The Sony Xperia C4 is a phone that you probably haven’t heard of, but is a haven for anyone looking for a mid-range device. While it never quite ‘wows’ with any of its features, it delivers a great bang-for-buck experience.
Lacking wow-factor in this price range is not a fault; it’s to be expected. What you’re really looking for is something that won’t frustrate or enrage you months, or even a year or two after you grab it.
The Xperia C4 is as good, or a better, contender to go the distance than any of its contemporary and similarly-priced competition.
The real question is: can it beat the budget king – the Motorola Moto G3? Depending on where you do your shopping, these phones can be similar in terms of price tag, although the C4 can often be anywhere up to around 30% more expensive. Both phones are about half, or less than, the price of a new 16GB iPhone. The game is on.
Despite its similar appearance to other Sony phones, the Xperia C4 is not water resistant. This is a shame. Water resistance is a fantastic feature that more phones need (by the way the Moto G3 is IPX7 certified for it) and it would have been a great cherry on top of this otherwise somewhat plain-looking device.
In fairness, the C4 is appreciably sleek, with a slim profile and small bezels around the screen. This gives it the appearance of a more-expensive device, although the plastic rear plate does mess with this image somewhat.
Build quality fees solid. The buttons aren’t loose and the flap that covers the microSD and SIM slots clicks in securely. Overall we’d say this is a win for a mid-range phone. Fair from beautiful, it is at least comfortable and, at a glance, has the appearance of a pricier device.
Screen and user experience
Unexpectedly, the 5.5 inch panel sports a 1080p resolution, giving it the exact same 401 pixels per inch (ppi) of an iPhone 6s Plus. That’s pretty good for a phone this affordable.
Colours are vibrant, contrast is good, responsiveness is high and video works smoothly with great detail. One flaw would be brightness. In direct sunlight on a sunny day the display can be a little hard to see.
However, when one is given 401ppi on a 5.5 inch screen in this price range it feels pedantic to complain that the screen could be a little brighter.
Continuing our comparison to the Moto G3, it has a 5 inch 720p display with 294ppi. It would seem that the C4 is the clear winner here, unless you prefer a smaller display.
The user experience itself is pretty smooth. No chronic jerkiness or niggling faults plagued our time with it. Of course, throwing something more intense like Hearthstone or Azeroth at it can bring out a few jitters, but these are some of the more processor-hungry games around and we’d expect the same from any non-flagship phone.
Battery life was better than average at about a day and a half. This means you still have to charge it every night, but unless we’d been binging on the aforementioned games we never came close to needing a power top-up before day’s end.
The 13MP rear camera isn’t spectacular, but it’s perfectly adequate. It handles well-lit situations comfortably, but lacks the vibrancy flagship users may be accustomed to.
On cloudy days colours are a little washed-out.
Indoors it does pretty well, although with some added noise.
At this point we’ll note that the indoor performance of the C4 is better than that of the G3. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s there. Outdoor day shots are basically identical.
As things get darker, the C4 definitely suffers. Even with the flash on there’s a lot of noise and fuzziness. This is something that remains true for just about every phone on the market and we weren’t expecting to see any better in a mid-range phone.
As for the 5MP front-facing camera, it’s OK. To be honest we were expecting a bit more. It’s fine for a Facebook or Instagram post, but once you blow it up any larger there’s a noticeable lack of definition. Things also come out fairly white with a pinkish hue, which makes your face look a little odd and your lips very.. lippy (which may or may not sound good to you).
Throw a filter on and everything’s fine, but if you’re a #nofilter kind of gal or guy then you might have to get used to taking a few snaps before you get the lighting and colour tones right.
The Sony Xperia C4 is a great mid-range phone. Is it better than the G3? Yes, but the difference is around in-line with its bigger price tag. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, we’d recommend the Xperia C4 over its more-famous competitor.
If you’re after spending as little as possible, the G3 is still the best phone in its dollar category.
Either phone is a good buy and should last you at least two years before you start itching for an upgrade.