indeed phablet. It’s display is an IPS LCD with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The C3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 accompanied by 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. The primary rear camera is an 8MP shooter with auto-focus and LED flash, while the front camera has an enhanced 25mm wide 5MP sensor, also with Led flash. The focus on cameras continues with a snapshot button on the bottom crner of the device, similar to what we have seen on Nokia devices. The C3 is reasonably lightweight for its size at just under 150 grams and also pretty thin at 7.6mm thickness.
The overall feeling regarding the design philosophy of the Xperia C3 is that Sony have really tried to make a larger, more affordable smartphone that appeals to people who might not ordinarily be tempted by such a large device. The button placement would seem to reflect this, as does Sony’s attempt to include specific software features that also help smaller hands adapt to the larger screen size.
So in a nutshell we have a large smartphone that tries to appeal to people with smaller hands that is lightweight and well equipped for selfies. Hhmmm… Sounds like Sony is targeting a specific demograph here… women. Despite being designed with the female half of society in mind, the Sony Xperia C3 has plenty of appeal for all, and is a solid mid-range phone that excels in certain, but by no means all areas. First lets look at the specifications in full.
Sony Xperia C3: Full Specifications
- 5.5 inch IPS LCD Sony Triluminous Display
- 1280 x 720
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (1.2Ghz)1GB RAM
- 8GB Storage
- microSD Card Support
- Rear cam with Auto-focus/LED Flash
- 5MP Front Camera
- GSM, HSPDA, LTE Support
- WiFi b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0 / GPRS / NFC
- 156.2mm x 78.7mm x 7.6mm
- 199.7 Grams
- Micro SIM
- 2,500mAh Battery
- Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat
- Available in Black, White and Mint
Design and Build
The first thing that will strike you about the Xperia C3 is that it is really quite light considering its substantial size. A screen of 5.5 inches is in fact not really so big when you consider that there are now several flagship smartphones that flirt with the same dimensions; these include the OnePlus One, the LG G3 while even the Samsung Galaxy S5 is not far behind on 5.2 inches. Sony is clearly up to speed when it comes to both screen and device sizes, with larger phones of between 5 and 6 inches quickly becoming more acceptable and even the norm in the high-end space.
One way in which the Xperia C3 manages to keep its weight down to just 150 grams, is through its use of plastic as the primary build material. The majority of the device is made of one piece of plastic with faux chrome finished panels on each of the four edges. The display sits on top of the chassis and includes two quite substantial bezels on the top and bottom that certainly add length to the phone, which is 156mm long. Compare that to the large 6 inch Huawei Ascend Mate 7 which is only 157mm in length, or the 5.5 inch OnePlus One at 152mm. In terms of screen to body ratio, the Xperia C3 is pretty far behind the pack.
The overall feel of the Xperia C3 is solid enough. It you twist the handset it will creak just a little, but no more than any other smartphone made of plastic. Most people would not notice any pronounced creakiness, it’s just that I feel impelled to twist all phones that come my way. In fact Sony have done a reasonably good job of making the C3 feel classy. The plastic feels like plastic, but the finish is matte and greasy fingerprints are not a problem. The back is non-removable, as is the battery.
The button placement of the Xperia C3 is clearly designed to aid users who may not have large hand; the devices small circular power button is located exactly half way up the right edge, while the volume rocker is located below and the photo trigger below that. This kind of placement is clearly designed to give the user a similar experience to having a much smaller device.
I personally found it a little mis-leading as I continually sought the power button further up the side, but the idea is not bad, and certainly makes using a 5.5 device easier for smaller hands.
The micro SIM card slot is accessed on the upper right edge and covered by a sealable flap similar to what we have seen on Z series devices. The microSD card slot is on the opposite side. Unlike Sony’s Xperia Z series phones, the C3 is not water or dust proof. The 8MP rear camera is located at the top of the device, just off-center to the left with the LED Flash directly below it. There is a Sony logo in the dead center of the back, with a small NFC logo above that. A wide single speaker hole is located on the lower section with the Xperia logo just above.
