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Why on earth did Sony make the Xperia E4!

Last updated on: April 22, 2015 14:57 IST

The Japanese electronics giant has missed several tricks with the Xperia E4 and unless the phone sees heavy price cut from Rs 11,500, there is every chance customers will go for the Motorola Moto G, says Himanshu Juneja.

The Indian mobile phone scenario has witnessed upheavals in the recent past. The onslaught of the Chinese manufacturers' cost-effective, yet feature-rich phones has forced a rethink of strategies from the established manufacturers.

Sony's latest offering in the form of Sony Xperia E4 seems like an attempt to woo the prospective buyers in one of the most sought after segments.

The Xperia E4 looked like a decent option, but with specifications which can be termed as near-about obsolete, let us take a closer look at how the phone stacks up in the current market scenario.

Build

The phone measures 137 x 74.6 x 10.5mm. Looking at the overall design, the phone looks quite a chunky block and weighs at a not so light 144gms.

The plastic-built phone felt good to hold and thankfully didn't feel cheap. Rear side of the phone has been provided with a curve, which assisted in establishing a good grip.

The Power/lock button, and the volume rocker are located on the right side of the phone, while the left side carries just the micro USB port. Upon removing the matte finish back panel, the micro SIM card slots can be found.

The bottom part of the phone has the speaker grille. The positioning could have been better, as chances of blocking the speaker by a flat surface remain high.

Screen

The Xperia E4 comes with a 5-inch IPS LCD panel. Sony opted for a qHD 540 x 960 resolution for the phone and this translates to a paltry pixel density of 220 ppi.

It was disappointing to see the type of display Sony decided to provide the phone with. Especially when the phone is supposed to compete in a well-contested segment, and competitors offering far better options.

The display isn't the best and fares poorly. The contrast felt off, and one could notice the pixelations easily. The screen itself is very reflective, and the sunlight readability isn't anything to talk about.

To it's credit, the display angles did fare slightly better.

Connectivity

Sony Xperia E4 doesn't support LTE, which means any chance of getting 4G is out. The phone doesn't comes with NFC either. Having said that, both the card slots support 3G connectivity.

The phone does carries some decent options in this department. The phone supports Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi direct. Along with Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP and Apt-X technology, GPS has been provided but GLONASS support was absent, which seemed a bit of an aberration.

Users also get to connect to Playstation's DUALSHOCK 3 or DUALSHOCK 4 controller for gaming fun. Other good features which thankfully have been included are DLNA and FM radio.

Overall, the connectivity feature set is decently populated, but considering the market trend, missing LTE is definitely a blow to phone's prospects.

Hardware

The phone is powered by quad-core Mediatek MT6582 SoC, with each core clocked at 1.3GHz. Sony has disappointed here as well, since the hardware used isn't the latest, nor an acceptable norm for the segment.

Giving company to the Mediatek SoC is the Mali 400MP2 GPU, and 1GB of RAM.

The phone has been provided with 8 GB of internal storage, out of which only 4.8 GB is what the user gets. The memory card slot will come in handy, which will allow a further 32 GB of storage memory boost.

Operating system

The Xperia E4 comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box. There has been no confirmation about the Lollipop upgrade. Users can customise the lockscreen greeting with either Pattern, Pin, Password, or Face unlock mechanism.

Once inside, the phone has a distinctive Sony launcher in place. Unlike the Chinese manufacturer's penchant, Sony's phone here has the app drawer, and one can choose to view the installed apps via the preferred sorting way.

The phone presents the user with five home screen panels and provides the option to add another two. Depending upon preference, users can assign any of the panel as primary. Users will appreciate the option to customise the looks by selecting the chosen app icons for the status bar.

Users can change themes around for a more customised look, and also hide app icons as per privacy concerns, which is a nice touch.

The users can access the Quick Settings by a two finger swipe, where one finds good number of toggles. There are more than twenty toggles to choose from, and as per the preference, user can single out twelve options to be enlisted for quick access.

Sony has also provided seven 'Mini Apps' for quick launch function, thereby saving the user from loading the full fledged versions. To name a few, these mini apps include the Calculator, Calendar, Timer, Chrome bookmarks, Active clips etc.

Sony's skin isn't too heavy to spoil the fun while operating, and the department hasn't been lacking vis-a-vis functions either. one sore point can be made about the bloatware involved, but thankfully, a good amount of them can be uninstalled.

Performance

Credit must be given to the way the OS has been optimised here by Sony. Even with the relatively lacklustre hardware on board, the phone performs smoothly enough to keep the frustrations away. That is till the user isn't into too CPU/GPU-intensive tasks.

Though the phone was able to play sample videos smoothly, the limitations of the hardware exist and users should not expect the phone to run graphic intensive games or play very high bitrate movie files either.

Coming to audio department, the speaker performance wasn't too good. As mentioned earlier, the positioning of the speaker isn't the best. The speaker isn't too loud if cranked up fully, and to make matters worse, sound quality isn't very good either. Overall, it is about passable.

The bundled headset isn't great either, though users will do nicely by using headsets of their own. Sound quality definitely witnesses an improvement in the latter case.

Camera

The Xperia E4 comes with a 5MP rear camera, which has a single LED flash for assistance.

The phone seems to be doing a little too much on the noise reduction front, and botches up the end results by a good margin and as a result, the detailing on the image takes a severe hit. The Panorama mode suffered from poor stitching along with poor quality shots.

The settings are not very easy to find and one has to go about exploring the various menus and sub-menus to find the favourites like HDR, Image Stabilisation, ISO or various other shooting modes.

The camera is capable of shooting a 1080p video, but that is just for the record. The actual results were slightly better than the still images, but again were not up to the mark.

The phone also carries a 2 megapixel front-facing camera, and as a saving grace, it manages to take some decent selfie shots.

Battery

The phone comes with a non-removable Li-Ion 2300 mAh battery. If one goes about using the phone with a moderate to heavy usage pattern, a single charge would mean the phone lasting for about three days on the trot.

There is also the Stamina mode, which enhances the battery life by shutting off features like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, Back up, etc. The brightness too gets toned down. This department seems to be well covered up by Sony.

Verdict

Sony really has missed several tricks with the Xperia E4. With the attempt to break into a lucrative segment, a phone priced at about Rs 11,500, the E4 falls short in many departments.

A screen which could have been much more polished, mediocre hardware, passable camera and poor speaker, the phone seems to have been assembled in a hurry. No LTE being on board will not go unnoticed either.

Unless the phone sees heavy price cut, there is every chance that the prospective buyer would rather go for Motorola Moto G, which is available after adding less than Rs 2000 to the price of Xperia E4.

Himanshu Juneja
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