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The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua handles the essentials pretty well, with phone calls connecting quickly, and with good audio quality. The default call app looks great and is easy to use, letting you choose between recent calls, your contact list or bringing up a dial pad easily.
Text messaging with the default app is also fine, though despite having a large 5-inch display, the lower 720p resolution of the screen means the onscreen keyboard feels a little cramped. This leads to less accuracy when typing – especially when tapping away quickly.
Web browsing is handled by Chrome by default, and the large screen makes reading websites nice and comfortable. The M4 Aqua comes with 4G LTE connectivity, so browsing is fast when on cellular, and dual band Wi-Fi lets you connect to faster, less congested wireless networks.
The only fly in the web browsing ointment here is that the M4 Aqua sometimes struggles loading pages, leading to annoying pauses when browsing. The handset can also quickly warm up when flicking through websites.
Media playback is increasingly seen as an essential tenet of any modern smartphone, and the M4 Aqua again does well here, but with some niggles.
Despite not being full HD, the 720p screen of the M4 Aqua is large, bright and vibrant and does an excellent job of displaying videos and photos, with the preinstalled Movies app doing a good job of playback, and can even find video files stored on DLNA capable devices on your network.
Although the M4 Aqua does not have the high resolution audio capabilities of the more expensive Xperia Z3, music playback is still good, and the integration of Spotify in the Walkman app is a nice addition – provided you're subscribed to the service.
While media playback is generally pretty good, the lack of internal storage does prove to be a problem. The M4 Aqua ships with just 8GB, and what's worse is that with Android 5.0 and the default apps installed, you end up with only around 2.70GB of storage straight out of the box.
It didn't take me long at all to see a warning message pop up saying I had no more storage left, and that was only after installing a small number of apps. For storing music and videos, you're going to need to invest in a microSD card, which thankfully the M4 Aqua supports up to 128GB.
Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.