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My take on the Sony Xperia C3 mobilephone

December 27, 2014

Coming from various Ericsson and Sony Ericsson phones, my first Xperia is the Xperia V. In 2012 when it was launched, it offers top notch specifications and good performance. In fact, I chose it over the iPhone 5S when I was up for retention from my provider. The LTE performance is superb that even though the camera and sound quality was pedestrian, it became my go-to phone until I got the iPhone 5S eventually.

When I was looking around for another Android phone, I shortlisted the Honor 6, Xperia Z3, and LG G3.

I was able to play with the Honor 6 at the Huawei Mate 7 launch and liked the size and specifications. When it became available at Lazada, I placed an order but Lazada was pretty much screwed up that I eventually cancelled the order.

An opportunity to use the Xperia C3 presented itself, and here's my take on this mid-range Xperia.

C3-box

I'll get one thing out of the way, the size.

It's too big for me. The ideal size for me is something that isn't too big in dimensions compared to my Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe. Anything 2mm wider or taller will be acceptable, with a screen size of at least 5". The Xperia C3 is 156.2 x 78.7 x 7.6mm in size.

Here it is beside the Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe.

C3-size

The Xperia C3 is running on Android 4.4.2, so coming from the Xperia V on Android 4.3 isn't going to alienate me as far as operations is concerned. The customizable Quick Settings is a welcome change, as well as the adjustments to where the lock screen pattern pad appears on the bottom corners.

The complete specifications are found here.

Build quality

This is a nicely built phone with mid-range specifications running on Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor. Having a 2,500 mAh battery on a slim frame is an improvement from my Xperia V. While the battery is no longer removable, it's not really a concern for me.

More convenience is offered by having covered slots for both the micro SD card and SIM card. The Xperia V and Cherry Mobile Alpha Luxe required removing the back cover, then removing the battery to access the micro SD and SIM card slots. Furthermore, the USB port is not covered for easy access. The Xperia C3 is not waterproof, so these conveniences became possible.

When my Xperia V USB covered broke, I paid P300 for that tiny thing.

The Xperia C3 is nicely built, gone are the creaks I get from pressing the sides of the Xperia V. The faux metal trimming on the sides of the device adds some elegant touch to the over-all look. The plastic back gives the same feel and texture as the Xperia V which is good as it makes the device not slippery for its size. That also contributes to the the lighter weight of the device. Just imagine if the entire back is metal or glass (like the Honor 6).

C3-controls

The placement of the power button in the middle is a design goal for easier access in single handed operation.

At just 7.6mm thin, with no protruding camera like that in the Alpha Luxe, it looks premium but vulnerable as far as I'm concerned. Don't drop it. Buy a case.

Display

The Xperia C3 is nearly a phablet with massive 5.5" display. But despite the size, being a mid-range offering means some compromises and that means the resolution is only 1280 x 720, leading to a pixel density of 267 pixels per inch (PPI). Of course, it won't give me the high resolution of other more expensive devices offer, but the IPS LCD does good color reproduction and has very usable viewing angles.

Sound quality

One of my disappointment with the Xperia V is the average sound compared to my other phones. Heck, the Alpha Luxe sounds a lot better compared to it. It is refreshing to find out that the Xperia C3 has improved in this area. Using my Westone UM1 in-ear monitors, it offers balanced sound with a nice touch of top end spakle, better mid-range performance, and decent low end slam. Micro dynamics is better all around.

C3-music

As expected, the Xperia C3 also recognizes my FiiO Alpen DAC via the USB on-the-go cable. Using the DAC does not offer significant improvement, but it is better than not working. With the DAC, it can drive my more power hungry Harman Kardon SOHO.

The on-board speakers sound decent, but I don't really listen to music that way.

C3-rearspeakers

Photo quality

Another disappointment with the Xperia V is the mediocre photographic quality from the camera. I was expecting the Xperia C3 will offer better quality. Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to really put the camera to test, but initial indications reveal it has improved. The 8 megapixel rear camera has LED flash, and the camera software offers Panorama, HDR, and can shoot 1080p video.

