With an octa-core processor, a 13 megapixel camera and a waterproof build the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua packs in a decent amount of specs and features for a mid-range handset. So is Sony on to a winner or are there chinks in its armour? Read on for our first impressions in full.
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a 5.0-inch 1280 x 720 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch.
So it’s a 720p display and nowhere near as sharp as some phones. In fact the Samsung Galaxy S6 has a display that’s almost twice as sharp at 577 pixels per inch. But you could argue that so many pixels is overkill and indeed the Xperia M4 Aqua doesn’t feel especially lacking for them in practice.
It could be noticeably sharper, but it still looks fairly crisp and clear. It also sports top notch viewing angles, so you can see it clearly even when not viewed square on. Plus at 5.0 inches it’s a good size- big for a mid-ranger but not so large that it’s unwieldy to use.
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a fairly plain and familiar design. It looks a lot like other Sony phones, including its flagship Xperia Z3, but where that phone has a metal and glass build this one is all plastic. Well, almost all, it does have a metal power button which offsets the plain black, white or coral body nicely.
But while it’s plain and plastic it’s well-built and not unattractive. In fact it comes in at quite a sleek 7.3mm thick.
Of course the star of the show is its dust and water resistant credentials, as it’s IP65/68 certified, meaning it can be plunged up to 1.5 metres deep in fresh water for up to 30 minutes, which makes it one of the most waterproof phones around.
There’s a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor in the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, with four cores running at a fast 1.5GHz and the other four clocked in at a slower 1.0GHz. The advantage of that is that the M4 Aqua can switch between the two sets depending on how much power it needs at any given time, saving battery by not working the faster cores for undemanding tasks.
It also has 2GB of RAM, which is pretty generous for a mid-range phone, but we expect more mid-rangers to start coming with that much RAM now that most flagships have moved on to 3GB.
The Xperia M4 Aqua also support 4G, so it can speed along over a 4G network, ensuring you can continue to stream, download and web browse even when there’s no Wi-Fi available.
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a 13 megapixel main camera with an Exmor RS for mobile imaging sensor. So it’s quite high-spec for a midrange handset. It’s also feature-packed, with Superior Auto automatically picking between 52 scenes based on the light and the shot you’re trying to get and SteadyShot working behind the scenes to stabilise videos.
Speaking of video, the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua can shoot footage in up to 1080p and it’s got a respectable 5 megapixel camera on the front, complete with 720p video shooting capabilities of its own, so it’s good for both selfies and video calls.
Far and away the biggest feature of the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is its water resistance. In fact it’s such a big feature that it’s made its way into the phones name.
As a mid-range phone it’s not exactly full of extra features, but there is at least one notable one beyond its waterproofing, namely the fact that it’s running Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is the latest major Android release and something which many handsets still don’t have.
Battery life, memory and connectivity
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a 2400 mAh battery with a stated life of up to 64 hours of music playback or 7 hours of video. More impressively Sony reckons it can last for up to two days with mixed use and given the company’s history of delivering great battery life we’re inclined to believe them, especially once you factor in its battery-saving Stamina mode.
For built in storage you get a choice of 8 or 16GB, which isn’t much, but it’s backed up by a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 32GB, so there’s a fair bit of room for expansion.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, the last of which opens the phone up to a world of contactless payments and easy Bluetooth pairing, which is handy to have.
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is surprisingly packed full of features and solid tech for a midrange phone. It won’t worry any of the flagships, but with its waterproof build, octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 13 megapixel camera, two day battery life, Android 5.0, 5.0-inch screen and NFC it’s not lacking in many areas.
A sharper display would always be nice, as would a more premium build, but with a price tag that’s likely to land at around £220 you still get an awful lot for your money, making this a midrange smartphone that’s well worth considering if you don’t want to sacrifice specs or features but can’t justify shelling out potentially twice as much for a high end handset.