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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review

Katharine Byrne
3 Jun 2016
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua triple colours
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
225
inc VAT SIM-free

The camera could be better, but the Xperia M4 Aqua has both the build quality and speed to put its rivals to shame

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Specifications

Processor: Octa-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 13-megapixels, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 145x73x7.3mm, Weight: 136g, Operating system: Android 5.0

Battery Life

Admittedly, the M4 Aqua can't match the Galaxy A3 when it comes to battery life, but its 10h 16m in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to 170cd/m2 is still pretty decent for the price. Sony's also said that its 2,400mAh battery should last for up to two days when you leave the phone in Stamina mode, which will be useful when you're in a pinch, but it also restricts the phone's hardware performance, so you'll only want to use this mode when you really have to.

Camera

On the back of the phone is the M4 Aqua's 13-megapixel camera. Outdoors, we were quite pleased with how it coped with the bright summer sunshine, as images were well exposed with only a few areas of blinding white clouds. However, every shot we took on Superior Auto mode produced very cool-looking colours, almost like there was a blue sheen covering the entire image.

In our eyes, this spoils the photo somewhat, as colours lack in vibrancy even in blazing sunshine. The situation didn't improve when we switched to Manual mode and switched on HDR either. Exposure levels were once again very impressive, but the pale colour cast was arguably more noticeable than before.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua camera test

^ Outdoors, the Xperia M4 Aqua produced reasonable-looking images, but colours were decidedly lacking in warmth

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua camera test HDR mode

^ Switching on HDR mode helped even out the exposure of the sky, but images still looked very cool overall

Bizarrely, this wasn't a problem at all when we tried out the camera indoors. Colours looked much more natural and accurate in our still life than they did outside and there was plenty of detail present, even with our external lamp turned off. We could still see some compression and noise around the stems on our flowers, but textures were crisp and the text in our poster was clear and legible.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua camera test indoors

^ Indoors, colours looked much more realistic and there was plenty of detail present even when our external lamp was switched off

STORAGE

Our only other major grievance with the M4 Aqua is its pitiful amount of onboard storage as only 4GB is actually available to the user out its claimed 8GB. This seems a little stingy for a £225 phone, especially when the 16GB Galaxy A3 comes with around 10GB of usable space, but at least you can always add a microSD card to expand that up to 128GB if you run out of room.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua back first look

Conclusion

The camera may be slightly flawed, but there's still plenty to like about the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua. Its fast processing performance easily outstrips the Samsung Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5, and the coral variation has a much more appealing design than either Samsung handset or indeed the EE Harrier.

Samsung wins out on screen quality, but the M4 Aqua has the edge when it comes to price, as it costs the same as the smaller 4.5in Galaxy A3 SIM-free but is cheaper on contract, with prices starting at £15-per-month as opposed to the Galaxy A3's £17-per-month contract with an upfront cost of £30. The Galaxy A3 is still a good choice if you want a more compact handset, but if you're looking for something a little bigger, the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is the next best alternative. It wins a Recommended award.


Hardware
ProcessorOcta-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
RAM2GB
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1,280x720
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)8GB (4GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size146x73x7.3mm
Weight136g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 5.0.2
Battery size2,400mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£225
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £17.50-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierwww.expansys.com
Contract/prepay supplierwww.carphonewarehouse.com
Detailswww.sonymobile.com
Part codeE2303

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