- Plasticky feel
- Lower resolution than many competitors
- Small internal storage capacity
With waterproofing, the familiar omnibalance design and a quad-core processor, Sony is looking to make a splash in the mid-range market with the Xperia M4 Aqua. While it might not be a flagship device, the spec list looks quite nice. But how does it perform when put to the test? Let’s dig into the reviews.
If there was one thing that reviews were on the fence about with the new handset, it would be the materials used to make the phone. While it keeps the omnibalance design, with stereo speakers and the aluminum power button in the center of the phone’s edge, it swaps the glass and metal construction of the Z series with a plastic shell and polycarbonate chassis with a nylon scuff-resistance coating. Trusted Reviews handled the device and found, “There was no undue bend or flex in the body and construction felt strong.” However, all reviews agreed that the phone felt cheaper than many competitors in its price range.
Housed within the shell is a 5-inch 720p IPS display. In a market where 4K phones are looming on the horizon, this resolution is certainly behind many of the competitors. However, thanks to some tweaks from Sony’s Bravia Engine, the reviews of the display are decent. Digital Trends noted that it “looks better than it sounds.” One area of concern many reviews noted was with text clarity. Otherwise, color, contrast and brightness were all applauded.
To keep performance snappy, the phone includes a octa-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. While the RAM might limit multitasking abilities with heavy apps or games, reviews found no issues with general performance, launching apps or playing the latest games. Trusted Reviews called the M4 Aqua “a strong device at a wallet-friendly price.” It ships with the latest version of Android (Lollipop 5.0) with minimal changes from Sony.
The processor also touts improvements in battery efficiency, which will be important with a 2400mAh non-removable battery. Sony claims that a single charge will net two days of mixed usage and that their STAMINA power saving mode can power the phone with basic functionality for up to five days.
The only area where reviews indicated that performance lagged was taking pictures. Which is a shame, as reviews of the camera are generally positive otherwise. TechRadar said the handset “doesn't seem up to the task of taking photos at full speed.” As long as you’re not taking quick action shots or catching spur-of-the-moment memories, the 13MP rear-facing camera performs well, even in low-light. If you’re a fan of selfies, the 5MP front-facing camera includes a wide-angle lens to make it easy to cram you and your friends into the shot.
Lastly, the phone includes 8GB of internal storage with roughly 4GB available after Android and pre-loaded apps are installed. Fortunately, it also supports microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity. If you plan to download many games or store music or video on your M4 Aqua, you’ll probably want to invest in a microSD card to add a little more freedom in how you use your phone.
In all, the mid-tier handset receives outstanding reviews. Digital Trends declared that it offers a “level of quality and a lack of compromise that’s rare in this category.” Summing up the reviews well, iDigitalTimes states, “While the plastic build does make the device feel cheap, the trade off of a good camera, battery, display and snappy performance, at a great price point is more than worth it.”