Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review: The lookalike

The Xperia M4 Aqua is Sony’s take on what a mid-ranger should look like. And for the first time in a while it has got us excited. It has all the right specs coupled with a thin profile and premium looks, all bundled up into a €299 phone.

And did we mention this smartphone is waterproof like its more expensive siblings? Oh well, we guess the name should have given it away by now.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua

For extra flexibility the Xperia M4 Aqua is also available as a Dual SIM phone under the name Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual. It’s slightly more complicated than that as both devices have their regional versions. These are mostly the same, save for the LTE connectivity, which lacks on one of the Xperia M4 Aqua Dual models (E2312). The rest all ship with LTE, but with varying band support depending on the intended regions.

So many bands and so many markets – it’s always hard to keep track of the different models, but the important core specs are the same and here’s a short list of the main points.

Key features

  • Optional Dual SIM support (Xperia M4 Aqua Dual)
  • 5.0″ 16M-color 720 x 1280 IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with Triluminos technology
  • Android OS v5.0 Lollipop
  • Quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53; Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615, Adreno 405, 2GB RAM
  • 13MP camera with 1080p@30fps video; 5MP front-facing camera with 720p video
  • 8/16GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot
  • LTE Cat.4 (150Mbps); Dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS/GLONASS receiver, Bluetooth v4.1, FM radio with RDS
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 2,400mAh non-removable battery
  • IP68 certified – dust and water proof up to 1.5 meter and 30 minutes

Main disadvantages

  • 8GB built-in storage is insufficient, better opt for the 16GB model
  • Non-removable battery

Update 29 May 2015: This review was originally based on a pre-production review unit, but now all tests including the camera samples have been redone using a retail unit.

Of course, once you dig deeper, a lot of the phone’s true mid-range character starts to show. It runs on the Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 SoC, which is an excellent choice but not flagship grade. The 13MP camera lacks 2160p video recording. The phone also only comes with 8GB of internal space, which will definitely fill-up quick. Thankfully, there is a microSD card slot, but a lot of current apps still prefer the on-board storage.

The Xperia M4 Aqua doesn’t really have any major flaws, but it is the subject of a serious case of sibling rivalry In the face of the Xperia Z3 Compact. You can pick the smaller form factor of Sony’s current flagship for just a bit more than the M4 Aqua and it comes packing some serious processing power.

Sony Xperia M4 AquaSony Xperia M4 AquaSony Xperia M4 AquaSony Xperia M4 Aqua
Sony Xperia M4 press images

Design-wise, the phone bears a lot of signature Sony elements and definitely draws inspiration from the Xperia Z3. But while the premium looks are there, some compromises have been made with materials, perhaps to keep cost down.

But cheer up as the M4 Aqua has its merits. It looks good and performs well, the real question is whether this is enough to make it a viable choice. Stick around for the rest of the review, as we intend to find out.

We like to elaborate everything in detail, but if reading through the full 10-page review is not your thing, our video review below should get you through the most important points about the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua in under 4 minutes.

Follow us to the next page for an overview of the design.

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