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Sony Xperia M review

We can't see why you'd choose the Xperia M over its rivals

The essentials

As we've discussed, the Sony Xperia M has a handful of key features that mark it out from other affordable Android phones, but it does the general stuff pretty well too.

Call quality is crisp and clear, and the rear-mounted speaker is notably loud and clear when playing media or receiving phone calls.

The latter is thanks largely to Sony's xLOUD technology, which simply makes the sound output… well, louder, but without distortion.

Sony Xperia M
The speaker isn't bad for its size

While the Sony Xperia M is strong when it comes to outputting calls and media, it's not a great messager. That small screen, combined with a cramped Sony keyboard, makes tapping out messages a bit of a chore - at least until you get to grips with it.

Sony Xperia M

I came to the Xperia M directly from using an iPhone 5S as my daily driver, so I'm accustomed to using a smaller 4-inch device for typing out messages.

I suspect that anyone coming from a larger phone will struggle even more than I did.

Of course, this being Android, all that was needed was a free download of Google Keyboard (or a paid download of SwiftKey) and the problem was significantly lessened.

On the apps front, Sony has included most of the main Google apps as standard. That means using Chrome as the default (and only) web browser, which really shouldn't still be a noteworthy inclusion for new Android phones, but somehow it is.

Gmail, Maps, and Hangouts are also included. We'd recommend booting the latter up and setting it as your default SMS service, as it's much more pleasant to use than Sony's default effort.

Sony Xperia M

Likewise Google's own gallery app, Photos, is that little bit crisper and cleaner than Sony's Album equivalent, and it ties in with Google+'s excellent auto-uploading and enhancement features. Both apps are included here from the off, so the choice is yours.

Speaking of Sony software, we should note that the company continues to require you to hook your smartphone up to your computer when there's a new firmware update to install. It's a mystifying and frankly irritating decision.

What's more, when plugged into my MacBook I had to manually search for the appropriate piece of bridging software - the automated installation didn't seem to work.

Also irritating was the fact that my Xperia M handset continued to tell me I had an update pending, even after I had installed the latest update and rebooted several times.

I eventually realised that I had to manually refresh the update monitor in order to help it to realise it was up to date. It's a relatively minor niggle, but it's not one that a big company like Sony should really be making.

Camera

Sony's smartphone cameras are typically some of the strongest out there, as you might expect given the parent company's wider expertise in the area. However, you shouldn't expect particularly wondrous things from the entry-level Sony Xperia M.

It possesses a 5MP camera backed by an LED flash. Other than the physical two-stage camera button we mentioned earlier, that's a pretty bog standard set-up.

Sony Xperia M
Loo roll not included

Images are actually set to 3MP 16:9 by default, and if you manually switch to the full 5MP you'll find yourself stuck with a somewhat old fashioned 4:3 aspect ratio. Still, it lends itself better to those Instagram moments.

There's an HDR mode on board, which you don't always get with cheaper phones. I found that this noticeably brightened up the landscape images I took on one particularly cloudy day, but at the expense of blurry edges and some slightly false colour reproduction. Utilising HDR mode indoors with multiple artificial light sources, meanwhile, resulted in a complete blurry mess.

Sony Xperia M
Camera settings are comprehensive

Even general shots in decent natural lighting revealed a certain graininess and a general lack of detail, as well as a somewhat washed out colour palette.

Still, the Xperia M does feature a relatively comprehensive list of software features for such a cheap phone. These include manual settings for white balance, ISO and the like, and even a range of filters for those popular Instagram-like effects.

Sony Xperia M
Loo roll and filters, together at last

Video goes up to 720p, so there'll be no Full HD capture here. You shouldn't expect anything more than mediocre performance, either, with a shaky and somewhat blurry picture that struggles with motion.

In short, the Sony Xperia M's camera offers precisely what you'd expect from an entry-level smartphone. But that's still a little disappointing coming from Sony.

Sony Xperia M
A local landscape with HDR on...

Click here to see full resolution image

Sony Xperia M
...and the same view with it off

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Sony Xperia M
The Xperia M struggles with indoor shots, even with plenty of light sources

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Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
SAR Value0.86 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia M
Cellular Generation3.9G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time10.30 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution480 x 854
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)115 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density245 ppi
Front Camera Resolution300 Kilopixel
Height124 mm
Width62 mm
Depth9.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time552 Hour
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXpeira M Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon S4
Product LineXperia M
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part Number1274-3060
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing InformationDiscover the magic touch to share

Love connecting with the people around you? Then say hi to Xperia M. With NFC-based one-touch functions, this magical smartphone lets you easily share everything from photos to movies, all with the help of a simple touch. Xperia M comes with a large 4" high-quality display that gives you an incredible viewing experience. What else makes this smartphone stand out? Well, how about its carefully selected design details, that are held together by an innovative slim and sleek skeleton frame. Customisable illuminations make this smartphone even more unique, notifying you of incoming calls, Facebook updates and more.

Package Contents
  • Xperia M Smartphone
  • Charger
  • Media Cable
  • Screen Protector
Standard Memory1 GB