The Sony Xperia C comes with the custom Sony gallery, called Album. Images are organized into groups of thumbnails and sorted by date.
Pictures is the main tab and one of its features managed to impress us: you can make the image thumbnails bigger or smaller, either with a pinch gesture or a sideways swipe. The whole thing is very responsive and hundreds of thumbs fall in and out of differently sized grids in a nifty animation.
There is a second tab here, My Albums, which includes online albums (Facebook, Picasa) along with albums stored on devices in the local network. Also here are some special albums - Maps and Globe, which use the geo-tagging info to display photos where they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.
Images can be rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled. The gallery also offers an integrated image editor with rich functionality - add styles, filters, text, doodles, stamps, frames, effects, and crop.
There's a slide show using the SensMe brand and much like the music player feature, this one scans files and groups similar photos together.
Finally, the LED strip below the display lights up with different color (similar with the image on the screen) every time you scroll through the pictures.
You also get the latest version of Google's default Photos app (the default gallery app in Android 4.4 KitKat). Upon opening the app you'll see two tabs - Camera and Highlights.
The Camera is a grid of your photos and videos, three on a line. The very first thumb is marked as Folders and will return you a step back to the old Album view, where you can choose to open a different album. The Gallery will always open the Camera album by default.
The Highlights tab has all of your Picasa and Google+ online photos. The Google Photo automatic upload is integrated in the new Gallery app. If you turn it on, your photos will be automatically uploaded to your Google+ profile, but won't be shared with others unless you do it manually.
Once you open a single photo you'll get three shortcuts below the image - Edit, Share and Delete. That's it. The Editor allows you to crop, rotate or add filters to your photo.
The Photos app has a few hidden goodies that we almost missed. There is a hidden navigation menu pane that is revealed with a swipe from the edge of the screen anywhere in the gallery. You can easily switch Google+ accounts from there, go to Albums, Videos, Photos you are tagged in, all Google+ photos or even the deleted photos.
There is also an Auto Awesome section. It is something like a smart gallery that combines similar photos and videos in a cool way - it either exports a collage picture or a motion gif. If you like the combination the gallery has made for you, there is a dedicated shortcut to save the new picture in the gallery. Awesome, indeed!
The video player is dubbed Movies and it too has a great custom UI. It's connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies and TVs you have on the phone. It will even download posters for them and for movies, it will download metadata like genre, synopsis, director and cast.
The Xperia C didn't experience any difficulties playing 720p and 1080p videos. It loaded them pretty swiftly. AVI, MP4, DivX, X264, MOV, MKV and XviD files played without a glitch, too.Unfortunately there is no AC3 audio codec support, which turns out to be one of the most used codec lately. That's easily fixable though with a quick stop over at the Google Play Store where you can get a hold of a third-party video player with an enhanced codec support
While that's certainly an option, you lose the Gracenote features - the Movies app always plays videos (or tries to, anyway) with its own player rather than what you've set as system default.
The updated Walkman music player, which is present on all 2013-Xperia smartphones is also on board. It offers the same cool interface as before, but this time it has more options for sound enhancement.
The Walkman is divided into Playing and My music panels. In the My music section, you can update your album art and music information like album, year released, and more. SensMe is included, meaning you can filter your songs by mood - upbeat, energetic, mellow, dance, etc. Creating playlists is enabled and you can also view your Facebook friends' activity if they too use the Walkman player.
The Now Playing screen offers the standard music controls, shortcuts to the library, "Infinity" key and the song cover art. The Infinity key lets you quickly look up a song on YouTube or browse for the lyrics, among others.
Sony has improved on the Walkman player's settings. There's the familiar ClearAudio+ option, which determines the best audio quality settings depending on the song you're listening to. We liked how it changed the music and carefully accentuated various details.
There's Surround sound mode, which imitates the Studio, Club or Concert Hall experience. The Clear stereo mode enhances the perceivable stereo channel separation. Dynamic normalizer minimizes the difference in volume between songs (great if you're playing a shuffled mix).
Speaker settings include Clear Phase, which adjusts the quality, while xLOUD enhances the loudness of the internal speaker.
And audio fans will be pleased as there is a configurable 5-band equalizer with bass adjustment. However dedicated audiophiles might want to consider alternatives off the Play Store, with support for a 10 or even 20-band equalizer.
There are music controls on the lockscreen. Swiping them to either side brings back the clock. The notification area also offers the now playing screen with music controls and the option to jump into the Walkman player.
The RGB notification light below the screen will change to match the album art of the currently playing song (you can disable this if you don't like it).
The Sony Xperia C also features an FM Radio aboard complete with RDS support. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. You can even directly send an "I'm listening to..." post to Facebook.
The Sony Xperia C did fairly well in the first part of our audio output quality test. When plugged into an active external amplifier the smartphone posted very good to excellent scores all over, even though it didn't break any records. Volume levels were low, though, which was somewhat disappointing.
When you plug in a pair of headphones, the Xperia C lets a rather hard to detect amount of distortion creep, while its stereo crosstalk worsens but still remains decent. The rest of the readings remain very good, but the volume levels drop even more in this case.
And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Sony Xperia C||+0.05, -0.38||-83.5||86.2||0.0082||0.019||-80.1|
|Sony Xperia C(headphones attached)||+1.01, -0.24||-83.2||84.9||0.0087||0.219||-57.5|
|Oppo R819||+0.04, -0.09||-92.4||92.3||0.017||0.045||-87.9|
|Oppo R819(headphones attached)||+0.58, -0.13||-91.0||90.9||0.015||0.438||-48.7|
|HTC Desire 600 dual sim||+0.04, -0.31||-91.3||89.5||0.020||0.052||-89.6|
|HTC Desire 600 dual sim(headphones attached)||+0.10, -0.25||-91.1||89.4||0.020||0.045||-47.5|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 mini||+0.06, -0.05||-93.5||92.7||0.0090||0.056||-86.2|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached)||+0.08, -0.04||-93.2||91.8||0.029||0.089||-53.3|
Sony Xperia C frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.