C3-backtop

C3-photo1

C3-photo2

The auto-focus and face detection of the rear camera is swift and pleasantly accurate. I have not tried the smile shutter due to lack of subjects and/or not trying to make fool of myself.

C3-photo3

The front facing camera is 5 megapixels and offers good quality, so selfie addicts won't be disappointed. Equipped with a wide-angle 25mm lens, it should capture more faces in selfie mode. The front LED flash will also help in poor lighting conditions. There is also a Portrait Retouch and AR effect features that Sony claims are specifically made for selfies.

C3-fronttop

Like the Xperia V, the C3 supports Face Unlock, that sometimes make people think I'm goofing  around. With a better camera it should be more accurate in face recognition.

Battery performance

With my normal use of the device that includes occasional data for navigation, SMS, and voice, the battery life lasted more than a day. With a bigger battery, it drains slower when used for tethering to my Surface tablet. Charging time is also faster than the Xperia V which seems to be an eternity.

The Xperia C3 offers the now Sony standard "Stamina mode" which increases battery longevity by controlling background apps.

Memory and storage

The device has built-in 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and micro SD slot that supports up to 32GB additional storage.

C3-USBslot

Connectivity

As with my Xperia V, the C3 offers Miracast support aka Throw, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC. It supports 3G and LTE networks in bands 1 (Smart), 3 (Globe), 7, 8, 28.

C3-SIMslot

It easily connects to my home router which is a Western Digital 900 Central through which access to my media stored on the Synology 413j is made possible. DLNA support allows me to browse the stored media and play them using the built-in Walkman and Movies app. I still use the Synology mobile apps though, that includes DS Audio, DS Video, and DS Files.

For navigation, it supports aGPS and GLONASS, so Waze users like me can enjoy more accurate position tracking.

Surprises

My area has spotty LTE coverage so that may devices are either in the garage area or the second floor of the house, in specific locations. The Xperia V offers stellar performance compare to the iPhone 5S, and I was anticipating a better performance, if not the same from the C3.

Alas, side-by-side with my iPhone 5S, the Xperia C3 had difficulty locking in to LTE and when it did, the performance was disappointing. While my iPhone managed to achieve 21 Mbps download speed, the Xperia C3 did 1.91 Mbps, which is an absolute let down.

I positioned the 5S and C3 in another area that I know will get LTE and this time, the C3 performed better, just a few Mbps lower than the iPhone 5S. It seems to me that the sensitivity of the Xperia C3 is poorer compared to the Xperia V.

I also installed Basemark OS II benchmark to find out where it will put itself in terms of performance. I was damned to find out it does not complete the entire graphics test and worse, consistently get 9 or 10 in the web test.

I initially suspect it to be a firmware issue (the device originally had 12.2.A.0.362) so when I was notified of an update to 12.2.A.0.383, I updated and ran the test again with no significant improvement. I updated to 12.2.A.0.391 and eventually to 12.2.1.A.0.72 and still didn't get any improvement.

I then decided to give AnTuTu benchmark a try, with a thought that Rightmark's benchmark isn't optimized. The AnTuTu benchmark completed properly, and to my disbelief, the Xperia C3 performed worse than the Xperia V.


The device is powered by a Snapdragon 400, so these results are a surprise to me. It looks like there's a big performance hit somewhere and I'd like to point my finger to that massive 5.5" screen.

Benchmarks are just that. In the end, it is still the overall experience that matters. So far, I didn't experience any serious lag like I did on an in-store demo unit of the LG G3 just going through the menus. Fine, it doesn't have much software loaded yet, but so did the G3.

Conclusion

The Xperia C3 is a likeable phone, despite its poor benchmark performance, the over-all experience isn't compromised. It is a good looking phone, perhaps not enough to turn heads around though.

Despite the massive size, aka poor display to body size ratio, it is light. Whether or not this device will grow on you is for you to find out.