Overall the design and build of the Xperia C3 is impressive, with a clear focus on delivering a lightweight device that is optimized for ease of use from a size perspective. I think also the choice of White, Black and Mint look attractive. I was not initially enamored with the Mint version (just not blokey for enough me…) but it has grown on me. Sony’s design approach however has clearly been to attract the female half of society, and it’s great that they are not doing it with Pink. The C3 is cleverly optimized in the right areas to discretely suit the hands of a lady.
We know from experience that Sony have access to some of the absolute best LCD panels around. The Sony Xperia Z2 demonstrated the company’s ability to deliver a great looking Full HD screen using their own proprietary Live Color LED, Triluminous Display and X-Reality technologies, all bound together as Sony BRAVIA TV technology. The marketing can get a bit heavy, but the result on the Z2 and Z3 is an incredible screen.
The Xperia C3 is a different kind of beast entirely. Firstly, the panel is a much more standard 720p offering that offers plenty of brightness, a crisp and vivid colors and a solid capacitive touchscreen experience. The viewing angles are no where near as impressive as the Z2, with slight color washing at tighter angles.
But, hey… It is surely unfair to pit the C3 against the Z2. Overall it is a decentgood quality display for this price range. Colors loos clear, images look crisp and the brightness is also better than many in the price range. No complaints, but no real accolades either.
The Sony Xperia C3 uses a second tier processor from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 400 (MSM8926). This chip has seen plenty of custom for Qualcomm with dozens of design wins with Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Alcatel, ZTE, LG and others, all on mid-range Android devices. The MSM8926 Snapdragon 400 is an LTE-ready, quad core processor that is clocked at 1.2GHz, packing the Adreno 305 graphics processor. It is probably best described as a capable System-on-Chip that is well suited to this market segment, but alas it will win few benchmark contests.
We ran our usual array of benchmark apps to get a real handle on where in the larger performance hierarchy the 400 sits.
Xperia C3 (Snapdragon 400) Comparison Benchmark
|Snapdragon 400 (Xperia C3)||Snapdragon 801 (Xperia Z2)||Intel Atom Z2580 (ZenFone 6)|
|3DMark - Ice Storm||4657||18753||8041|
Snapdragon 400 performs someway off the top Snapdragon 801 and also the latest Intel Atom Z2580 all benchmarks. This difference in performance is particularly pronounced in the graphics processing department where we see a considerable difference in 3DMark. Benchmark results are of course not always indicative of real life performance but one worrying experience came from the Vellamo benchmark which actually failed to complete, most likely due to insufficient memory.
The overall experience however is indeed a little far away from what we have come to expect from top-end smartphones. When switching from the camera app to the home screen, or from the Chrome browser to the home screen, you will often observe a noticeable lag. This could be due to either a) the processor not being up the task, b) poor optimization between hardware and software, or c) a principle consequence of having insufficient memory. I am inclined towards the last two reasons; 1GB does not seem insufficient, and I am sure Sony could in fact better optimize the software.
Overall the Xperia C3 feels more like the mid-range phone that it is, than a high-end model like the Xperia Z2 or Z3. We should probably not be too surprised by this, and it is perhaps a little unfair to compare the C3 to the flagship device. If you can handle occasionally sluggish app switching once in a while, you will have no problem with Xperia C3.
Sony’s interpretation on Android 4.4.2 is relatively simplistic. The styling with the default themes and apps is slick and attractive enough, but compared to the efforts of HTC, ASUS’s ZENUI, Xiaomi’s MIUI and more recently Huawei’s EMUI, Sony’s efforts seem just a little bland. There are plenty of stock apps that you would expect. There are pretty standard apps for email, messaging, calendar, voice dialer, notes, weather and more. The Walkman app, Album, Movies and Sony Select apps are unexceptional and the company still fancies to pull us in their eco-system at times. Sony might have some fans who have been loyal since the Walkman days, but for me personally I am content to avoid apps like Sony Select and not acquire my content from Sony. Other apps include almost all the standard Google apps, plus OfficeSuite from MobiSystems, a fairly solid productivity suite.
