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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual review with Camera, Battery, Performance and Gaming Review


Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual review

TOP FEATURES

-Only mid-range water-resistant smartphone
-Decent battery life
-Good screen & audio

NEW DELHI: Sony's new Xperia M4 Aqua Dual, priced at Rs 24,990, seems like a fish out of water compared to smartphones by Chinese brands that offer better hardware at much lower prices. But in a way, it's supposed to be that, considering it is the only affordable water-resistant smartphone available in the market today.

Now, if you are looking for a water-resistant smartphone, then your options are very, very limited. So we review Xperia M4 Aqua Dual to tell you if the Sony smartphone is worth a buy at a rather high price tag of Rs 24,990.

Design

Xperia M4 Aqua follows the same OmniBalance design language that Sony has used for the past two years, which translates pretty well considering the company has not used premium materials in its construction. The back panel made is of shatterproof plastic with glossy finish; the back panel tends to get smudged and scratched easily.



Along the sides is a polycarbonate frame with metallic finish, and you are likely to assume it is actually metal, not plastic. Like Sony smartphones of the last two years, the right side sports the Power, Volume and Camera hardware buttons. Above the Power key is the housing for the two sim cards, covered by a flap to protect the internals from water damage. Same is the case for the microSD card slot, which is located on the left side.

However, the microUSB port sports a nano-coating that maintains the water resistance despite no flap; this is a good thing because struggling with a flap every time you need to charge the phone can get tiresome after a while.

The fit and finish is pretty good and you will be pleasantly surprised with the overall build quality of the handset. The body is pretty thin (7.3mm) and light (136 grams), so slipping it in and out of the pocket will not seem like a chore. In fact, you would be forgiven to confuse Xperia M4 Aqua with a higher-priced Sony smartphone.

However, not everything is fine and dandy. While using the smartphone with one hand, we always muffled the sound, since the speaker is located at the bottom.

Water-resistance

Xperia M4 Aqua Dual comes with IP68 rating, which means it is dust-resistant and can stay working even after a 1.5-metre, 30-min dip in the pool. In our tests, the smartphone gave no problem after being submerged in water for 15 minutes. You cannot operate the touchscreen when the smartphone is under water, but if you wish to take a photo you can use the hardware Camera key to take the snap.

Display

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual has a 5-inch screen of HD (720x1280p) resolution, which is rather disappointing since most smartphones above Rs 20,000 now offer Full HD (1080x1920p) displays. The display quality is good, but like most Sony smartphones the colours are ever so slightly oversaturated. Nevertheless, the smartphone's display panel is pleasant to look at, with no noticeable pixelation.



The brightness levels of Sony Xperia M4 Aqua's screen are sufficient, even though the colours pale more than we expected them to under direct sunlight. Nevertheless, the contrast as well as viewing angles of the smartphone are more than sufficient, and the overall viewing experience is good.

Hardware

Sony has used the mid-end 64-bit Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor (four 1.5GHz Cortex A53 cores + four 1GHz Cortex A53 cores) in Xperia M4 Aqua Dual. This is the same processor powering Xiaomi's Mi4i and Xolo's Black smartphones, which are over Rs 10,000 cheaper than the Sony model.



Backing the chipset is 2 gigs of RAM, which seems a little less considering we can now get phones with 3GB (Huawei Honor 6 and Honor 6 Plus) and even 4GB RAM (Asus Zenfone 2) at the Rs 25,000 price point.

The India version of Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual has 16GB of internal storage, which is sufficient for downloading a large number of apps; additionally, you can slip in a microSD card to store data. The camera on the back has 13MP resolution, while the front-facing snapper has a 5MP sensor. Battery capacity of Xperia M4 Aqua is rated at 2,400mAh.

Software

Sony is among the few major players who do not customize the software on their smartphones. So you get an Xperia skin on top of the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) flavouring that gives a colourful look to the OS without adding too many features from its side.

Among the OS-level features you will notice include floating apps that you can place anywhere on the screen even when you are running an app, as well as the provision to customize the widgets in the notifications menu. Material design influences are everywhere to see in Sony's custom software skin.

As is its wont, Sony has preloaded a number of proprietary services in Xperia M4 Aqua Dual, such as Music, PlayStation, Liv, Xperia Lounge, Album, Movies. Apart from this, you will find a number of preloaded apps on the smartphone, like Facebook, MovieCreator, Line, TrackID, and AVG, among others. You can uninstall some of these apps, but not all.

Performance

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual is not the best performer considering that it is in the company of OnePlus One, Huawei Honor 6 Plus, Asus Zenfone 2 and the likes. Nevertheless, it is sufficiently fast and does not lag while running most apps. Heavy games like Real Racing 3, however, take their toll as we noticed some frame drops and slight sluggishness, which happens with many smartphones. Playing casual games like Temple Run is a breeze on Xperia M4 Aqua.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 615 chip is said to suffer from some overheating issues, which we did notice on Xperia M4 Aqua Dual. However, a software update in the middle of the review period fixed them, and since then we have had no problem concerning the phone's temperature levels, something that still plagues the company's top-end Xperia Z3+ smartphone.



The call quality of the Xperia M4 Aqua Dual is pretty standard, with no sudden call drops. The smartphone also does a decent job in clinging to 3G networks even in basements.

As a multimedia device, the Sony smartphone is good, but as mentioned above, we muffled the audio many a time due to the placement of the speaker. The sound quality is pretty good, with rich tones without much distortion even at high volumes. The display is of decent quality, so you can watch videos without much issue on the handset.

The 2,400mAh battery of Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual is pretty good, consistently delivering battery life of just over a day. Though you would be advised to start hunting for a charger as the day nears its end, Xperia M4 Aqua can eke out a few extra hours with the built-in battery saving feature.

Camera

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua's camera is certainly not the best you can find in this price range. The 13MP rear shooter's delivers images with decent colours, but leaves them suffering from overexposure. Moreover, we noticed inconsistency in the colours and contrast levels delivered by the smartphone's rear camera. The front camera, sadly, takes photos with too much noise and videos turn out a little too dark as the front camera's sensor fails to capture enough light.



As we mentioned above, the hardware camera key on the right edge can be used to capture images under water.

Verdict

In this market, it is hard for any smartphone to compete against the products offered by Chinese brands, and same is the case with Xperia M4 Aqua Dual. The Sony smartphone is a decent device to buy, but with the democratization of the market, it faces an uphill battle.

But as the only mid-range water-resistant smartphone in the market today, it is well positioned to score a few sales. Buy this smartphone if you want a smartphone with a decent screen, good battery life and attractive design, though the inconsistent camera can be a deal-breaker.
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