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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen a decent phone come out of Sony’s mid-range Xperia M series, but today at MWC Sony has announced that it will be rebooting the range with the all new Xperia M4 Aqua. Like the Xperia M before it, the Xperia M4 Aqua will be taking design cues from Sony’s flagship Xperia Z cousins, which in this case are the Xperia Z3and Xperia Z3 Compact. In fact, its design riffs off both smartphones almost note for note, as it’s IP67/68 waterproof and dust-resistant and uses a near identical unibody metal frame and glossy glass rear.

DESIGN

The end result is a seriously stylish-looking handset, and the red coral variation is particularly gorgeous. It will also be available in black, white and a more limited silver edition, with all models launching sometime this spring. Sony’s yet to release an official UK price for the Xperia M4 Aqua, but said it should cost 299 Euros SIM-free, which works out to be roughly £219.

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Measuring just 7.3mm thick and weighing 136g, the Xperia M4 Aqua is just as thin as the Xperia Z3 but almost 20g lighter, making it that bit more comfortable to hold. We were big fans of the Xperia Z3’s design when it launched at the end of last year, so we’re pleased to see its curved metal frame and nylon-protected corners making a comeback here. It gives the phone a fantastic sense of build quality, and it’s certainly a step up from the vast majority of plastic-backed phones you often see in this kind of price range.

DISPLAY

The 5in 1,280×720 screen uses an IPS panel, so colour accuracy should be high. While we’ve yet to put the Xperia M4 Aqua through our rigorous screen tests, the display certainly looked rich and vivid, and the screen was exceedingly bright.

Admittedly, the tempered glass screen felt a little brittle to the touch when we were swiping through Android 5.0’s home screens, but its octa-core 2.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor certainly felt quick and snappy. Web browsing may not be hugely fast, though, as we only managed a preliminary SunSpider JavaScript score of 1,497ms, but we’ll have to wait and see how it fares under longer-term testing.

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As it’s waterproof, you’ll be able to immerse the phone in up to a metre of water without damaging the phone’s internal components. This has long been a staple of Sony’s flagship devices, so it’s great to see this feature being introduced further down the line. Unlike the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact, though, you won’t have to worry about making sure the USB port’s sealed off each time you want to check Twitter in the bath, for example, as the Xperia M4 Aqua has a special capless USB port that doesn’t need to be closed off in order to be protected. We’ve seen this before on the Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini, but again, it’s the first time we’ve seen this feature on a handset below £250. Just make sure you dry the screen completely, as we found it very difficult to use the touchscreen accurately if it was still wet.

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CAMERA

The Xperia M4 Aqua also has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a front-facing 5-megapixel front-facing camera for those all-important selfies. Sony’s made several improvements to the camera’s low light capabilities as well, for in addition to the company’s ubiquitous Superior Auto mode, you’ll find special modes for low light photography, night portraits, backlight shooting and macro shots. While we couldn’t take any of our test shots away with us, pictures certainly showed plenty of detail and noise was kept at a minimum.

BATTERY LIFE

Sony has high hopes for the Xperia M4 Aqua’s battery life, too, as it said the phone’s 2,400mAh battery should last up to two days when it’s left in Stamina mode. This energy saving profile will restrict the phone’s hardware performance, but we’ll very pleased indeed if it manages to match the 18 and a half hours of video playback we saw from the Xperia Z3.

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The Xperia M4 Aqua may not be the ‘Xperia Z4’ announcement we were all hoping for, but there’s still plenty to like here. With its metal frame and waterproof chassis, its build quality stands head and shoulders above other phones in this price range, and if its battery life figures prove accurate, it could well be on its way to award-winning territory. We’ll bring you our final verdict as soon as we get our hands on a review sample.

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