Sony Xperia M review: Morning show

Morning show

GSMArena team, 29 August 2013.

Phonebook

The Sony Xperia M phonebook is integrated with the dialer using a tabbed interface - the Contacts, Phone, Favorites and Groups tabs can be side-swiped. The bottom bar holds shortcuts to search option, add number field, and the advanced settings menu.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
The phonebook • The quick contact shortcuts • The options from the contextual menu

The contact list can be sorted by either first or last name. There are two contact search options - a dedicated search field at the bottom of the contact list, and an alphabetical scroll bar to jump to names starting with a specific letter on the right.

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with phone numbers or only contacts that are online.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
Filtering contacts in the phonebook

If a contact has accounts in multiple services, you can "link" their details to keep everything in one place. Their Facebook photos and interests (part of the Facebook integration) will show up as extra tabs.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
Viewing a contact entry • Editing a contact

The Quick contact feature is present alright - a tap on the contact's photo brings a pop-up windows with shortcuts for calling, texting or emailing the contact, visiting their web page or navigating to their home address.

Each contact can have a variety of fields (and repeat fields of the same type). There's an Add field button and the X button lets you remove fields as needed. The fields cover anything from names (including a field to write the name down phonetically) to addresses, nicknames and notes.

There is an option to redirect calls directly to voicemail. Custom ringtones are enabled too. This is where the LED strip comes into play as well. You can set a custom color for a contact, so the ambience light can serve as a caller ID of sorts. Of course you cannot have a different color for every single contact in your phonebook but you can have one color be for family, another for work calls and so on.

Telephony

Receiving and making calls on the Xperia M was great. The built-in secondary microphone is used for active noise-cancellation, so calls are loud and clear even in noisy environments.

The call log is integrated in the dialer - it shows a list of recently dialed, received and missed calls in the top half of the screen and the keypad in the bottom half. Once you start typing, the call log is replaced by the smart dial list which searches for matches in both the contacts' phones and names. You can hide the keypad to make more room for the call log.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
Smart dialing is available

Thanks to the proximity and accelerometer sensors, the Sony Xperia M automatically disables the touchscreen when you lift it up during a call.

The Sony Xperia M scored a Good mark on our loudspeaker tests, meaning you shouldn't miss any notifications unless you use a really quiet ringtone. Sony has preloaded a number of features that modify how the speaker sounds. We tested with all of them off, then with xLOUD on, which noticeably made the sound louder, and then with both xLOUD and ClearPhase on, which sacrificed some of the loudness for improved audio quality.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOveral score
HTC Desire 600 dual sim66.6 74.462.3Average
Sony Xperia Z60.1 58.361.6Below Average
Apple iPhone 566.866.167.7Below Average
Nokia Lumia 92061.6 64.865.8Below Average
HTC One X+64.6 65.874.6Average
Huawei Ascend P664.3 66.375.7Average
Huawei Ascend Mate67.0 66.675.0Good
Oppo Find 570.7 67.773.0Good
Sony Xperia M66.5 66.177.3Good
Sony Xperia M (xLOUD)68.5 66.680.7Good
Sony Xperia M (xLOUD, ClearPhase)66.8 65.775.7Good
HTC One69.3 66.675.9Good
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.367.2 69.875.7Good
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S470.6 66.277.3Good
Samsung Galaxy S III75.1 66.575.0Good
LG Optimus G74.671.382.7Excellent

You can find more on the testing procedure here.

Messaging and text input

Text messages and MMS use standard thread layout. Each thread is displayed as an IM chat session, with the most recent message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them against deletion. Search is enabled to locate a specific message in all conversations and you can also activate delivery reports.

Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message into an MMS. Four shortcuts at the bottom of the screen handle the most common cases - an image, a photo, a doodle (you draw with your finger) and your location. This, however, takes an extra row from the screen, which isn't too big to begin with.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
The messaging app • Adding multimedia turns it into an MMS

The Gmail client has the trademark conversation style view and can manage multiple Gmail accounts. Batch operations are supported too, in case you need to handle email messages in bulk. A cool feature in Gmail is that you can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
Gmail app

The generic Email app can handle POP and IMAP and offers a Combined inbox for all your email accounts. It supports batch operations and has a Preview pane option in landscape mode - the list of emails goes on the left, the contents of the currently selected email on the right.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
The generic Email client has a combined inbox option for multiple services

Google Hangouts is the default app that handles instant messaging (Facebook is preinstalled, but Facebook Messenger isn't).

As for text input, the Xperia M offers a customized on-screen full QWERTY keyboard. Typing on the portrait keyboard is fairly comfortable, but after using 4.5+ inch phones it's starting to feel a little cramped.

Flipping the phone to landscape gives you even bigger, easier to press buttons. There's also the added feature of being able to customize the keyboard. You can choose a different layout (keypad, QWERTY, QWERTY with extra symbols), add/remove the coma and period button, the smiley and voice input buttons and also enable things like bilingual word suggestions if you have more than one language enabled.

Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M Sony Xperia M
Xperia M keyboard is comfortable in either layout

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It's similar to Swype, and even if you've never used a Swype-like input before you'll quickly get used to it.

Reader comments

  • Nik

It's 2018 and I'm using this since 2013. Still works flawlessly. I have updated to Nougat and works smoothly. I have dropped it multiple times on screen but it was strong enough.

  • Joey

Can anybody comment if the black and yellow (white as well) colored backings have soft touch/rubberized finish? The purple one reviewed here, and that I own has this nice finish, it's a nice addition for grip. I purchased yellow panel and it's ...

  • AnonD-559598

The most disappointing feature of this phone is its terrible camera. I bought the phone thinking that I was buying Sony quality optics and sensor but it is one of the worst cameras I've seen and it was what made me change to another brand.