Sony Xperia M2 Aqua review
Like the M2, but it'll fare better in the bath

Just like the Sony Xperia M2, one of the M2 Aqua's weaker elements is its screen. It's not bad, but is surpassed by several cheaper models.

You get a 4.8-inch IPS screen, which is a perfectly fine size, but resolution is a little low at 960 x 540 pixels. This provides pixel density of 229ppi – not very high at all.

A few too many mobiles have started to incorporate 720p screens below £200 now, such as the Motorola Moto G and Asus Zenfone 5, and the jump in resolution makes a huge difference.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The screen might be a decent size, but has poor PPI

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua just doesn't have the sort of pristine sharpness I'm rapidly coming to expect from mid-range phones, as well as top-end ones. Having to pay that bit more for the Xperia M2 Aqua makes this lack all the more annoying.

Resolution aside, this is not a hugely advanced IPS screen either. It appears slightly recessed from the very top layer of the screen, where top IPS displays almost look like they sit right on the surface. This lesser architecture reduces viewing angles, causing way more brightness loss at an angle, and importantly, reduces outdoors visibility.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua screen is pretty reflective, and while top brightness helps make outdoors use possible, it's not at the level of something like the Nexus 5.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Viewing angles are limited on the M2 Aqua

Is screen quality more important than something like waterproofing? Well, it is one of the most important factors in a phone, especially now that most phones above the bottom-rung models have enough power to perform near-perfectly.

I find the screen quality a rather disappointing compromise.

There are a few other little feature compromises in the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua. There's no infrared transmitter, which lets a phone double as a universal remote, and just 8GB of internal storage.

This does not need to be a big issue, though. Hardly anyone uses an IR transmitter much in my experience, and there's a microSD card slot on the right edge to let you add to the memory. 16GB internal memory would have been nice, though, since you don't actually get the full 8GB.

Aside from this, the features list is about right for a mid-range phone. You get 4G mobile internet, NFC and all the usual bits and bobs we now take for granted in an Android mobile – things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.

The one other little omission in the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is ac-grade Wi-Fi. But I imagine most people wouldn't even notice the difference. It's only of use if you have an ac-compatible router, and offers better speed and range, which should only really be an issue if you have a massive house or a terrible router.

Interface

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua runs Android 4.4 with the same custom Sony interface seen in the Xperia M2 and Xperia Z2. It's a neat-looking interface too, and has been updated since the Xperia M2 launched.

You get the same interface look as the top-end Xperia Z2. It's clean, clear and doesn't try to pack-in nearly as many extra bits as some other interfaces, such as Samsung's TouchWiz.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua uses software soft keys, and there are no extra stuffy-looking lines or boxes in the apps menu, as there were in previous versions of the Sony interface. Sony has come to a rather nice apex of simplicity in this version.

Apps - Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony has left the UI feeling sleek, but it has also included a bloated array of apps

If there's one thing that lets it down a bit, it's the screen resolution. Small bits of text like the app names, and even the clock read-out, show slight pixilation, and it's a shame.

While the core interface is really rather nice, Sony has packed the Xperia M2 Aqua with a bunch of apps you may not necessarily need or want. They centre around Sony's digital services, and there are ones for music and movies backed up by additional apps in these areas and even some social apps too.

There are a few too many here in my book, although you'll see largely the same roster jammed into just about every Xperia phone.

A simple interface plus a slightly bloated array of apps may seem like an odd combo, but at least there are ways to fix it. You can't uninstall all the apps (not nearly) but you can uninstall at least some, and then put the apps you actually want on the homescreen.