Sony Xperia M review: Morning show
Sony has made some great entry-level Android phones, but it's been a while since we saw a new model. The Xperia M injects new blood into the segment with both single and dual-SIM options. Based on the trademark Xperia design, the M scores high on looks and build quality.
The Sony Xperia M shares many of the design features that made its Xperia Z sibling such a looker, including the signature power key. It also has a hardware shutter key along with a couple of other features that are becoming quite rare in the smartphone world - a removable battery and a microSD card slot.
The Xperia M also offers a relatively big and sharp screen, 4" FWVGA of 245ppi, and a dual-core Krait processor, plus 720p video capture with its 5MP camera. These are specs that can be hard to find in the Xperia M's price bracket. Most entry-level Androids either have Cortex-A9 CPUs (or A5/A7), or record only VGA video or have sub-WVGA screens, which is why entry-level Windows Phone handsets are such an enticing alternative in the price range.
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and dual or quad-band HSPA support
- Also available in a dual-SIM variant, called Xperia M dual
- 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
- 4" 16M-color TFT capacitive touchscreen of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels) at 245ppi
- Android OS v4.1.2 Jelly Bean
- Dual-core 1 GHz Krait CPU, Adreno 305 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8227 Snapdragon chipset
- 1 GB of RAM
- 4 GB of built-in storage (2 GB user available)
- microSD slot (cards up to 32GB supported)
- 5 MP autofocus camera, single LED flashlight, geo-tagging, touch focus, HDR, hardware shutter key; VGA front-facing camera
- 720p @ 30fps video capture
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
- NFC support
- ANT+ support for connecting low-power wireless sports accessories
- GPS with A-GPS; GLONASS
- PlayStation certified
- Accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack; Walkman music player with many audio enhancements
- Stereo FM radio with RDS
- microUSB port (charging)
- Built-in LED strip provides a breathing light and notification light
- 1,750mAh Li-Ion battery, user-replaceable
- Still and video camera quality not great
- No Mobile BRAVIA engine for the screen
- Screen has sub-par viewing angles
- Poor video codec support out of the box
- Limited internal storage for installing apps
Sony may have hit a spot that Samsung, LG and HTC haven't thoroughly covered, which bodes well for the young Xperia M. The optional dual-SIM is great too, since a good smartphone with a second SIM slot can prove harder to find than you would expect (with screen, camera and chipset considerations in mind).
The Sony Xperia M runs Android 4.1 with Sony's magic sprinkled over many of the apps, including a Walkman music player with a dazzling array of sound enhancement options, plus the Album and Movies apps, which have some unique media management skills.
The bold Purple and Yellow colors are a plus too, with an excellent, soft touch plastic on the back - a welcome break from black-or-white options and the prevailing glossy plastics. Hop over to the next page to see what's behind that back cover, as well as whether the screen and camera live up to the expectations and more.