Sony Xperia M2 hands-on: a ho-hum mid-ranger
Unlike some of the recent Xperia phones by Sony, the Xperia M2 isn't a high-end, waterproof device. This is a mid-range handset, however, Sony touts it as being one of the thinnest 4G phones in its class. Does it fulfill the high expectations we usually have from Xperia phones? We've put together our first impressions.
The design is very familiar - flat and rectangular. This is the Xperia design language, only “spoken” in plastic, instead of glass and metal. The front and back panels look consistent, while the sturdy frame enriches the design and strengthens the build quality. Although the back panel looks like it's covered in glass, it's actually glossy plastic, which makes it a fingerprint magnet. Still, the Xperia M2 looks and feels like an Xperia phone should. At 0.33 inches (8.6mm) of thickness, the phone is comfortable to hold, but hardly slim.
On the left side of the body, we have a micro-USB port. On the bottom, we have a speaker grill and a microphone. The right side is home to the distinctive circular power-button, the volume controls, a dedicated shutter key, and a microSD slot. On the top, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the back there's an 8MP auto-focus camera with LED flash and 1080p video recording. The front camera has a VGA resolution. So, don't expect fabulous selfies from the front cam, boys and girls.
The Xperia M features a 4.8-inch 540x960 (qHD) TFT display. It's not the highest-resolution panel out there. But if you are looking at it from a normal distance, you won't notice a loss in detail. The viewing angles, though, leave something to be desired. There is some distortion at wide angles.
Interface and functionality
The interface is the classic Xperia experience, currently based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. We saw the usual aspects of Sony's custom platform, such as the particular design of the gallery, the widgets, and the signature Walkman player. It's still one of the most fully featured stock music players you'll find in a smartphone. Interestingly, the Xperia M2 has a “mood light” at the bottom. When you're watching video or music, you'll see the LED change colors. Anyone up for disco?
Processor and memory
The processor is a respectable 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400. It's coupled with 1GB RAM and 8GB flash storage. This phone isn't a beast, but the hardware is powerful enough to get you connected to a 4G network and play most of today's games. The interface is quick and responsive.
The Xperia M is powered by a 2330mAh battery. According to Sony, it's good for a talktime of up to 14 hours and 14 min, standby time of up to 693 hours, music listening time of up to 56 hours 49 min, and a video playback time of up to 8 hours 25 min.
While its front camera is merely a VGA shooter, the Xperia M2's rear camera offers 8 megapixels resolution, 4x digital zoom, HDR, and 1080p video recording. Coupled with a comfortable shutter button, it should provide very adequate photography. It also comes with extras, such as Autoscene Recognition and Xperia camera apps, such as Social live, Timeshift burst, and Picture Effect. We didn't have the time to test them, but we know that there are many more out there that can be downloaded from Sony's Select service.
While the 4.8-inch display is a substantial upgrade over the Xperia M's 4-inch panel, we felt the increase in resolution is too small - 540x960 up from 480x854. The processor refresh is welcome, but the amount of RAM and the type of GPU (Adreno 305) are left the same, which means the M2 won't feel much faster. That is, unless Sony works hard at optimizing its Android interface. However, the 4G connectivity and dual-SIM availability alone could be enough of a reason to upgrade for some.
The Xperia M2 will come in the three signature Xperia colors: black, white and purple, and will see a global launch starting April 2014. Exact market availability and price haven't been established yet.