We should all be familiar with Sony's custom gallery - Album. It organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorted by date. You can change the thumbnails size by pinching.
Unlike previous versions there isn't a homepage that hosts all of your albums, instead you get the same swipe-able menu the app drawer is offering. There you can find all of your online and offline albums.
The gallery can connect to online albums (PlayMemories, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr) and also to other devices on the local network. Maps and Globe albums are also available, which use the geotagging info to sort photos by the location at which they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.
Images can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled.
The Walkman music player is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. It features Music Unlimited integration and is not above trying to sell you songs, but you can hide the Music Unlimited stuff.
The Walkman interface is based on a hidden swipe-able menu that sort your music collection by Artist, Albums, Playlists, all songs and even the songs your friends are listening to (but you need to connect the player with your Facebook account). You can pop up the menu the same way you'd do it in the app drawer or the gallery - just swipe from the left edge of the screen.
The Music Unlimited stuff includes ways to discover new music - Charts, New releases and Channels. Those can be hidden individually (same goes for the artist/album/playlist tiles) or you can disable the service altogether.
The Infinite button is available in the Now Playing screen (just tap the album art) - it will help you find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.
The Walkman player offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ option is here, 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. Dynamic normalizer evens out the differences in volume between tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
The Sound enhancements contain yet more settings. There's an equalizer with presets and manual settings (including tweaking Clear Bass). Then 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 boosts up the internal speaker.
There's also an FM Radio. 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 E3 audio output is quite similar to that of its more pricy stablemates. It managed some very good scores in our test, although its volume levels were far from impressive.
The smartphone had spot-on frequency response, great dynamic range, excellent signal-to-noise ration and no distortion when used with an active external amplifier. Very solid performance with the sub-par volume levels the only thing to potentially frown at.
Plugging in a pair of headphones causes an average increase in stereo crosstalk and introduces some distortion. Frequency response also suffers a bit, but none of the three readings are too bad overall and quite easy to accept at this price point.
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 E3||+0.02, -0.07||-88.7||86.9||0.011||0.015||-89.4|
|Sony Xperia E3 (headphones attached)||+0.46, -0.05||-81.8||86.5||0.011||0.217||-58.9|
|Sony Xperia M2 Aqua||+0.02, -0.08||-86.5||87.5||0.0077||0.015||-87.9|
|Sony Xperia M2 Aqua (headphones attached)||+0.10, -0.04||-86.4||87.4||0.026||0.060||-57.4|
|Sony Xperia M2||+0.02, -0.08||-86.6||87.6||0.0076||0.014||-88.1|
|Sony Xperia M2 (headphones attached)||+0.08, -0.05||-86.5||87.5||0.023||0.056||-49.5|
|LG G2 mini||+0.12, -0.03||-93.5||93.3||0.0023||0.015||-92.7|
|LG G2 mini (headphones attached)||+0.09, -0.01||-93.1||92.9||0.012||0.042||-61.7|
|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 E3 frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.
The video playing app 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.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work very well for TV shows - it doesn't recognize the S01E02 format and won't pull info about individual episodes. It gets worse, Gracenote seems to be lacking info on TV shows in general, we couldn't find even popular shows like The Big Bang Theory.
The Sony Xperia E3 was able to handle videos up to 1080p resolution. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and failed to load sound in videos carrying it but that's mostly normal for smartphones these days. MKV movies didn't play at all along with FLV and some AVI files (most played fine). The most popular DivX and XviD played just fine.
The video player lacks subtitle support by default but offers a built-in movie editor that will let you trim videos and adjust speed.