Sony joined the latest trend of smartphone manufacturers focusing on selfie-camera performance with the launch of the new Xperia C4 mid-range smartphone.
More and more consumers are demanding a great front-facing camera to take photos of themselves and their friends in "selfie" mode, so it seems natural that Sony would start improving its own cameras at an accelerated pace.
Adding a certain component that's generations ahead of where it's supposed to be usually means the companies have to make some compromise elsewhere. For example, they may slow down the improvement rate of other components in order to compensate for the extra cost that's added by the leap in performance of another particular component.
The definition for what makes a good smartphone always changes, though. One year metal construction is all the rage, the next is having a QHD display or a fingerprint sensor, and so on. What companies need to figure out is which component they should improve the most for that particular year in order to create the highest demand for its phones.
Smartphone makers have started focusing more on the performance of their flagships' front-cameras, and they've been improving the quality of the pictures in daylight as well as low-light. They've also added wide-angle lenses, HDR, face recognition algorithms and other advanced features previously seen only on the rear cameras.
Not everyone can afford a high-end flagship, though, and Sony seems to want to bring some of those features to a more affordable price-point and into a mid-range phone such as the Xperia C4.
The Xperia C4 comes with a 5MP front-camera that has a 25 mm wide-angle lens, soft-LED flash (you wouldn't want the light to blind you at night), HDR, Superior Auto mode to detect the optimum settings for a given photo, and SteadyShot for a less blurry image.
The Xperia C4's other specs are also quite impressive for a mid-range device. It comes with an octa-core Mediatek MT6752 SoC, which includes a quad-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53-based CPU and a Mali-T760 MP2 GPU, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage with microSD expansion up to 128 GB, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, LTE Cat. 4, and a 13MP camera on the back with HDR support and auto-focus. The phone will run Android 5.0 with Sony's own customizations on top.
The screen is quite large at 5.5 inches and has a 1080p resolution. This, combined with a battery that is only 2,600 mAh, may mean the device will not be able to achieve 48 hours of moderate usage, as Sony claims some of its other phones can deliver. The Cortex-A53 processor should be quite efficient, though, and if the display uses cutting edge panel technology, it may sip little power, as well. Sony rates the device at 8 hours of video playback and 12 hours of talk time, which is solid but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of battery life. Sony's Stamina Mode should be able to increase the battery performance some more, though.
The Sony Xperia C4 will arrive in single-SIM and dual-SIM versions starting with the beginning of next month. Sony hasn't announced the pricing yet (and that's likely to vary in different countries anyway), but going by its predecessor's price last year (the Xperia C3), it should launch for somewhere around $300. The device will be available in black, white, and light green.