On important aspect of aspect of the Sony Xperia UI in the case of the C3 is the attempts to make things a little easier for users to adapt to the larger form factor of the device. These include two features that allow you to place the screen lock pattern pad in the lower corners of the screen for easier one-handed screen unlocking, plus the options to have notifications and Quick Settings appear at the bottom of the screen with just a double tap of the home key. These will both be useful for users with smaller hands who may find navigation on the C3 unwieldy at first.
Overall the Xperia UI experience just feels to me like it could do with facelift of sorts. It does feel distinctly Sony in terms of styling, but compared to some recent newer devices, the Xperia C3
kind of feels a little jaded.
In terms of battery, the Sony Xperia C3 is fitted with a Li-Ion 2500 mAh battery that should give all but the very heaviest users a full day of operation. It is non-replaceable, which is one negative aspect of the design, but in general the device is very well tuned and retained power very well in idle. There is also Sony’s Stamina Mode which will help eek every last drop of power from a device on the verge of collapse.
The audio on the Xperia C3 is delivered via a single speaker located on the back of the device that finds breath through a small dotted panel on the bottom of the handset. Place your hand over it and the audio becomes muffled, but this is probably an issue that could only be resolved in truth with front facing speakers as we have with the BoomSound implementation from HTC. The thinness of the Xperia C3 prohibits such a design however. The audio is far from loud but considering its slim, light form, the audio is actually pretty decent.
I have been tempted to leave the camera section of this review to the end, simply because its would seem to be one aspect of the Xperia C3 upon which all else depends. The device is billed by Sony as the PROselfie smartphone (did you feel the power of that capitalization?), and as such it promises a front facing Selfie experience that kicks others into the dust. In truth the 5MP camera on the front of the C3 is a little disappointing.
It can take very decent pics, or Selfie pics in the right conditions, but as with any mid-level smartphone sensor, it is going to suck in lower light environments. The LED Flash is welcome and will be handy for those late night party ‘Groufies’, as will the wider 25mm lens. It’s a good 5MP camera, I guess I was hoping for something a little more exceptional, especially I know what Sony are capable of. The Xperia Z2 and Z3 feature rear cams that are arguably as good as it gets. Sony has the tech and the know-how. I was expecting a wee bit more.
The camera app features several modes including Panorama, Beauty Mode and more that have pretty much become standard. One feature I do actually enjoy using is the dedicated shooter button which appears on the top right of the device when taking pics in portrait mode. It is way easier to use when taking selfies compared to taping a screen. The camera app can a while to load and the auto-focus is by now means the fastest. You can apply filters in real-time however which is reasonably impressive for a mid-range phone.
Here is the full gallery for you to check out. Shots include, Liverpool, Amsterdam and Berlin.
The Sony Xperia C3 has in fact really grown on me as it and I have embarked on journeys around Europe and the UK. The lightweight, thin design and even the Mint coloring have slowly gained a place in my heart. It does have its issues however. I feel quite annoyed when a device shows lagginess and struggles to perform smoothly when switching from app to app, especially as Google have done a great deal to make Jelly Bean and Kit Kat ‘butter’ smooth. It shows possibly how Sony have relied on the raw horsepower of Qualcomm’s flagship processors to hide and mask basic inefficiencies. I hope subsequent updates can help out.
The Selfie camera is not bad, but it seems that compared to the really good quality lenses and sensors that Sony has at its disposal, you are still getting a pretty average camera. The same can be said of the 8MP cam on the rear. Compared to any flagship, it is totally inferior.
In terms of pricing the Sony Xperia C3 will land for around $320 or so. For that amount of cash, you are getting a very attractive looking, slim and lightweight Android smartphone that has good battery life and better than average Slefie capabilities. I think it will indeed be a good option, and one that I would recommend for the market segment that it is targeting.